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Group of women in an exercise class.

Physical activity means moving your body and using your muscles and energy more than you do when resting.

Regular physical activity will benefit your physical, mental, and social health. It's also one of the best ways people of all ages and abilities can prevent or improve many chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetesobesity, depression, and some cancers.

Other vital benefits of physical activity include:

  • Strengthened bones and muscles
  • Improved mood and mental health
  • Maintained healthy weight
  • Increased energy
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Improved ability to do daily activities
  • Preventing accidental falls
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved concentration
  • Improved learning ability
  • Improved memory
  • Reduced stress
  • Reduced aging and menopause symptoms

How Much Physical Activity Should I Do?

There are some simple guidelines to help you determine your physical activity. According to the second edition of the Department of Health and Human Services' Physical Activity Guidelines:

  1. Adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
  2. Children and adolescents should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity daily.

Can I do Physical Activity If I have an Existing Medical Condition or Disability?

You can and should, in most cases, still do physical activity. Check with your physical therapist or physician to be sure that you are healthy enough for exercise, and to find out what physical activities are safe for you.

Physical therapists are licensed health care providers. They are movement experts who help people of all ages and abilities get moving safely.

People With Disabilities. Everyone can enjoy the many benefits of physical activity. Adults and children with a disability, whether physical, mental, or developmental, and who are able, should be physically active.

Family games, such as horseshoes, hockey, soccer, or bocce, can be modified for children or adults with various physical limitations. There also are opportunities to be involved in adaptive sports. Learn more about the variety of adaptive sports and recreation programs that exist for people with disabilities.

How a Physical Therapist Can Help

Physical therapists have extensive training and knowledge of medical conditions and physical activities, so they are experts at creating safe and effective physical activity programs for people with almost any medical condition or physical limitation. Physical therapists also help healthy people learn physical activity to prevent injuries and chronic medical diseases.

Your physical therapist will start by testing your movement and strength, reviewing your past medical history, and discussing your goals and favorite activities.

As your fitness improves, your physical therapist will help you expand and advance your physical activities in a safe and fun way. You will very likely enjoy the physical activity so much that you will look forward to doing it every day!

Physical therapists are movement experts. They improve quality of life through hands-on care, patient education, and prescribed movement. You can contact a physical therapist directly for an evaluation. To find a physical therapist in your area, visit Find a PT.

Find a PT Near You!


Additional Resources

The following links have information to help you start your physical activity lifestyle:

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