Physical activity is defined as any physical motion made by the skeletal muscles requiring energy expenditure that can be metabolized and used by the body. Physical activity encompasses any activity, at any level, done during any phase of the day or night, inclusive of sleep. It also includes accidental and intentional activity incorporated into daily activity.
Adults have a tendency to underestimate the amount of physical activity that they need to perform throughout their lives and underestimate the amount of calories that they burn while doing so. Because the amount of calories expended is directly related to the intensity of the physical activity, many adults mistakenly think that engaging in vigorous-intensity aerobic activities such as jogging or cycling is sufficient to lose weight, reduce risk for future health problems, or live a physically active lifestyle. The truth is that adults need to be more active than they are currently to maintain their weight and to decrease the risk for common chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. The good news is that there are numerous activities that can be enjoyed by adults of all ages, including: brisk walking, hiking, bicycling, swimming, tennis, martial arts, aerobics, yoga, massage, and stretching.
To keep the weight gain and maintenance in check, it is important for overweight adults to engage in vigorous physical activity, as well as continue with moderate levels of activity to reduce the risk for potential injury. In addition, physical activity contributes positively to a healthy body weight because regular exercise helps to increase one’s metabolism and it reduces the risk for becoming obese. Furthermore, physical activity can help reduce the stress associated with being overweight. Finally, engaging in a variety of activities throughout the week can help individuals remain mentally and emotionally healthy, which can lead to a longer lifespan and better mental and physical health. Further research is examining the positive benefits of physical activity for the prevention of health problems and the promotion of wellness among adults.