Physical activity

With the advancement of technology, individuals began to adopt more sedentary lifestyles, becoming more physically inactive. Epidemiological studies demonstrate a significant association between an active lifestyle, less chance of death and better quality of life. Physical activity and exercise effectively prevent the occurrence of cardiac events, reduce the incidence of stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, colon and breast cancers, osteoporotic fractures, vesicular disease, obesity, depression and anxiety, in addition to delay mortality (ACSM, 2007).

Source: Fireman Tyler Blake, gas turbine systems technician (mechanical), from Boise, Idaho, takes part in a weight training exercise during a special programs physical training session at Fleet Activities Yokosuka. The candidates are hoping to join the ranks of Naval Special Warfare and Naval Expeditionary Combat Command as Navy special warfare operators, special warfare boat operators, explosive ordnance disposal technicians, and Navy divers. Seaman Charles Oki, 2021.

By definition, physical activity is any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure (CASPERSEN et al, 1985). It is a human behavior characterized by biological and cultural determinants, equally significant in the choices and benefits derived from this behavior (NAHAS, 2006). In turn, physical exercise is a type of physical activity, defined as a planned, structured and repetitive body movement performed with the aim of improving or maintaining one or more components of physical fitness. (ACSM, 2007).

Considering the high prevalence of sedentary lifestyle combined with the significant risk related to chronic-degenerative diseases, the increase in physical activity in a population influences the quality of health of the community, minimizing costs with treatments, including hospital treatments, which reflects its considerable social benefits (CARVALHO et al, 1996).

Research has shown that physically fit and/or trained individuals tend to have a lower incidence of most chronic-degenerative diseases, a consequence of the physiological and psychological benefits resulting from the regular practice of physical activity (CARVALHO et al, 1996). In addition, several studies show that individuals who move from a sedentary lifestyle to physically active behavior, or who move from being physically unfit to being physically fit, experience lower rates of illness and premature mortality compared to those who remain physically fit. being sedentary or unfit (ACSM, 2007).

With regard to the practice of physical activity, a recent study by Haskell et al (2007) showed that healthy individuals between 18 and 65 years of age should perform at least 30 minutes a day of moderate-intensity physical activity five or more days a week, at least 20 minutes a day of vigorous-intensity physical activity three days a week, with the aim of preventing or maintaining health.

As for weight control, the practice of physical activity is a determining factor for energy expenditure and energy balance. Some studies show that the regular practice of physical activity combined with a low-calorie diet can promote greater reduction in body weight than just dietary restriction alone, in addition to increasing fat loss, preserving lean mass and decreasing visceral fat deposit (El-Zayat, 2019). Although Trombetta et al, 2003, did not observe a greater reduction in body weight in the group of obese women submitted to physical exercise associated with a low-calorie diet, this group preserved the loss of lean mass when compared to the group submitted only to a low-calorie diet. This study clearly emphasizes that exercise is beneficial in maintaining lean body mass in obese women on a low-calorie diet.

The recommendation to practice physical activity should consider the individual interests, health needs and clinical status of the individual or target population. The health benefits arising from the regular practice of physical activity will be directly influenced by the amount and intensity with which it is practiced.

Several documents and studies cite the health benefits of physical activity. These benefits include (Warburton, 2017):

• Knowledge, perception, limits and potentialities of your own body;
• Increased intellectual capacity;
• Improved cardiovascular and respiratory capacity;
• Increased metabolism at rest;
• Reduction of risk factors for coronary artery disease;
• Reduction of body fat and adjustment of ‘brain regulation’ of body weight to lower levels;
• Decrease in fat mass and maintenance or increase in muscle mass;
• Reduced risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, colon and breast cancer;
• Decrease in fatal incidents caused by cardiovascular disease;
• Prevention of osteoporosis / Healthier bones and joints;
• Increased muscle strength;
• Increased strength of tendons and ligaments;
• Improved immune system;
• Improvement of the chronic inflammatory process of CNCDs;
• Favorable correlations with reduced smoking and alcohol and drug consumption;
• Improvement in the level of mental health, with a reduction in depression, anxiety and stress relief;
• Increased well-being and self-esteem.

Listed below are some benefits of physical activity for specific groups:

children and teenagers

• Helps the child/adolescent to adopt an active lifestyle in adulthood;
• Helps to protect bone health in adulthood;
• Reduces anxiety symptoms;
• Reduces stress;
• Increases self-esteem;
• Improves academic performance;
• Helps in the treatment of asthma (in the case of swimming);
• Helps improve lung function in children with cystic fibrosis;
• Helps control blood pressure among hypertensive children and adolescents.


• Improves lipid profile, blood pressure in hypertensive patients, glucose tolerance and insulin action;
• Increases longevity (lifetime);
• Reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, DM and cancer;
• Helps control body weight;
• Assists in the development and maintenance of healthy bones, muscles and joints;
• Helps reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety;
• Increases self-esteem;
• Reduces the risk of death from heart disease;
• Reduces the risk of stroke;
• Helps reduce costs with fewer hospitalizations, doctor visits and medications.

Old people

• Reduces falls and possible injuries;
• Helps to treat back pain;
• Assists in the treatment of osteoporosis;
• Helps in the treatment of osteoarthritis;
• Assists in the treatment of lameness;
• Assists in the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD);
• Assists in the treatment of dementias;
• Assists in the prevention and treatment of constipation;
• Improves sleep quality;
• Contributes to cholesterol control;
• Help in treating hypertension;
• Helps reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
• Improves bodily functioning and preservation of independence for the elderly.

Specific information about the approach to healthy eating and the practice of physical activity in health promotion and risk and disease prevention programs can be found in the chapters related to the Health Care Areas.


Haskell, William L., I-Min Lee, Russell R. Pate, Kenneth E. Powell, Steven N. Blair, Barry A. Franklin, Caroline A. Macera, Gregory W. Heath, Paul D. Thompson, and Adrian Bauman. “ACSM/AHA Recommendations.” Circulation 116, no. 9 (2007): 1081-1093.

Caspersen, Carl J., Kenneth E. Powell, and Gregory M. Christenson. “Physical activity, exercise, and physical fitness: definitions and distinctions for health-related research.” Public health reports 100, no. 2 (1985): 126.

Anderson, Berry, Alexander Mishory, Ziad Nahas, Jeffrey J. Borckardt, Kaori Yamanaka, Komal Rastogi, and Mark S. George. “Tolerability and safety of high daily doses of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in healthy young men.” The journal of ECT 22, no. 1 (2006): 49-53.

El-Zayat, Salwa Refat, Hiba Sibaii, and Karima A. El-Shamy. “Physiological process of fat loss.” Bulletin of the National Research Centre 43, no. 1 (2019): 1-15.

Warburton, D. E., & Bredin, S. S. (2017). Health benefits of physical activity: a systematic review of current systematic reviews. Current opinion in cardiology32(5), 541-556.

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