Almost any kind of physical activity promotes health. Try to be more active during the day, regardless of whether you can fit in a formal workout. A recent study found that short periods of intense exercise do not compensate for hours of inactivity. So try to get up and move around each hour when you are studying, working on the computer, or watching TV. Physical activity and exercise are points along a continuum.

Physical Activity on a Continuum

Physical activity is movement that is carried out by the skeletal muscles and requires energy. Different types of physical activity can vary by ease or intensity. Standing up or walking down a hallway requires little energy or effort, but each is


Answers (Test Your Knowledge)

1. False. Experts recommend 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week. The activity can be done in short bouts 10-minute sessions, for example spread out over the course of the day.

2. All three. The more intense an activity is, the more calories it burns in a given amount of time. This is one reason that people who exercise vigorously can get the same benefits in less time than people who exercise longer at a moderate intensity.

3. True. Regular exercise (even moderate-intensity exercise) benefits the human brain and nervous system in a variety of ways. For example, exercise improves cognitive function that is, the brain’s ability to learn, remember, think, and reason.

Exercise promotes longevity. The risk of death each year from all causes decreases with increased amounts and intensities of weekly physical activity, source: Adapted from a composite of 12 studies involving more than 200,000 men and women, Wen, M,, et al, 2013, Physical activity and mortality among middle-aged and older adults in the United States, Journal Physical Activity & Health. Published online; Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee, Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Report, 2008, Washington, D,C,: U,S, Department of Health and Human Services, 2008, a higher level of activity than sitting or lying down. More intense sustained activities, such as cycling five miles or running in a race, require considerably more effort.

Exercise refers to planned, structured, repetitive movement intended specifically to improve or maintain physical fitness. As discussed in Chapter 1, physical fitness is a set of physical attributes that allows the body to respond or adapt to the demands and stress of physical effort to perform moderate to vigorous levels of physical activity without becoming overly tired. Levels of fitness depend on such physiological factors as the heart’s ability to pump blood and the energy-generating capacity of the cells. These factors in turn depend on both genetics a person’s inborn potential for physical fitness and behavior getting enough physical activity to stress the body and cause long-term physiological changes.

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