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Physical Activity

Physical Activity

Physical activity and good nutrition are key to leading a healthy lifestyle and reducing illness or stress.


Work outs should not be painful or boring: physical activity done at a moderate intensity can produce health benefits. If someone has been sedentary, they can improve their health and well-being with regular, moderate levels of activity each day. While activity at a higher intensity or performed for longer offers more health benefits, this level of activity may not be realistic for everyone, especially not when they are first starting.

The CDC recommends engaging in regular physical activity:

  • 5-7 days per week of moderate intensity activities for 30 minutes per session
  • 3-5 days per week of vigorous intensity activities for 20-60 minutes per session.

Total time recommendations can be achieved as one single segment, or as multiple, shorter segments done throughout the day.

Benefits of physical activity

Healthy weight: Physical activity contributes to and is very important in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, especially when combined with calorie reduction.

Physical health: Physical activity helps prevent heart disease and control diabetes, slows bone loss, lowers blood pressure and blood sugar, improves cholesterol levels, and lowers the risk of certain cancers. It may also improve quality of sleep.

Psychological health: Physical activity can improve the symptoms of depression and anxiety. It may also increase self-esteem and mood.

Performance: Studies show that regular exercise is correlated with better job/school performance. This may be because people who are more physically fit are less affected by fatigue.

Get motivated!

Here are some tips to help you get motivated to start a course of regular exercise:

  • Choose a variety of physical activities to do each week or day.
  • Look for opportunities to get up and move. Park farther away from your destination; take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Keep a journal of physical activity and how you feel after you exercise.
  • See exercise as a stress-releaser. A shift in attitude can do wonders for your willingness to give exercise a try.
  • Work out with a friend.
  • Consult a personal trainer for motivating advice.
  • Remind yourself daily of the benefits of being physically active.

More exercise help

  • For tips on improving your physical fitness or information about the S40 Fitness Center, contact Kristen Obert, Assitant Director, Fitness and Wellness, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Visit the CDC’s website for physical activity recommendations.