• Dr Ferraro

Is physical activity really important?

Updated: Feb 10, 2019

Is physical activity really important?

A few days ago I was walking near the seaside, having a break from my work, the air was pleasant, and strangely it was sunny! Suddenly a figure of a metallic person doing a squat appeared and made me think: “This metallic person is here to remind us how much important the physical activity is in daily life…but how much important is it really?”.

So I went back to my office, and I started to research.

In science, Physical activity is defined as an “activity in daily life that may be categorised as occupational, sports conditioning, household or other” (Caspersen et al. 1985).

Most of the times we decide to do physical activity for different reasons: for pleasure, to gaining some muscles or just get distracted from daily routines. However, there are other probably more important reasons that we cannot neglect. A review from 2006 (Warburton et al. 2006) shows the health benefits of physical activity, which are summarised below.

Physical activity helps to prevent:

Cardiovascular disease

  • Diabetes

  • Cancer

  • Hypertension

  • Obesity

  • Depression

  • Osteoporosis

On the other side of the coin, too much exercise could push our body to the limit and bring us to a status of overtraining, with severe risk of illness. The question mark should then be pointed on “how much physical activity is enough?”. To understand it we can find many different charts called “pyramids of physical activities”, like the one I made for this article (Figure 1).


Figure 2.This is called “pyramid of physical activities” is an intuitive tool to explain which activities are better for our health.

Intuitively from it, we can see that some activities are more important than others. We can divide those in:

• Daily activities: that we should try to do more often. Those are at the bottom of the pyramid, like walking to workplaces, groceries or shops rather than drive to them;

• More than three times per week activities: jogging, swimming or playing soccer;

• Between 2 or 3 times per week activities: weightlifting, physical competition or other high-intensity activities;

• Sporadic and rare week activities: they are at the top of the pyramid. These are the one to avoid most of the time because could lead us to a different number of physical problems.

However, we all know that this pyramid is ideal, and that is going to be almost impossible to follow it. Hence, try to be as active as possible, try to work-out at least three times per week for not less than 30 minutes, you will see that your performance is going to improve together with your self-confidence and health.


Bibliography:

  • Caspersen, C. J., Powell, K. E. and Christenson, G. M., 1985. Physical activity, exercise, and physical fitness: definitions and distinctions for health-related research. Public Health Rep, 100 (2), 126-131.

  • Warburton, D. E., Nicol, C. W. and Bredin, S. S., 2006. Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence. Cmaj, 174 (6), 801-809.


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