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The benefits of physical activity

Physical activity can be a lifesaver – literally.

Grownups need to be active too!

Physical activity can:
  • dramatically lower your risk of heart disease and stroke
  • help prevent and control risk factors such as:
    • high blood pressure
    • high cholesterol
    • type 2 diabetes
    • osteoporosis
    • certain types of cancer
    • obesity
  • reduce stress levels
  • increase energy
  • improve sleep
  • improve digestion

You may see benefits within the first week of regular activity! For example, your blood pressure may improve and you could start to feel more energetic and relaxed. After three months, you may experience better health, improved posture and balance, stronger muscles and bones, more confidence and a more positive outlook on life.

Because physical activity makes you feel better about yourself, you're more likely to make healthy lifestyle choices and avoid unhealthy ones such as smoking, overeating or drinking too much alcohol.

If you have a heart problem, check out our Heart Walk Workout. This special exercise program developed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation helps people with heart disease problems get regular healthy exercise.

NOTE: Before starting a physical activity program, speak to your healthcare provider first to discuss what is right for you.

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Last reviewed: June 2013
Last modified: December 2013

Activity can be golden

Regardless of age, it's never too late to add physical activity to your life. It can:
  • dramatically lower your risk of heart disease and stroke
  • help prevent and control risk factors such as:
    • high blood pressure
    • high cholesterol
    • type 2 diabetes
    • osteoporosis
    • certain types of cancer
    • obesity
  • reduce stress levels
  • increase energy
  • improve sleep
  • improve digestion

You may see benefits within the first week of regular activity! For example, your blood pressure may start to come down, and you could start to feel more energetic and relaxed. After three months, you may experience better health, improved posture and balance, stronger muscles and bones, more confidence and a more positive outlook on life.

Inactivity, on the other hand, is linked to a higher risk of heart disease, stroke and the many disabilities they can cause. In addition, lack of activity may increase your risk for:

  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • type 2 diabetes
  • osteoporosis
  • certain types of cancer
  • obesity
  • falls and injuries
  • depression

Almost everyone can benefit from active living. If you have arthritis or osteoporosis, physical activity is extremely important to keep you mobile. If you've already had a heart attack, becoming active may help to prevent another one. And people over 65 with poor mobility who engage in muscle and bone strengthening activities can enhance their balance and prevent falls

If you have a heart problem, check out our Heart Walk Workout. This special exercise program developed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation helps people with heart disease problems get regular healthy exercise.

NOTE: Before starting a physical activity program, speak to your healthcare provider first to discuss what is right for you.

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Last reviewed: June 2013
Last modified: December 2013

Healthy kids now, healthy adults later

Children of all ages benefit from physical activity. Physical activity strengthens their hearts and helps kids and teens maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure, which may lower their risk of developing heart disease and stroke as they age. Get them to start early! Active kids are more likely to become fit adults.

Children are naturally energetic, but without encouragement they can become inactive. These days, children spend more and more time sitting – in class, on a school bus, using the computer, playing video games, or watching TV. As a result, more than half of Canadian children aren’t active enough for optimal health and development.

Keep them moving

The type and amount of activity kids need, changes as they grow.

For healthy growth and development, infants and preschoolers should be active several times a day. All activity such as tummy time on the floor, reaching for toys, rolling, crawling, climbing stairs, running and biking will help them to:

  • increase their fitness
  • have fun
  • feel happy
  • develop self-confidence
  • improve their learning and attention

Being active for at least 60 minutes a day can help children and teens to:

  • improve their health
  • do better in school
  • improve their fitness
  • grow stronger
  • have fun playing with friends
  • feel happier
  • maintain a healthy body weight
  • improve their self-confidence
  • learn new skills

Reduce sitting time

Children 5 to 17 years of age need to reduce the time they spend sitting every day. Try cutting down on recreational screen time in front of TVs and computers to no more than two hours a day. And try reducing the time your kids sit in cars or on school buses as well as limiting the time they spend sitting or being indoors for extended periods. It’s not a matter of trying to fit something else into their busy day. Instead, encourage your children to swap some inactive time in front of a computer or sitting on a bus with other activities such as dancing to music or walking to school.

These fun and engaging Hands Up videos may help your children understand the importance of physical and health literacy.

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Last reviewed: June 2013
Last modified: December 2013
Video
23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?








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