Let’s Get Physical: May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month
An aerial shot of a multi ethnic group of men and women practice yoga on on mats while wearing grey, black and white in an industrial setting. They are reaching forward in child's pose.

It’s never too late to start exercising, so let’s get moving because May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month!

Results of a new study on the benefits of physical activity in American adults and a summary of the current exercise guidelines.

Lack of Physical Activity Costs Lives and Dollars

Physical activity is an essential part of staying healthy and maintaining good quality of life throughout one’s lifetime. Exercising offers immediate and long-term benefits to how people feel, function, and sleep. It also reduces the risk of developing a variety of chronic diseases[1], while inactivity contributes to 1 in 10 premature deaths[2]. Around 1 in 2 American suffer from at least 1 chronic disease[3], yet less than ¼ of Americans are meeting national physical activity guidelines for aerobic and muscle strengthening activities according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics report[4]. Inadequate physical activity costs the US $117 billion in annual healthcare costs[5].

Everyone benefits from exercise[6], and a new study published recently suggests that it is never too late to start being regularly active to see the benefits.


A recent study by Saint-Maurice and others published in the journal JAMA Network Open asked whether there was an association between leisure time physical activity (LTPA) during adolescence (15-18 yrs) or early (19-29 yrs), middle (35-39 yrs), and later (40-61 yrs) adulthood – and all-causes of mortality (death),  including cardiovascular disease-related, and cancer-related deaths.

The study looked at 315,059 adults across 8 states from the National Institutes of Health–AARP (formerly American Association of Retired Persons) Diet and Health Study. LPTA for each age group was self-reported and authors also identified different LTPA categories across time: maintaining, increasing, and decreasing.

Main Findings:

The study found that compared to adults who were consistently inactive (<1 hr/wk), maintaining high LTPA was associated with 36% decreased risk for premature causes of death, which includes a 42% decreased risk for CVD-related, and 14% decreased risk for cancer-related deaths. Also, adults who were less active during most of their adult life but subsequently increased LTPA in later adulthood showed lower risk for all-causes of premature death (-35%), CVD-related (-43%) and cancer-related death (-16%).

Authors’ conclusion:

“Our findings suggest that it is not too late for adults to become active. These findings are particularly informative for health care professionals advising individuals who have been physically inactive throughout much of their adulthood that substantial health benefits can still be gained by improving their physical activity habits.”

What we should take away from this study:

Adults who spend more time (2-8 hrs/wk) in LTPA, even those who have previously been mostly sedentary in adulthood, may have lower risk of all causes of (premature) death including those related to cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer. Adults who are already regularly active should be encouraged to maintain their physical activity levels as they age, while LTPA should be encouraged in adults who are currently sedentary at midlife.

How Much Physical Activity Do You Need?

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (2nd ed.) state the following[7]:

  • Adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. Some physical activity is better than none. Adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity gain some health benefits.
  • For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150-300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75-150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Preferably, aerobic activity should be spread throughout the week.
  • Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond the equivalent of 300 minutes (5 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.
  • Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity and that involve all major muscle groups on ≥2 days/week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.

Newtopia helps participants achieve the above recommended physical activity levels. Our program is tailored for each participant to create sustainable habit change across nutrition, exercise, and behavioral well-being.

*Key considerations for safe physical activity can also be found in the guidelines[8]. *Tips on workplace physical activity can be found here https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/worksite-pa/index.htm

We hope you get moving and enjoy celebrating National Physical Fitness and Sports Month this May. 

[1] https://health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/pdf/PAG_ExecutiveSummary.pdf

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/about-physical-activity/why-it-matters.html

[3] https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/about-physical-activity/why-it-matters.html

[4] http://time.com/5324940/americans-exercise-physical-activity-guidelines/ ; https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr112.pdf

[5] https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/about-physical-activity/why-it-matters.html

[6] https://health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/10things/

[7]https://health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/pdf/PAG_ExecutiveSummary.pdf  https://health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/pdf/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf#page=55

[8] https://health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/pdf/PAG_ExecutiveSummary.pdf


Read more posts from Newtopia