Regular physical activity enhances the quality of life for people of all ages. Being physically active every day can significantly reduce your risk of injuries, many chronic diseases and premature death as well as improve mental function and emotional well-being, and increase energy.
The nation is currently experiencing an inactivity or sedentary epidemic. Causes include:
- More use of cars and less time getting around under our own power.
- Less active jobs, more hours working.
- More time in front of screens - TV, computer, video games, etc.
- Less time for outdoor play and recreation
- Recreation that relies upon motor vehicles (boats, ATV's, snowmobiles, etc.)
This contributes to overweight and obesity concerns and many other health issues.
Generally, physical activity involves moving. It can be as
simple as walking, mowing the lawn, washing the car or cleaning the
house, or it can involve exercise.
Exercise is physical activity that is planned or structured. It involves repetitive bodily movement done to improve or maintain one or more of the components of physical fitness for cardio-respiratory endurance (aerobic fitness), muscular strength, muscular endurance and flexibility and body composition, etc.
Exercise is an important component for health and well-being. The good news is that people will gain many benefits if they are physically active--- walking, biking, playing, etc---without a structured exercise program. However, there are important additional benefits to be gained from various types of exercise and the best strategy is to do both.
A Health Department program started in 2002 to improve health by promoting physical activity and healthier food choices for all Missoula County residents.
CDC Guidelines - for children, adults, older adults, and pregnant women.
US Dept. Health and Human Services - booklets you can download.
Physical Activity & Your Daily Dose - How much physical activity do we need? What are the benefits? What are some easy ways to get it?
Physical Activity guide - CDC - a community guide
Quantifying the cost of physical inactivity - East Carolina University, Health and Human Performance.
Walking and bicycling
Guide to Walking - by a physical therapist
American Heart Association - Start Walking
Walk your dog - your cute, furry treadmill!
Benefits of physical activity for children and youth:
Aside from meeting national recommendations for children to be physically active twice as much as adults (60 minutes a day at a minimum), there are other important benefits linked to physical activity. These include:
- Improving ability to cope with the challenges of growing up
- Childhood development tasks
- Increasing ability to learn and do better in school
- Improvement of symptoms linked to stress, depression, and other mental health concerns such as ADHD
- Short and long term physical health benefits
- Burning more calories
- Connecting with social world & environment
- If outside, can help in connecting with nature (No Child Left Inside)
- Playing with other children, learning social skills (in some cities there are special classes to teach children how to play)
- Learning about getting around and geographical distances and locations
- Reducing screen time
- Real life knowledge and experience
Active Kids - Missoula coalition to increase physical activity in children
Unplug & Play - unstructured, imaginative play is crucial to a child's brain development. Find ways to reduce screen time (TV, computer, games) and increase physical activity.
Child and Nature Network - Missoula: why children need nature and how to access nature in your own neighborhood. Free monthly family activities.
Report on Physical Activity of Missoula County Youth - March 2008, a special report on 2nd through 12th grades.
NASPE five recommended focuses:
- Recess: elementary - 20 minutes
- Walking or biking to school
- Recreational sport and play that occurs before, during and after school
- Classroom-based movement: high school aged - dance
National Guidelines for Physical Activity - for physical education, PE teachers and coaches - National Association for Sports and Physical Education
Missoula CATCH program - Coordinated Approach to Child Health
The Association Between School-Based Physical Activity. . . and Academic Performance - CDC, Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) - discusses how school-based physical activity may help improve students’ grades, test scores and academic achievement.
Worksites can employ several strategies to increase physical activity that will produce many benefits for the employer as well as the employee.
It is never too late to discover the benefits of physical activity.
Exercise for Older Adults - National Institute for Health
Exercise Guide - National Institute on Aging
Outdoor activities and recreation
Health clubs in Missoula (as of April 2012)
Healthy built environment - how physical infrastructure supports physical activity
Active Environments - CDC
Related Missoula Measures - community health data
Other related information
Missoula Mountain Line - public transportation increases walking
Active Living by Design - Robert Woods Johnson Foundation
Overweight & obesity concerns - Missoula
Common activities - for adults
|Health Promotion Director:|
|Active Living Coordinator:||Mary McCourt|
Please note some documents are in "Portable Document Format" and requires Adobe Acrobat Reader to view. If you do not have this viewer, visit Adobe.com.