Healthy living and physical fitness are closely connected. Being physically fit not only helps people live healthy lives, it also helps people live longer. People who make physical activity and exercise a part of their daily lives when they are young are more likely to keep it in their lives as they grow older and benefit from it throughout their lifespans. Physical activity is defined as any movement that spends energy. Exercise is a subset of physical activity, but it is an activity that is structured and planned.
While many children engage in physical activity, usually by playing with their friends, the amount of physical activity they get as they grow into adolescents usually declines. In fact, many researchers believe that physical inactivity is a national health problem that can increase the risk of illness and disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), doing some kind of physical activity or exercise on a regular basis helps to increase strength and flexibility, improve endurance, control weight, increase bone mass, and improve self-esteem, as well as reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and the risk of developing high blood pressure.
The best way to keep physical activity and exercise a permanent part of one's life is to make it fun and enjoyable. If people are given different options of what they can do and have easy access to those options, they are more likely to participate in physical activity and exercise. This allows people to have a positive attitude toward physical fitness. It's also helpful if people are knowledgeable about the rewards of physical activity and exercise.
This chapter will outline how physical activity and exercise benefit both the body and the mind in numerous ways. It will also discuss a number of different activity options, from team and individual sports, dancing, walking, gardening, and martial arts, to doing household chores and just playing with friends. Finally, it will explain the importance of setting goals, staying safe, and preventing injuries while keeping the body physically fit.