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Fact Sheet on Physical Activity

1. FACTS ABOUT PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
 
  From decades of research, we know that -
 
 
  • People who are inactive can improve their health and well-being by becoming even moderately active on a regular basis.
  • Physical activity need not be strenuous to achieve health benefits.
  • Greater health benefits can be achieved by increasing the amount (duration, frequency, or intensity) of physical activity.

2.

PROVEN BENEFITS OF REGULAR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
 
  Regular physical activity of moderate intensity performed on most days of the week improves health in the following ways : 
 
  • Reduces the risk of dying prematurely.
  • Reduces the risk of dying from heart disease.
  • Reduces the risk of developing diabetes.
  • Reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure.
  • Helps reduce blood pressure in people who already have high blood pressure.
  • Reduces the risk of developing colon cancer.
  • Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety.
  • Helps control weight.
  • Helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
  • Helps older adults become stronger and better able to move about without falling.
  • Promotes psychological well-being.

3.

PREVALENCE OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY IN HONG KONG

 
  • Physical inactivity is common in Hong Kong. Over half of the local population is not physically active.
  • The Behavioural Risk Factor Survey conducted by the Department of Health in April 2007 revealed that over half (56.4%) of adult aged 18 to 64 had not done any moderate physical activity for at least 10 minutes at a time and only about one-third (34.7%) had done some vigorous physical activity during the week before enumeration. The level of physical activity in females was slightly lower than that in males.
  • In addition, walking was a very common form of physical activity. During the week before enumeration, most (72.0%) of adult aged 18 to 64 had spent at least 10 minutes on walking everyday.
  • On the other hand, the survey also revealed that respondents had spent long hours sitting everyday. Over half (55.7%) of adult aged 18 to 64 sat for at least 6 hours per day (Monday to Friday) in the week prior to the survey.

4.

PUBLIC HEALTH IMPACT OF PHYSICAL INACTIVITY
 
 
  • Lack of exercise is one of the major risk factors for heart diseases, cerebrovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, some types of cancers and obesity.
  • In 2007, we had –

    6 373 people dying from coronary heart disease; and

    1 690 people dying from colorectal cancer.

5. AMOUNT OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY FOR GOOD HEALTH
 

  Physical activity need not be strenuous to be beneficial. Physical activity equivalent to 150 Calories per day is already associated with health gains. As the amount of physical activity is a function of -
 
  • duration (D)

  • intensity (I)

  • frequency (F),

 

people can achieve a moderate amount of physical activity in a variety of ways they like. That is to say, the health impact is the same for a less vigorous exercise performed over a longer time and a more vigorous exercise performed over a shorter period of time. As a simple guide, exercise that makes your heart beat faster and stronger, or makes you feel sweaty or breathe heavily is considered physical activity of moderate intensity.
 

6. PRACTICAL EXAMPLES OF MODERATE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
 
 
  • Washing and waxing a car for 45 - 60 minutes
  • Washing windows or floors for 45 - 60 minutes
  • Playing volleyball for 45 minutes
  • Wheeling self in Wheelchair for 30 - 40 minutes
  • Bicycling 5 miles in 30 minutes
  • Dancing fast (social) for 30 minutes
  • Pushing a stroller 1.5 miles in 30 minutes
  • Walking 2 miles in 30 minutes (15 min/mile)
  • Water aerobics for 30 minutes
  • Swimming laps for 20 minutes
  • Wheelchair basketball for 20 minutes
  • Basketball (playing a game) for 15 - 20 minutes
  • Bicycling 4 miles in 15 minutes
  • Jumping rope for 15 minutes
  • Running 1.5 miles in 15 minutes (10 min/mile)
  • Stair walking for 15 minutes
   
7. A HEALTHY START
 
 
  • To avoid soreness and injury, individuals who are inactive should aim low and start slow. This will allow time for the body to adjust.
  • People with chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, or obesity, or who are at high risk for these problems should first consult a physician before beginning a new programme of physical activity.
  • Also, men over age 40 and women over age 50 who plan to begin a new vigorous physical activity programme should consult a physician first to be sure they do not have heart disease or other health problems.
   
8. OTHER IMPORTANT POINTS TO NOTE
 
 
  • Everybody can enjoy the benefits of regular physical activity, regardless of age, sex and bodily conditions.
  • Parents have a crucial role in maintaining a physically active lifestyle for their children through encouragement and empowerment.
  • Schools play an important role by designing programmes with more physical activity.
  • Teenagers and dieters benefit from improved body build and strength as well as stronger bones to last a lifetime.
  • Counseling by healthcare providers helps people incorporate physical activity into daily life.
  • Worksite activity programmes increase physical activity levels among the workforce.

 

  Last Revision Date : 03 Nov 2008