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Staying Active throughout the Life Cycle

By Kerri Kreh Reda, M.P.H.

One of the best things you can do for yourself throughout the life cycle is to stay physically active. Notice that I did not say exercise; I said stay active! Physical activity simply means moving your body. For children it means playing actively, and it should be fun for adults as well. Physical activity has many benefits for people of all ages.

Physical activity:

  • Makes us feel good
  • Gives us more energy
  • Helps us manage stress
  • Helps us sleep better
  • Strengthens our immune system
  • Makes us feel better about ourselves
  • Helps us achieve and maintain a healthy body weight
  • Decreases our risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer
  • Helps us perform better in school and at work

In addition, active play helps children develop socially, physically, intellectually and emotionally. Some additional benefits that active play provides for children include learning:

  • To control their bodies
  • How to follow rules and directions
  • To get along with others
  • Sports skills
  • Team work
  • Honesty
  • To believe in themselves

Here are some suggestions to increase your or your family’s activity level:

  • Dance
  • Do household chores
  • Play games with children or pets
  • Garden
  • Go for a walk
  • Go for a hike
  • Park further from the store, office, school etc.
  • Walk or bike to do an errand
  • Take the stairs
  • Go outside (it has been shown that just being outdoors often makes people more active)

Following are the recommendations for physical activity by age:

For children under 6 years of age, the National Association for Sports and Physical Education recommends that children get between 30-60 minutes of structured activity (adult led) AND a minimum of 60 minutes and up to several hours of unstructured activity each day.

For children and adolescents, 6-17 years of age, the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that they get 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day.

For adults, aged 18-64, and older adults 65 years and older who have no limiting health conditions, the CDC recommends that they get 2 ½ hours (150 minutes) of moderate aerobic activity (brisk walking) each week AND muscle strengthening activity 2 times per week OR 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous aerobic activity (jogging/running) per week and muscle strengthening 2 times per week.

Make it a goal to be active every day!

Resource: Physical Activity: A Healthy Habit for Life Virginia Cooperative Extension

Kerri Kreh Reda, M.P.H., is a Human Development Specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s Family Health and Wellness Program. She can be reached at 631-727-7850 ext. 330 or at



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