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The Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General brought together the scientific evidence that physical activity is good for your health and a sedentary lifestyle contributes to chronic disease and disability. One of the Report's major conclusions is that moderate activity helps to combat the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, colon cancer, and various other diseases and conditions. Fitness by itself does not guarantee wellness, but healthcare without fitness will definitely fall short of wellness.
Audrey F Manley, MD, MPH, Surgeon General (Acting), noted that more than 60% of US adults don't exercise regularly, and 25% aren't active at all. Somewhat surprising, too, is the large number of younger Americans who are inactive: almost 15% of young people aren't physically active at all.
The 1995 Dietary Guidelines for Americans – the basis of the federal government's nutrition-related programs – included physical activity guidance to maintain and improve weight: 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on all, or most, days of the week.
The Surgeon General's Report's Executive Summary states,"Underpinning the Guidelines recommendations is a growing understanding of how physical activity affects physiologic function. The body responds to physical activity in ways that have important positive effects on musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory and endocrine systems. These changes are consistent with a number of health benefits, including a reduced risk of premature mortality and reduced risks of coronary heart disease, hypertension, colon cancer, and diabetes mellitus. Regular participation in physical activity also appears to reduce depression and anxiety, improve mood, and enhance ability to perform daily tasks throughout the life span.
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