The benefits of even small amounts of physical activity
APRIL is National Minority Health Month, highlighting opportunities for active living and physical activities in minority communities in Houston and around the country. Regular physical activity is one of the most beneficial preventive activities an individual can do to protect and enhance their health. Lack of physical activity is related to negative health outcomes such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancers. In minority communities, these disease outcomes are often higher than the general population.
It’s important to know that any physical activity is better than no physical activity.
How Much Physical Activity is Recommended?
The recommended amount of physical activity for adults is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity a week, or a mix of both. Moderate intensity are activities that gets the heart rate up. Vigorous intensity are activities that leaves you feeling out of breath.
The challenge for minority communities living in the U.S.
It is especially challenging to achieve the recommended minutes of weekly physical activities. This challenge is complex and involves various elements that limits opportunities for individuals to be active and healthy.
According to the social determinants of health, minority communities have differing challenges that contributes to less opportunities of physical activity. Examples of these can be little to no green space, broken or no sidewalks and bike lanes, and strict workplace rules that leaves little to no break time for physical activity.
In celebration of this year’s theme of Active and Healthy
We are highlighting the need and importance of supporting infrastructure for active living, the benefits of an active lifestyle and how even small amounts of physical activity can amount to a big difference.
An active lifestyle is where small amounts of moderate-intensity physical activity are integrated into everyday living. Recent studies reveal that even small amounts of activity can add up to great benefits. Adding more physical activity to throughout the day can help prevent, manage some of chronic diseases. The benefits of an active lifestyle start almost immediately and include:
-Lower blood pressure
-Improved quality of life
Here are some ideas you can use to be Active & Healthy this Minority Health Month:
On the go: Ride your bike or walk to the bus stop and take the bus instead of sitting in traffic for an hour.
Insider Tip: Local bike share like Houston B-cycle have stations all of Houston in various communities.
At home: do a short work out or some house work during the commercial break while watching TV.
Insider Tip: There are various 5- and 10-minute fitness videos online you can play right on your phone
At work: take the stairs, take a walking break, lead a walking meeting or start a walking group with your co-workers. GO HEALTHY HOUSTON – Walking Meeting Guide
Insider Tip: Taking a walking break and getting some fresh air throughout the day reduces work-related stress.
On the weekends: get outside and participate in a free community event like Cigna Sunday Streets.
Insider Tip: Don’t get stuck in a weekend rut, go a local community event!
150 minutes of physical activity can certainly be challenge, Houston has many resources that people can use to be more active!
Active living resources include:
- Houston Parks and Recreation Department – Free and Low-cost classes and fitness equipment available to citizens of Houston! https://www.houstontx.gov/parks/
- Houston Health Department Multi-Service Centers – many have gyms with Fitness equipment for community use! Call an MSC near you to find out if your closest MSC has equipment! http://www.houstontx.gov/health/MSC/index.html
- Harris County Community Centers – many community centers have indoor fitness equipment available for your use! Visit the website below to find a center near you! http://www.hcp1.net/Programs/Community-Centers
- Harris County Parks – visit this map to find a park near you! http://www.harriscountytx.gov/Visitors/Harris-County-Parks/More-Harris-County-Parks
Let’s celebrate National Minority Health Month by making the most of community resources and advocating to new and updated physical environments to overcome the sedentary challenges and get more people to be Active & Healthy!
By, Kylie Schaper, BS, CHES®
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2018). Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. Retrieved from https://health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/pdf/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health. (2019). National Minority Health Month. Retrieved from https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/Content.aspx?ID=12481&lvl=2&lvlid=12