What is Physical Activity? How much physical activity is recommended?

Physical activity is an international term used to describe body movements using energy. In its simplest definition, it is the movement of the body to spend energy. Physical activity can be defined as activities that occur with energy consumption by using our muscles and joints in daily life, increase heart and respiratory rate, and result in fatigue of different intensities.

  • Walk
  • Running
  • Splash
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Don’t squat
  • Arm and leg movements
  • Head and body movements

Various sports that include all or some of the basic body movements such as dance, exercise, games, and activities during the day can be considered as physical activity.

Exercise is a regular physical activity. Exercise includes regular and repetitive body movements.

Read: What is shinbone pain? the symptoms of shinbone pain?

What is Physical Activity?

Physical activity: Any movement that is performed using skeletal muscles and requires energy expenditure in daily life is defined as physical activity.

Exercise (Regular Physical Activity): Regular, planned, and repetitive physical activities aimed at maintaining or enhancing one or more components of physical fitness.

Sports: It is a type of activity carried out by licensed amateur and professional athletes, which is carried out within certain rules, generally for the purpose of the competition. On the other hand, activities such as basketball and football played in the district fields are also settled in our daily life as sports.

In this context, exercise and sports are physical activities as well as activities performed to maintain our daily life such as playing games, housework, gardening, walking, going up and downstairs, eating, and bathing.

Key elements

  • Insufficient physical activity is one of the leading risk factors for death worldwide.
  • Insufficient physical activity, cardiovascular diseases, non-communicable diseases such as cancer and diabetes (NCDs) is an important risk factor.
  • Physical activity has significant health benefits and contributes to the prevention of noncommunicable diseases.
  • Globally, 1 in every 4 adults is not active enough.
  • More than 80% of the adolescent population in the world is not physically active enough.
  • Add to handle policies for physical activity is being implemented in 56% of WHO Member States.
  • WHO Member States, insufficient physical activity until 2025 was agreed to reduce by 10%.

Types of Physical Activity

We can group physical activities under four main headings according to their ability to improve physical fitness:

  • Endurance (Aerobic) Exercises

Endurance refers to the ability to do any physical activity for a longer period of time without getting tired. Endurance (aerobic) exercises are exercises in which large muscle groups work dynamically and rhythmically, increasing the capacity of our body to use oxygen. These exercises should be done at a certain intensity, frequency, and time. As our endurance improves, we can continue all our physical activities for a longer time without getting tired.

Examples of activities that will improve endurance; Activities that do not overload such as walking with regular and frequent steps, cycling, long-term swimming, garden, or fieldwork, tennis can be given.

  • Strength Exercises

Strength is the muscle’s ability to resist resistance. Lifting an object from the ground, carrying a load, pulling, or pushing a heavy object requires strong muscles. For example, for an adult to be able to carry a certain weight of luggage, the arm muscles must have sufficient strength. As our strength increases, we can more easily lift a weight, jump higher, or throw an object further away.

Strength activities are activities that require the muscle to contract strongly. As an example of strength increasing activities; Activities such as carrying a weight, climbing stairs, carrying a bag on your back, push-ups for arm muscles, sit-ups for abdominal muscles, strength training with weights can be given. It is extremely important for an adult to increase and/or maintain muscle mass and strength in order to be able to perform these types of activities, which we sometimes do in our daily life, more comfortably, and to lead a healthy life.

  • Force activities;

It strengthens our muscles and bones, decreases body fat, increases muscle and bone mass, and prevents its loss. Force activities; It should aim to strengthen the important and large muscles of our body such as the abdomen, back-waist, shoulder-arm, and hip-leg muscles. For this reason, when performing strength activities, one should not be loaded on only one area, but the upper and lower parts of the body, right and left, front and rear trunk muscles should be strengthened in a balanced way.

  • Flexibility Exercises

Flexibility is the ability of joints to move at wide angles. In other words, it is the ability of the trunk, arms, or legs to move comfortably while performing physical activity. Having a flexible body allows an adult to move freely during daily life activities. For example, it is essential for the hips and legs to be flexible, to be able to sit cross-legged, the spine to be flexible, to lean forward and back comfortably, to be flexible in the shoulder, and to reach our back. Regular physical activities such as yoga, pilates, and Tai Chi increase flexibility. Flexibility exercises can be done separately for each joint.

The flexibility characteristics of individuals vary due to differences in body structures but can be improved with regular stretching (flexibility) exercises. Having a flexible body improves our quality of life by making our daily movements easier.

  • Balance Exercises

Balance is our body’s ability to stand without falling and move properly. For this, the sense of sight, balance in the inner ear, and deep sensation must be strong, as well as the muscles must be strong enough.

An individual with a good balance can stand comfortably on his toes and walk with his eyes closed or in a straight line without swaying. A good balance is required in order to stand on one leg, walk on tiptoes, stand on unstable ground, and walk on slippery ground without falling. Having good balance reduces the risk of falling. Regular balance exercises can be done to improve balance. Exercises that improve muscle strength, flexibility, and endurance also positively affect balance.

How much physical activity is recommended?

WHO recommends:

Children and adolescents aged 5-17

  • He should do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.
  • More than 60 minutes of physical activity daily will provide additional health benefits.
  • It should include activities that strengthen muscles and bones at least 3 times a week.

Adults aged 18-64

  • Do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity during the week or at least 75 minutes of vigorous intense physical activity or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity activity during the week.
  • For additional health benefits, adults should increase their moderate intensity physical activity to 300 minutes per week or the equivalent.
  • Muscle strengthening activities involving large muscle groups should be done 2 or more days a week.

Adults aged 65 and over

  • At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity during the week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity during the week, or an equivalent combination of moderate to vigorous-intensity activity.
  • For additional health benefits, they should increase their moderate intensity physical activity to 300 minutes per week or the equivalent.
  • Those with poor mobility should do physical activity 3 or more days a week to improve balance and prevent falls.
  • Muscle strengthening activities involving large muscle groups should be done 2 or more days a week.

The intensity of different forms of physical activity varies from person to person. In order to be beneficial to cardiorespiratory health, all activity should be done in seizures of at least 10 minutes.

Physical Activity Duration and Frequency

To be able to see the protective and improving effect of health, together with daily activities; is possible with a planned, repetitive, and regular physical activity.

150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week (30 minutes 5 days a week) is sufficient for adults to maintain and improve health.

Children between the ages of 1-4 should do a total of 180 minutes of physical activity of different intensity during the day. For children and adolescents between the ages of 5 and 18, 60 minutes a day of activities ranging in intensity from moderate to high-intensity activities are recommended.

During moderate activities, the person can speak but not sing. Walking fast, jogging, dancing, jumping rope, swimming, playing table tennis, cycling at a slow pace, etc.

During high-intensity activities, the person cannot speak more than a few words without being breathed during the activity. Like jogging, playing basketball, football, volleyball, handball and tennis, participating in step-aerobics lessons, and dancing.

Benefits of physical activity and the risk of insufficient physical activity

Regular physical activity of moderate intensity such as walking, cycling, or playing sports has significant health benefits. At all ages, the benefits of being physically active outweigh any possible harm, for example, through accidents. Some physical activities are better than none. By becoming more active during the day in relatively simple ways, people can reach their recommended activity levels fairly easily.

Regular and adequate physical activity:

  • improving muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness;
  • improving bone and functional health;
  • reducing the risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, various types of cancer (including breast cancer and colon cancer), and depression;
  • reducing the risk of falls and hip or vertebral fractures; and
  • Essential for energy balance and weight control.

Insufficient physical activity is one of the leading risk factors for global deaths, increasingly contributing to the burden of noncommunicable diseases in many countries and affecting overall health worldwide. People who are not active enough have a 20% to 30% higher risk of death compared to those who are sufficiently active.

Insufficient physical activity levels

Globally, about 23% of adults aged 18 and over were not active enough in 2010 (20% of men and 27% of women). In low-income countries, 12% of men and 24% of women in high-income countries, 26% of men and 35% of women were not physically active enough. Low or decreased levels of physical activity usually correspond to high or rising gross national product. The decline in physical activity is partly due to inactivity in leisure time and sedentary behavior at work and at home. Likewise, the increase in the use of “passive” modes of transport also contributes to inadequate physical activity.

Globally, 81% of adolescents aged 11-17 were not sufficiently physically active in 2010. Adolescent girls were less active than adolescent boys, 84% versus 78% not meeting the WHO recommendations.

Various environmental factors linked to urbanization can deter people from being more active, such as:

  • fear of violence and crime in open spaces
  • high-density traffic
  • poor air quality, pollution
  • Lack of parks, sidewalks, and sports/recreation facilities.

How to increase physical activity

Countries and communities should take action to provide individuals with more opportunities to be active in order to increase physical activity.

Policies to increase physical activity aim to:

  • Physical activity in collaboration with relevant sectors is promoted through activities of daily living;
  • walking, cycling, and other active modes of transport are accessible and safe for all;
  • work and workplace policies encourage physical activity;
  • schools have safe spaces and facilities for students to actively spend their free time;
  • quality physical education supports children in developing behavioral patterns that will keep them physically active throughout their lives; and
  • sports and recreation facilities provide everyone with the opportunity to do sports.

Policies and plans to address physical inactivity have been developed in about 80% of WHO Member States, but these were only operating in 56% of countries in 2013. physical activity.

Here are some suggestions to help you do 30 minutes of physical activity a day:

  • Take a short walk during your lunch break. In addition to good exercise, the walk you will do will help increase blood flow in the body and help you concentrate more easily in the afternoon.
  • Discover new places around you. Walking is a great way to stay fit and there is no better alternative to discover new things. You can create a group where you can walk together and plan a trip every two weeks.
  • Participate in sports activities. For example; such as football, basketball, swimming, tennis, or dance class. This is a great way to be more active and make new friends.
  • Try to organize your own activity during lunch break with your colleagues. This can be an activity such as long walking or tennis, or a simple activity such as outdoor jogging or playing frisbee once a week in the summer.
  • Get in the gym. Many gyms offer different exercise classes, from aerobics to yoga.
  • Try to choose activities that you can get together as a family.

It is never too late to start exercising. Some elderly individuals may prefer an activity such as gardening as physical activity. However, you also need 30 minutes for gardening. In addition, you can walk in the park or open area with your loved ones.

The reason people present for not doing physical activity is lack of time. If you try to make physical activity a part of your daily life, you will find that you can easily do 30 minutes of activity per day in a short time.

Here are some examples of how you can make physical activity a part of your daily life:

  • Take the stairs instead of going up with the elevator.
  • Park your car in the furthest distance from your destination in a parking lot. Thus, you will increase your walking distance.
  • Get off at the previous stop on the bus you always get off and walk the remaining distance.
  • Instead of communicating with your colleague at work via e-mail, get up and talk to his desk.
  • Take 10-minute walks during your lunch break and before dinner. Choose to use a bicycle instead of driving for short distances.

In addition to increasing your level of physical activity, it is also important to be aware of the time you spend sitting or lying down. Many jobs today require sitting in the office for long periods of time. During the rest of the day, many people often spend time watching television, spending time on the internet, or playing computer games. Try not to spend time sitting in the same place for a long time. Get up and move from time to time and think of alternatives where you can spend your free time more active.

Physical Activity and Our Body Health

The effects of physical activity on our physical health can be examined under two main headings.

Effects on the Musculoskeletal System:

– Preserving and increasing muscle strength and quantity,

– Ensuring a balance between muscles working in opposite directions,

– Providing balance by increasing muscle-joint control,

– Protecting and increasing joint mobility,

– Preserving and increasing the flexibility of muscles and joints,

– Increasing durability,

– Development of reflexes and reaction time,

– Maintaining body smoothness and posture,

– Development of body awareness,

– Development of balance and correction reactions,

– Reducing fatigue,

– Increasing and maintaining bone mineral density with the effect of muscle contraction and activity, preventing osteoporosis,

– Developing physical protection against possible injuries and accidents.

Effects on Other Body Systems:

– Decrease in the number of heartbeats per minute,

– Increase in the amount of blood pumped in one beat as a result of enlargement in the cavities of the heart,

– Regulation of the heart rhythm,

– Regulation of blood pressure by reducing vascular resistance,

– Reduces the risk of vascular diseases by affecting high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels,

– Ventilation of the lungs and increase in the respiratory capacity,

– Control of insulin activity and regulation of blood sugar with regular physical activity,

– Balancing the body’s use of water, salt, and minerals,

– Improving the ability to meet energy needs by burning oils,

– Accelerating metabolism and preventing weight gain.

Physical Activity and Our Mental and Social Health

– Making the individual feel good and creating happiness,

– Reduces the risk of depression and anxiety disorders,

– Creating self-confident individuals who are at peace with their body by improving body smoothness and awareness due to its positive effects on healthy muscle, bone, and joint structure,

– Improving communication skills,

– Improving the ability to think positively and cope with stress,

– Increase in self-esteem and self-confidence,

– improvement in mental abilities,

Improving social relationships,

– The reduced feeling of tiredness.

Physical Activity and Our Future Life

To be able to see the protective and improving effect of health, together with daily activities; is possible with a planned, repetitive, and regular physical activity. This type of physical activity is also called exercise.

Spending daily life as active as possible is the first step to a healthy life.

Physical activities should be done regularly and made a part of life in order to obtain more benefits and to protect and improve health.

Physical Activity and Nutrition

Regular physical activity should be done to maintain and improve health, prevent chronic diseases, and control body composition and weight. In order for individuals to do physical activity, it is necessary to obtain sufficient energy by taking nutrients in appropriate amounts according to the body’s needs. If sufficient energy is not provided, the energy previously stored in the body is used for physical activity and body weight losses occur. Adequate and healthy nutrition is necessary in order to protect the integrity of the body tissues and to prevent health deterioration while doing physical activity.

It is very important to have an adequate and balanced diet for healthy exercise. This “Turkey Dietary Guidelines” is available as a resource. Individuals with adequate and balanced nutrition do not need to use nutritional supplements such as vitamins and minerals for exercise. Diabetes etc. of the exercising individual. If there is any disease, it is necessary to pay attention to the exercise and nutrition recommendations specific to the disease.

  • Exercise has an important role in body weight control, but exercise should not be done on an empty stomach.
  • A light snack can be consumed 1-2 hours before exercise. The snack should be consumed until half an hour before exercise at the latest. (about 150-200 kcal: 1 glass of milk or ayran, 1 piece of fruit)
  • It is not appropriate to consume the main meal just before exercise.
  • The main meal should be consumed 3-4 hours before exercise.
  • While exercising, fluid loss is high. At least 1 tea glass of water should be consumed every 15 minutes. It is necessary to consume more fluid in very hot and humid weather. A very light yellow color of the urine indicates that a sufficient amount of fluid has been taken.


Still, life is one of the most important problems for modern society, which even carries out daily shopping from virtual markets on the computer.

Physical inactivity, one of the common risk factors for chronic diseases, ranks fourth in the worldwide ranking of risk factors causing death (6% of deaths worldwide).

It is estimated that physical inactivity is the main cause of approximately 21-25% of breast and colon cancers, 27% of diabetes, and 30% of ischemic heart disease. The widespread use of a sedentary lifestyle is one of the important factors that increase obesity.

Physical inactivity poses a serious health risk not only for adults but also for children and adolescents. Apart from genetic, environmental, and biological factors, the most important factors in the formation of chronic diseases are inactivity and malnutrition. It is observed that many chronic diseases, which we are accustomed to seeing in advanced ages, now appear in childhood, due to the adoption of a sedentary lifestyle. For this reason, it is of particular importance to increase movement and decrease the time spent sedentary during the day in children starting from infancy.

Lack of physical activity accelerates the physiological changes that occur with the aging process, increases the frequency of many chronic diseases, causes these diseases to be seen at an earlier age, and shortens the life span.

Physical Activity for the Disabled

General Information
The physical activities described in this section are not therapeutic, they are aimed at directing an active life and generally protecting health. When exercise is used therapeutically, it should be regulated by the relevant physician and health personnel.

Inadequate physical activity for people with disabilities causes weight gain and obesity as well as threatening health.

Adults with disabilities can do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week or 75 minutes per week of high-intensity aerobic activity to the extent they can. In addition, aerobic activity can be performed in an equal combination of medium and high intensity. Aerobic activity should be done for at least 10 minutes every day.

It is possible to perform the physical activity safely with the individual’s physical activity plan, which is planned in accordance with the individual’s personal situation, the presence of additional problems, age, physical fitness level, previous experiences.

There are physical activities that every disabled person can do to suit his or her situation.

In order to reduce the risk of injury and negative effects during physical activity;

  • The frequency and duration of physical activation should be increased gradually over time. Especially sedentary individuals should start from a low level and progress slowly.
  • Physical activity; Performing it in an appropriate environment, with the appropriate equipment, ensuring environmental safety, and in accordance with the activity, rules may prevent injuries and unwanted effects.
  • The place, time, and type of activity should be taken into account in the selection of physical activity for the disabled.
  • Persons with disabilities should consult their physician and relevant health personnel who follow them due to their disability and receive appropriate guidance for them.

Benefits of Regular Physical Activity for the Disabled

  • It prevents musculoskeletal system problems due to immobility.
  • It improves health.
  • Increases physical fitness.
  • Improves posture and balance.
  • It increases self-esteem.
  • Provides weight control.
  • It strengthens the muscles and bones.
  • It makes you feel energetic.
  • It reduces stress and provides relaxation.
  • It supports independent life.

Physical Activity for the Visually Impaired

In fully blind individuals, physical activity should be started at least 10 minutes a day, depending on their inactivity. This period should be increased over time to 60 minutes. Thus, individuals should be encouraged to participate fully in meaningful and purposeful activities. Due to the fact that completely blind individuals do not spend their physiological energy, their involuntary movements develop as tics (nodding, turning their hands, swinging, or turning around). Since the physical activity to be applied will reduce these movements, the duration and intensity of the physical activity can be increased. Folklore and team sports should be preferred because it will increase the social participation, spiritual development, and sharing of individuals.

In visually impaired individuals, insufficient visual information and visual field limitation lead to gait and posture disorders. This causes disruption in their musculoskeletal systems. For this reason, it is appropriate to use stretching, proper posture movements and body awareness enhancing exercises in a three-dimensional environment during physical activity. In order to prevent musculoskeletal injuries, it is important for people to warm up and cool down before each physical activity.

Physical Activity for the Hearing Impaired

In individuals with hearing impairment, the inability to receive sensory stimuli occurs due to the damage to the hearing. Therefore, they experience limitations in balance and motor responses. Physical activity is beneficial for the development of balance.

Individuals with partial hearing loss and / or individuals using hearing aids can participate in the activities. In the participation of individuals with complete hearing loss in physical activity, the activity should be explained with light boards and picture cards. It is important for hearing impaired individuals participate in aerobic and balance activities.

Physical Activity for the Physically Handicapped

The activities of a physically disabled individual are restricted depending on the disability he/she has, architectural barriers, lack of knowledge about exercise, physical activity, and sports do not allow him to improve his physical performance as he wishes. It is known that individuals with disabilities have lower activity levels than the general population, and additional health problems can be seen due to low activity levels.

It is known that the most effective way for physically disabled people to cope with these problems is physical activity and sports.

The main goal of disabled people’s participation in physical activity and sports programs is to help them live a more independent and healthier life and increase their social participation.

Physically disabled individuals can do 3 days a week, at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity or 20 minutes of high-intensity activity a day. For example, a wheelchair-dependent individual using a wheelchair for 30-40 minutes a day is considered to be moderate physical activity, while wheelchair basketball for 20 minutes can be considered a high-intensity activity.

The most ideal of the activity is the one done regularly. Individuals can participate in all safe activities. Activities can be made fun (such as walking, using a wheelchair, dancing).

You can do physical activity or sports by using assistive devices/equipment/prostheses specially developed for your sport or disability, or you can do without any auxiliary equipment. For example, you can do table tennis with your prosthesis or device you use or with your current situation if you do not use them.

Physical Activity for Mentally Handicapped Persons

A sedentary lifestyle is quite common in individuals with mental disabilities. For this reason, for individuals with autism and Down syndrome, physical activity and lack of social opportunities, drug use and diet practice, etc. obesity is seen frequently for reasons. They are at risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, bone and joint problems, and depression.

What are the benefits of physical activity for mentally retarded individuals?

  • It helps the development of vision, hearing, touch, and motion perception.
  • Increases physical fitness by increasing endurance, balance, coordination, strength, and flexibility.
  • It helps weight control.
  • It helps to develop appropriate behavioral responses.
  • It helps to reduce repetitive and self-stimulating behaviors (such as clapping, turning, shaking).
  • It reduces aggressive behavior.
  • It provides an increase in attention.
  • Provides better participation in academic activities.
  • Improves hand skills.
  • It provides an increase in social skills.

How should physical activities be for mentally disabled individuals?

Children should do at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day, adults at least 150 minutes per week, moderate-intensity (you should be able to maintain a conversation without panting during the activity), mostly aerobic.

Read: Physical therapy and Rehabilitation: Benefits of Physical therapy

4 thoughts on “What is Physical Activity? How much physical activity is recommended?”

Leave a Comment