The 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee scientific report summarizes current evidence on physical activity and health, highlighting specific physical activity-related health benefits. These include a decreased risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes as well as eight different types of cancer. Physical activity has also been shown to affect brain function by reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease as well as improving anxiety, depression, sleep, cognitive function, and overall quality of life.
Despite widely-established benefits across the lifespan, the proportion of individuals engaging in sufficient levels of physical activity is alarmingly low. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports only 50% of adults are achieving the necessary physical activity levels to reduce and prevent chronic diseases. To make matters worse, this lack of physical activity has been linked to 10% of premature deaths. Current research also suggests that there has been no significant increase in aerobic activity over the past decade, while sedentary behaviors have significantly increased. Sedentary behavior is an independent risk factor for adverse health outcomes such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and all-cause mortality.