"Physical activity plays an important role in ensuring good health and should be an integral part of a healthy lifestyle at all ages (Video). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), physical activity means"any effort exerted by the musculoskeletal system that results in a consumption of energy higher than that in conditions of rest”.

Daily physical activity, controlled and adapted to your abilities, is one of the best self-administered drugs. It is now known that regular physical activity is good for you, helps you feel better, reduces stress, tones your muscles and improve night sleep.

Getting around is pleasant, healthy, can be done anywhere, at any time of the day, does not require special equipment and is free. In fact, it is not necessary to go to a gym, swimming pool or other sports facility to do physical activity (read the Bufala). Playing outdoor sports, but even just doing simple activities such as playing, walking, cycling, should become part of the regular daily activity.

In Italy 34% of adults between 18 and 69 years and 90% of adolescents do not reach the recommended levels of physical activity. Even among children, 60% engage in less physical activity per day than recommended.


Performing regular physical activity is the real secret to living longer and improving the quality of your life.

It is never too late to start moving, there is no minimum level to have benefits: a little activity is better than nothing. The benefits begin as soon as you start to be more active. Physical activity in fact:

  • improves blood pressure and enhances the functioning of the heart and lungs, decreasing the risk of developing heart disease
  • reduces the risk of contracting certain types of cancer, such as those of the colon and breast
  • reduces the risk of getting type 2 diabetes
  • strengthens the musculoskeletal system, protecting against osteoporosis and arthritis
  • it burns sugars, fats, proteins and reduces the level of cholesterol in the blood
  • helps to lose weight because it regulates appetite and increases the number of calories burned every day
  • reduces the symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression
  • decreases the urge to smoke
  • promotes sleep
  • increases agility and strength, improving self-esteem

Physical activity by age group

These are the recommendations for a healthy lifestyle:

  • children (0 to 5 years), if they are still not walking they should be encouraged to move, reducing the time they spend in a wheelchair or stroller to less than 1 consecutive hour. From the year of life, they should be physically active for at least 180 minutes a day
  • children and teenagers (5-17 years), should perform at least 60 minutes a day of moderate / intense aerobic activity, including, at least 3 times a week, muscle exercises that may also consist of movement games or sports activities (read the Hoax)
  • adults (18-64 years), at least 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of strenuous activity (or equivalent combinations of the two) combined with anaerobic muscle-strengthening exercises to be performed at least twice a week
  • seniors (aged 65 and over), the indications are the same as for adults, with the warning to also carry out activities oriented to balance to prevent falls. Those unable to fully follow the recommendations should exercise at least 3 times a week and adopt a lifestyle active adequate to your health conditions (read the Bufala)

The recommended levels must be considered the minimum limit thanks to which you can obtain the greatest benefits for your health

Types of business

  • aerobic activity, means an activity that requires moderate effort for a prolonged period, promoting blood circulation and breathing. Examples include brisk walking, running, cycling, swimming, etc.
  • anaerobic activity, we mean an activity that requires intense effort for a short period by strengthening and strengthening the muscles. Examples are abdominal toning exercises, push-ups, weight lifting, etc.
  • moderate activity, they can be brisk walking, cycling on level ground, washing the car, etc. Basically, all those activities that allow you to talk while practicing them.
  • intense activities, jumping rope, gymnastics, running, playing football, swimming fast, considerably increase the heart rate and respiratory rate and are therefore considered intense activities.

To improve balance, you can perform some exercises such as walking backwards, walking sideways, walking on toes, walking on heels, standing up while seated, using proprioceptive tools (unstable platforms, etc.).

How to do physical activity

Reducing the time dedicated to sedentary activities, such as watching TV and using the computer, and committing to starting to change your habits, starting with simple daily gestures, is very important to start improving your physical condition.
To start:

  • go to work on foot or by bicycle
  • avoid the car for small movements
  • organize a walk with friends or a run in the park
  • take the stairs instead of taking the elevator
  • get off the bus first and continue on foot
  • engage in gardening or housework
  • dance and play with children

It only takes 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity (read the Hoax or watch the Video) five days a week to improve and maintain your health at a good level. This does not mean that physical activity must always be carried out for 30 continuous minutes, it can also be divided into 10-minute blocks to be repeated throughout the day.

It should be remembered that you can enjoy the benefits of physical activity even if you start practicing it late in life. The important thing, if you are not trained, is to always start gradually, without haste and stop immediately if you feel pain in any part of the body.


Heart Project (ISS). Physical activity

World Health Organization (WHO). Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health

EpiCentro (ISS). Physical activity

EpiCentro (ISS). PASSI surveillance. Physical activity

EpiCentro (ISS). HBSC surveillance. Nutritional status and eating habits

EpiCentro (ISS). The OKkio health surveillance system: 2016 results

De Mei B, Cadeddu C, Spinelli A. Movement, sport and health: the importance of policies to promote physical activity and the impact on the community. Rome: Higher Institute of Health; 2018 (ISTISAN Reports 18/9)

In-depth link

Heart Project (ISS)

Active child, healthy adult.Poster presented at: World Physical Activity Day 2016

10 tips to be more active from 0 to 5 years. Poster presented at: World Physical Activity Day 2016

World Health Organization (WHO). Guidelines on physical activity, sedentary behavior and sleep for children under 5 years of age

Ministry of Health. Guidelines on "physical activity for different age groups and with reference to physiological and pathophysiological situations and specific subgroups of the population

EpiCentro (ISS). Children under 5: what is best to do or avoid

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