Benefits of Physical Activity
A lifestyle that includes daily physical activity has many benefits for women’s health, especially when planning a pregnancy. Regular physical activity helps to maintain a healthy body weight, control cholesterol and blood pressure, and relieve stress. Research has shown that just 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity can have a big impact on your physical and mental health.
Benefits of regular physical activity for your physical health:
- Helps maintain a healthy body weight, builds stronger bones and tones muscles
- Helps control blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and reduces the risk of a heart attack
- Increases resistance to disease, including adult‑onset diabetes
Benefits of regular physical activity for your mental health:
- Reduces stress, anxiety, and depression while increasing relaxation
- Improves self‑esteem, confidence, and overall mental state
- Helps you sleep better
- Gives you more energy for your day
It is best to combine different types of activities:
- Endurance or Aerobic activities are best for strengthening the heart and lungs.
Try: brisk walking, cycling, propelling a wheelchair (“wheeling”), dancing, and continuous swimming
- Weight‑bearing or Strength activities strengthen muscles and bones, and improve your posture.
Try: weight/strength training routines, climbing stairs, exercises like abdominal curls and push‑ups, and lifting and carrying activities
- Flexibility activities that involve bending and stretching, help to keep your muscles and joints mobile.
Try: yoga, T’ai Chi, dancing and stretching exercises.
If you were not physically active before, start easy and progress gradually.
The biggest challenge might feel like figuring out where to start. Here are a few easy steps to help you:
- Find an activity that you will enjoy doing. If you are enjoying yourself, you are much more likely to stick with it.
- Decide if you would like to be on your own or with others. Some women find that social groups, such a walking group, make physical activity more fun.
- Before you start any new exercise routine, check with your health care provider to make sure you don’t have any medical or physical limitations to consider.
If you have a hard time fitting the full 30 minutes of activity into your day, try for 10 minutes of activity at a time, three times a day. Here are some suggestions:
- Park farther away from your destination and walk at least 5 minutes the rest of the way.
- Take breaks during the day to stretch, take a walk with colleagues to get a coffee, or take a quick bike ride.
- Keep busy around the house with active tasks like gardening or housework.
For more information and ideas about physical activity, explore the activities on the ActNow BC and Canada’s Physical Activity Guide to Healthy Active Living websites.