Physical Activity

Regular physical activity helps improve overall health and reduces the risk for heart disease, stroke, and premature death.

Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

To prevent cardiovascular disease, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends intensive behavioral counseling to promote physical activity for people with known cardiovascular risk factors. Physical activity can also help people with cardiovascular disease manage their conditions; exercise training has been shown to have a positive effect on people with certain types of heart failure, and cardiac rehabilitation, which includes physical activity training, helps improve the health of people who have had a heart attack or bypass surgery.

Despite the substantial health benefits of physical activity one out of every four U.S. adults report being inactive during their leisure time, and only about half of U.S. adults report levels of aerobic physical activity consistent with national guidelines. There are evidence-based strategies to promote physical activity that can be put into action where people live, learn, work, and play, including behavioral counseling for adults with cardiovascular risk factors and designing safe community spaces that encourage activity.

Featured Resource

Active people, healthy nation. Creating an active America, together.

Active People, Healthy NationSM

Active People, Healthy NationSM is an initiative to help 27 million Americans become more physically active by 2027. People and organizations from a variety of sectors—health, education, transportation, business, and more—are working together to create an active America. Too few Americans get the recommended amount of physical activity outlined in the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. Active People, Healthy NationSM supports communities across the country who are putting in place proven strategies identified by the Community Preventive Services Task Force.

Tools & Resources

For Clinicians

  • Move Your Way
    The Move Your Way tools, videos, and fact sheets on this page have tips that make it easier to get a little more active. Small changes can add up to big health benefits.
  • The Fact Sheet for Health Care Providers [PDF – 502 KB] offers tips for talking with patients about the Physical Activity Guidelines and how to meet them.
  • National Diabetes Prevention Program
    The National Diabetes Prevention Program is a CDC-recognized, research-based lifestyle change program designed to help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes, help lower the risk of having a heart attack or stroke, and improve overall health.
  • Walk with a Doc
    Developed by a cardiologist, Walk with a Doc is a program whose mission is to encourage healthy physical activity in people of all ages through physician-led walking groups.
  • Arthritis Foundation: Walk with Ease
    Walk with Ease is a community-based walking program developed by the Arthritis Foundation. It is offered in a group or a self-directed format and helps people learn to walk safely and develop the habit of walking regularly.
  • The National ParkRx Initiative
    ParkRx is an initiative that encourages people to be physically activity in parks and public land through Park Prescription programs.

For Public Health

For Individuals

  • Move Your Way
    The Move Your Way tools, videos, and fact sheets on this page have tips that make it easier to get a little more active.
    • The Fact Sheet for Adults has information about why regular physical activity is important, what kinds of activity adults need, and how to get it.
  • Every Body Walk!
    Every Body Walk! is a campaign aimed at getting Americans up and moving. This site features information about the health benefits of walking, news, videos, and events.
  • GirlTrek
    GirlTrek is a movement for African-American women and girls that encourages healthy, fulfilled lives through a habit of daily walking.

References

Page last reviewed: June 22, 2020