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, about 3 out of every 10 U.S. adults report being inactive during their leisure time, and only 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.

Community-based Programs

  • 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.
  • GirlTrek
    GirlTrek is a movement for African-American women and girls that encourages healthy, fulfilled lives through a habit of daily walking.

Tools and Resources

  • Mall Walking: A Program Resource Guide [PDF-300K]
    The mall walking guide provides information about the health benefits of walking, explains why mall walking programs can help people walk more, and provides practical strategies for starting and maintaining walking programs.
  • Promoting Airport Walking: A Guide [PDF-632K]
    The airport walking guide was developed for airport managers, as part of CDC’s Walk to Fly project to encourage airport travelers to make more active choices by using signs to encourage people to walk through the airport.
  • 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.
  • America Walks
    America Walks offers resources for increasing walking and expanding walkable communities.
  • Go4Life
    Go4Life is an exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes for Health. It is designed to help older adults fit exercise and physical activity into their daily life.
  • The Download Podcast: Active People, Healthy Nation–Creating an Active America, Together
    This podcast describes the connection between physical inactivity and cardiovascular disease, the benefits of physical activity, and CDC's vision, and work to move 25 million people up one physical activity level through a national movement called Active People, Healthy Nation.



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