Physical Activity

Background

Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. 

Exercising and moving your body on a regular basis has been shown to have countless health benefits, including improvement in mental health, life expectancy, and risk of adverse health outcomes. Physical activity and exercise can also help you manage stress, feel connected to the community, and appreciate all that your body can do. What physical activity means to you may be different than what it means to your friends and neighbors. The most effective way to practice physical activity is to listen to your body and move in ways that help you feel healthy and strong.

Living an active lifestyle does not solely depend on individual factors but is influenced by broader socioeconomic factors within a community. The conditions in which people are born, live, work, and play affect their ability to be physically active. On this page, we will dive into the impact of social determinants of health on physical activity in the Greater Nashua Public Health Region (GNPHR).

Physical Activity Data Overview

Check out the points below for the main takeaways from this page. 

• In 2018, 21.5% of New Hampshire (NH) adults completed no leisure time physical activity. Those that made less than 15k dollars per year, ages 65 years or older, females, and Hispanic/Latinos were the most likely to have no leisure time physical activity compared to the other groups in those categories. 

• In 2017, 54.4% of NH adults completed an aerobic activity for 150 minutes each week, and 34.5% of NH adults completed an aerobic activity for 300 minutes each week. Those that made less than 15k dollars per year, ages 35-44 years or older, females, and 2 or more races were the most likely to not complete aerobic activity for 150 or 300 minutes per week. 

• In 2017, 30.4% of NH adults met the CDC's muscle strengthening guidelines. Males, those that made 75k dollars or more per year, and those aged 18-24 were the most likely to meet these guidelines. 

• In 2019, the majority (21%) of students in the GNPHR were physically active for at least one hour per day. 

"Your social environment is as important as the physical space in helping you to be active." - Concordia University

Leisure Time Physical Activity

Everyone can experience the health benefits of physical activity. 

Leisure time physical activity involves activities engaged in during ones free time, such as walking, biking, working out, or hiking. These activities are not work related and do not involve tasks for life maintenance, such as cleaning. Engaging in pleasurable physical activity looks different for everyone and is crucial to maintaining physical and mental health, providing relaxation, growth, or even competition. There are many factors that affect peoples ability to engage in leisurely activity, such as income, age, gender, and race and ethnicity

Physical Activity & Income

Low-income neighborhoods tend to have fewer free or low-cost resources as well as less well-maintained facilities for physical activity when compared to high-income neighborhoods. Limited transportation can also affect peoples ability to access safe and established areas for physical activity. 

Physical Activity & Age

Physical activity is an important part of healthy aging. Data shows us that leisure time physical activity decreases as individuals get older. People 25 to 34 years of age tend of have less free time as they are often experiencing significant life changes such as relationships, education, employment, and housing.

Approximately one in two Americans live with a chronic disease. 

Participating in the recommended amount of physical activity can reduce this statistic, preventing one in 10 premature deaths, one in eight cases of breast cancer, one in 12 cases of diabetes, and one in fifteen cases of heart disease. It can also save the United States (U.S.) an annual $117 billion in health care costs (CDC).

Benefits for Youth

• Reduces risk of depression

• Improves aerobic fitness

• Improves muscular fitness

• Improves bone health

• Promotes favorable body composition

• Improves attention and academic performance (school physical activity programs)

Benefits for Adults

• Lowers risk of high blood pressure

• Lowers risk of stroke

• Improves aerobic fitness

• Improves mental health

• Improves cognitive function

• Reduces arthritis symptoms

• Prevents weight gain

Benefits for Older Adults

• Improves sleep

• Reduces fall risk

• Improves balance

• Improves joint mobility

• Extends years of active life

• Prevent weak bones and muscle loss

• Delays onset of cognitive decline

Aerobic Activity

Aerobic activity has health benefits regardless of age, income, gender, or race and ethnicity.

Aerobic activity, also known as endurance activity, improves cardiorespiratory fitness by utilizing a person's entire body to move in a rhythmic manner for a sustained period of time, such as walking, running, or swimming. The proportion of adults in the U.S. meeting the aerobic physical activity guideline increased from 44% in 2008 to 53% in 2016 (CDC).

Muscle Strengthening

Exercising your muscles makes it easier to fulfill other activities.

Exercises such as strength training, resistance training, or endurance training increases muscle strength, power, endurance, and body mass. Engaging in muscle strengthening exercises can lead to better balance and stability, improving overall daily activities. 

Youth Physical Activity

Regular physical activity is essential to a child's growth and development. 

It is recommended for youth to participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity on a daily basis. Physical activity for youth include activities that increase their heart rate, build up their muscles, and strengthen their bones. Youth who engage in regular physical activity tend to have lower body fat and stronger bones and muscles. Physical activity also benefits brain health by improving cognition and reducing symptoms of depression. Regular physical activity for youth is important for promoting lifelong health and well-being while preventing risk factors for health conditions such as heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

Health Equity & Physical Activity

A person's health can be seriously impacted by their race, ethnicity, gender, income level, education, and other socioeconomic factors. In regards to physical activity...

• In 2018, 21.5% of New Hampshire (New Hampshire) adults completed no leisure time physical activity. Those that made less than 15k dollars per year, ages 65 years or older, females, and Hispanic/Latinos were the most likely to have no leisure time physical activity compared to the other groups in those categories.

• In 2017, 54.4% of New Hampshire adults completed an aerobic activity for 150 minutes each week, and 34.5% of New Hampshire adults completed an aerobic activity for 300 minutes each week. Those that made less than 15k dollars per year, ages 35-44 years or older, females, and 2 or more races were the most likely to not complete aerobic activity for 150 or 300 minutes per week.

• In 2017, 30.4% of New Hampshire adults met the CDC's muscle strengthening guidelines. Males, those that made 75k dollars or more per year, and those aged 18-24 were the most likely to meet these guidelines. 

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