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Exercise is Medicine

Surgeon General’s Call to Action

Surgeon General Headshot

Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., M.B.A.
Vice Admiral, U.S. Public Health Service
Surgeon General
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

“First, the Call to Action focuses on promoting optimal health before disease occurs. As Americans, we lead the world in treating disease. As America’s Doctor, I believe we must also lead the world in preventing disease. Robust scientific evidence shows that physical activity is critical for both preventing and treating many of the chronic conditions we face today. Being physically active is one of the most important ways to improve health and well-being throughout our lives.” 

Being physically active has many benefits. It is one of the most important things Americans can do to improve their health. Regular physical activity can reduce the burden of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers, and can prevent early death. Physical activity can also help people with chronic diseases manage their conditions. Chronic diseases are the leading causes of death in the United States. Almost 50% of U.S. adults, or 117 million people, are living with a chronic disease, and among these, about 60 million are living with two or more chronic diseases.

Physical activity has other health benefits, too. It can help manage weight and prevent falls. Physical activity can even reduce depression and may improve cognitive abilities.

Any amount of physical activity is beneficial. Ideally, though, adults should do at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity (like walking), 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity, or a combination each week. Children and adolescents should do at least 1 hour of physical activity every day, and it should include mostly aerobic activity and some muscle- and bone-strengthening activities. Despite the health benefits, only half of American adults and about a quarter of American high school students get the recommended amount of aerobic physical activity.

To read the full Call to Action, click here.