From the time we were youngsters, we've all been told the importance of physical fitness. From P.E. class, playing sports, and messing around at recess, it's been part of the American education system that we engage in some sort of exercise. And that's a good thing!

According to the ChoosePT, these are ten clear things regular physical exercise does to contribute to your overall health and wellbeing:

  1. Improves your memory and brain function (all age groups).
  2. Protects against many chronic diseases.
  3. Aids in weight management.
  4. Lowers blood pressure and improves heart health.
  5. Improves your quality of sleep.
  6. Reduces feelings of anxiety and depression.
  7. Combats cancer-related fatigue.
  8. Improves joint pain and stiffness.
  9. Maintains muscle strength and balance.
  10. Increases life span.

As someone who has almost always had some sort of physical activity in my life, I can vouch for it. I always feel much better physically, emotionally, and mentally when I have a regular exercise regimen.

The unfortunate thing though, is that Iowa ranks among the worst states in the country in fitness.

According to America's Health Rankings, Iowa ranks 41st in the nation for physical fitness, with just 20 percent of Iowans reaching or exceeding the recommended amount of exercise in 2021. The site says this amount is "150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity and two days of muscle strengthening per week." The study determined how many people did that within the previous 30 days.

 

Ranking first in the study was Vermont at 28.5 percent and last was Kentucky with just 15.3 percent of its residents reaching the recommended goal. The national average is 23 percent.

The site continues, addressing how communities can influence individuals to exercise, and what the connotations are between a fit population versus an unfit population.

County Health Rankings and Roadmaps suggests a wide variety of activities and things to be incorporated to improve widespread levels of fitness, with emphasis on the following:

  • Offering fitness and exercise programs in community centers.
  • Offering prescriptions for physical activity and exercise.
  • Including individually-adapted physical activity programs.
  • Promoting mixed-use development.

It's added that men tend to be more physically fit than women and that having a higher average income is correlated with being more fit. College graduates are also more likely to be fit than those who did not attend or graduate from university.

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