NIH: Office of Disease Prevention

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Introduction

Being physically active is one of the most important steps that Americans of all ages can take to improve their health. We clearly know enough now to recommend that all Americans should engage in regular physical activity to improve overall health and to reduce risk of many health problems. Physical activity is a leading example of how lifestyle choices have a profound effect on health. The choices we make about other lifestyle factors, such as diet, smoking, and alcohol use, also have important and independent effects on our health. The low level of physical activity among Americans is a major contributor to the burden of chronic disease. This burden is costly in terms of quality of life and economic resources needed to provide medical care. [Cited from the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans]

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awards grants to support a variety of research projects related to physical activity, including projects studying measurement and methods, interventions, policies as a part of interventions, physiology, and behavioral studies. This Research Highlight on physical activity provides a sampling of funded research activities across the NIH, examples of recent scientific advances, and a selection of resources from both the NIH and federal partners. For information about obesity prevention research, please see the Prevention Research Highlight on Obesity.