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Exercise strengthens bones, boosts mood and reduces risk of disease, but more than 25 percent of women are not active at all.

Exercise strengthens bones, boosts mood and reduces risk of disease, but more than 25 percent of women are not active at all.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that more than 60 percent of U.S. women do not engage in the recommended amount of physical activity and more than 25 percent of U.S. women are not active at all.

Physical activity does not need be strenuous to achieve health benefits. Women of all ages benefit from a moderate amount of daily physical activity. The same moderate amount of activity can be obtained in longer sessions of moderately intense activities (such as 30 minutes of brisk walking) as in shorter sessions of more strenuous activities (such as 15-20 minutes of jogging). Previously sedentary women who begin physical activity programs should start with short intervals (5-10 minutes) of physical activity and gradually increase to the desired level of activity.

The CDC lists the following as benefits of regular exercise:

1. Reduce the risk of disease: Physical activity can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and of developing high blood pressure, colon cancer, and diabetes.

2. Strengthen bones, muscles, and joints: Physical activity helps maintain and strengthen bones, muscles, and joints. Increased physical activity can also reduce joint swelling.

3. Control weight: Women who participate in regular physical activity have more control of their weight due to the building lean muscle, which reduces body fat.

4. Boost your mood: Physical activity can improve your psychological health at any stage of life.