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Benefits of physical activity: Learning makes them more likely to exercise

What you are going to read can motivate you to practice.

Regular physical activity increases the life of seven years; significantly reduces the risk of illness such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and breast and colon cancer; helps control blood pressure, cholesterol and weight; keeps your brain sharp whether you are young or old; strengthens bones and muscles; and reduces the likelihood of developing mental states such as depression and relieves symptoms, if so.

Try to remember this, because it could help you get moving. The Australian study found that people who are familiar with the specific benefits of physical activity would be more likely to do so.

"Most people know that physical activity is beneficial to health. Few people know the specific benefits of physical activity for health, and it may be precisely this specific knowledge that positively affects their physical activity behavior," said study director Dr Stephanie Schoeppe, colleague at Central Queensland University, in a statement.

Schoeppe and her team created an online survey that would save 615 adult Australian people on physical activity – how much they knew about it and how much they did.

Almost everyone has understood that physical activity is good for your overall health.

Above this basic knowledge level, however, few people could identify the benefits of physical activity and the risk of physical inactivity.

On average, participants were able to correctly identify only 13 out of 22 illnesses associated with physical inactivity.

As scientists predicted, those who knew more about specific conditions of physical inactivity reported a significantly higher rate of activity than those who knew less.

More than half did not know how many exercises they should be doing each week. (FYU, government guidelines dictate at least 150 minutes of intense physical activity, and two sessions of muscle building activities.) However, this knowledge did not seem to be related to how many exercises he did.

The study has limitations – the survey respondents were mostly women (so the findings did not have to be generalized in men) and they themselves reported on how many physical activities they performed (so the data could be inaccurate).

The study also does not know for sure that learning about the benefits of exercising really encourages someone to do more, even though researchers have come to the conclusion that research is a "helpful" view of the behavior of physical activity.

The study is published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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