For Dr. Mary Eldridge, the motivating factor for bringing Walk with a Doc to Kenosha was learning about the benefits of exercise as outlined in the newly released second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. The guidelines suggest that for optimal health, children and adults regularly engage in aerobic, muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening exercise.

Unveiled at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions held in Chicago last November, the guidelines are a collaborative effort of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and other health organizations.

According to www.health.gov, highlights of exercise benefits include:

Short-term benefits:

Improve the overall quality of life.

Reduce anxiety.

Reduce blood pressure.

Improve insulin sensitivity.

Improve sleep outcomes.

Long-term benefits:

Youth: Improves cognition.

Adults: Prevents eight types of cancer.

Older adults: Reduces risk of dementia and reduces risk of falls.

Pregnant women: Reduces the risk of post-partum depression.

For all groups: Reduces the risk of excessive weight gain.

Additionally, the report included new evidence that physical activity “can help manage more health conditions that Americans already have.” These include decreasing pain of osteoarthritis, reducing disease progression for hypertension and type 2 diabetes and reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression.