The benefits of physical activity are numerous and undeniable.

hysical activity is an essential component in maintaining good physical and mental health. In combination with healthy eating, it can help prevent a range of chronic diseases, including heart disease and stroke—which are leading causes of death on the island. Other benefits of physical activity are that it helps control weight, builds lean muscle, reduces fat, promotes strong bones, aids in muscle and joint development and decreases the risk of obesity.

The 2011 Health Survey of Adults in Bermuda found that 67 percent of Bermudian adults are considered as either overweight (36 percent), or obese (31 percent). The Health in Review reported that 19 percent of young Bermudians (aged 11 to 18) are considered overweight or obese. It is vital that we halt, and indeed reverse, this growing trend of overweight and obese citizens in Bermuda. The Department of Health has made it a priority to encourage healthy lifestyles in the Bermuda population through various islandwide initiatives. One such initiative is Move More Bermuda.

In 2011, the Department of Health launched a campaign to encourage more physical activity among the people of Bermuda. The key messages of the Move More Bermuda campaign are that physical activity needs to be incorporated as part of a healthy lifestyle and that everyone needs to engage in physical activity each day and to participate in activities that they enjoy. Because of modern advances, we have become a more sedentary population than those of the past. Therefore, we need to make a concerted effort to be active every day.

According to the 2011 Health Survey of Adults in Bermuda, 53 percent of adults reported doing moderate physical activity at least three times per week and 21 percent of adults reported doing vigorous physical activity at least three times per week. In the 2006 Health Survey of Adults & Children in Bermuda, 29 percent of adolescents reported doing vigorous physical activity five times per week.

We want to increase the proportion of adults and children who are physically active, and there are a variety of ways we can achieve this. Make physical activity a part of your daily routine. You don’t have to become a marathon runner to get all of the benefits of physical activity. Do activities that you enjoy as this will increase the probability that you will stick with it.

Make everyday activities more active. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Or, instead of sending e-mails, walk down the hall to a co-worker’s office. Perhaps park your car a distance away and walk to work.

Engaging in physical activity as a family can be a fun way to get everyone moving. Studies have shown that those who feel supported by friends and families and are encouraged to become more active are more likely to participate in a physical activity of their choice.

The Department of Health is committed to continue to promote and create supportive environments for healthy living for the people of Bermuda.