New exercise guidelines: Move more, sit less, start younger

Alicia Farmer
November 15, 2018

For the first time in a decade, the U.S. government has revamped its guidelines for recommended physical activity suggesting associated health benefits could be easier to achieve than previously thought.

The recommendations added a target of 3 hours of physical activity per day for children ages 3 through 5 years.

If new fitness guidelines from the federal government are any indication, the vast majority of Americans aren't getting almost enough exercise. According to the guidelines, these low levels of physical activity among Americans have health and economic consequences for the nation, with almost $117 billion dollars in annual healthcare costs and 10 percent of all premature mortality attributable to failure to meet levels of aerobic physical activity recommended in the guidelines.

Adults should aim for 150 - 300 minutes of moderate or 75 - 150 minutes of vigorous activity a week.

The guidelines say adults should have at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity and two sessions of muscle-strengthening activity a week, while children between the ages of 6-17 should have at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per day and three sessions of muscle-strengthening a week. "That's why we need to come together as a nation to get Americans moving". "People who sit a lot have an increased risk of all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality, as well as an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and colon, endometrial, and lung cancers", the guidelines say.

Conclusions: Health professionals and policymakers should promote awareness of the updated guidelines and support efforts to implement programs, practices and policies to facilitate increased physical activity to improve the health of the US population.

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The second edition, based on a comprehensive scientific review, reflects new knowledge about immediate and long-term health benefits from physical activity, as well as new evidence that physical activity can help manage chronic conditions that many Americans have. It was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"This update takes a significant step forward in the application of the science of physical activity, making the guidelines more usable for more Americans in everyday life", said Cedric X. Bryant, PhD, FACSM, President and Chief Science Officer at ACE.

The new guidelines also suggest that even brief bouts of activity, like climbing a flight of stairs, are beneficial.

Any amount of physical activity counts.

"It is hard to convey the health benefits of physical activity in a way that does not sound like it is a "cure all", wrote doctors Brett Giroir and Don Wright, who both work under the US Secretary for Health.

Physical activity can dramatically improve an individual's health by preventing disease or reducing the impact of chronic health conditions.

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