New Physical Activity Guidelines Urge Americans: Move More, Sit Less

New Physical Activity Guidelines Urge Americans: Move More, Sit Less

The new standards are similar to those released 10 years ago, but the government is scrapping a recommendation that physical activity occur in 10-minute blocks, instead telling Americans to "move more and sit less" whenever possible. The earlier position was contained in the government's first physical activity guidelines, issued in 2008. Women are advised to do 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week during and after pregnancy.

"It's actually easier to achieve the recommendations in the physical activity guidelines", said ADM Brett P. Giroir, MD, assistant secretary for health at HHS. "When we move more, we have better cardiovascular health, we are stronger and less susceptible to disease, and we feel better".

Today, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) would like to support the first-ever revision to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (Guidelines), underscoring the essential role they play in setting the bar for a more physically active nation.

There are new key guidelines for preschool children to be active throughout the day to enhance growth and development. This new guideline suggests a young child should be lightly, moderately, or vigorously active for at least 3 hours per day.

Children aged 6 through 17 should get at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per day and sessions of muscle-strengthening per week. The new guidelines acknowledge that for this age group, in addition to improving bone health and heart health and reducing the risk of depression, physical activity can also improve cognition.

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Moderate-intensity activity includes walking briskly, riding a bike on level ground with few hills and playing doubles tennis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while muscle-strengthening activity includes lifting weights, yoga and "heavy gardening", such as shoveling. The new guidelines also emphasize decreasing sitting time for adults. Stay ahead with the MD Mag Newsletter.

Any amount of exercise has some health benefits, officials say, and some benefits are even immediate, like better quality of sleep or reduced anxiety.

The advice is similar for older adults, but activities should include things that promote balance to help avoid falls. In addition, physical activity can reduce the risk of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease. And for individuals with health conditions, including hypertension and type 2 diabetes, exercise can decrease disease progression. The second edition has removed the requirement of 10-minute bouts of activity as being the minimum amount of exercise that contributes towards meeting the guidelines.

"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.

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