Recently, the US Department of Health and Human Services updated their Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. These updates were based on clear evidence: being physically active is one of the most important things people can do to for their health. Not only does it help prevent certain diseases, but it is also included in many treatment plans when they are diagnosed.
Here are key highlights regarding the amount of time you and members of your family should be physically active:
- Preschool-aged children (ages 3 through 5 years) should be physically active throughout the day to enhance growth and development. Active play should be encouraged.
- Children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 years should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily. Activities should include aerobic, muscle strengthening and bone strengthening.
- Adults (18 and older) should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity.
- When older adults cannot do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week because of chronic conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.
Past guidelines stated that physical activity had to last 10-minutes or longer to count. This is no longer the case as some physical activity is better than none. Americans need to find ways to move more and sit less throughout the day. Adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity gain some health benefits.
Newer evidence shows that physical activity can help manage many health conditions that Americans already have. For example, physical activity can decrease pain for those with osteoarthritis, reduce disease progression for hypertension and type 2 diabetes, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improve cognition in the young and old. You could say that being physically active is the gift that keeps on giving!
If you want to learn more, the Executive Summary is a good place to start.
For more information on health and wellness programs at Dedham Health, visit our website.
-Cathy M., Diabetes and Exercise Consultant at Dedham Health