For the first time ever, the federal government has issue a single, unified set of guidelines specifically focused on getting Americans to move more. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans is an important document because it sets forth recommendations that individuals, organizations, communities, policy makers, and legislators should use to promote better health through increased physical activity. Americans’ current inactivity puts us at unnecessary risk for a multitude of health problems and premature death.
The new guidelines are the result of a comprehensive review of the latest research on the benefits to body and mind of regular physical activity. The review confirmed that physical activity is good for just about every body – young or old, healthy or with chronic illnesses. They also definitively answer the question on a lot of people’s minds. Namely, “How much is enough?” The answer is:
Children and adolescents – One hour or more of moderate or vigorous-aerobic physical activity a day, including vigorous physical activity at least three days per week. Muscle and bone-strengthening activities should be done on at least three days per week.
Adults – Two and one-half hours of moderate-intensity OR one hour and 15 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity OR a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week. Aerobic activity should be done in bouts of at least 10 minutes preferably spread out during the week. Muscle-strengthening activities should be done on at least two days per week.
Older adults – Follow the adult guidelines as their chronic conditions and physical abilities allow.
Guidelines for other populations are offered as well and are designed so people can easily fit physical activity into their daily lives by doing activities they enjoy. The bottom line? For all people, some activity is better than none. Additional benefits – especially weight management benefits – are provided by doing more than what is described above.
Are you or your family members meeting these guidelines? If not, take a look at the "Be Active Your Way" guide for how to get started and links to related sites. Don’t forget, the Stand Up & Eat web site offers many active living resources, including the “Get Active Program,” a 12-week e-newsletter designed to help couch potatoes get up and get moving.