The "Official" Lowdown on Physical Activity
You can read fitness magazines or online blogs, get tips from friends and neighbors, or make up your own rules and regimens for staying active. But when the federal government speaks, you should probably listen.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans is the voice of authority when it comes to physical activity and health. The guidelines are based on scientific evidence and provide recommendations for Americans of all ages. The second edition of these guidelines came out in 2018 and includes some intriguing facts:
- About half of all American adults have at least one chronic disease.
- Seventy percent of the most common of these diseases can be improved by physical activity.
- A full 80 percent of adults aren’t getting the aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity recommended.
- This lack of activity has been linked to 10 percent of premature deaths.
Yikes! Not good, right? If this gets your attention and you’d like to up your activity level, here are the top recommendations from the guide:
- Kids ages 3 - 5 should be active at least 3 hours a day.
- Kids 6 - 17 should strive for at least an hour of moderate to vigorous activity per day. This should include aerobic activity (anything that speeds up heart rate) and muscle-strengthening activities. This activity has been shown to help with things like bone health, heart health and even learning.
- Adults need at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week and at least two days of muscle-strengthening activity (lifting weights, push-ups). Physical activity brings immediate health benefits, like lowering blood pressure and improving sleep. Over time, physical activity can lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, dementia, weight gain, and eight different cancers, among other health risks. It also helps improve overall quality of life.
- For people who already have a health condition, physical activity can help with pain, slow the disease’s progress, keep depression and anxiety at bay, and improve brain function for people with Alzheimer’s disease, MS, Parkinson’s, and other conditions.
When it comes to government, you might not like everything you hear and read. But for the real scoop on activity levels and health, our friends in Washington seem to know what’s best. Remember, any activity is better than none, so get out of your chair, step away from your desk, or otherwise get moving!
Health.gov. Physical activity guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/10things (Accessed 6/20/19)