Young or old, getting a healthy dose of exercise has always been highly recommended from medical experts. Some people take this advice seriously and diligently put enough hours in cardiovascular and strength training exercises, while others continue to opt for the couch. Recently, the government issued an updated version of their Physical Activity Guidelines, and the advice is still the same: a healthy dose of cardiovascular and strength training helps promote a healthy body and overall lifestyle. However, there have been some modifications to the guidelines that could make it easier for those who have still not jumped on the wagon.
The new guidelines, which was issued by The Department of Health and Human Services (https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/be-active/physical-activity-guidelines-for-americans/index.html), is an update to the previous issue that came out in 2008. The purpose of this guideline is to inform Americans and help people understand the types of physical activities that are important for their health as well as the amount of these activities that is needed.
Less Sitting, More Moving
There have always been a large number of fitness enthusiasts that suggested it was important to do a prescribed duration of activity types, such as aerobics or strength training. The idea is that this was the only true way to benefit from these exercises. However, one health expert from the committee stated that this is not essential. Instead, even though evidence shows that an overall total volume of moderate to vigorous physical activity does help promote a large number of health benefits, it’s not necessarily about the exact time duration that each session has to last.
The assistant secretary for health at HHS, Brett P. Giroir, stated the following in an interview, “sit less, move more. Whatever you do, it really all counts.” The understanding is that people don’t have to do long sessions of exercise to reap the benefits. Instead, doing multiple short sessions can end up with similar energy expenditure, providing the same impact if a person were to do a long stretch of exercise.
Regardless, the HHS has made the following recommendations in their updated Physical Activity Guidelines:
Children Ages of Three to Five
This is the first time that this age group has been included in the recommendations. The committee has stated that kids in this age group need to be active throughout the day as this will help enhance growth and overall development. The minimum duration of activities that these children are recommended to engage in should be no less than three hours per day.
Children Aged 6 to 17
The recommendations for this age group are the same as it was in the first edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines. It is recommended that they need to spend a minimum of 60 minutes doing some form of moderate to vigorous activity every day. In addition, three days of the week should include some form of muscle strengthening activity, while another three days should involve activities that focus on bone strengthening. For bone strengthening activities, running and jumping are normally recommended while climbing or swinging on bars in the jungle gym is good for muscle strengthening.
There have been no major changes to the recommendations for adults, so a minimum of 150 minutes every week during some form of moderate aerobic activity is necessary. However, at least two days of the week should be spent on activities that focus on muscle strengthening. Some of the popular recommendations for these types of activities are weightlifting, yoga, push-ups, and for aerobics, running, cycling and walking are still considered effective.
While there are no major changes to the guidelines in terms of the total volume duration of activity needed throughout the week, people that find it very difficult to get motivated can take comfort in knowing that physical activity doesn’t have to be too torturous. As long as you keep moving, doing short bursts of aerobic activities and strength training throughout the day while taking a break now and then, you’ll be doing your part in living a healthier lifestyle.