The key to a healthier life? Move more and sit less, according to the latest update to the physical activity guidelines released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It’s the first time in 10 years the document has been given a refresher.
The 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report, which was published in JAMA, was created from over a year and a half of systemic reviews on scientific data to come up with the updated guidelines. Spoiler: They are not a whole lot different than those released in 2008, but they hammer home a main message we’ve been emphasizing for years-move more and sit less.
Here’s what stayed the same: Experts still recommend that adults log at least 150 minutes to 300 minutes moderate-intensity (say, like brisk walking) each week, or 75 minutes to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, like cycling. An equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity would work, too.
The guidelines still continue to emphasize the importance of a balanced exercise routine. You should be shooting for two or more days of strength training a week, too.
You’re probably already familiar with those numbers, but they definitely deserve repeating, since the majority of Americans are falling short of those guidelines. In fact, 50 percent of Americans don’t meet the recommended 150 to 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity and 30 percent of people report no physical activity at all, according to the executive summary.
“There’s such a low adherence to the guidelines, we needed to continue the message to the public that physical activity is important,” said lead author Katrina Piercy, Ph.D., R.D., a nutrition advisor with the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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As for what’s new? Previously, the report recommended exercise should be done in at least 10-minute increments. Now there is no minimum amount of exercise that needs to be done at once to add up to the 150 to 300 minutes a week. The goal of the new guidelines is to get everyone moving, no matter what amount of time they may have. So that means every time you take the stairs instead of the elevator, even that small, 2-minute bout of exercise will count toward your overall total.
Though the hope is that all Americans will meet the recommended guidelines, it is also just important that people become active and start moving more than they are sitting.
“The biggest bang for your buck goes from doing nothing to doing something. Any kind of movement will have some benefits, and the 150 to 300 minute [per week] range will have the most benefits,” Piercy said.
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