ACE Applauds Revisions to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

HHS Updates Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

The U.S. Department of Health and Humane Services has updated its physical activity guidelines. According to HHS, only 26% of men, 19% of women, and 20% of youths meet the recommendations. Even a single episode of activity gives short-term benefits such as lowering blood pressure, reducing anxiety and improving sleep.

The recommended amount of physical activity for children between the ages of 6 through 17 remains the same at 60-minutes per day of moderate-to-vigorous activity including activity that increases heart rate such as walking or running, as well as activities to strengthen muscles and bones such as playing sports or jumping rope.

Cardiologist William Kraus, a Duke University medical school professor who served on the advisory panel for the guidelines, said parking farther from entrances and taking the stairs also count as exercise. Guidelines released Monday by the federal government show that most Americans are not getting the exercise they need, costing the health care system over $100 billion each year. "Physical activity can help manage chronic conditions that many Americans already have".

In closing, the investigators emphasized, "Health professionals and policy makers should facilitate awareness of the guidelines and promote the health benefits of physical activity and support efforts to implement programs, practices, and policies to facilitate increased physical activity and to improve the health of the USA population".

The most important message from those new guidelines "is that the greatest health benefits accrue by moving from no, to even small amounts of, physical activity, especially if that activity is of moderate (e.g., brisk walking) or vigorous (e.g., jogging and running) intensity", wrote Paul Thompson, MD, of Hartford Hospital in CT and Thijs Eijsvogels, PhD, of Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, in an accompanying editorial.

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The new guidelines prescribe activity throughout the day for preschool children to enhance growth and development.

They call on adults to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity and two sessions of muscle-strengthening activity each week. Evidence suggests that more dedicated, accessible spaces in which to be physically active make it easier for individuals and communities to incorporate this into a daily routine.

The advice is similar for older adults, but activities should include things that promote balance to help avoid falls.

It 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 for those with dementia, multiple sclerosis, ADHD, and Parkinson's disease. The second edition has removed the requirement of 10-minute bouts of activity as being the minimum amount of exercise that contributes towards meeting the guidelines.

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