New physical activity guidelines issued for all Americans, including youth.
By Joli Guenther, MSSW, NASM-CPT
Like a lot of Americans, you may wonder how much physical activity you really need. What are the benefits of completing a full workout versus squeezing in ten minutes wherever you can find it? You may also ponder these same ideas when it comes to your children. In response to these questions, the Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control, recently issued the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
Think of this as the exercise equivalent of the food pyramid. The guidelines provide research and recommendations of the type and extent of physical activity each individual should strive for and clearly describe the benefits associated with activity for all Americans. These guidelines provide recommendations for physical activity for all persons ages six years and older. You can access the recommendations through the website links given below.
Some highlights include specific recommendations for aerobic, muscle strengthening and bone strengthening activities. For adults, the recommendations for physical activity continue to be 30 minutes per day, completed in sessions of at least 10 minutes in duration, for a total of two hours and 30 minutes per week. This level of activity appears to be the threshold at which adults will recognize the benefits of reduced chronic disease, healthy body size and composition, along with better fitness. The guidelines also recognize that as people move from 150 minutes per week towards 300 minutes per week, they gain additional benefits, including a lowered risk of colon and breast cancers and avoiding unhealthy weight gain. Most adults who are using physical activity for weight control will need to do more than the recommended 150 minutes of moderate physical activity. Additionally, moving towards 300 minutes per week results in greater benefits in those areas already seen at 150 minutes, such as an even greater reduction in the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Recommendations for children and adolescents are higher at 60 minutes per day, including strength and bone building activities throughout the week. These higher recommendations are expected to result in better health outcomes during adulthood, including better development of bone and muscle mass and lower incidence of diabetes, heart disease and obesity. The guidelines also recognize the important role of adults in shaping the frequency and nature of children’s activities. For both children and adults, the recommendations continue to stress the importance of total physical activity, rather than emphasizing the frequency and duration of any specific workout. This means you can still count those additional trips up the stairs and walks from the far reaches of the parking lot, as well as the brief spurts of activity your child naturally engages in throughout the day. That’s good news for everyone.
For more information, check out the links below.
New physical activity guidelines for all Americans, Including Youth: http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/physicalactivity/guidelines.htm
CDC Physical Activity Website: http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/getactive/index.html
HHS Physical Activities Guidelines Website: http://www.health.gov/PAguidelines/