It is one thing that can affect almost every area of health – physical activity. It can improve cognition, mood and mental health. Being active helps prevent against various chronic diseases and helps people maintain a healthy weight. It can increase strength, stability, and longevity as we age, and even provides opportunity for socializing. We all benefit from physical activity, and most of us could benefit from more of it!
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans is a resource to encourage and guide Americans toward a more active lifestyle. The first set of guidelines were drafted in 2008. Since then, there has been a vast amount of knowledge gained about physical activity and health, so a second edition of the guidelines was drafted in 2018 and recently released.
What You Need to Know About the New Physical Activity Guidelines
- Independent of any other factors, physical activity has a vast amount (even more than we thought!) of health benefits – including preventative benefits as well as management of already existing health conditions.
- Preschool-aged children (ages three through five) should be active throughout the day to enhance growth and development.
- Youth require at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity a day for the most health benefits. They also need activities that will make their muscles and bones strong like climbing on playground or jumping rope.
- Adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity over a week. Examples include brisk walking or swimming laps + muscle-strengthening activity like push-ups, lifting weights, or strength yoga.
- Adults must MOVE MORE and SIT LESS. Sedentary behavior is related to increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and all-cause mortality.
- Everyone should move more frequently throughout the day.
- ANY amount of physical activity, even just five minutes, has some health benefits!
- Physical activity has immediate benefits. It can reduce anxiety and blood pressure, lower blood glucose and improve sleep quality.
- All Americans need to keep moving . If you don’t use it, you lose it!
What can you do to increase your physical activity?
- Have a plan – Make time for physical activity and plan it into your daily routine. Make your health a priority!
- Plan your activity when you will be most successful. For example, if you know you will not want to be active after work when you get home, then incorporate your activity into your morning routine or as a mid-day break.
- Take breaks during the day to get up and just move. Walk, get up to get a drink of water, clean up a bit. Get in the garden, play catch, kick the soccer ball, or do some stretching.
- Aim for more and more moderate-to-vigorous activity each week to get your heart beating and work toward your goal. Find an activity you enjoy so you are able to continue this healthy habit.
- Make everything count Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park your car further away, bike instead of drive. Clean your own house. Do some stretches or lift weights while watching your favorite show. Walk the golf course instead of using a cart. Walk into the restaurant instead of using the drive through.
- Ask for assistance when needed. If you are unsure of how to get started ask your colleague, friend, physician, or neighbor what they recommend or enjoy. Try new things and go slowly. Walking requires nothing but a pair of walking shoes!
Sharpen your mind, body, and mood by moving every day. You can learn more about the guideline specific to your age/condition category.