New physical activity guidelines for Americans released

Uncle Sam wants you to sit less and move more. Here’s how you can meet the new exercise guidelines

Taking the stairs instead of waiting for an elevator can help you meet the federal government's new targets for physical activity

The new standards are similar to those released 10 years ago, but the government is scrapping a recommendation that physical activity occur in 10-minute blocks, instead telling Americans to "move more and sit less" whenever possible. In fact, only 26 percent of men, 19 percent of women and 20 percent of minors are getting the recommended amount of exercise.

A single period of sustained activity has immediate health benefits, including reduced anxiety and blood pressure, improved quality of sleep and improved insulin sensitivity.

Pregnant and post-partum women should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio a week. "The mortality risk related to sitting is not observed among people who do 60 to 75 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a day, but this amount of activity is far more than most people obtain".

- The JAMA Viewpoint, "Physical Activity Guidelines for Health and Prosperity in the United States", by Brett P. Giroir, M.D., and Don Wright, M.D., M.P.H., U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Once they understand how the body works, they begin to understand physical activity" and its importance.

However, the second edition released here at the American Heart Association meeting and online in JAMA removed the statement that only 10-minute bouts of physical activity counted toward meeting the guidelines and now say moving more frequently throughout the day helps toward meeting the recommendations.

"[The] recommendations emphasize that moving more and sitting less will benefit almost everyone", wrote the authors in the 2018 edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

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For older children and adults, moderate-to-vigorous activity can include brisk walking, running or "anything that makes the heart beat faster", and adults should aim for about 2½ hours each week. "In 2008, the American Heart Association adopted the Physical Activity Guidelines and again we are proud to lead the call for health groups across the country to view these guidelines as beneficial to both public health and a worthy tool for clinicians".

"It is hard to convey the health benefits of physical activity in a way that does not sound like it is a "cure all", wrote doctors Brett Giroir and Don Wright, who both work under the US Secretary for Health.

Medicine moves faster every day.

New long-term health benefits for physically active adults included in the updated guidelines include: assisting in the prevention of 6 types of cancer including bladder, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, stomach, and lung, while also reducing the risk for dementia and Alzheimer's.

The new guidelines indicate that physical activity in older adults can reduce the risk of falls and injuries from falls.

The findings were published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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