The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has created the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans as the first attempt on behalf of the federal government to describe the types and amounts of physical activity required for a healthy lifestyle. The guidelines, in a 76-page document accessible at http://www.health.gov/PAGuidelines/ and released in October 2008, describes the key guidelines of physical activity (definition: any bodily movement that enhances health, for children & adolescents, adults, and older adults). It includes a chapter for each of these three major age groups and explains how the guidelines specifically pertain to the group and demonstrates real-life examples on how to stay active.
The guideline recommends that children and adolescents should participate in 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily that is a combination of aerobic, muscle-strengthening and bond strengthening activities. For adults, the guideline states that adults need a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity to achieve substantial health benefits. Additional and more extensive health benefits increases with the duration of physical activity (300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity or 150 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity). Similar to the younger age brackets, the guideline suggest that muscle-strengthening can provide additional health benefits. For older adults, the guideline suggest no more than 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week with a focus on exercises that maintain or improve balance if they are at risk of falling. Pregnant women and individuals with disabilities are also recommended to participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week.
Not sure why you should be exercising? It kicks off by explaining the health benefits of physical activity, particularly focusing on the relationship between physical activity and health. The guideline also stresses the preventive effects of physical activity, which includes lowering the risk of developing chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, among others. Also included are descriptions of how to perform physical activity safely to reduce risk of injuries or accidents. The guidelines suggest pace is important and people should start slow and add duration and intensity to their activity over time.
If you are anything like Kelly, understanding why we should exercise isn’t the trick, it’s being able to make the decision to prioritize behavior. 2008 has been disappointing on that front. Elsewhere on the team, others exercise daily and are a real inspiration to Kelly. One thing the new guidelines should at least do is prompt us all to consider where we are on the continuum.