New exercise guidelines issued this week can fit into the life of any harried American, adult or child.
Issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the guidelines remove the recommendation of thirty minutes daily to a weekly commitment of 2.5 hours of moderate activity weekly for adults.
“Being physically active is one of the most important things Americans of all ages can do to protect and improve their health,” says Read Adm. Penelope Slade Royall, Deputy Assistant Secretary at HHS.
The previous recommendation for thirty minutes of daily moderate-intensity workout suggested the daily workout was the best, but now the experts are looking at the accrued time weekly and including the benefits of a moderately strenuous workout. Also weight-training was added to the recommendations.
The new Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans compiles the latest scientific evidence about physical activity and health. This is the first time there has been a revision in a decade.
And as you might expect, the more exercise you get the better. For example adults who double the workout to five hours a week of moderate exercise or 2.5 hours of intensive exercise will derive even more health benefits.
What is moderate exercise? For adults that includes a brisk walk, water aerobics, ballroom dancing and general gardening. Adults should include 2.5 hours of these activities a week.
Vigorous exercise for adults includes race walking, jogging or running, swimming laps, heavy gardening, jump rope, hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack.
Adults can opt for at least one hour and 15 minutes of these activities a week. And aerobic activity can be performed in episodes of at least ten minutes.
Balancing activities is important. Aerobics, stretching and weight-training are the three areas of physical activity.
Aerobic exercise occurs when oxygen is needed to exert muscle strength; stretching is best done with an exercise such as yoga; and muscle building or weight-training which can be done in a gym or with push-ups, sit-ups, carrying heavy loads or heavy gardening.
For kids, the guidelines recommend one hour or more of moderate or vigorous aerobic physical activity a day. Moderate exercise includes hiking, skateboarding, bicycle riding and brisk walking.
Vigorous activities for kids include jumping rope, running, soccer, basketball and ice or field hockey. Kids can strengthen their muscles through rope climbing, sit ups, tug-of-war and running at least three days a week.
Physical activity is the ”starting line, not the finish line,” says Dr. David Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine to Forbes. The American diet is still not ideal and many Americans still smoke.
Being physically fit reduces incidents of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and depression. Exercise helps the distribution of fat to muscle and keeps a more balanced body composition. It may also help you think better.
For those over the age of 50, a study from Stanford University School of Medicine that looked at 539 regular runners over a 20-year period found that the runners or those who were involved in regular aerobic exercise such as swimming, biking or aerobic dance had improved aerobic capacity, better cardiovascular fitness, increased bone density, fewer inflammatory markers, fewer disabilities, improved thinking, learning and memory.
Ultimately they had a longer life too. #