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HHS Unveils New Guidelines for Physical Activity

Another message is that not enough Americans are physically active. According to the second edition of the guidelines, although recent evidence suggests some improvement in physical activity levels among American adults, only 26 percent of adult men, 19 percent of adult women, and 20 percent of adolescents actually meet the physical activity levels outlined in the guidelines.

Guidelines 2.0: What’s New, What’s Not
The second edition provides evidence-based guidance for increasing physical activity in people as young as age 3 years. A chapter on physical activity in children and adolescents recommends that preschool-aged children (ages 3 to 5) should be physically active throughout the day to enhance growth and development, and that caregivers should encourage active play that includes a variety of physical activities.

The second edition also provides new evidence of the benefits of physical activity in people of all genders and age groups, including

improved bone health and weight status in preschool-aged children;
improved cognitive function in children ages 6 to 13;
reduced risk of cancer at additional sites, including the bladder, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, stomach and lung in adults;
reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in adults;
reduced risk of anxiety and depression;
improvements in sleep and quality of life;
reduced risk of excessive weight gain, gestational diabetes and postpartum depression in pregnant women;
reduced risk of fall-related injuries in older adults; and
reduced risk of all-cause mortality and disease-specific mortality, improved physical function and improved quality of life in people with chronic medical conditions.
Finally, the second edition eliminates a recommendation that appeared in the 2008 guidelines that moderate to vigorous activity should occur in bouts of 10 minutes or longer. An HHS advisory committee that analyzed the scientific information on physical activity found there was not enough evidence available to support the 10-minute recommendation and concluded that bouts of any duration contribute to the health benefits associated with physical activity.

For children and adolescents ages 6 through 17, the guidelines recommend 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day. Most physical activity should be aerobic, but the guidelines also recommend activities that strengthen muscles and bones.

For adults, the guidelines’ first recommendation encourages people to move more and sit less throughout the day, because any type of moderate or vigorous activity will produce some health benefits. The guidelines also recommend between 150 and 300 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous aerobic physical activity each week. Adults who engage in physical activities beyond those ranges are likely to gain additional benefits, such as reduced cancer risk and reduced risk of weight gain. In addition, adults are encouraged to perform muscle-strengthening activities on at least two days per week.

Recommendations for adults 65 and older are largely the same as those for adults overall, with some important exceptions. For example, older adults are encouraged to try multicomponent physical activities to improve balance and reduce the risk of falls. Older adults who can’t perform at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity because of a chronic condition are encouraged to be as physically active as their condition will allow. They should determine their own effort level and understand whether and how their condition affects their ability to safely perform physical activities,

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