Last week the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Resources released new guidelines for physical activity. These recommendations largely fall in line with the recommendations of the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association.
After reviewing current scientific evidence, they found that substantial health benefits can result from doing regular exercise. There is strong evidence that exercise lowers the risk of early death, heart disease, stroke, type2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, and colon and breast cancers. Exercise helps maintain a healthy weight which improves cardiorespiratory and muscular strength, helps prevent falls, and reduces depression. And in older adults exercise improves cognitive function. There is moderately strong evidence of lower risk of hip fracture, increased bone density, improved sleep quality, and lower risk of lung and endometrial cancers.
The DHHR recommends that adults do 2 and a half hours per week of moderate-intensity exercise, or 1 hour an 15 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise. Aerobic activity should be performed in sessions of at least 10 minutes. Additional health benefits are provided by increasing the amount of aerobic physical activity per week. Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities that involve all of the major muscle groups on 2 or more days per week.
Older adults, adults with disabilities, and adults with chronic health conditions should follow the adult guidelines. If this is not possible, they should be as physically active as their abilities allow. Older adults and adults with disabilities or chronic conditions should avoid inactivity. For all individuals, some activity is better than none.
You can read more about the guidelines at www.health.gov/PAGuidelines.