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Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

On October 7, 2008, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released new government recommendations for physical activity. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans are based on the most up-to-date scientific evidence for the health benefits of a physically active lifestyle. The Guidelines promote safe activity for persons of all ages, including people with chronic conditions such as arthritis, and call for all Americans to engage in both aerobic and muscle strengthening activities each week.

For substantial health benefits—

Adults should do 150 minutes (2 hours, 30 minutes) of moderate intensity aerobic activity OR 75 minutes (1 hour, 15 minutes) of vigorous activity OR an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity each week. Adults should do muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days per week.

Older Adults (≥65 years of age) should do 150 minutes (2 hours, 30 minutes) of moderate intensity aerobic activity OR 75 minutes (1 hour, 15 minutes) of vigorous activity OR an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity each week. Older adults should do muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days per week.

Additional guidelines for Older Adults (≥65 years):

  • If they cannot do 150 minutes because of chronic conditions, they should be as active as they can be.
  • Do exercises that maintain and improve balance if they are at risk for falling.
  • Match their activities to their fitness level.
  • Know how their chronic conditions affect their ability to be active.

For additional health benefits—

Adults and Older Adults should work up to 300 minutes (5 hours) of moderate intensity aerobic activity OR 150 minutes (2 hours, 30 minutes) of vigorous intensity aerobic activity OR an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous intensity activity.

Key points from the Guidelines include the following:

  • Any activity is better than none.
  • Activity should be in addition to doing baseline daily activities.
  • Activity can be done in episodes of at least 10 minutes duration, preferably spread throughout the week.
  • There are many ways people can meet these Guidelines.
  • More health benefits are gained with more activity.
  • The benefits of physical activity far outweigh the risks.

References:

  1. Department of Health and Human Services, Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, available at www.health.gov/paguidelines.
  2. Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Final Report, available at www.health.gov/paguidelines.
 
 

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