Most of us fall short of new federal exercise guidelines

Pearl Mccarthy
November 16, 2018

But just 26% of men, 19% of women and 20% of adolescents are meeting the standards, officials said, costing the USA health care system $117 billion each year and leading to about 10% of premature deaths.

"[The] recommendations emphasize that moving more and sitting less will benefit almost everyone", wrote the authors in the 2018 edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

The guidelines and related reports, published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, say the failure to meet the recommended levels of aerobic physical activity leads to almost $117 billion in annual health care costs and 10% of all premature death.

Adults should do at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate exercise every week, or 75 to 150 minutes of high-intensity aerobic activity that boosts endurance training such as brisk walking, running, or cycling.

The new guidelines marshal a growing body of evidence that documents immediate benefits of exercise such as reduced anxiety, improved sleep and improved blood sugar control, and long-term benefits (of regular physical activity), including cognitive benefits, and significantly lower risks of heart disease and certain cancers.

Getting a sedentary nation off the sofa - only 20 percent of us get the recommended amount of exercise a day - is a big concern for the government, which updated its guidelines Monday for the first time in 10 years.

Physical activity can dramatically improve an individual's health by preventing disease or reducing the impact of chronic health conditions.

Editor's Note: These guidelines will be presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2018 on Monday, November 12.

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So, how much physical activity do we need?

The old message was you needed at least 10-minute bouts of aerobic activity for it to count toward the goal of 150 minutes a week.

Could you bike or walk more as part of your daily commute?

The refreshed guidelines call on Americans to "move more and sit less throughout the day", explicitly decreeing any amount of activity is better than none.

It can decrease pain for those with osteoarthritis, reduce disease progression for hypertension and type 2 diabetes, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improve cognition for those with dementia, multiple sclerosis, ADHD, and Parkinson's disease.

"Everything adds up and contributes to reduced risk for diseases and day-to-day feeling better", says Kathleen Janz, of the University of Iowa, who also served on the committee reviewing the science of physical activity.

There are new key guidelines for preschool children to be active throughout the day to enhance growth and development.

"It is hard to convey the health benefits of physical activity in a way that does not sound like it is a "cure all", wrote doctors Brett Giroir and Don Wright, who both work under the US Secretary for Health.

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