For the first time in a decade, updates have been made to the U.S. Government’s Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which serves as a strategic guide to promote wellness through physical activity, reducing the risk of chronic disease.
The biggest takeaways from the changes are:
These changes were released around the same time that a recent study found that a sedentary lifestyle is actually more dangerous for your health than diabetes, smoking, and heart disease. Another study found that only 20% of Americans are getting enough exercise, including children.
Childhood obesity is on the rise, especially in children ages 2 to 5, according to a study published earlier this year in The Journal of Pediatrics. The new guidelines push parents and caretakers to start promoting exercise at a younger age. In fact, government guidelines used to start at age six, but the new program encourages children ages 3 to 5 to take part in active play during the day.
The guidelines answer the question “what age should you start working out” and offer recommended doses of exercise of all people ages three and up:
Ages 3-5: While there’s no set amount of time for kids this young to actively play, a general recommendation is at least three hours per day in varying intensities.
Ages 6 – 17: The guidelines recommend at least one hour of at least moderate aerobic activity throughout the day. Exercise should be more vigorous and include strengthening exercises at least three times a week.
Ages 18+: At least 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate intensity per week, or 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous activity per week, as well as two or more days that include strength training exercises. The guidelines for older adults is similar, but recommends activities to help promote balance and avoid falls.
Additional guidelines are provided for pregnant women and individuals with disabilities or chronic illnesses.
Another key change to the new guidelines is that aerobic exercise, even in small doses, is known to be helpful. The previous guidelines stated aerobic exercises needed to be done for at least 10 continuous minutes. The new study recognizes that even shorter bouts of aerobic exercise are beneficial. That’s great news, and hopefully is motivation to get everyone up off the couch and moving.
Here are some ideas for people of all ages:
As you and your kids find ways to intentionally move more, it will quickly become second nature. The length and intensity of exercise will grow as well. The key is just to start moving.