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10:30 A.M., TUESDAY, OCT. 7, 2008                                              (202) 690-6343

 

HHS Announces Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

            Adults gain substantial health benefits from two and a half hours a week of moderate aerobic physical activity, and children benefit from an hour or more of physical activity a day, according to the new Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. The comprehensive set of recommendations for people of all ages and physical conditions was released today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The guidelines are designed so people can easily fit physical activity into their daily plan and incorporate activities they enjoy.

Physical activity benefits children and adolescents, young and middle-aged adults, older adults, and those in every studied racial and ethnic group, the report said.

            “It’s important for all Americans to be active, and the guidelines are a roadmap to include physical activity in their daily routine,” HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said. “The evidence is clear -- regular physical activity over months and years produces long-term health benefits and reduces the risk of many diseases. The more physically active you are, the more health benefits you gain.”
Regular physical activity reduces the risk in adults of early death; coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, colon and breast cancer, and depression. It can improve thinking ability in older adults and the ability to engage in activities needed for daily living. The recommended amount of physical activity in children and adolescents improves cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness as well as bone health, and contributes to favorable body composition.

            The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans are the most comprehensive of their kind. They are based on the first thorough review of scientific research about physical activity and health in more than a decade. A 13-member advisory committee appointed in April 2007 by Secretary Leavitt reviewed research and produced an extensive report.         

Key guidelines by group are:

            Children and Adolescents -- One hour or more of moderate or vigorous aerobic physical activity a day, including vigorous intensity physical activity at least three days a week. Examples of moderate intensity aerobic activities include hiking, skateboarding, bicycle riding and brisk walking. Vigorous intensity aerobic activities include bicycle riding, jumping rope, running and sports such as soccer, basketball and ice or field hockey. Children and adolescents should incorporate muscle-strengthening activities, such as rope climbing, sit-ups, and tug-of war, three days a week.  Bone-strengthening activities, such as jumping rope, running and skipping, are recommended three days a week.

            Adults -- Adults gain substantial health benefits from two and one half hours a week of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity, or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity. Walking briskly, water aerobics, ballroom dancing and general gardening are examples of moderate intensity aerobic activities. Vigorous intensity aerobic activities include racewalking, jogging or running, swimming laps, jumping rope and hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes.  For more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to five hours a week moderate-intensity or two and one half hours a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. Adults should incorporate muscle strengthening activities, such as weight training, push-ups, sit-ups and carrying heavy loads or heavy gardening, at least two days a week.

            Older adults -- Older adults should follow the guidelines for other adults when it is within their physical capacity. If a chronic condition prohibits their ability to follow those guidelines, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow. If they are at risk of falling, they should also do exercises that maintain or improve balance.

            Women during pregnancy-- Healthy women should get at least two and one half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week during pregnancy and the time after delivery, preferably spread through the week. Pregnant women who habitually engage in vigorous aerobic activity or who are highly active can continue during pregnancy and the time after delivery, provided they remain healthy and discuss with their health care provider how and when activity should be adjusted over time.

            Adults with disabilities -- Those who are able should get at least two and one half hours of moderate aerobic activity a week, or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. They should incorporate muscle-strengthening activities involving all major muscle groups two or more days a week. When they are not able to meet the guidelines, they should engage in regular physical activity according to their abilities and should avoid inactivity.

            People with chronic medical conditions -- Adults with chronic conditions get important health benefits from regular physical activity. They should do so with the guidance of a health care provider.

            For more information about the “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans,” visit www.hhs.gov or www.health.gov/paguidelines.

           Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.

 

 

 

EMBARGOED UNTIL                                                                   Contact:  HHS Press Office
10:30 A.M. TUESDAY, OCT. 7, 2008                                                           (202) 690-6343

 

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans provide comprehensive science-based guidance on physical activity for Americans. Inspired by President Bush’s personal dedication to physical fitness and his desire that every American have access to science-based guidelines, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt appointed a 13-member Physical Activity Guideline Advisory Committee to review and analyze current scientific literature. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans published by HHS are based on the 683-page report submitted by the advisory committee.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans are designed so that people can customize them to suit their lifestyle and include activities they enjoy. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans contain examples of activities for different age groups and those with special considerations. A shorter companion guide, Be Active Your Way, helps adults develop a customized plan to suit their lifestyle and physical activity goals.

Health benefits of physical activity occur for children and adolescents, young and middle-aged adults, older adults, and those in every studied racial and ethnic group.

Regular physical activity improves health for young and old and reduces the risk of disease.  With regular physical activity, children and adolescents improve their cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness and bone health, and reduce symptoms of depression. Adults and older adults lower the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, colon and breast cancer and can help prevent falls and reduce depression. Older adults also enjoy better thinking ability with regular physical activity. Regular physical activity also helps people with arthritis or other rheumatic conditions affecting the joints by improving pain management, function, and quality of life.

Some physical activity is better than none; the more physically active you are, the more benefits you reap. For most health outcomes, additional benefits occur as the amount of physical activity increases through higher intensity, greater frequency, and/or longer duration.

Children and adolescents should participate in one hour or more of physical activity per day; and most of the activity should be moderate or vigorous aerobic physical activity. They should participate in vigorous physical activity at least three days a week. They should participate in muscle-strengthening activities, such as push-ups and sit-ups and playing tug-of-war, three days a week. They should incorporate bone-strengthening activities, such as jumping rope, hopping or running, at least three days a week.

Adults gain substantial health benefits from two and one half hours a week of moderate aerobic physical activity or an hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity. Aerobic activity, such as walking briskly, water aerobics, ballroom dancing, jogging, and jumping rope, should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes. Increasing aerobic physical activity to five hours a week of moderate activity or two and one half hours a week of vigorous aerobic physical activity, results in more extensive health benefits. Adults should do muscle-strengthening activities, such as weight training, push-ups, sit-ups, carrying heavy loads and heavy gardening, at least two days a week.

Older adults generally should follow the guidelines for adults. If chronic conditions limit their ability to do two and one half hours a week of moderate aerobic activity, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.

Be safe as well as active. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans include tips for safe physical activity. Some examples are choosing activities appropriate for current fitness level and health goals; increasing physical activity gradually over time to meet guidelines or health goals; and using appropriate gear and sports equipment and looking for safe environments.

For more information about Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, visit www.hhs.gov or www.health.gov/paguidelines.

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.