Only One in Five Teens Meet Physical Fitness Guidelines

Uncle Sam wants you to sit less and move more. Here’s how you can meet the new exercise guidelines

Uncle Sam wants you to sit less and move more. Here’s how you can meet the new exercise guidelines

If you're sitting down while reading this, stand up.

If new fitness guidelines from the federal government are any indication, the vast majority of Americans aren't getting almost enough exercise. Finally, the revised guidelines reflect the latest science from the past 10 years, which is that physical activity not only wards off disease but helps individuals to sleep better, feel better and more easily perform daily tasks.

The guidelines released Monday call for adults to get 150 minutes of aerobic exercise and two days of muscle-strengthening activity a week. For the first time, the guidelines also recommend that preschool-age children have at least three hours of "active play" each day.

"It's actually easier to achieve the recommendations in the physical activity guidelines", said ADM Brett P. Giroir, MD, assistant secretary for health at HHS.

Moderate-intensity activity includes walking briskly, riding a bike on level ground with few hills and playing doubles tennis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while muscle-strengthening activity includes lifting weights, yoga and "heavy gardening", such as shoveling.

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But just 26% of men, 19% of women and 20% of adolescents are meeting the standards, officials said, costing the U.S. health care system $117 billion each year and leading to about 10% of premature deaths. The new guidelines acknowledge that for this age group, in addition to improving bone health and heart health and reducing the risk of depression, physical activity can also improve cognition.

A major update to the U.S. physical activity guidelines, published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, offers a solution. "People who sit a lot have an increased risk of all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality, as well as an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and colon, endometrial, and lung cancers", the guidelines say.

In closing, the investigators emphasized, "Health professionals and policy makers should facilitate awareness of the guidelines and promote the health benefits of physical activity and support efforts to implement programs, practices, and policies to facilitate increased physical activity and to improve the health of the USA population".

The new guidelines indicate that physical activity in older adults can reduce the risk of falls and injuries from falls. "That's something you can do right now, today", Fargo said, "People can begin to take their risk for dementia into their own hands".

Background: Most adults and adolescents in the United States aren't active enough, although being physically active is one of the most important things people can do to improve their health and reduce their risk for many chronic diseases and conditions. "And ACE will continue to prepare exercise professionals and health coaches to help far more Americans adopt and maintain healthier, more active lives".

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