It’s likely you already know that regular exercise helps prevent chronic disease, such as diabetes and heart problems, while improving your overall health, mood, and quality of life. It can sharpen mental function, boost concentration, and help you sleep. And the new exercise and physical activity guidelines issued by the federal government’s Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion show that the dose required to gain these benefits is not hard to achieve. The new guidelines are better tailored for age and ability, too.
What should your exercise goals be?
The amount of exercise and mix of activities recommended varies depending on age and ability, as described more fully below. It ranges from a high of three hours daily — for preschoolers, who tend to love activity — to 150 minutes a week.
Unfortunately, 80% of the population is not meeting the guidelines. Each year in the US, an estimated 10% of premature deaths and $117 billion in healthcare costs are associated with inadequate physical activity.
Besides saving money on healthcare, there are many personal benefits to staying active. The new guidelines highlight other new evidence-based findings related to physical activity and exercise.
What changed in the new exercise guidelines?
- Overall, move more, sit less. Work toward reducing the amount of time you spend sitting every day. If you have a desk job, get up to walk around regularly, or try chair yoga or a few desk exercises.
- All activity counts toward the recommended goals — not just 10-minute bouts of activity, as past guidelines recommended.
- Younger people and older people may benefit in different ways from exercise. It facilitates normal growth and development for preschoolers through teens, strengthening bones and muscles and improving cardiovascular health. Older adults who participate in regular exercise have better balance, and lower risks of falling and injury, thus improving their ability to remain independent.
The new guidelines base your dose of physical activity on relative intensity: how much effort a given exercise takes compared with your capacity for exercise. A brisk walk counts as moderate physical activity (think: fast enough so that you can speak comfortably, but not sing). The speed of this walk will be much faster for someone who is in shape than for someone who is just starting to exercise or getting back to activity after a break. But no matter where the starting line is, most people can safely improve their fitness and health. Begin with lower amounts of exercise and slowly increase duration, intensity, and frequency.
For example, if you:
- Have been bed-bound, start by walking two minutes every 10 to 15 minutes (during commercial breaks when watching TV or listening to the radio).
- Typically walk for exercise, try adding an extra block to your regimen once a week.
- Jog, try going at your regular pace for five minutes, then increasing it for one minute.
What stayed the same in the new exercise guidelines?
- Exercise is safe for almost everyone — even people with chronic disease and disabilities.
- Different types of exercise have complementary benefits:
- Aerobic activity, like walking, running, or cycling, improves cardiovascular health. It involves movement of the large muscles of the body for sustained periods of time.
- Muscle-strengthening activity, like resistance training with elastic bands or weight lifting, improves muscle strength, endurance, power, and mass.
- Bone-strengthening activity, like running, playing basketball, resistance training, or jumping rope, improves bone health and strength.
- Balance activity, like walking backwards, standing on one leg, yoga, and tai chi, can reduce fall risk.
- Multicomponent physical activity, like running, dancing, or playing tennis includes at least two of the above types of activity.
- Rating the intensity of activities is simple. During:
- Light activity, you don’t feel like you’re exerting yourself.
- Moderate activity, you can talk comfortably, but not sing.
- Intense activity, you can say a few words, but not full sentences. Within the guidelines, one minute of intense activity is roughly equivalent to two minutes of moderate activity.
New exercise recommendations by age and ability
- Preschool-age (3 through 5 years): physically active throughout the day with the goal of three hours of activity daily
- Children and teens (6 through 17 years): at least 60 minutes daily of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity; include vigorous activity, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening activity three times a week
- Adults: at least 150 to 300 minutes weekly of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or 75 to 150 minutes weekly of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or an equivalent combination of both, plus muscle-strengthening activities on at least two days a week
- Older adults: multicomponent physical activities that mix balance activities, aerobic activities, and strength training can help prevent falls and injuries; reduce overall sitting and replace it with light (or when possible, moderate) activity
- Pregnant and postpartum women: at least 150 minutes weekly of moderate-intensity aerobic activity
- Adults with chronic conditions or disabilities: follow adult guidelines as able, including both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities
Below are spiritual recipe for health and wellness: Matthew E. McLaren
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” – Mark 11:24
“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” – Proverbs 12:25
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” – Luke 12:25
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11
“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” – Matthew 7:11
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” – Proverbs 17:22
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” – Proverbs 4:23
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1:7
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” – James 1:2-3
“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” – Proverbs 3:6
“Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed.”- Proverbs 16:3
“Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!” Luke 12:24 – Luke 12:24
“It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” – Matthew 15:11
“Make a tree good and its fruit will be
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