America updates its physical activity guidelines, with one important change

Move More and Sit Less: These Are the New Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

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Youth ages 6 through 17 need 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each day.

Pregnant and post-partum women should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio a week. "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.

- The JAMA Viewpoint, "Physical Activity Guidelines for Health and Prosperity in the United States", by Brett P. Giroir, M.D., and Don Wright, M.D., M.P.H., U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Conclusions: Health professionals and policymakers should promote awareness of the updated guidelines and support efforts to implement programs, practices and policies to facilitate increased physical activity to improve the health of the US population.

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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.

The second edition, based on a comprehensive scientific review, reflects new knowledge about immediate and long-term health benefits from physical activity, as well as new evidence that physical activity can help manage chronic conditions that many Americans have.

At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity, remains the recommendation for "substantial health benefits".

A new addition to the guideline indicates that young children between the ages of 3 and 5 should engage in active play throughout the day to enhance growth and development. Evidence suggests that more dedicated, accessible spaces in which to be physically active make it easier for individuals and communities to incorporate this into a daily routine. Stay ahead with the MD Mag Newsletter.

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The advice is similar for older adults, but activities should include things that promote balance to help avoid falls.

"Even small amounts of physical activity are beneficial and ... reductions in the risk of disease and disability occur by simply getting moving".

"The American Heart Association has long recognized physical activity as a proven way to lower chances of heart disease and live a longer, healthier life".

Another editorial published alongside the guidelines notes many reasons for the world's poor physical activity scores: people don't feel like they have the time, energy or ability, they don't think they enjoy it, their friends and family mightn't encourage or motivate them, or they might not have access to environments or facilities where they can be active.

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