Americans Urged to Get Physically Active

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issues guidelines on recommended levels of physical activity
By Jane Parry
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 8 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has published guidelines on physical activity for Americans of all ages and physical conditions. The guidelines are designed to be easy for people to incorporate into their daily lives.

For children and adolescents, the department recommends at least an hour a day of moderate or vigorous aerobic activity, such as skateboarding, brisk walking and cycling, and including three days a week incorporating vigorous-intensity exercise, such as jumping rope and running. Muscle-strengthening activities, such as rope climbing and sit-ups, three days a week are also recommended.

For adults, 2½ hours a week of moderate intensity aerobic activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity) confers substantial benefits, according to the guidelines. Women are recommended to continue exercising during pregnancy, provided they remain healthy, and adults with disabilities are also recommended to avoid inactivity by exercising to the extent their condition allows. For greater benefit, the experts suggest five hours a week of moderate-intensity or 2½ hours of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. Muscle-strengthening exercise for adults, at least two days a week, is also recommended.

"It's important for all Americans to be active, and the guidelines are a roadmap to include physical activity in their daily routine," Mike Leavitt, secretary for Health and Human Services, explained in a statement. "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."

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