HHS Announces Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
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
guidelines are designed so people can easily fit physical activity into
their daily plan and incorporate activities they enjoy.
activity benefits children and adolescents, young and middle-aged
adults, older adults, and those in every studied racial and ethnic
group, the report said.
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."
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 cardiorespiratoryand muscular fitness as well as bone health,
and contributes to favorable body composition.
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
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 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 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
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 inregular 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.