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Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition

Author Compiled from health.gov



The US Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition, released in 2018, serve as “the primary, authoritative voice of the federal government for evidence-based guidance on physical activity, fitness, and health for Americans”  Below are few key points, but learn more at health.gov.

The recommended amount of physical activity for adults did not change in the 2nd edition.  Guidelines still encourage at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate (think brisk walking) to intense aerobic activity each week. Additionally, adults should complete at least 2 days per week of muscle conditioning exercise, such as lifting weights or doing body-weight exercises such as push-up, pull-ups and squats.

To begin putting these recommendations into practice, simply move more and sit less. Evidence shows a strong relationship between increased sedentary behavior and increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and all-cause mortality. Good news – any physical activity, but especially moderate-to-vigorous activity, can help reduce your risk! You can benefit from even small bouts of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity scattered throughout the day.

More good news.  Physical activity is shown to provide immediate health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure, improving insulin sensitivity and enhancing sleep.  Also, by consistently meeting the Physical Activity Guidelines, additional long-term health benefits can be achieved over time.  Here is a quick summary of long-term benefits for various populations:  

  • Youth. Improve cognition, bone health, fitness, and heart health; and reduce the risk of depression.
  • Adults. Help prevent eight types of cancer (bladder, breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, stomach, and lung); reduce the risk of dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease), all-cause mortality, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and depression; and improve bone health, physical function, and quality of life.
  • Older Adults. Lower the risk of falls and injuries related to falls.
  • Pregnant Women. Reduce the risk of postpartum depression.
  • Everyone. Reduce the risk of excessive weight gain helping to maintain a healthy weight.

Finally, evidence shows that physical activity can assist with managing some existing health conditions:

  • Decrease pain from osteoarthritis
  • Reduce disease progression for hypertension and type 2 diabetes
  • Reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Improve cognition for those with dementia, multiple sclerosis, ADHD, and Parkinson’s disease

Learn more about the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans and the Move Your Way Campaign at health.gov.

Sit less.  Move more.  Improve health.

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