Exercise and Physical Activity Guidelines and Recommendations

Using Monday to help restart your physical activity routine can help you achieve numerous benefits. When individuals stay active, their results can include achieving a better quality of life and preventing disease. The following information was composed from the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans that is the preeminent resource on the amount and type of physical activity needed to maintain or improve health.1

Guidelines for achieving health benefits of exercise:

Older Adults (65+): Physical activity provides a number of health benefits to adults 65 years and older and it’s never too late to start being more active –for those who have concerns or questions about their health, check with a doctor first. Those who are more active have better balance, are less likely to experience falls, more easily accomplish activities of daily living, and manage chronic diseases. Older adults should try to get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate activity each week, with additional health benefits accruing for those who go beyond 300 minutes a week. Seniors should do muscle strengthening activities at least two days a week, as well as balance training. Understanding physical limitations is important in deciding which activities are safe to start and always check with a doctor first.

Adults (18-64):Adults should aim to get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate activity each week. In general, adults should sit less and move more, as some physical activity is always better than none. For active adults, health benefits continue to accrue for those exceeding 300 minutes per week of moderate physical activity. Additionally, adults should do muscle strengthening activities twice a week and try to engage all major muscle groups.

Children (3-17):Children should engage in 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily. A variety of age appropriate activities should be offered and can include vigorous aerobic, muscle and bone strengthening activities.

Low, high and moderate physical activity. Definitions and examples:

Low or light-intensity activity: Light-intensity activities are lower energy expending behaviors that require some effort. Examples include slow walking, light chores and cooking.

Medium or moderate-intensity activity: Moderate-intensity activities are associated with improved health performance. Examples include brisk walking, some group sports and yard work.

High or vigorous-intensity activity: Vigorous-intensity activities are associated with rising heart rates and require the most effort. Examples include jogging or running, fitness classes, shoveling snow and playing sports, like soccer.

Sedentary behavior: Any type of behavior while sitting, reclining, or lying down is considered sedentary behavior. Although there is evidence that links high rates of sedentary behavior with an increased risk of poor health and disease, offsetting sedentary behaviors with moderate to vigorous activity can be beneficial. Individuals should try to reduce inactivity even if they cannot reach the target guidelines. And any bout of activity can count toward accumulating health benefits – even activities like climbing a few flights of stairs.

Exercise activities:

Aerobic: Aerobic activities move the body in a rhythmic manner over a period of time. These activities raise the heart rate and cause an individual to breathe harder. Aerobic activities include running, swimming, bicycling, jumping rope and walking briskly. The components of an individual’s aerobic physical activity are the intensity, frequency and duration of the activity. However, the total amount of time performing the activity is more important than any single component.

Muscle-strengthening: These types of activities use a form of resistance to cause an individual’s muscles to work against the force or weight. Activities that strengthen the muscles include weight lifting, pulling elastic bands or using body weight for pushups or squats. The components of muscle-strengthening exercise are intensity, frequency and sets and repetitions. These activities focus on specific groups of muscles, so an individual needs to do a variety of muscle-strengthening activities to work all of the major muscle groups in the body.

Bone-strengthening: Bearing weight can also help strengthen bones. These types of activities can also be aerobic and muscle-strengthening. Examples include jumping jacks, lifting weights, brisk walking and running.

Balancing: Balancing activities can help improve stability and strengthen core muscle groups in the abdomen, legs and back. Standing on one leg or using a wobble board are types of balancing activities.

Flexibility: Stretching activities can improve flexibility to increase an individual’s full range of motion.

For more tips and resources to promote Move It Monday, click here.

[1] Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition. 2018. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/pdf/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf