New Guideline on Physical Activity from HHS – Just Move
Written by Editor   
Saturday, November 17, 2018 12:06 PM

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines (PAG) for Americans, with recommendations on physical activity.  The new document for the first time includes recommendations for those 3 to 5 years of age.

Admiral Brett P. Giroir, MD, Assistant Secretary for Health, HHS, said “Our overarching vision is to transform the present sick care system into a health promoting system.”  "The new guideline is a unique opportunity to implement this vision directly to affect every single person across the country."

Inactivity causes 10% of the premature mortality in the United States, Giroir said. “That means if we can just get 25% of inactive people to be active and meet the recommendations, almost 75,000 deaths would be prevented in the United States.”  Low levels of adherence to the guidelines currently in the United States mean that nearly $117 billion in annual healthcare costs are "directly attributable" to not meeting the guidelines, he said, and further, represent a "threat to our national security, because obesity disqualifies nearly one-third of American youth aged 17 to 24 years for military service."

Any physical activity will help, more is better, and it helps for a wider range of health outcomes than previously noted. The new recommendations first advocate simply “moving more and sitting less.”  The new guidelines removed the statement that only 10-minute bouts of physical activity counted toward meeting the guidelines.  They now say moving more frequently throughout the day helps toward meeting the recommendations.

Adults are advised to participate in 150 to 300 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous exercise each week along with muscle and strength training twice per week to achieve the most benefits. These numbers amount to 1.5 to 3% of one’s total day and result in approximately 22 to 43 minutes per day of moderate to vigorus exercise activity.

The recommendations added a target of 3 hours of physical activity per day for children ages 3 through 5 years. Children and adolescents ages 6 to 17 years should engage in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for at least 60 minutes per day.

The researchers also suggested that older adults do physical activity consisting of balance training, aerobic activity, and strengthening training. Women are advised to do 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week during and after pregnancy.

The most important message from those new guidelines is that the greatest health benefits accrue by moving from zero, to even just small amounts of, physical activity, especially if that activity is of moderate (e.g., brisk walking) or vigorous (e.g., jogging and running) intensity,

“The new guidelines demonstrate based on the best science, everyone can dramatically improve their health, just by moving, anytime, anywhere and my any means that get you active,” the new guideline notes.

Health professionals and policy makers should facilitate awareness of the guidelines and promote the health benefits of physical activity and support efforts to implement programs, practices, and policies to facilitate increased physical activity and to improve the health of the U.S. population.