The New Exercise Guidelines Are Not Bad News, Even If You Hate the Gym

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Super exciting news, except you, didn’t follow up on the old ones. Well, be glad because there’s some good news in the new exercise guidelines. In case you’ve forgotten the old ones, it says that adults should engage in a 2.5-5 hours moderate-intensity exercise each week. An extra of two or more days dedicated to strength building exercises like weightlifting is also strongly encouraged.

So for the first time in ten years, there are some set of new exercise guidelines. They do not include an increase in the recommended amount of time for exercise for teens and adults (or a decrease, mind you). But there has been a change in the definition of exercise so it will be easier to hit and a set of guidelines for how much exercise young children should get as well as advice concerning exercise during pregnancy.

These guidelines last updated in 2008 were recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association after being developed by the Department of Health and Human Service.

Now I know a whole lot of people in the USA, 80% if I’m not wrong, don’t hit these standards. If you happen to be one of them, don’t beat yourself up. But that’s no guarantee that health experts and professionals are not trying to get people (like you) moving.

An analysis of research carried out over the past decade defines exercise as anything you do for a specific period of time (so if you’re dancing or walking, that’s pretty much exercise). An important change in the guidelines is that exercise is no longer defined as an activity that lasts for at least 10 minutes.

How exciting! So if you park a car a little further and just walk a little extra, that counts.

After being developed by the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee, Katrina L. Piercy and colleagues at the CDC and the HHS published the guidelines.

I’m certain the next question you want to ask is how much exercise should I be doing?

Remember that the major message is “anything” something is way better than nothing. According to the report published, “Recommendations emphasize that moving more and sitting less will benefit nearly everyone.”

So for adults, it hasn’t changed. It’s still remains 2.5-5 hours of moderate- intensity exercise per week or 1.25-2.5 hours of vigorous intensity exercise or a combination if you feel up to it. Moderate intensity could be a brisk walk in the park, a little yard work while vigorous intensity entails running, walking up the stairs carrying a load. Adults are also advised to do muscle strengthening exercises like lifting of weights twice a week. For persons with disabilities or chronic diseases, these recommendations apply to them also if they are up to the task.

These new guidelines also specify some exercise for kids between the ages of 3 to 5 years old. They should be active most of the day with sufficient play time of 3 hours, if possible.

Pregnant women and those in the post-partum period are not left out. With the doctor’s permission, they should get 2.5 hours of exercise per week according to the report.

According to Grior (lead author of a commentary published with the guidelines), “You probably already know exercise is good. But in the past 10 years, there’s more information about just how good it really is.”

There are a whole lot of benefits of exercise. Exercise lowers the risk of cancer of the esophagus, stomach, lungs amongst others. Exercise can reduce depression and anxiety as well as postpartum depression.

It was found that exercise can help in reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes. There is also a positive relationship between exercise and brain health.

Exercise can help to improve sleep, lower blood pressure. More exercise could save lives as it could help to lower the rates of premature death.


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