Q: Can you remind me how much physical activity is recommended per day?
A: The timing couldn't be more perfect for this question! Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released its first comprehensive Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
As 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."
The guidelines are designed so people can easily fit physical activity into their daily plan and incorporate activities they enjoy.
For adults, a total amount of activity per week is being recommended instead of per day, which allows people to design their own way of meeting the guidelines. Here are the key guidelines by group:
¢ Adults: 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 a week of vigorous physical activity. Walking briskly and water aerobics are examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activities. Vigorous-intensity aerobic activities include racewalking, running, swimming laps or 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 or carrying heavy loads 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. They should do so with the guidance of a health care provider.
¢ Children and adolescents aged 6-17 years: 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 and bicycle riding. Vigorous-intensity aerobic activities include running and sports such as soccer or basketball. Children and adolescents should incorporate muscle-strengthening activities, such as rope climbing or sit-ups, three days a week. Bone-strengthening activities, such as jumping rope and running, are recommended three days a week.
¢ The Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee did not review evidence for children younger than age 6, although physical activity for infants and young children is necessary for healthy growth and development. Children younger than age 6 should do physical activity appropriate for their age and stage of development.
¢ 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.
- Susan Krumm is an Extension agent in family and consumer sciences with K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, 2110 Harper St. She can be reached at 843-7058.