U.S. Government Issues New Fitness Guidelines For Americans, Suggest Kids Get More Exercise

A woman working out against a cement wall
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For the first time in a decade, the Department of Health and Human Services released a new set of guidelines for physical activity. Fewer than a third of adults met the previous activity goals laid out by the department in 2008, so the new guideline calls for working activity into your day whenever you can. Also for the first time, the guide specifies activity goals for kids between the ages of 3 and 5.

According to the report, which was released on Monday, only 26 percent of men and 19 percent of women meet the previous guidelines for physical activity, resulting in nearly $117 billion in annual health care costs. The guideline remains the same for adults, with 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity per week being the goal. New is the recommendation for adults to reduce the amount of time they are sedentary.

The guidelines were also updated to encourage activity in older adults, pregnant women, and those with health conditions.

For youths, the report found that only 20 percent of adolescents met the previous guidelines, which called for 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity every day. That remains the same goal for kids between the ages of 6 and 17 in the new report while adding emphasis on the fact that physical activity can improve mental as well as physical health. For children between the ages of 3 and 5, they should get at least 3 hours of some sort of activity every day.

“The new guidelines demonstrate that, based on the best science, everyone can dramatically improve their health just by moving – anytime, anywhere, and by any means that gets you active,” said ADM Brett P. Giroir, MD, Assistant Secretary for Health.

“When we move more, we have better cardiovascular health, we are stronger and less susceptible to disease, and we feel better. The updated guidelines include evidence-based strategies that leaders across the nation can use to help Americans fit more physical activity into their daily lives.”

The new guidelines focus on the fact that any amount of physical activity is beneficial, even if it is just 10-minutes of activity in between more sedentary times.

“In 2008, the American Heart Association adopted the Physical Activity Guidelines and again we are proud to lead the call for health groups across the country to view these guidelines as beneficial to both public health and a worthy tool for clinicians,” Ivor Benjamin, M.D., and American Heart Association president said.

The Department of Health and Human Services works to protect the health and provide health services for Americans. They will present the new report at the American Heart Association Scientific Session 2018 in Chicago, Illinois.