We are a society that loves to sit.
Millions of jobs require sitting for hours upon hours, and that’s become a problem. It’s become so much of a problem that the federal government has just updated its recommendation for physical activity.
This update is the first in the past 10 years.
And what do the new guidelines suggest? Get moving as much as possible.
“The new guidelines demonstrate that everyone can dramatically improve their health just by moving — anytime, anywhere, and by any means that gets you active,” Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of health at the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a release.
Research currently indicates only about 20 percent of Americans meet the recommendation for physical activity set in 2008. And that lack of physical activity has its costs. Health care costs have risen to more than $117 billion annually as a result of the lack of physical activity in America.
The old recommendation was that we needed at least 10 minutes of aerobic activity that added up to 150 minutes a week. The new guidelines suggest all movement is crucial to maintain so many aspects of our health.
There’s more and more research showing exercise immediately reduces anxiety, improves sleep, improves blood sugar control, and offers other long-term benefits including cognitive health, lower risk for heart disease and other diseases.
While the new guidelines for how many minutes we need to move each day haven’t changed – 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise weekly – the emphasis on the activity has changed. New recommendations mean we should aim for 22 minutes of movement a day. That means walking, bringing in the groceries, dancing, or any other activity that gets your heart rate up.
And the new recommendations also suggest adults do muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week.
The recommendations have changed in hopes of helping people look at simple ways to add more movement into their daily routine.
If you take the stairs, count that toward your goal for moving during the day. If you bike more, count that.
The new recommendations also suggest older adults follow the guidelines for adults and also work on balance training.
For kids, the guidelines suggest 60 minutes of aerobic physical activity each day and three days a week of muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activity. For the first time, the recommendations include pre-school aged children. They recommend that they be physically active throughout the day to support their growth and development.
With more and more research, physical activity offers benefits for the brain as much as other aspects of our health for both children and adults.
Inactivity can lead to high blood pressure, increased risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and anxiety and depression.