How Much Exercise Do You Need to Stay Healthy?
physical activity guidelines for children, adolescents, and adults
Staying healthy is a full-time job. While it might not always prove so easy to exercise or eat right, the benefits of healthy living are undeniable. According to the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, the word prevention refers to ways to avoid getting sick or identifying diseases early so treatment can begin early, stressing that immunizations and disease screenings are two vital aspects of preventive care. The report also stresses that everyone can take a more active role in preventive care by embracing physical activity.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) says physical activity fosters normal growth and development, and helps people feel and function better, and sleep better. It also reduces their risk for many chronic diseases. In fact, increasing the use of five preventive services saves thousands of lives yearly. These services include smoking cessation programs, and offering medication or other assistance to help them quit, while also providing flu shots for people age 65 and older. In recognition of the role that exercise plays in preventive care, both the DHHS recommends that children, adolescents, and adults follow these physical activity guidelines:
Children and adolescents
Children and adolescents between the ages of six and 17 should get 60 minutes or more of moderate or vigorous physical activity daily. Most of the 60 minutes or more per day should be either moderate or intense aerobic physical activity, and should be done at least three days a week. Children and adolescents should include muscle-strengthening physical activity at least three days a week, as well as bone-strengthening physical activity. Parents can consult with their children’s physicians to determine age-appropriate muscle- and bone-strengthening activities for their youngsters.
Adults should make an effort to move more and sit less throughout the day. For substantial health benefits, adults should get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week, or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. An equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity can serve as a substitute. Ideally, aerobic activity should be spread throughout the week. Muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity that involve all major muscle groups two or more days a week is also important. These guidelines also apply to older adults, but older adults also should incorporate balance training into their exercise routines. In addition, older adults should consult with their physicians about the appropriate level of effort for physical activity relative to their level of fitness.
DHHS says people of all ages should include physical activity in their preventive health care routines.