Updated Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Provides New Research and Tools for Health Professionals to Support Increased Physical Activity

Photo of Alison Vaux-Bjerke, M.P.H.Alison Vaux-Bjerke, M.P.H., and Katrina L. Piercy, Ph.D., R.D., ACSM-CEP, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your health, but few Americans are regularly active enough to meet the federally recommended levels of physical activity. We know that guidance from health professionals works when it comes to increasing physical activity levels. With that in mind, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) developed some tools and resources specifically for health professionals to use with patients and clients to promote the key guidelines in the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition.

 

Photo of Katrina L. Piercy, Ph.D., R.D., ACSM-CEP

Health benefits of regular physical activity

Many chronic conditions can be prevented or managed through physical activity. The fact that regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing many chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer is well-established. New evidence demonstrates that physical activity has even more health benefits, including reduced feelings of anxiety and improvements in blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, and quality of sleep immediately following a bout of activity. Additionally, research shows that the negative effects of sedentary behavior are significant, so moving more and sitting less is vitally important.

These benefits, and more, are outlined in the recently released update to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which provides evidence-based guidance for Americans ages 3 and older to safely get the physical activity they need to stay healthy. Youth ages 6 through 17 need 60 minutes of physical activity each day and adults need at least 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week, plus two days of muscle-strengthening activity. Key guidelines with additional information are included for youth ages 3 through 17, adults, older adults, women who are pregnant or postpartum, individuals with chronic health conditions, and individuals with disabilities. Key guidelines for safe physical activity are also included.

 

Resources

The HHS Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has launched the Move Your Way campaign to help promote the key guidelines and health benefits of being physically active.

Move Your Way iconMove Your Way emphasizes personalized, practical strategies that people can use to fit more activity into their busy lives, while clearly communicating the amount and types of physical activity Americans need to stay healthy.

Check out these Move Your Way campaign resources at www.health.gov/MoveYourWay to motivate your patients to be more active and start feeling the benefits of physical activity today:

  • A fact sheet for health care providers on talking to patients about physical activity.
  • Posters that feature adults, older adults, families, and individuals with chronic conditions.
  • Handouts for adults, older adults, kids, and parents on why physical activity is important, how much physical activity is needed, and how to get it.
  • Videos with tips to help people overcome common barriers to physical activity.
  • Interactive tools for adults and parents to find ways to fit more physical activity into their lives and the lives of their children.

Health care providers play an important role in promoting the key guidelines with their patients. We invite you to join HHS is creating a healthier and more active Nation.

Statements or opinions expressed on the Centers for Health Metrics and Evaluation blog reflect the views of the contributors, and do not reflect the official views of the AHA|ASA, unless otherwise noted.

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