Here are the top 5 things to know about the Department of Health and Human Services recently released 2nd Edition of Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. The first guidelines were published in 2008. Since then even more scientific studies have confirmed how important activity becomes as we age.
1. Moderate-intensity activity
The new guidelines continue to promote moderate-intensity exercise as the primary way to obtain the many benefits of activity. Older adults need at least 150 to 300 minutes of this kind of activity per week. Activities like brisk walking, and fast dancing. We also need to add 2 days of muscle strengthening activity like lifting weights, or using our own body as weight like push ups.
2. Avoid too much sitting
The new guidelines stress sitting less and moving more. Sounds simple doesn’t it. Yes, sometimes we need a scientific study to confirm what your mother always told you, like “ turn off the boob-tube and get outside and play.” They found a strong relationship with sitting and increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and all-cause mortality, ie. any kind of death. . All physical activity, especially moderate-to-vigorous activity, can help offset these risks
3. You can break-up your exercise
The study revealed that any amount of physical activity will have some health benefits. The best is a moderate to vigorous activity that can be spread out over the day. The idea is to move more frequently throughout the day. For example, you could quickly climb up a flight of stairs, scrub the floor with a vigorous movement, run quickly down the street past your neighbors home, or stand up quickly 10 times in a row. All this activity will count toward your 150 minutes.
4. Benefits are quick
Want the health benefits of physical activity immediately? You got it. New research shows that when we are active, there are real benefits fairly quickly in our bodies. For example, after an exercise class, blood pressure is improved, anxiety is reduced, insulin sensitivity is increased, and quality of sleep is better.
5. Gain long-term health benefits
Certainly we need to stick to an exercise program, or an increase in our activity level to see positive changes in our day to day life. Over time the benefits become more apparent as our general fitness and health improve.
Sustained exercise can help prevent 8 types of cancer including bladder, breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, stomach, and lung cancer. Exercise reduces the risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and depression. Exercise also improves quality of life, physical function, and bone health. Increased activity will help reduce the risk of weight gain and help maintain a healthy weight.
Increased activity will also help manage your pre-existing health conditions like osteoarthritis, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, anxiety, depression, multiple sclerosis, ADHD, and Parkinson’s disease. Exercise helps lower your risk of falls, and injuries from falls.
Conclusion: Now you have no excuse. Get started on an exercise program today for improve health, reduce risk of disease, better outlook on life, greater confidence, and greater balance.
Doug Schrift is a Physical Therapist, Certified Geriatric Specialist, and senior fitness coach. Doug helps seniors become strong and stable even if they have never exercised before.
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