It’s estimated as many as 80% of adults do not get enough physical activity. Figures in the US show that nearly $120 billion in annual healthcare costs and 10% of premature deaths are related to insufficient physical activity.
New Physical Activity Guidelines From JAMA
Six months ago, in November 2018, The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report, a systematic review of the science related to physical activity and health.
Two key changes have been made since the last time this report was published in 2008. 1) We need more physical activity at all ages than previously recommended; and 2) Even small amounts of physical activity count.
Any Physical Activity Counts, Not Just Your Gym Session
Current evidence now shows that bouts of a minimum duration are not essential; any moderate physical activity counts towards movement goals and contributes to overall health.
This is a notable development, which means that becoming more physically active in general is more important than simply spending an hour in the gym. It’s better to cultivate a lifestyle of moving more throughout the day than to be sedentary 90% of the time and work out several times a week. This “active sedentism” – being primarily sedentary with small bouts of intense activity – is also associated with more sports related injuries.
Guidelines And Benefits For Adults
The guidelines recommend adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, and 2 days per week of muscle-strengthening activity. Older adults should incorporate balance training in addition to cardiovascular and muscle-strengthening activities.
Among the many benefits of physical activity are a lower risk of mortality; lower risk of cardiovascular events, hypertension, and diabetes; and lower risk of many cancers (including bladder, breast, colon, esophagus, kidney, lung, and stomach). In addition, physical activity improves cognition and bone health, and reduces the risk of dementia, anxiety, and depression. It also lowers the risk of falls.
Guidelines And Benefits For Children
Young people (age 6-17 years) should be getting at least 60 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, and muscle strengthening activity on 3 days per week. Preschool age children (3-5 years old) should be physically active throughout the day to enhance their growth and development. Increased physical activity in all children is associated with improved bone health, weight status, cardiovascular fitness, and mental & cognitive function.
How To Get More Movement
With our busy modern lives, it can be hard to see how to fit in more movement, especially if we are desk-bound in a conventional 9-5 job. But in truth, there are tons of opportunities for movement in our daily lives. We have to break out of the “exercise mindset” of thinking of physical activity as needing a special time set aside, with special equipment and clothing, and time to shower afterwards. It’s not hard to reclaim movement you’ve been outsourcing. Here are a few ideas:
- Put your clothes and socks on standing up – requires balance!
- Add movement to your commute – even if you drive, could you park farther away? Could you walk or bike to work? Get off one stop earlier and walk the rest of the way?
- If you work at a computer, change positions frequently – stand, cross your legs, change to a different chair, or even sit on the floor if that’s an option.
- Stretch your arms overhead a couple times an hour; grasp the door jamb every time you pass through.
- If you have a coffee planned, make it a walking meeting.
- Eat your lunch outside.
- Check your voicemail or take calls while standing up, or walking.
- Change your focus – focusing your eyes on varying distances helps use the full range of motion of your eyes and improves eye health.
- Shift around and stretch whenever possible. Stretch your calves while reading emails.
- Prepare your own dinner – moving about the kitchen.
- Housework is movement too!
- Take a walk, whenever possible, over natural terrain when you have the opportunity.
- Sit on the floor while watching TV. Open your hips and stretch your legs while watching Netflix.
Moving More Is Key For Health
The recommendations emphasize that moving more and sitting less benefits everyone. Even short episodes or small amounts of physical activity are helpful. Do you think outside the exercise box? What are some ways you incorporate movement into your daily life? Let us know in the comments!
- “The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.” Katrina L. Piercy, PhD, RD; Richard P. Troiano, PhD; Rachel M. Ballard, MD, MPH; et al. JAMA. November 2018. Accessed May 16, 2019 from: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2712935
- “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.” Elizabeth A. Jackson, MD, FACC. ACC.org. Nov 14, 2018. Accessed May 16, 2019 from: https://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/ten-points-to-remember/2018/11/14/14/37/the-physical-activity-guidelines-for-americans
- “Office Life: How to get more movement in a 9-5.” By Katy Bowman. Accessed May 16, 2019 from: https://www.nutritiousmovement.com/office-life-how-to-get-more-movement-in-a-9-5/