June 01, 2019

New physical activity guidelines

A minute here, a minute there — the movements add up. That's according to new physical activity guidelines published by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The recommended weekly aerobic activity total remains the same — 150 minutes of moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking or recreational swimming, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, such as jogging or an exercise class. What has changed is the amount of activity you do at one time. Previous guidelines called for the activity to be done in sessions of at least 10 minutes at a time. However, new evidence has demonstrated that all movement counts toward the weekly goal. Even small periods of activity — whether it's taking the stairs or playing a game of tag with your grandkids — help your health when done throughout the day.

For older adults, balance training and twice-weekly muscle strengthening should be done in addition to aerobic activities. Balance activities include walking heel to toe, standing on one leg or using a wobble board. Muscle-strengthening activities include using your body weight, hand-held weights or resistance bands. For more efficiency in your workout, choose recreational activities that incorporate multiple types of physical activity, such as dancing, yoga, tai chi, gardening and sports. It's important to be as physically active as your abilities and conditions allow. Some activity is significantly better than none.

Mayo Clinic experts agree that the less time spent sedentary the better. Small sessions of activity do make a difference, as long as your goal...