Being physically active is one of the most important steps Americans of all ages can take to improve their health. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans provides science-based guidance to help Americans aged 6 and older improve their health through appropriate physical activity.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issues the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. The content complements the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a joint effort of HHS and the USDA. Together, the two documents provide guidance on the importance of being physically active and eating a healthy diet to promote good health and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
Regular physical activity can produce long-term health benefits.
The steps used to create this guideline were similar to those used for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In 2007, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt appointed an external scientific advisory committee, call the Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee condicted extensive analysis of the scientific information on physical activity and health. The report and meeting summaries can be found here.
HHS primarily used the Advisory Committees report but also considered comments from the public and Government agencies when writing the guidelines. The Physical Activities Guidelines for Americans describes the major research findings on the health benefits of physical activity:
- Regular physical activity reduces the risk of many adverse health outcomes.
- Some physical activity is better than none.
- For most health outcomes, additional benefits occur as the amount of physical activity increases through higher intensity, greater frequency, and/or longer duration.
- Most health benefits occur with at least 150 minutes ( 2 hours and 30 minutes ) a week of moderate intensity physical activity such as brisk walking. Additional benefits occur with more physical activity.
- Both aerobic (endurance) and muscle strengthening (resistance) physical activity are beneficial.
- Health benefits occur for children, adolescents, young and middle aged adults, older adults, and those in every studied racial and ethnic group.
- The health benefits of physical activities occur for people with disabilities.
The benefits of physical activity far outweigh the possibility of adverse outcomes.
This has been an excerpt from the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.