US Department of Health & Human Services Publishes 2018 Updates to Physical Activity Guidelines

Most people know that one of the best ways to stay healthy and prevent injury is to remain active, but did you know that there are specific guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human services regarding how much activity people should get in order to get the most benefit from exercise? For the first time since their initial publication in 2008, these guidelines
have been updated based on new research to help Americans use exercise to help prevent disease and injury, and improve overall quality of life. Physical therapy is a great way to begin incorporating exercise into people’s lives, and as PTs and PTAs we strive to
encourage regular physical activity and education about just how many benefits there are to maintaining an active lifestyle.

Some of the new updates to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans include more information about the benefits to regular exercise (summarized in the tables below) as well as explaining risks of living a sedentary lifestyle. There are also new guidelines about activity for young kids between ages 3 and 5. Additionally, newer research has shown that even small bouts of exercise less than 10 minutes can have benefits, whereas previously it was suggested that exercise last at least ten minutes in order to have benefits. So even if you only have an extra 5 minutes in the morning or at lunch, try some exercises like air squats, jumping jacks, or push-ups and you will still benefit!

Here’s a quick summary of the updated guidelines:

In general, any physical activity is better than none at all. These health benefits apply to all populations, and can include positive outcomes such as decreased all-cause mortality, decrease in risk of heart disease, stroke, some forms of cancer, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis. Additionally, physical activity can improve a person’s functional capacity (or ability to do normal activities throughout the day), decrease the risk for such mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and Alzheimer’s disease, and decrease the risk of falls and resulting injuries. Physical therapists are passionate about physical activity and exercise as an important part of both our lives and the lives of our patients, and we are dedicated to educating and instructing our patients in safe, effective exercise. Contact us today to help you with your exercise journey to a healthier you!