Physical activity recommendation for adults:
The current low-participation rate in physical activity may be due in part to the misperception of many people that to reap health benefits they must engage in vigorous, continuous exercise.
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The scientific evidence clearly demonstrates that even moderate-intensity, regular physical activity provides substantial health benefits.
After review of physiological, epidemiologic, and clinical evidence, an expert panel formulated the following recommendation: Every adult should accumulate 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week. This recommendation emphasizes the benefits of moderate-intensity physical activity and of physical activity that can be accumulated in relatively short bouts.
Adults who engage in moderate-intensity physical activity -- ie, enough to expend approximately 200 calories per day -- can expect many of the health benefits described herein. To expend these calories, about 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity should be accumulated during the course of the day. One way to meet this standard is to walk 2 miles (3.2 km) briskly.
Intermittent activity also confers substantial benefits. Therefore, the recommended 30 minutes of activity can be accumulated in short bouts of activity: walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator, walking instead of driving short distances, doing calisthenics, or pedaling a stationary cycle while watching television.
Gardening, housework, raking leaves, dancing, and playing actively with children can also contribute to the 30 minute-per-day total if performed at an intensity corresponding to brisk walking. Those who perform lower-intensity activities should do them more often, for longer periods of time, or both.
People who prefer more formal exercise may choose to walk or participate in more vigorous activities, such as jogging, swimming, or cycling for 30 minutes daily. Sports and recreational activities, such as tennis or golf (without riding a cart), can also be applied to the daily total.
Because most adults do not currently meet the standard described herein, almost all should strive to increase their participation in physical activity that is of at least moderate intensity. Those who do not engage in regular physical activity should begin by incorporating a few minutes of increased activity into their day, building up gradually to 30 minutes per day of physical activity. Those who are active on an irregular basis should strive to adopt a more consistent activity pattern.
The health benefits gained from increased physical activity depend on the initial activity level. Sedentary individuals are expected to benefit most from increasing their activity to the recommended level. People who are physically active at a level below the standard would also benefit from reaching the recommended level of physical activity.
People who already meet the recommendation are also likely to derive some additional health and fitness benefits from becoming more physically active.
Most adults do not need to see their physician before starting a moderate-intensity physical activity program. However, men older than 40 years and women older than 50 years who plan a vigorous program (intensity >60% individual maximum oxygen consumption; or who have either chronic disease or risk factors for chronic disease should consult their physician to design a safe, effective program.
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