Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

On October 7, 2008 the US Health and Human Services Department (HHS) issued guidelines for exercise and physical activities for Americans. The new guidelines say that adults should get at least two and a half hours a week of moderate aerobic physical activity, while children and adolescents would benefit from an hour or more of physical activity a day.

Perhaps the strongest argument for activity comes from the (HHS) release on these recommendations when they state, "Regular physical activity reduces the risk in adults of early death; coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, colon and breast cancer, and depression. It can improve thinking ability in older adults and the ability to engage in activities needed for daily living."

The HHS recommendations were specific for various ages and groups in our society and include the following:

  • Children and Adolescents -- One hour or more of moderate or vigorous aerobic physical activity a day, including vigorous intensity physical activity at least three days a week.
  • Adults -- Adults gain substantial health benefits from two and one half hours a week of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity, or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity.
  • Older adults -- Older adults should follow the guidelines for other adults when it is within their physical capacity.

Women during pregnancy -- Healthy women should get at least two and one half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week during pregnancy and the time after delivery, preferably spread through the week.