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New Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

New HHS guidelines urge all Americans to move more.

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Any amount of physical activity—anytime, anywhere and by any means—is good activity, according to Brett P. Giroir, MD, assistant secretary of health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “As opposed to everything being harder and harder, it is actually easier to achieve the recommendations in the [new] physical activity guidelines,” Giroir said during a press conference.

HHS released its first update to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (issued 10 years ago) in November 2018. The revised guidelines, adopted by the American Heart Association (AHA), list additional health benefits derived from physical activity; recommend increasing moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for adults and decreasing sitting time; encourage any physical activity—minimum bouts of 10 minutes are no longer required; and provide guidance for preschool children younger than 6 years old.

“Fitness professionals need to be more connected to health care if we’re going to ‘move the needle’ in population health, since at least half or more of the adult population report not doing enough physical activity to meet the guidelines,” said R.L. Felipe Lobelo, MD, PhD, chair of the AHA Physical Activity Committee. “Fit pros are the most knowledgeable about the benefits of exercise and how to engage clients and motivate behavior change.”

Lobelo emphasizes that we now know that any physical activity counts. “The progressive buildup to meet the physical activity recommendations to maximize health benefits is critical. For some, it starts with reducing the number of hours and days they spend sitting. Maybe then [they will] add bouts of walking with 5, 10, 15 minutes per day as they build to 150 minutes per week of moderate [exercise] or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise. Fit pros need to use all their knowledge, [as well as] strategies like motivational interviewing and ‘SMART’ goals, and make it as personalized as possible based on a client’s baseline physical and motivational readiness and [his or her] preferences, barriers and motivators. There are more than 100 million adults in the U.S. alone who can benefit from expert advice and guidance.”

To read the guidelines or to download a copy, go to health.gov/paguide

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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November-December 2020 IDEA Fitness Journal

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