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Scientists Contest Physical Activity Guidelines

For the average person, at least 150 minutes of moderate-to vigorous-intensity activity each week is the general recommendation. For many, that goal seems overwhelming. But fortunately, taking an all-or-nothing approach is not necessary. Scientists from the Cardiovascular Physiology and Rehabilitation Laboratory, at the University of British Columbia, believe that far less weekly exercise offers health benefits.

“A critical review of the literature indicates that half of this volume of physical activity might lead to marked health benefits,” explained authors Darren Warburton, PhD, and Shannon Bredin, PhD.

These same researchers were behind the systematic reviews that eventually led to the 2011 Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines.

“One of the greatest myths perpetuated within physical activity promotion, the exercise sciences, and exercise medicine is the belief that you need to engage in a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity to obtain health benefits,” the researchers stated in a press release.

The authors explained that a recent research review had led them to determine that this amount should be held as a suggestion only, not a requirement. They believe there should be a primary public-health initiative to eliminate all barriers to exercise, and informing individuals that even modest amounts of activity are beneficial can make that possible.

“The simple message of ‘Move more and sit less’ is more understandable by contemporary society and based on a strong body of evidence,” they said. “For practitioners who work directly with clients, it is recommended that an individualized prescription (dosage) that takes into consideration the unique characteristics and needs of the client is provided.”

The report was published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology (2016; 32 [4], 496–504).

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