08:46pm Friday 06 December 2019

Guidelines, Guidelines: The Most Important Take-Away Messages On Physical Activity

ACSM President James Pivarnik, Ph.D., FACSM, and Edward Howley, Ph.D., FACSM, gave separate talks on the benefits and most important messages of exercise recommendations – namely, the U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. ACSM’s own guidelines served as a science base for the federal guidelines, and the writing teams for both manuscripts shared numerous authors.

“I think most people know they should be more active, but many do not know how much to do or how to work it into their daily lives,” said Pivarnik, who gave a keynote address on the federal guidelines and the soon-to-be-released National Physical Activity Plan. “The guidelines and the Plan help with both of those major issues.”

Howley provided a practical overview of the most crucial points from the federal guidelines:

  • Health benefits of physical activity aren’t related to weight. Consistent with the message of the Exercise is Medicine program, physical activity is good for the mind and body irrespective of weight.
  • Kids should accumulate at least 60 minutes of activity per day.Muscle- and bone-strengthening activities are important for children in addition to cardiovascular exercise.
  • More is better. Any activity is good activity. But the more you exercise, the more benefits you’ll reap, decreasing your chances for chronic conditions such as heart disease, and high blood pressure.
  • Energy balance is important. Consuming more calories than are expended through activity equals weight gain. All activity, however, counts as expenditure, from purposeful exercise to simply taking the stairs (rather than escalator), and walking. Ten-minute bouts of activity can count toward the daily total.
  • Older adults need exercise. No age is too old to begin a physical activity program. Older adults with chronic disease should work with a health care provider to determine limitations and the right kinds of exercise for their bodies.
  • In general, a doctor’s clearance is not needed to begin a moderate-intensity physical activity program . However, those with risk factors for chronic diseases such as diabetes should seek medical advice before beginning physical activity.
  • Pregnant women need exercise! Healthy for both mother and baby, physical activity is recommend during pregnancy and post-partum. Seek a doctor’s advice to ensure safety, though.
  • Guidelines might need adaptation for those with disabilities. However, physical activity holds numerous benefits for this group, including increased quality of life and mental health.
  • Strength training is important. Both young and older adults benefit from a regular program of resistance training, done at least two days per week.
  • Progression is key. For those getting started, increase the duration or frequency of moderate-intensity physical activity first, before increasing the intensity.

The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 35,000 international, national, and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.


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