New Physical Activity Guidelines Released

Whether you enjoy the brisk fall air and hiking with your best buddy or prefer taking your workout indoors at a local gym or even walking the mall, getting regular exercise is one of the most important components of aging well.   New 2018 guidelines for physical activity were released earlier this week and it’s no surprise that the advisory committee recommends that adults get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week.

The new guidelines, published in the JAMA, update the 2008 Department of Health and Human Services guidelines and focuses on the substantial health benefits of physical activity.  Although nearly 80 percent of American adults and teens are not getting enough exercise, by introducing more physical activity, people can reduce their risk for many chronic diseases as well as improve physical function, sleep and mood.

Older adults who may lose muscle mass as they age can benefit not only from regular cardiovascular exercise such as brisk walking, cycling or swimming but can also reduce their risk for falls, improve bone health and stay independent longer with regular strength training.  In addition to up to 300 minutes of moderate exercise or between 75 and 150 minutes a week of vigorous intensity aerobic activity, the new recommendations also include muscle-strengthening training on 2 or more days each week.   Older adults should mix up their physical activity to include balance training, aerobic exercise and strength training.

Even sedentary adults or those with chronic illness can benefit by getting moving more, according to their ability.  Getting up off the sofa to walk or bike around the neighborhood with a friend, rake the leaves or even do some light housework can all add up to improved overall health and well-being. Choose to take the stairs, take a parking spot at a farther distance from the store entrance or join an exercise class.  And by becoming more active, many older adults will also benefit from the social interaction participating in group classes or exercising with a friend or two can provide.