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Any physical activity is good activity is the message behind the federal guidelines for physical activity, which the Department of Health and Human Services released this month. The core guideline is that Americans should get at least 150 minutes of moderately intense activity per week, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend that time in the gym. For the first time, a variety of activities, including daily chores and physically-demanding occupations, count toward physical activity, which can lower the risk of early death, heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. But thankfully, the feds have realized that physical activity isn’t one-size-fits-all, so after the jump find recommendations for adults, seniors, children and teens. [New York Times]Adults

  • Avoid inactivity. Duh!
  • Perform 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week. Moderate-intensity activities include brisk walking, ballroom dancing, or, even, general gardening and vigorous floor scrubbing. Vigorous-intensity activities include running, aerobic dancing, jumping rope and heavy gardening (continuous digging or hoeing, with heart rate increases).
  • Increase your activity to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week.
  • Engage your muscles in strengthening activities that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on two or more days a week. Weight training is a familiar muscle strengthening activity, but any activity that makes the muscles work harder than they are accustomed to will also have its benefits. You can work with resistance bands, do calisthenics or carry heavy loads. So that means a mall shopping spree has health benefits, right?
  • Seniors

  • The guidelines for active seniors are the same as the guidelines for active adults.
  • When chronic conditions make it impossible for a senior to perform 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.
  • Seniors should do exercises that increase balance if they are at risk of falling. Examples of these exercises include backward walking, sideways walking, heel walking, toe walking, and standing from a sitting position. These exercises should be performed in conjunction with moderate-intensity muscle strengthening activities for 90 minute sessions, three or more days a week.
  • Older adults should determine their level of effort for physical activity relative to their level of fitness.
  • Seniors with chronic conditions should understand whether and how their conditions affect their ability to do regular physical activity safely.
  • Children and Teens

  • Children should do 60 minutes or more of physical activity daily.
  • Most of the 60 minutes or more should be dedicated to moderate-intensity or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, and should include vigorous-intensity physical activity at least three days a week. Running, hopping, skipping, jumping rope, swimming, dancing, and bicycling are all examples of aerobic activities. If your child enjoys playing video games, maybe Wii Fit will help them become active.
  • As part of their daily physical activity, children and adolescents should include muscle strengthening on at least three days a week. Muscle strengthening can be unstructured and part of normal play, like playing on playground equipment, climbing trees and playing tug-of-war. Or these activities can be structured, such as lifting weights or working with resistance bands.
  • Children and teens should also add bone strengthening activities to their daily activity at least three days a week. Bone-strengthening activities produce a force on the bones that promotes bone growth and strength. This force is commonly produced by impact with the ground, so running, jumping rope, basketball and hopscotch are great activities to strengthen bones. As these examples show, bone-strengthening activities can also be aerobic and muscle-strengthening.
  • It is important to encourage young people to participate in physical activities that are appropriate for their age, that are enjoyable, and that offer variety.
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