Move More and Sit Less

Move More and Sit Less

No matter what age you are, becoming more physically active will provide the means to a healthier lifestyle. Time to get started; April is National Move More Month.

Bottom line, you’re never too old to exercise. A March 2019 JAMA article, “Light Physical Activity and Incident Coronary Heart Disease and Cardiovascular Disease Among Older Women—A Call for Action,” by Gregory W. Heath, DHSc, MPH1 indicates that even light physical activity is associated with a decreased risk of coronary heart disease and improved cardiovascular health, especially among older adults.

The report further establishes the need for the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, recommending specific physical activity guidance for older adults: “Most older adults spend a substantial portion of their day being sedentary, so the key guidelines start in a similar fashion as those for adults—move more and sit less throughout the day. Replacing sitting with light-intensity physical activity or, ideally, moderate-intensity physical activity may provide significant benefits.”9

However, the article also states that among women 65 years and older, only 25 to 44 percent are getting light exercise. Despite the variation, the numbers are significantly low–cause for a call to action, according to the auhtor, who is calling on physicians, health care professionals, health care systems, and public health agencies to promote the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans provides evidence-based guidance to help Americans maintain or improve their health through physical activity. In general the key guidelines suggest at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity and two days of muscle-strengthening activities.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans suggest the following:

The Key Guidelines for Adults

  • Adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. Some physical activity is better than none. Adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity gain some health benefits.
  • For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Preferably, aerobic activity should be spread throughout the week.
  • Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond the equivalent of 300 minutes (5 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.
  • Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity and that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.

The key guidelines for adults also apply to older adults. But, in addition, the following key guidelines are just for older adults:

  • As part of their weekly physical activity, older adults should do multi-component physical activity that includes balance training as well as aerobic and muscle -strengthening activities.
  • Older adults should determine their level of effort for physical activity relative to their level of fitness.
  • Older adults with chronic conditions should understand whether and how their conditions affect their ability to do regular physical activity safely.

The guidelines further reveal that by meeting the recommendations in the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans consistently over time can lead to even more long-term health benefits. (New benefits appear in bold with *.) The summary states the following:

  • For adults, physical activity helps prevent eight types of cancer (bladder,* breast, colon, endometrium,* esophagus,* kidney,* stomach,* and lung*); reduces the risk of dementia* (including Alzheimer’s disease*), all-cause mortality, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and depression; and improves bone health, physical function, and quality of life.
  • For older adults, physical activity also lowers the risk of falls and injuries from falls.*
  • For all groups, physical activity reduces the risk of excessive weight gain* and helps people maintain a healthy weight.

From gardening and household chores to yoga and golfing, there are a variety of activities to keep you moving. The idea is to incorporate more ways that work for you. You can get more active, just move your way.

Check out HHS Prevention’s tool to find fun activities and build a personalized plan: click here

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