Move more, sit less and get kids active as young as when they’re in age 3, say new federal guidelines that stress that any amount of exercise helps health.
This is the first update since the government’s physical activity guidelines that came out 10 years ago. Since then, the list of merits of exercise has grown, and there’s more proof to back things that were of unknown value before, such as short, high-intense workouts and taking the stairs instead of elevators.
Doing something is always better than doing nothing, and doing more is better than doing something. Only 20 % of Americans get enough exercise now, and the childhood obesity problem has prompted the push to target younger to prevent poor health later in life.
For children and teens, the guidelines used to start at age 6, but the new ones say preschoolers ages 3-5 should be encouraged to take part in active play throughout all day. They don’t call for a certain amount but say a reasonable target maybe 3 hours of various intensities. And that’s consistent with guidelines in many other countries and is the average amount of activity observed in kids this age.
From ages 6-17, at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity throughout the day is recommended. Most of it has to be aerobic, the kind that gets the heart rate rise, such as brisk walking, biking or running. At least thrice a week, exercise should be vigorous and include muscle- and bone-strengthening activities like climbing on playground equipment or playing sports.
For adults though, the duration here stays the same. Well at least 2 ½ to 5 hours of moderate-intensity or 1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours of vigorous activity a week, plus at least 2 days that include muscle-strengthening exercise like pushups or lifting weights.
One key change is that It used to be thought that aerobic activity had to be done for at least 10 minutes. Even short times are known to help nowadays. Even a single episode of activity gives short-term advantages such as lowering the blood pressure, reducing anxiety and improving sleep.
Sitting a lot is harmful, apparently.
The advice is almost the same with older adults, but activities should include things that promote balance to help avoid falls.
Targeting small children is the objective of a project that Dr. Valentin Muster, a cardiologist at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, has worked on for years with the Heart Association and Sesame Workshop, producers of television’s “Sesame Street.”
At the heart conference, he gave the results of an intensive 4-month program to improve knowledge and attitudes about exercise and health among 562 children ages 3 – 5 in Head Start preschools in Harlem.
It was quite successful. Once they understood how the body works, they began to understand physical activity and its importance.
When brains are young, it’s the best time to set healthy habits that last forever. e young, it’s the best time to set healthy habits that last forever.