Since 2008, the Physical Activity Guidelines have been a vital resource for health professionals and policy makers, serving as a foundation for physical activity and education programs. These guidelines, established and periodically adjusted by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, include recommendations for individuals ages three and over. A full breakdown of the latest guidelines can be found at Health.gov, but the following are some highlights pertaining to various groups.
Preschool-aged children: The ODPHP notes that children between the ages of three and five should be physically active throughout the day to enhance their growth and development. Caregivers are urged to encourage active play that includes activities of various types.
Children and adolescents: Children between the ages of six and 17 should engage in 60 minutes or more per day of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic physical activity. Kids in this age group also should engage in vigorous-intensity physical activity at least three days per week. Regimens also should include muscle-strengthening activities and bone-strengthening activities at least three days per week.
Adults: The ODPHP urges adults to sit less and move more. The most substantial health benefits can be gained by engaging in at least 150 minutes to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity or between 75 minutes and 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week. Any equivalent combination of the two can suffice as well. Muscle-strengthening activities also should be part of adults’ fitness regimens. These activities should help to strengthen all the major muscle groups, and adults should aspire to engage in them at least two days per week.
Older adults: Older adults who can still follow the guidelines designed for younger adults can continue to do so. But the ODPHP recommends that older adults also incorporate multicomponent physical activity in their workout regimens. This can include balance training to complement aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. Older adults also are urged to discuss with their physicians how any chronic conditions they may have can affect their ability to safely engage in physical activity.
The Physical Activity Guidelines can serve as a useful resource for people of all ages as they look to live a healthy lifestyle.