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Here Are Your New Federal Exercise Guidelines

Feds now recommend children begin healthy habits as young as 3
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 12, 2018 9:55 AM CST
In this 2013 file photo, third-graders run under a rainbow-colored tarp in Hutchinson, Kan.   (Aaron Marineau/The Hutchinson News via AP)

(Newser) – Move more, sit less, and get kids active as young as age 3, say new federal guidelines that stress any amount and any type of exercise helps health. The advice is the first update since the government's physical activity guidelines came out a decade ago, reports the AP. Since then, the list of benefits of exercise has grown, and there's more evidence to back things that were of unknown value before, such as short, high-intense workouts and taking the stairs instead of an elevator. "Doing something is better than doing nothing, and doing more is better than doing something," says Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, a preventive medicine expert at Northwestern University. Only 20% of Americans get enough exercise now, and the childhood obesity problem has prompted the push to aim younger to prevent poor health later in life. Other highlights from the guidelines:

  • 3- to 5-year-olds: The biggest change: Start young. Guidelines used to begin at age 6, but the new ones say preschoolers ages 3 through 5 should be encouraged to take part in active play through the day. A reasonable target may be three hours of various intensities. When brains are young, "it's the best opportunity" to set health habits that last, says one cardiologist.
  • 6- to 17-year-olds: At least an hour of moderate-to-vigorous activity throughout the day is recommended, most of it aerobic. At least three times a week, exercise should be vigorous and include muscle- and bone-strengthening activities.
  • Adults: Duration stays the same—at least 2½ to 5 hours of moderate-intensity or 1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours of vigorous activity a week, plus at least two days that include muscle-strengthening exercise. One key change: It used to be thought that aerobic activity had to be done for at least 10 minutes. Now even short times are known to help.
  • Older adults: Add activities that promote balance to prevent falls.
  • Sitting all day: Still bad.
(Read more exercise stories.)

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