You’ve likely heard the idea that sitting is the new smoking.Compared with 1960, workers in the U.S. burn about 140 fewer calories, on average, per day due to our sedentary office jobs. And, while it’s true that sitting for prolonged periods is bad for your health, the good news is that we can offset the damage by adding more physical activity to our days.The federal government has just updated recommendations for physical activity for the first time in 10 years, essentially to get that message across. Based on a review of several years of new research, the key takeaway of the new guidelines, released Monday, is: Get moving, America!.“The new guidelines demonstrate that, based on the best science, everyone can dramatically improve their health just by moving — anytime, anywhere, and by any means that gets you active,” Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of health at the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a release.With a few exceptions, the advice in the new guidelines is not so different from what we were told in the 2008 guidelines. But, here’s the trouble: Only about 20 percent of Americans meet them. This lack of physical activity is linked to $117 billion in annual health care costs, according to a report published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association that lays out the new guidelines.
The new guidelines marshal a growing body of evidence that documents immediate benefits of exercise such as reduced anxiety, improved sleep and improved blood sugar control, and long-term benefits (of regular physical activity), including cognitive benefits, and significantly lower risks of heart disease and certain cancers.
So, how much physical activity do we need? On this point, the new guidelines haven’t changed: Adults need a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity.
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