Monday, October 20, 2008

Better Health? It's All Hours

“If you've been lax about about your exercise routine and aren't sure what you should be doing, new recommendations give adults and kids specifics on what they can do to reap important health benefits. Adults need a minimum of 2 1/2 hours of moderate exercise per week, or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous activity. And kids should get an hour of activity per day, according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans announced earlier this month. Those are the numbers the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services came up with after a two-year process that included having a 13-member advisory committee review scientific research on the effects of physical activity and health. ’The flexibility that is built into guidelines is its strongest suit,’ says Joe Moore, president and chief executive of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, which is helping HHS spread the word. ‘The beauty of this is that you can look at the total hours people are active — whether they're going to a health club, walking to work, climbing the stairs or doing any other activity they enjoy — and figure if it's meeting the guidelines,’ Moore says. ‘The message is to find what you enjoy because research shows that you will stick with it.’ For children and adolescents, the recommendations are similar. Kids don't have to be in a structured program like soccer but can play tag, jump rope or skip as part of their daily routine. ‘The idea is to get them out of doors or into an activity in a gym that they like,’ Moore says. Moore says the guidelines are a ‘huge step’ because the HHS advisory committee was able to take ‘complicated scientific information and distill it down into where it can be understood.’ ‘There's so much disinformation in the public domain about how to exercise and eating that it's really nice to see government come in and give good solid advice,’ Moore says. People can see health benefits from meeting the HHS recommendations, but to get substantial results, adults should put in five hours a week of moderate intensity exercise or 2 1/2 hours of vigorous activity each week. ‘We are emphasizing these guidelines to our entire membership,’ Moore says of the Racquet & Sportsclub Association. ‘We're also hoping to see more schools adding physical education back in.’ ‘The important thing is to make sure children are doing some type of activity, to get off the couch, away from computer games and (go) outside.’”

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