Physical activity guidelines for Americans

And anyone else who’s interested.

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans provides science-based guidance to improve health through appropriate physical activity.

You can download the book for free here.

Here’s what we know about the benefits of regular exercise in children and adolescents.

Strong evidence

  • Improved cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness
  • Improved bone health
  • Improved cardiovascular and metabolic health biomarkers
  • Favorable body composition

Moderate evidence

  • Reduced symptoms of depression

The benefits of regular exercise in adults and older adults

Strong evidence

  • Lower risk of early death
  • Lower risk of coronary heart disease
  • Lower risk of stroke
  • Lower risk of high blood pressure
  • Lower risk of adverse blood lipid profile
  • Lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Lower risk of metabolic syndrome
  • Lower risk of colon cancer
  • Lower risk of breast cancer
  • Prevention of weight gain
  • Weight loss, particularly when combined with reduced calorie intake
  • Improved cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness
  • Prevention of falls
  • Reduced depression
  • Better cognitive function (for older adults)

Moderate to strong evidence

  • Better functional health (for older adults)
  • Reduced abdominal obesity
  • Moderate evidence
  • Lower risk of hip fracture
  • Lower risk of lung cancer
  • Lower risk of endometrial cancer
  • Weight maintenance after weight loss
  • Increased bone density
  • Improved sleep quality

The book includes chapters on exercise during pregnancy, and in people wth disabilities and chronic medical conditions.

Most health benefits occur with at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking. Additional benefits occur with more physical activity.

The bottom line?
It’s an impressive list of benefits.

Being physically active is one of the most important commitments you can make to improve your health, and the benefits far outweigh the risks of side effects for almost everyone, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.

11/29/08 19:45 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.