Years since it was first published, the Department of Health and Human Services released its first update of The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. While changes are not drastic, there have been updates to what counts as physical activity. As more evidence is revealed about the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle, experts have agreed that any amount of physical activity is better than none. Below, summarizes the biggest changes to the recommendations and how small increments of activity can really add up!
Every minute counts. The first edition of the guidelines encourages everyone to get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. The catch was that if you weren’t exercising for at least 10 minutes at a time, it didn’t count toward your total. More recent evidence shows that it’s the total number of minutes of physical activity that has benefits, not the duration of each sessions. Based on this evidence, the guidelines have kept the 150 minutes per week recommendation, but there is no longer any minimum time you have to be active to have it count toward your total. As long as the activity you’re doing causes your body to work harder than it does during your activities of daily living, it counts as exercise, even if you only do it for a minute or two at a time. This change is great news for people who don’t exercise because they feel that their limited time won’t make a difference. Keep reading to see how small bouts of exercise can help you reach your 30 minutes per day total.
Wake up stretching: 4 minutes
Morning walk up and down the street with the dog: 7 minutes
Taking the stairs to your office floor (2 flights): 2 minutes
Parking at the furthest parking spot at lunch: 1 minute
Walking to a bathroom on a different floor of your office: 2 minutes
One-minute walk around your office floor every 30 minutes: 4 minutes total
Evening walk with dog: 10 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Even on days you may not have get to the gym or do a traditional exercise routine, you can still fit in your 30 minutes! If you feel discouraged about your lack of time for exercise, remember that all movements and all minutes count toward a healthier lifestyle!
Resources: The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. JAMA. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.14854 Published online November 12, 2018.