Wednesday, November 14, 2018

New Evidence for Health Benefits of Physical Activity

Being physically active is one of the most important actions individuals of all ages can engage in to improve their health. In the United States, an estimated $117 billion in annual health care costs and about 10% of premature mortality are associated with inadequate physical activity (not meeting the existing aerobic physical activity guideline).1-3 The evidence reviewed by the Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee4 for the newly released Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition5 (PAG) is clear—physical activity fosters normal growth and development and can make people feel better, function better, sleep better, and reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. Health benefits newly identified since the release of the previous 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans6 are listed in Box 1.
Box 1.

New Evidence for Health Benefits of Physical Activity

  • Improved bone health and weight status for children aged 3 through 5 years
  • Improved cognitive function for youth aged 6 to 13 years
  • Reduced risk of cancer at additional sites
  • Brain health benefits, including improved cognitive function, reduced anxiety and depression risk, and improved sleep and quality of life
  • Reduced risk of fall-related injuries for older adults
  • For pregnant women, reduced risk of excessive weight gain, gestational diabetes, and postpartum depression
  • For people with various chronic medical conditions, reduced risk of all-cause and disease-specific mortality, improved function, and improved quality of life
Some health benefits begin immediately after exercising, and even short episodes or small amounts of physical activity are beneficial. In addition, research shows that virtually everyone benefits: men and women of all races and ethnicities, young children to older adults, women who are pregnant or postpartum, people living with a chronic condition or a disability, or people who want to reduce their risk of disease. The evidence about the health benefits of regular physical activity is well established (Box 2), and research continues to provide insights into what works to increase physical activity, at both the individual and the community level.
Box 2.

Health Benefits Associated With Regular Physical Activity

Children and Adolescents
  • Improved bone health (ages 3 through 17 years)
  • Improved weight status (ages 3 through 17 years)
  • Improved cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness (ages 6 through 17 years)
  • Improved cardiometabolic health (ages 6 through 17 years)
  • Improved cognition (ages 6 to 13 years)
  • Reduced risk of depression (ages 6 to 13 years)
Adults and Older Adults
  • Lower risk of all-cause mortality
  • Lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality
  • Lower risk of cardiovascular disease (including heart disease and stroke)
  • Lower risk of hypertension
  • Lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Lower risk of adverse blood lipid profile
  • Lower risk of cancers of the bladder, breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, lung, and stomach
  • Improved cognition
  • Reduced risk of dementia (including Alzheimer disease)
  • Improved quality of life
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Reduced risk of depression
  • Improved sleep
  • Slowed or reduced weight gain
  • Weight loss, particularly when combined with reduced calorie intake
  • Prevention of weight regain after initial weight loss
  • Improved bone health
  • Improved physical function
  • Lower risk of falls (older adults)
  • Lower risk of fall-related injuries (older adults)
The information in the PAG is necessary because of the importance of physical activity to the health of people living in the United States, whose current inactivity puts them at unnecessary risk for chronic diseases and conditions. Healthy People 2020 established objectives for increasing the level of physical activity among US residents over the decade from 2010 to 2020.7 Although the latest federal monitoring data shows some improvements in physical activity levels among US adults (Figure 1), as of 2016 (adults) and 2015 (adolescents), only 26% of men, 19% of women, and 20% of adolescents report performing sufficient activity. Sufficient physical activity is defined as at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity and 2 days per week of muscle-strengthening activity for adults and at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity and 3 days per week of muscle-strengthening activity for youth (Figure 2).8

Recommendations  The PAG provides information and guidance on the types and amounts of physical activity to improve a variety of health outcomes for multiple population groups. Preschool-aged children (3 through 5 years) should be physically active throughout the day to enhance growth and development. Children and adolescents aged 6 through 17 years should do 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily. Adults should do at least 150 minutes to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes to 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. They should also do muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week. Older adults should do multicomponent physical activity that includes balance training as well as aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. Pregnant and postpartum women should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week. Adults with chronic condition

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