The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued new fitness guidelines that recommend adults get two and a half hours of moderate exercise every week, at a minimum.
The slogan of the new guidelines is “move more, sit less,” in an attempt to address the two main reasons many of us don’t get enough exercise. This new guidance is the first update to the guidelines since 2008, when they were first released.
Here are the report’s main suggestions:
- At least two and a half hours of “moderate-intensity aerobic” exercise a week.
- Exercise should be done in intervals that are at least 10 minutes. It doesn’t matter when or how long you exercise every week, just as long as the total reaches the recommended minimum. Exercising less than 10 minutes does not render the same benefits.
- On top of this 150 minutes of aerobic exercise, adults need to do strengthening activities, like pushups, sit-ups and weightlifting, twice a week.
- At least 60 minutes of moderate and vigorous aerobic physical activity per day.
- At least three times a week, kids should engage in vigorous-intensity physical activity, like running, jumping rope, swimming or playing soccer.
- Muscle-strengthening activities (such as weightlifting) and bone-strengthening activities (like running) three times a week.
Getting started on a routine
If you aren’t getting enough exercise currently, you can use the holidays or the start of the year to get started.
Here are some tips from the Mayo Clinic:
Proceed with caution – If you’re just beginning to exercise, start cautiously and progress slowly, particularly if you are overweight and out of shape. If you have a medical condition, you should talk to your doctor first.
Start slowly – Many people make the mistake of going all out when they start exercising. They unrealistically expect immediate results, but instead they are left in pain from pushing too hard too early. That can set them back or they may just give up at that point.
Make it a routine – Schedule time to exercise as you would any other appointment. You can even multitask while exercising, like watching your favorite show while on the exercise bike, or reading while on the stair-stepper.
If you want to start with moderate exercise, take walks during your lunch break and log the miles and steps with a fitness tracker.
Mix it up – Try different activities and consider taking up a new exercise, like cycling or tennis. If you have access to nature, consider going on long nature hikes on the weekends in the fresh air. Mixing it up can keep things interesting – and keep you from getting bored.
Alternating activities can also help you develop different muscles and emphasize different parts of your body.
Allow time for recovery – If you are working out one part of your body one day, you should not focus on it again the next day. And if you have put in serious time exercising one day for many hours, you should considering take a day off the next day to let your body recover.
Get it in writing – Write down your plans and make a schedule. It will help you stay on track with your fitness routine.