Are Americans Following Physical Activity Guidelines?

Are Americans Following Physical Activity Guidelines?
Are Americans Following Physical Activity Guidelines?

Results from the National Health Interview Survey show that between 2008 and 2013, the percentage of people meeting the Department of Health and Human Services 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans increased for all age groups. Respondents defined as meeting both aerobic-activity and muscle-strengthening guidelines reported moderate-intensity physical activity for ≥150 minutes per week, vigorous-intensity physical activity for ≥75 minutes per week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity, and engaging in physical activities specifically designed to strengthen muscles at least twice per week. 

The percentage of adults aged ≥18yrs who met the aerobic-activity and muscle-strengthening guidelines increased from 18.2% in 2008 to 20.8% in 2013. Adults aged 18–44yrs were the most likely to meet the aerobic-activity and muscle-strengthening guidelines, and those aged ≥65yrs were the least likely in both 2008 and 2013. For all age groups, the percentage meeting the guidelines increased from 2008 to 2013.

These guidelines were issued to help Americans 6 years of age and older improve their health through appropriate physical activity. The following are key guidelines based on age group:

For Children and Adolescents:

  • Children and adolescents should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity daily.
    • Aerobic: Most of the 60 or more minutes a day should be either moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, and should include vigorous-intensity physical activity at least 3 days a week.
    • Muscle-strengthening: As part of their 60 or more minutes of daily physical activity, children and adolescents should include muscle-strengthening physical activity on at least 3 days of the week.
    • Bone-strengthening: As part of their 60 or more minutes of daily physical activity, children and adolescents should include bone-strengthening physical activity on at least 3 days of the week.
  • It is important to encourage young people to participate in physical activities that are appropriate for their age, that are enjoyable, and that offer variety.

For Adults:

  • All adults should avoid inactivity. Some physical activity is better than none, and adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits.
  • For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week.
  • For additional and more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate intensity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond this amount.
  • Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.

For Older Adults:

  • When older adults cannot do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week because of chronic conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.
  • Older adults should do exercises that maintain or improve balance if they are at risk of falling.
  • Older adults should determine their level of effort for physical activity relative to their level of fitness.
  • Older adults with chronic conditions should understand whether and how their conditions affect their ability to do regular physical activity safely.
For more information visit Health.gov.