HHS: Updated Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Released

Preschool-aged children (ages 3–5 years) should be physically active throughout the day
Preschool-aged children (ages 3–5 years) should be physically active throughout the day

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released the second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions meeting. This document complements the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which was released by the HHS and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The new edition was developed by the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee who conducted systematic reviews of available scientific literature.

This guidance, updated for the first time since 2008, provides evidence-based recommendations for children (ages 3-17) and adults. Specifically, it includes new guidelines for children aged 3–5 years and updated recommendations for children and adolescents aged 6–17 years, adults, older adults, women during pregnancy and the postpartum period, and adults with chronic health conditions or disabilities. The second edition outlines the types and amounts of activity recommended for these various populations. For example, while the previous guidelines had suggested that for adults, bouts of at least 10 minutes of physical activity were necessary, the new guidelines state that some physical activity is better than none, even if it is less than 10 minutes.

For preschool-aged children, the Committee recommends:

  • Preschool-aged children (ages 3–5 years) should be physically active throughout the day to enhance growth and development 
  • Adult caregivers of preschool-aged children should encourage active play that includes a variety of activity types

"Probably the most important message from the 2018 guidelines is that the greatest health benefits accrue by moving from no, to even small amounts of, physical activity, especially if that activity is of moderate (eg, brisk walking) or vigorous (eg, jogging and running) intensity," stated Paul D Thompson MD and Thijs MH Eijsvogels, PhD, in a recent JAMA Editorial. "The point for clinicians is that physical activity should be strongly considered as primary or adjunctive therapy for many common clinical conditions such as mild depression, anxiety, and sleep difficulties."

The executive summary of the key guidelines can be found here

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For more information visit Health.gov.