For the first time in ten years, the World Health Organization (WHO) updated its physical activity guidelines. The bottom line is that everyone, at every age, needs to move more. Way more.
An extensive list of recommendations published in the British Medical Journal can be summarized with one overall message: People are not moving enough. There’s even a suggestion to exceed the minimum recommended levels of activity. And there’s no exception for those over age 65 or who suffer from chronic conditions. They need to move a lot more, just like everyone else.
If you’re under the age of 65 and don’t suffer from any medical issues, you should get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous activity per week. You should also be involved in muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups on two or more days per week.
Being 65 or older doesn’t let you off the hook. WHO still recommends that same amount of active movement, and suggests adding functional balance and strength training at moderate or greater intensity on at least three days per week to prevent falls and improve your body’s overall function. According to the WHO document, “Evidence indicates that programs involving multiple exercise types… have significant effects on bone health and osteoporosis prevention. Because the evidence reviewed for sedentary behaviour in adults included those over the age of 65 years, the adult recommendations were deemed to also apply for this population group.”
Children and adolescents are assigned daily rather than weekly amounts, with 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity activity recommended. They’ve also been advised to minimize the amount of screen time.
Being 65 or older doesn’t let you off the hook. WHO still recommends that same amount of active movement, and suggests adding functional balance and strength training.
As we know from other studies, dance is a great form of physical activity that involves major muscle groups as well as mental acuity in memorizing and applying dance steps and technique. The higher the skill level involved, the more significant the impact on fitness.
The previous guidelines, published back in 2010, had a fairly limited range of exercises listed. That’s been expanded to encompass a much wider spectrum of activities. Basically they are now saying that any amount of physical movement is fine, as long as you move.
A major area of concern is how little we are moving these days. The guidelines stress that “one in four (27.5%) adults and more than three-quarters (81%) of adolescents do not meet the recommendations for aerobic exercise.” We all need to move more.
We know it hasn’t been easy to maintain normal behavioral patterns this past year, but studies have shown that far too many people have dramatically reduced their level of activity, when they really need to be increasing it. You may not be able to go dancing for a few months yet, but make sure you get out several times a week on the bike, or for a walk, or a run. And do some strength training at least three times a week, even if it’s just in your own home.
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