For the first time in 10 years, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has updated national physical activity guidelines with evidence-based recommendations for everyone ages three and up to get the physical activity they need to stay healthy. I am excited about these updated guidelines as they support actions outlined in the Arizona Health Improvement Plan: Healthy People, Healthy Communities.

For the first time, the guidelines include recommendations for children ages three to five. Adults caring for these children should encourage active play and aim for at least three hours a day. The guidelines for youth and adults are the same (at least 60 minutes a day of moderate-to-vigorous activity for youth ages 6-17, and at least 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week along with muscle-strengthening activity at least two days each week for adults).

As a physician, I was particularly interested to see the many health benefits of physical activity, independent of other healthy behaviors, like good nutrition. Here are some highlights, but be sure to read the full guidelines for even more information. Physical activity provides:

  • Immediate health benefits including reduced anxiety, lower blood pressure and
    improved quality of sleep
  • Long-term health benefits like improved cognition, decreased risk of eight types
    of cancer, reduced risk of dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease)
  • Lowered risk of falls for older adults
  • Reduced risk of postpartum depression
  • Decreased pain for those with osteoarthritis

I know it is hard to find the time for physical activity in your busy routine, but our Move Your Way website has interactive tools, videos and fact sheets to make it easier to find ways to be a little more active. Small changes can add up to big health benefits. Check out these Tips for Getting Motivated and start sitting less and moving more!