Message from the Medical Director

New Physical Activity Guidelines

The Special Report on the New Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans was recently released (just in time for this year’s Holiday Season during which the average person will gain 2 pounds). These new guidelines emphasize that any exercise for people of any age is better than none. This report also makes new recommendations for children and adolescents aged 3 to 17 years. So this report should be of interest to every provider in the Alliance. Getting people to be more active is a low tech, low cost intervention but across the country could result in billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives saved, and improved quality of life for millions more Americans. Perhaps the most important message from the 2018 guidelines is that the greatest health benefits are achieved by moving from zero to even small amounts of activity.

Here is a summary of the key points in this report:

  1. Approximately 80% of US adults and adolescents do not get sufficient exercise.
  2. It is no longer recommended that aerobic physical activity for adults be accumulated in “bouts” or “sessions” that last at least 10 minutes. Even short- duration activities such as climbing a flight of stairs are beneficial. It is now recognized that it is the total volume of moderate-to-vigorous activity that is related to health benefits. The goal is still 150 to 300 minutes a week. It’s OK to start with low amounts of exercise and gradually increase the amount and/or intensity. Muscle-strengthening activity is also recommended 2 days/wk.
  3. Children ages 3-5 should be physically active throughout the day. Children and adolescents ages 6-17 should do 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily.
  4. Adults with chronic conditions/disabilities who are able should follow key guidelines for adults.
  5. Pregnant and post-partum women should do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity (e.g. brisk walking) aerobic activity/wk.
  6. Older adults should include balance training as a component of their aerobic and muscle strengthening activities.
  7. Technology can be used alone or combined with other strategies to encourage and maintain physical activity.
  8. Providers can link patients to physical activity programs within Community, Fitness, Recreations and Parks sectors.
  9. Immediate Health Benefits include improved quality of sleep, reduction of anxiety, BP reduction, improved insulin sensitivity.
  10. More long-term benefits include improvements in cognition for children and reduced risk from (a) falls for older adults, (b) postpartum depression for pregnant women, (c) dementia and (d) excessive weight gain for all age groups.

Ref: JAMA November 20, 2018. Volume 320, Number 19, pgs 1971-72,1983-84,2020-2028

Late Breaking News!

Study Population: 160 adults, average age 65, sedentary, with cognitive impairment but not dementia. Intervention: aerobic exercise 3x/wk with or without nutritional counseling.

Results: After 6 months, people who exercised scored higher on thinking tests equivalent to reversing nearly nine years of aging.

Source: Neurology, online 12-19-18.

Let us all include in our New Year’s resolutions commitments to “Move More and Sit Less” for ourselves and our patients.

Categories: Featured, MWMD Newsletter