This second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans provides science-based guidance to help people ages 3 years and older improve their health through participation in regular physical activity.
Regular physical activity is one of the most important things people can do to improve their health. Moving more and sitting less have tremendous benefits for everyone, regardless of age, sex, race, ethnicity, or current fitness level. Individuals with a chronic disease or a disability benefit from regular physical activity, as do women who are pregnant. The scientific evidence continues to build—physical activity is linked with even more positive health outcomes than we previously thought. And, even better, benefits can start accumulating with small amounts of, and immediately after doing, physical activity.
Today, about half of all American adults—117 million people—have one or more preventable chronic diseases. Seven of the ten most common chronic diseases are favorably influenced by regular physical activity. Yet nearly 80 percent of adults are not meeting the key guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity, while only about half meet the key guidelines for aerobic physical activity. This lack of physical activity is linked to approximately $117 billion in annual health care costs and about 10 percent of premature mortality.
This new edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans has the potential to change that situation. It is grounded in the most current scientific evidence and informed by the recommendations of the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee. This Federal advisory committee, which was composed of prestigious researchers in the fields of physical activity, health, and medicine, conducted a multifaceted, robust analysis of the available scientific literature. Their work culminated in the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report, which provided recommendations to the Federal Government on physical activity, sedentary behavior, and health. Informed by this Scientific Report and by public and Federal agency comments, the new edition provides guidance on the amounts and types of physical activity necessary to maintain or improve overall health and reduce the risk of, or even prevent, chronic disease.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans is an essential resource for health professionals and policymakers as they design and implement physical activity programs, policies, and promotion initiatives. It provides information that helps Americans make healthy choices for themselves and their families, and discusses evidence-based, community-level interventions that can make being physically active the easy choice in all the places where people live, learn, work, and play.
Progress to reverse the high rates of inactivity-related chronic diseases and low rates of physical activity will require comprehensive and coordinated strategies. The Physical Activity Guidelines is an important part of a complex and integrated solution to promote health and to reduce the burden of chronic disease in our country. We all have a role to play in this critical effort. I invite you to join me in helping our country be more physically active. If we all move more and sit less today and work toward meeting the Physical Activity Guidelines ourselves, we will be well on our way to creating a healthier Nation and ensuring everyone can live healthier and more active lives.
Alex M. Azar II
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Published January 2018
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