The World Health Organization (WHO) just released new guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behavior. The WHO has been quite popular this past year with mixed public reactions on its various guidelines. I’m here to tell you that no matter your current opinion or feelings about the WHO, the organization got it right on these new exercise guidelines.
Being physically active and sitting around less is the simplest way to improve health. After reading that last sentence, your reaction should be……”No, kidding?!” in your most sarcastic tone. Everyone in our nation knows this, yet we, as a nation, still do plenty of sitting around. For those that are active, not only is the concept easy, the application is too. For others, application is where the challenge begins. There are many factors that go into the decision on whether or not to exercise. Psychologically getting over that hump is what is so difficult for so many. Adding and maintaining exercise in one’s life can be the most difficult thing for many. Once you make it past that mental block, the goal becomes making exercise a habit, not a short-lived behavior change.
So, when you are ready to take control of your health, which should include exercise, here is a summary of the new guidelines pulled directly from the British Journal of Sports Medicine’s (BJSM) overview:
Results The new guidelines address children, adolescents, adults, older adults and include new specific recommendations for pregnant and postpartum women and people living with chronic conditions or disability. All adults should undertake 150–300min of moderate intensity, or 75–150min of vigorous-intensity physical activity, or some equivalent combination of moderate intensity and vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, per week. Among children and adolescents, an average of 60min/day of moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity across the week provides health benefits. The guidelines recommend regular muscle-strengthening activity for all age groups. Additionally, reducing sedentary behaviours is recommended across all age groups and abilities, although evidence was insufficient to quantify a sedentary behaviour threshold.
Conclusion These 2020 WHO guidelines update previous WHO recommendations released in 2010. They reaffirm messages that some physical activity is better than none, that more physical activity is better for optimal health outcomes and provide a new recommendation on reducing sedentary behaviours. These guidelines highlight the importance of regularly undertaking both aerobic and muscle strengthening activities and for the first time, there are specific recommendations for specific populations including for pregnant and postpartum women and people living with chronic conditions or disability. These guidelines should be used to inform national health policies aligned with the WHO Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018– 2030 and to strengthen surveillance systems that track progress towards national and global targets.
The above summary is just that, a summary. To learn more about changes from previous guidelines and information for specific demographics, go to the BJSM document or directly to the WHO website:
Should you choose to read through more specifics on the guidelines, keep in mind one prevailing idea from the summary conclusion, that something is better than nothing. Yes, higher intensities and longer workouts may result in more health benefits. The focus should always be how you feel, physically and mentally. On any given day, a brief, slow stroll may be just what you need to clear the mind and relieve some stress. Happy New Year and Happy Exercising!