For the first time in 10 years, the federal government has updated its recommendations on how much physical activity Americans should be getting.
The new Physical Activity Guidelines for American Adults recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity movement each week, such as walking, running or biking. That's about 21 minutes of movement each day.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), roughly 80 percent of adults don't meet this requirement. NPR reports that U.S. workers today burn 140 fewer calories than workers in 1960, because they move around the office less.
"The new guidelines demonstrate that, based on the best science, everyone can dramatically improve their health just by moving – anytime, anywhere and by any means that gets you active," said Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) assistant secretary Adm. Brett Giroir in a release.
The previous guidelines, released in 2008, indicated that only periods of activity of at least 10 minutes could count towards the 150-minute weekly goal, but the updated guidelines say that any type of movement in any amount can contribute to the total. The report also recommends that as part of those150 minutes adults should be completing muscle-strengthening workouts two or more days per week. According to JAMA, this can include any type of weight-lifting or resistance training.
The guidelines emphasize the significant health benefits of any type of exercise, noting that physical activity can reduce anxiety and blood pressure, improve sleep quality and boost your body's insulin sensitivity. In the long-term, more physical movement can improve your overall brain health, reduce excessive weight gain, reduce the risk of cancer, reduce the risk of premature death and reduce the risk of fall-related injuries in the elderly.
According to HHS, low levels of physical activity among Americans currently cost the government nearly $117 billion in annual healthcare each year.
"We need to come together as a nation to get Americans moving," adds Adm. Giroir. "When we move more, we have better cardiovascular health, we are stronger and less susceptible to disease, and we feel better."
While finding time to work out can be tricky, experts point to the many exercises employees can do at work. In 2011, staff members of The Washington Post tested 12 expert-recommended activities for the office, including knee lifts, raise-the-roof-style arm motions, desk push-ups and side lunges.
If working out still sounds daunting, consider the demonstrated positive impact it can also have on your success. Top business leaders like Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg have all shared that exercising on a daily basis contributes to both their personal and professional happiness and success.
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