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Government Releases New Physical Activity Guidelines

Washington, DC — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last month released its new Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which call for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week for adults. That equates to about 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. The guidelines recommend that children get an hour or more of physical activity a day.

Physical activity benefits children and adolescents, young and middle-aged adults, older adults, and those in every studied racial and ethnic group, the report said.

Jan Rubins, the owner and general manager of LifeCenter Plus, a for-profit club in Hudson, OH, says the release of the guidelines is a positive step for the fitness industry.

“It's about time,” Rubins says. “People in the industry have known about the benefits of exercise for years. I sort of liken this to the Surgeon General report that came out a number of years back that said the lack of exercise is detrimental to your health.”

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans are based on the first thorough review of scientific research about physical activity and health in more than a decade. A 13-member advisory committee appointed in April 2007 by Secretary Michael Leavitt reviewed research and produced an extensive report.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Heart Association voiced their support of the guidelines. The organizations, which jointly published physical activity recommendations last year, say the guidelines effectively support each other and are all based on the most relevant science that links physical activity to improved health and wellness.

The report also recommends that children and adolescents get one hour or more of moderate or vigorous aerobic physical activity a day, including vigorous physical activity at least three days a week. Moderate intensity activities include skateboarding, bicycle riding and brisk walking. Vigorous intensity activities include jumping rope, running and sports.

Children and teens should incorporate muscle-strengthening activities, such as rope climbing and sit-ups, three days a week, according to the report. Bone-strengthening activities, such as jumping rope, running and skipping, are recommended three days a week.

Rubins says the fitness industry has to be active in helping people follow the HHS guidelines, and once they do, they will likely be more interested in joining a health club.

“The guidelines they put out are just words,” Rubins says. “If there's no action followed, it's not going to go anywhere. I think the fitness industry is the one that's going to have to take the lead in this. There may be other organizations that have a vested interest in it. No one has a more vested interest in this than the health and fitness industry.”

“This isn't just a prelude to a gym membership because you can be active anywhere,” Rubins adds. “But we hope that as people get fitter and see the benefits of it, then they're going to drive themselves into a club scenario where they can be more challenged in their workouts, get more professional guidance and interact in a social area.”

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