CHICAGO (AP) — Move more, sit less and get kids active as young as age 3, say new federal guidelines.
The advice is the first update since the government’s physical activity guidelines came out a decade ago.
Only 20 percent of Americans get enough exercise now. The childhood obesity problem has prompted the push to aim younger to prevent poor health later in life.
Highlights of the advice released Monday at an American Heart Association conference in Chicago and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association:
CHILDREN AND TEENS
The biggest change: Start young. Guidelines used to begin at age 6, but the new ones say preschoolers ages 3 through 5 should be encouraged to take part in active play throughout the day. They don’t call for a certain amount but say a reasonable target may be three hours of various intensities. That’s consistent with guidelines in many other countries. It is the average amount of activity observed in kids this age.
From ages 6 through 17, at least an hour of moderate-to-vigorous activity throughout the day is recommended. Most of it should be aerobic, the kind that gets the heart rate up. At least three times a week, exercise should be vigorous and include muscle- and bone-strengthening activities.
Duration stays the same — at least 2½ to 5 hours of moderate-intensity or 1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours of vigorous activity a week. Plus, at least two days that include muscle-strengthening exercise like pushups or lifting weights.
One key change: It used to be thought that aerobic activity had to be done for at least 10 minutes. Now even short times are known to help. Even a single episode of activity gives short-term benefits such as lowering blood pressure, reducing anxiety and improving sleep.
Sitting a lot is especially harmful.
The advice is similar for older adults, but activities should include things that promote balance to help avoid falls.