Move more, sit less and get kids active as young as age 3, say new federal guidelines that stress that any amount and any type of exercise helps health.
The advice is the first update since the government’s physical activity guidelines came out a decade ago. Since then, the list of benefits of exercise has grown, and there’s more evidence to back things that were of unknown value before, such as short, high-intense workouts and taking the stairs instead of an elevator.
Only 20 percent of Americans get enough exercise now, and the childhood obesity problem has prompted the push to aim younger to prevent poor health later in life.
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 and is the average amount of activity observed in kids this age.
Duration stays the same — at least 2½ to 5 hours of moderate-intensity or 1¼ to 2½ hours of vigorous activity a week, plus at least two days that include muscle-strengthening exercise like pushups or lifting weights.
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