Increase Physical Activity

Families, Food and Fitness September 28, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

Author: Melissa Bess, MS, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Missouri Cooperative Extension System, University of Missouri

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines and the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week. Adults should also do muscle strengthening exercises twice or more a week. Children should get a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity daily. Muscle strengthening activity should be done at least 3 times a week as well. For both children and adults, more activity above the recommendations results in more health benefits.

If you are currently inactive or seldom active, start out at a level you feel comfortable with and gradually increase that to meet the recommendations. For instance, you may want to start out with a 20 minute walk a few times a week and build up to 30 minute walks 5 days a week. Add in muscle strengthening on the other two days a week and you can easily meet the Physical Activity guidelines.

Choose to participate in activities that you enjoy and find ways to include them every day. An exercise partner or a group of exercisers, whether family or friends, will help keep each other motivated to participate in physical activity. Tracking your physical activity in a journal or on a calendar can help you meet your physical activity goals. For instance, plan a walk after dinner each night for all family members to participate. You can track your physical activity at The "President's Challenge" Website or by using logs like the ones found at The "Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans" Website. Gradually increase your current physical activity level to meet the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

When the weather is nice, go outside and ride bikes, play Frisbee, or badminton. Plan family vacations or weekend outings around physical activity. Go for hikes, go swimming, or play beach volleyball as a family. Active children are much more likely to grow into active adults so it helps to develop that habit at an early age.



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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.