INDIANAPOLIS/DALLAS – Guidelines for physical activity released today by the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) were met with support from the American
College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Heart Association (AHA). The
organizations, which jointly published physical activity recommendations last year, attended
today’s announcement and said the guidelines effectively support each other and are all based
on the most relevant science that links physical activity to improved health and wellness.
ACSM/AHA guidelines focus on 30 minutes of moderate-intensity daily physical activity five days
a week. HHS guidelines call for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week,
an amount most reasonable on five days a week at a duration of 30 minutes.

The associations note that the core recommendation as it relates to health gains of physical
activity are highly consistent. In both the ACSM/AHA guidelines, and those released today by
HHS, the latest science was evaluated to understand the physiological mechanisms by which
physical activity provides health benefits and the physical activity profile (type, intensity, amount)
that is associated with enhanced health and quality of life.

Both sets of recommendations conclude that relatively modest amounts of physical activity will
improve health and cardiorespiratory fitness of inactive persons, while expanded health gains,
such as weight loss or weight maintenance, may require more than a minimum 30 minutes of
moderate activity most days of the week. In general, there are more agreements than differences
when it comes to physical activity recommendations. Differences on “minutes-per-day” or “days
per week” recommendations appear because they are intended for different groups, and may be
age-specific or relevant to overweight or obese individuals.

“Guidelines for physical activity have long been based on research demonstrating that even
relatively moderate amounts of physical activity will have positive benefits on health,” said William
Haskell, Ph.D., FACSM, lead author of the ACSM/AHA guidelines. “A very important idea,
especially for people who are inactive, is that health and physical activity are closely linked. The
more days a week that you can be active or accumulate some activity, the higher the value for
your health and wellness.”

ACSM and AHA emphasize that beginning an exercise program is the most important public
health message when it comes to physical activity guidelines. Physical activity for at least 30
minutes a day, consistent with ACSM/AHA and federal recommendations, or accumulating a
minimum of 150 minutes of moderate activity a week, has been shown to have substantial health
benefits.

“Numerous studies now suggest that if we can simply move people out of the lowest levels of
cardiorespiratory fitness, it can have a profound (and beneficial) impact on public health”, says
Barry A. Franklin, PhD, national American Heart Association spokesperson and Director of
Cardiac Rehabilitation and Exercise Laboratories at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak,
Michigan.

About the American College of Sports Medicine
ACSM is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than
20,000 international, national, and regional members are dedicated to advancing and integrating
scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and
sports medicine.

About the American Heart Association
Founded in 1924, the American Heart Association today is the nation’s oldest and largest
voluntary health organization dedicated to reducing disability and death from diseases of the
heart and stroke. These diseases, America’s No. 1 and No. 3 killers, and all other cardiovascular
diseases claim nearly 870,000 lives a year. In fiscal year 2005–06 the association invested over
$543 million in research, professional and public education, advocacy and community service
programs to help all Americans live longer, healthier lives. To learn more, call 1-800-AHA-USA1
or visit americanheart.org.

Editor’s Note: ACSM/AHA guidelines published jointly in Medicine & Science in Sports and
Exercise®, ACSM’s official journal and Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association in
August 2007. For more information or additional details on the physical activity guidelines, please
visit www.americanheart.org/fitness or www.acsm.org/physicalactivity. Media may access the
original press release here for additional information.

AHA Editor’s Note: In January 2007, the American Heart Association introduced Start!, a
national campaign calling on all Americans and their employers to create a culture of physical
activity and health to live longer, heart-healthy lives. Through active, year-round participation in
walking, Start! supports the mission of the American Heart Association, to reduce the risk of
cardiovascular disease and stroke. To learn more, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit
americanheart.org/start.

ACSM Editor’s Note: The American College of Sports Medicine has launched new resources,
accessible at www.acsm.org/physicalactivity, to help the public better understand physical activity
guidelines and customize a program for their individual activity needs at no cost.

 

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