Last October, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services introduced a comprehensive set of exercise guidelines. The first of their kind, these guidelines were created to help Americans get in shape no matter what stage of life they are in.

“It is vital that all Americans become more physically active,” says LIUNA General Secretary Treasurer and LHSFNA Labor Co-Chairman Armand E. Sabitoni. “The evidence is all around – more than a third of us have diabetes and almost two-thirds are overweight. Medical and health care experts agree that regular physical activity over months and years will protect us against these dangers while improving the way we feel and the way we feel about ourselves. The more physically active you are, the more health benefits you gain.”

The federal government advises that everyone get involved in physical activity at some level. Inactivity can lead to a host of problems, including obesity and diabetes. The types of activities should depend on age, health and lifestyle. For example, skateboarding and riding bikes are good moderate physical activities for kids and teens. Vigorous activities include sports such as soccer or basketball. Adults can walk briskly or take up ballroom dancing for moderate exercise; jogging or hiking are higher intensity workouts. To keep interest up, choose activities that are fun and engaging.

For children and teens, the federal government advises an hour or more of moderate or vigorous aerobic activity each day with at least three high-intensity activities per week. Bone- and muscle-strengthening activities are also recommended three days a week.

Adults should exercise moderately for two and a half hours per week or do one hour and 15 minutes of a high-intensity activity. Any aerobic activity should last at least ten minutes or more. Muscle-strengthening is also important for adults. The federal government encourages weight training, push-ups or sit-ups twice a week. Older adults can engage in the same activities so long as they are able to so safely.

The federal government further advises:

  • Pregnant women should exercise moderately two and a half hours throughout the week. Vigorous activities should be discussed with a physician.
  • Adults with disabilities can get at least two and a half hours of moderate exercise per week or engage in one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. They should perform muscle-strengthening activities twice or more a week.
  • Those with chronic medical conditions should avoid inactivity and consult their physician on the right exercises.

To see the complete guidelines, visit

For more information, visit the Health and Human Services website at

To assess your weight and personal health, see Assess Your Health in this issue of LIFELINES.

[Jennifer E. Jones]