Move More, Move Often – The 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines

BIG NEWS! Just last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a new and improved 2nd Edition of Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. This document, authored by some of the brightest researchers in the country, highlights just how much we should be moving as a society and why.

But first, what exactly is physical activity? Well, the World Health Organization defines Physical Activity as “any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that require energy expenditure.” Hold up…does that mean something as simple as walking to school or riding your bike to the park counts as physical activity? You betcha!

Okay, so we all know being physically active is important, right? But why is it important? Well, according to the report, in kids as young as six physical activity is associated with improved cognition, decreased depression, and improved health of the heart and lungs. In adults, the benefits are even more pronounced. Decreased risk of cancer, dementia, heart disease, improved sleep, and reduced anxiety are just a few of the many benefits of being physically active.

Sound good? Yeah, we think so too. So just how much of this physical activity do we need to reap all of these amazing rewards? Well, the good news is that every little bit counts. As little as 10 minutes of activity can lead to immediate, short-term effects like lower blood pressure and reduced anxiety. But why stop at just ten minutes?

According to the report, kids age 3-5 should:

  • Be physically active throughout the day

Older kids (age 6-17) should:

  • Be physically active for at least 60 minutes per day (things like running, walking, riding bikes)
  • Do muscle strengthening activities at least 3 days a week – this would include playing on the playground, climbing trees, and lifting weights (we think climbing hills on the mountain bike counts, too!)

For the grown ups, we should:

  • Be physically active at least 150 minutes/per week (about 20 minutes per day) by performing moderate-intensity activity – things like walking, bicycling, swimming or even doing yardwork
  • Bonus (health) points if you can get that activity level up near 300 minutes/week (around 45 minutes per day)
  • Perform muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days per week – think lifting weights or doing body weight exercises like squats and push ups work great, too

At Norte, we believe in happy, healthy, strong kids and grown-ups here in Northern Michigan. We realize that we can’t be our best – our healthiest – without daily physical activity. That’s why we’re working hard to make sure more opportunities for physical activity are engineered into daily life. Not all of us have the time or the desire to work out at the gym or don the spandex for a day-long cycle tour. But we all have to get from Point A to Point B. Whether that’s from home to work, to school, or the store – these can all be opportunities to be physically active. But we need safe, well-connected infrastructure to make moving (not driving) an easy choice. We need land use decisions that allow people to live near the services that they need to access on a daily basis. And we need awesome people like you to live out our mission of a happy, healthy, strong Northern Michigan.

Chris Hinze is a dad, physical therapist, Cleveland Browns fan, Norte board member and chair of the Traverse City Pro Walk/Pro Bike committee. He lives in the Old Town neighborhood with his wife and two daughters. Follow him on Twitter @chinzept