The current guideline is 150 minutes or more of moderate activity each week (just over 20 minutes daily). Although the 150-minute goal is still ideal, the authors say, it may be a barrier to the most sedentary and to some older people. In fact, it may take far less than 150 minutes to achieve a significant reduction in mortality risk in sedentary people, they wrote.
Data over the last 2 decades shows that those who are sedentary are the least responsive to recommendations for increased physical activity. Across the US population, the percentage of people engaging in no physical activity has remained stable, at 25%, between 1996 and 2014, while people who were active became more active (with the number of people who participate in sufficient physical activity rising from 22% in 1996 to 51.6% in 2014).
Aside: Another recently published study showed that too much sitting is associated with increased all-cause mortality, as well as higher mortality from cardiovascular disease and cancer. Sitting is also associated with a higher incidence of heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. This other study showed that this is true for even those who exercise--so while exercise and physical activity is great, not sitting too long is even better (you don't have to "exercise," just MOVE!).
This new study analyzed accelerometer data from 7000 adults, aged 20 to 79 years, in the US. The data shows low levels of moderate and vigorous physical activity in all age groups, with only the youngest adults, ages 20 to 29 years, reaching the recommended 30 minutes of exercise daily. At the same time, the study found that all adults sat longer than 7 hours a day, the amount identified in earlier research as being associated with increased mortality. The youngest people (aged 20 to 29 years) sat 7.7 hours daily, and the oldest group (70 to 79 years) sat 9.6 hours daily. A study in the United Kingdom found similar results.
"Small incremental increases in physical activity should be promoted in a slowly progressive manner to maximise health benefits and minimise potential adverse effects," one researcher writes, while another advises that exercise recommendations focus on introducing light activity throughout the day, increasing light activities by 30 minutes daily, and reducing prolonged sitting by suggesting standing or strolling 1 or 2 minutes every hour. People could be advised to get up from their chair during commercials, pace during telephone conversations, and take 5-minute walks three times a day.
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Source: Recommendations for physical activity in older adults