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Part of a series of informative articles from Special Tree's Physical Therapists to get you moving in 2010!

By Kit Pohl, PT, CBIS
Physical Therapist
Troy Neuro Skills Center

How much physical activity do adults and kids need to stay healthy?

Guidelines for physical activity were updated by the US Department of Health and Human Services in December 2009. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans outline the health benefits of regular exercise and offer the following recommendations for children, adolescents, adults and older adults.

Children and adolescents should do one hour or more of physical activity each day. Activities for children should consist of aerobic activity of moderate intensity five days per week and vigorous-intensity activity three days per week, muscle strengthening at least three days per week and bone strengthening at least three days per week. Encourage kids and teens to participate in age-appropriate activities which are enjoyable and offer variety. Check out this website. It lists 100 activities for children and teens including Nintendo Wii and in-line skating. Aerobic activities can include running as part of game play or bike riding. Muscle strengthening, including core strengthening, should be part of the 60 minute session. Bone strengthening activities can include jumping rope.

Adults need 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity every week and muscle strengthening activities two or more days a week. Alternatively, one-hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity every week and muscle strengthening activities two or more days a week that works all major muscle groups.

People who are 65 years of age or older and have no limiting health condition can follow the same guidelines.

Any activity which increases your heart rate and breathing rate can be aerobic. Examples of a moderate intensity work-out include brisk walking of the dog or push-mowing the lawn. Running or swimming laps would require vigorous effort. Strength training can be done at home or in the gym. Try lifting weights, doing exercise that uses your body weight for resistance, or yoga.

To help meet exercise goals, spread activity throughout the week. On a daily basis, aerobic activity should be done for at least 10 minutes at a time. Going for a 10- minute brisk walk 3 times a day, 5 times a week will add up to 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity.