New Federal Guidelines Encourage Americans To Move More

In updated physical activity recommendations, HHS says any amount of physical activity will count toward the weekly exercise goal.

New Federal Guidelines Encourage Americans To Move More
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The federal government wants Americans to get moving, and it's not too picky about how we do it.

For the first time in a decade, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has updated its physical activity guidelines, and encourages more movement throughout the day. 

Adults should still get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. But the agency is making that goal a little more flexible. 

That's because the new guidelines count short bursts of activity, like climbing a few flights of stairs, into the weekly recommended total. Previously, only 10-minute bursts of physical activity were included. 

They've also been updated to involve children ages 3 to 5. It advises parents and caregivers to incorporate more movement and active play into young kids' daily routines. 

The report highlights immediate health benefits from any amount of physical activity, including reduced anxiety, lower blood pressure and better quality of sleep. 

It also points to long-term benefits, like a reduced risk for eight types of cancer. The previous guidelines said exercise only cut risk for two types.

The recommendations, first released in 2008, aim to improve the health of the nation. But the majority of Americans aren't meeting the guidelines.

According to HHS, only 26 percent of men, 19 percent of women and 20 percent of adolescents meet the physical activity goals, which it says has contributed to around $117 billion in related annual health care costs.