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6 facts and myths about exercise
"Move more, sit less." That's the short version of the newest Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
How much more should you move? That depends on your age and how much you exercise now. Check out the exercise myths and facts below to find out what you and your family should aim for—and why.
Myth or fact: It's OK to be active for less time if you exercise harder.
FACT. Adults should aim for 150 to 300 minutes of moderately intense aerobic activity every week. But you can cut your time in half if you engage in vigorous aerobic activity—at least 75 minutes a week.
In addition, adults should strive for muscle-strengthening activities at least two days per week.
Myth or fact: Running is the best way to get vigorous activity.
MYTH. There's no single best activity. Quite a few other activities fall into the vigorous category, including:
- Bicycling 10 miles per hour or faster.
- Doing heavy yardwork, such as digging or hoeing.
- Hiking uphill.
- Jumping rope.
- Playing singles tennis.
- Swimming laps.
If you're breathing hard but can still easily hold a conversation, you're probably doing moderately intense exercise—like walking the dog, doing light housework, gardening or playing doubles tennis.
Myth or fact: School-age kids and teens need daily exercise.
FACT. Kids ages 6 through 17 should get at least one hour of moderate-to-vigorous activity every day. Most of that activity should be aerobic—walking, running or anything that gets the heart beating faster. They should also take part in activities that strengthen muscles, like climbing on playground equipment, playing basketball or jumping rope.
Myth or fact: Children ages 3 through 5 should play actively for at least three hours a day.
FACT. It's best for preschool children to be active throughout the day to help them grow and develop in healthy ways.
Myth or fact: Not all exercise counts. Taking a quick flight of stairs, for example, isn't enough to do any good.
MYTH. Any and all exercise counts toward your total. It doesn't matter if the activity lasted only five minutes—it's still exercise.
Myth or fact: For adults, regular physical activity can help prevent eight types of cancer.
FACT: These include cancers of the:
Regular exercise can also help ease stress, strengthen bones and reduce the risk of dementia, type 2 diabetes and depression.
The bottom line: Moving more is one of the best things you can do to feel your best and stay healthy.
Want to up your fitness game? Check out great info, tips and tools.
Sources: American Heart Association; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- American Heart Association. "American Heart Association Recommendations in Adults and Kids." https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults.
- Health.gov. "Move Your Way." https://health.gov/moveyourway#adults.
- Health.gov. "Top 10 Things to Know About the Second Edition of Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans." https://health.gov/our-work/nutrition-physical-activity/physical-activity-guidelines/current-guidelines/top-10-things-know.