Even during a pandemic, everyone needs to be physically active, limit the amount of time they spend sitting and take every chance they can to get moving – even if it’s just a little, the World Health Organization said.
In guidelines for people of all ages released Wednesday, the WHO emphasized that “every type of movement counts” as people combat sedentary lifestyles, exacerbated by social distancing and the amount of time spent at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Adults should get 150 to 300 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity, and that includes older adults and those with chronic conditions or disabilities, the WHO said.
Children should spend an hour a day in moderate to vigorous activity.
Four million to 5 million deaths a year would be averted if people were more active, the WHO said.
“Being physically active is critical for health and well-being – it can help to add years to life and life to years,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
According to the WHO:
- Children should get at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity and on at least three days a week get vigorous aerobic activities, including those that strengthen muscles and bones.
- Healthy adults ages 18 to 64 should get at least 150–300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or at least 75–150 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. At least two days per week of muscle strengthening activity can confer additional health benefits.
- Healthy adults ages 65 and over had the same recommendations as those ages 18 to 64. Additional physical activity on at least three days a week that emphasizes balance and strength training can help prevent falls.
- Pregnant and postpartum woman should get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity.
- Adults and children with disabilities or chronic conditions had the same recommendations as otherwise healthy adults and children.
About a quarter of all adults and 80% of adolescents don’t get enough physical activity, the WHO said.
Regular physical activity can reduce the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and cancer, and it has positive effects on mental health and reducing cognitive decline, the WHO said.
“These new guidelines highlight how important being active is for our hearts, bodies and minds, and how the favorable outcomes benefit everyone, of all ages and abilities,” said Dr. Fiona Bull, head of the WHO’s Physical Activity Unit, which led the development of the guidelines.
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