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UK Chief Medical Officers launch advice on activity and fitness levels

New advice as to how people of all ages can maintain fitness levels and stay or get healthy, were launched today as part of the first UK-wide physical activity guidelines by the four nations’ Chief Medical Officers.
Monday, 11 July 2011

A key new element is a more flexible approach for adults to get their 150 minutes of activity in week.

The guidelines build on previous advice but reflect the growing body of knowledge about physical activity levels and links to reducing the risk of serious diseases like heart disease, stroke, cancer and obesity.

Key new elements are:

  • weekly exercise targets being more flexible for busy lives. Adults can get their 150 minutes of activity a week in ten minute or more and should aim to be active every day. 30 minutes five times a week is just one way this can be achieved.
  • A weekly target for adults to get 150 minutes of physical activity in bouts of ten minutes or more and to aim to be active every day.
  • More flexibility for busy lives - 30 minutes five times a week is a great way to be active, but there are many more.
  • More emphasis on vigorous activity and muscle strengthening through, for example gardening, group sports such as volleyball and netball or swimming. There is good evidence this stimulates bone formation and maintains muscle mass.
  • Advice tailored to every age group including – for the first time - guidance for parents for under-fives; and
  • Reducing and minimising periods of sedentary behaviour in leisure time.]

Welcoming the launch of the guidelines the Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland, Dr Michael McBride said: “Being physically active has undoubted benefits for everyone’s health and wellbeing. It helps protects against many of Northern Ireland’s biggest causes of early death like heart disease, obesity and stroke. It also makes you feel better and helps promote good mental health.

“However, in Northern Ireland less than a third (30%) of all people take more than the recommended level of physical activity and the older we get the less active we tend to be. “Today the four UK Chief Medical Officers are launching the first UK-wide guidelines that give a comprehensive guide to the levels of exercise that everyone should try to achieve weekly whatever your age.

“But this isn’t just about improving health. Cycling and walking more can save on transport costs, reduce congestion and pollution. Playing sports can also increase social skills like leadership, teamwork and cooperation.”

The guidance has a renewed focus on being active everyday and spells out the minimum levels of activity each age group should get:

Under-fives
180 minutes – three hours – each day, once a child is able to walk.

Children and young people (5-18 year olds)
60 minutes and up to several hours every day. Three days a week this should include vigorous activities that strengthen muscles and bone.

Adults (19-64 years old) and older people (65+)
150mins – two and half hours – each week of moderate to vigorous activity (and adults should aim to do some physical activity every day). Muscle strengthening activity should also be included twice a week.

Notes to editors:

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