American College of Sports Updated Medicine Physical Activity Guidelines

Exercise-is-medicineAs of July 2011, ACSM has released new recommendations on the quantity and quality of exercise. Changes are listed below but a notable addition is neuromotor exercise (sometimes called functional fitness training) which focuses on improving and maintaining motor skills like balance, coordination, gait, and agility. According to ACSM, neuromotorexercise can be especially beneficial for older people, helping them to improve balance and strength while reducing the risk of falls and other injury.

Cardiovascular Exercise:

Frequency: 150 minutes/week

Intensity and time: 30-60 minutes of moderate5x/week OR 20-60 minutes of vigorous 3x week

Progression: Gradual

Other info: One continuous session OR multiple shorter sessions of 10 minutes minimum are acceptable. People unable to meet these minimums can still benefit from activity.

Resistance Exercise:

Frequency: 2-3x/week

Intensity and time: 2-4 sets of either 8-12 reps for strength/power. 10-15 reps for older persons new to exercise, or 15-20 reps to improve endurance. Light intensity for beginners or older adults.

Progression: Gradual

Other info: Wait at least 48 hours between sessions

Flexibility Exercise:

Frequency: 2-3x week

Intensity and Time: Hold each stretch 10-30 seconds to point of tightness or slight discomfort. Repeat 2-4x accumulated 60 secs per stretch. Static, dynamic, ballistic, or PNF are appropriate.

Progression: Gradual

Other Info: Warm up first before stretching

Neuromotor Exercise:

Frequency: 2-3x week

Intensity and time: 20-30 minutes/day

Progression: Gradual

Other Info: Include Motor skills (balance, agility, coordination, gait) Proprioceptive training, and tai chi, yoga, etc.


Moderately intense activity: A brisk walk or activity that accelerates the hear rate. “Breaking a sweat” while remaining able to carry on a conversation is considered a moderate intensity activity.

Vigorous intensity activity: An activity such as jogging and it causes rapid breathing and a substantial increase in heart rate.

How do these recommendations address weight maintenance and weight loss? Many people need more than 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity to maintain weight or contribute to significant weight loss. The control of body weight responds to both calories consumed as well as calories expended during activity. Both intake and expenditure need to be considered to prevent unhealthy weight gain or achieve weight loss. For individuals who achieve the moderate-intensity activity for 30 minutes on 5 days a week but remain overweight, an increase in their physical activity is a reasonable component of any strategy to lose weight.

According to ACSM these recommendations are addressing concern that adults in the United States are not active enough. Physical inactivity is a public health issue. Possible diseases due to inactivity include cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, depression, hypertension, strokes, colon and breast cancer and anxiety. The recommendations above are the basic minimum for suggested physical activity.

Courtesy of: Women’s Wellness and Fitness.

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