Experts say the 30-minute exercise rule sticks

September 24, 2002 in Nutrition Topics in the News, Sports Nutrition and Exercise

Experts say the 30-minute exercise rule sticks

The new recommendation by the U.S. Institute of Medicine's Food and Nutrition Board that Americans exercise for an hour every day may be disheartening to people who thought 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week was good enough.

By raising the recommendation to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity per day, the report has the potential to dissuade the most sedentary from initiating a pattern of moderate physical activity that would be a healthy lifestyle change.

This latest set of recommendations on diet and physical activity was released earlier this month.

In addition to advising that Americans reduce their caloric intake and try to eliminate saturated fats and added sugars from their diet, the panel also said that people should exercise for 60 minutes each day to maintain maximum cardiovascular health and prevent weight gain.

Yet, in making their blanket 60-minute recommendation--double that of the 1996 US Surgeon General's recommendation of 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week--the panel failed to address individual variation in health and weight benefits from exercise, say experts from the American College of Sports Medicine.

The report states that 30 minutes of activity may not be enough to maintain a healthy weight and benefit from all the purported health effects of exercise.

While a half-hour of regular exercise may not give exercisers "maximal" health benefits, it is not known how much exercise is required for "maximal" benefit.

In fact, there is little evidence that 60 minutes--or any other amount of time--spent in moderate exercise can provide individuals with maximum health benefits say the sports medicine experts.

Meanwhile, they content that the evidence backing the 30-minute recommendation is very strong, and getting stronger every day.

As it stands, exercising for 30 minutes on most days of the week--whether in one half-hour block or three 10-minute spurts--is known to lower a person's risk of heart disease, stoke and high blood pressure as well as prevent diabetes and delay death from any cause.

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