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New Guidelines on Exercise

The World Health Organisation (WHO) have released their first revised guidelines for physical activity in a decade. The new changes are subtle but impactful with a direct relevance for chiropractors to continue recommending physical activity for good health and chronic disease risk reduction.

Physical inactivity contributes significantly to Australian deaths annually and when combined with other lifestyle risk factors such as obesity, it ranks along with tobacco use as the leading risk factor for disease burden in Australia.

  • The new WHO guidelines highlight for the first time the risks of sedentary behaviour, recommending adults break up long periods of sitting by getting up and moving around regularly. The guidelines go on to advise children to limit recreational screen time.

  • Adult recommendations are to perform 150 – 300 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week and/or a combination of both. Furthermore, it is advised to engage in strengthening activities involving all major muscle groups at least two days per week. These recommendations apply to women who are pregnant or in the postpartum period, those with chronic diseases or those living with a disability.

  • Children aged 5-17 should be averaging an hour a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day.

  • Sedentary behaviour (sitting at work, watching TV and screen time) is a separate risk factor for chronic disease and all-cause mortality. When sitting, we need to get up and move around regularly, even if we are following the regulations for physical activity described above.

These new guidelines highlight moving more and sitting less as vital to maintaining physical and mental wellbeing. Any physical activity is better than none and more is better. Aerobic activity no longer has to last 10 minutes to be beneficial. “Our lives depend upon us moving more.”

Current physical activity levels in Australia indicate 85% of adults do not reach the recommended levels of physical activity and muscle strengthening exercise. With only one in five children meeting the guidelines for physical activity of at least 60 minutes per day.

Chiropractors and other health professionals are well positioned to lead the way in advocating for increased physical activity levels within our communities. This requires governmental support and investment to help transform our communities into physical activity-friendly environments, where people of all ages can readily engage in physical activity to promote a healthy lifestyle and wellbeing. Thereby reducing modifiable risk factors for chronic disease and premature death within Australians.


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