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Unrealistic official guidelines for prescribing exercise


Tags: exercise, sedentariness, self-treatment, treatment

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We all should be doing more exercise than most of us will ever do, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. In these official exercise dosing recommendations, they suggest: about a 30 minutes of daily walking, plus 20 minutes of running every other day, plus about an hour at the gym a couple times per week, and about an hour of stretching each week. These recommendations are out of touch with economic reality for huge numbers of people, and out of touch with the scientific reality that even a little bit of exercise is a great deal better than none.

original abstractAbstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

The purpose of this Position Stand is to provide guidance to professionals who counsel and prescribe individualized exercise to apparently healthy adults of all ages. These recommendations also may apply to adults with certain chronic diseases or disabilities, when appropriately evaluated and advised by a health professional. This document supersedes the 1998 American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Position Stand, "The Recommended Quantity and Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Cardiorespiratory and Muscular Fitness, and Flexibility in Healthy Adults." The scientific evidence demonstrating the beneficial effects of exercise is indisputable, and the benefits of exercise far outweigh the risks in most adults. A program of regular exercise that includes cardiorespiratory, resistance, flexibility, and neuromotor exercise training beyond activities of daily living to improve and maintain physical fitness and health is essential for most adults. The ACSM recommends that most adults engage in moderate-intensity cardiorespiratory exercise training for ≥30 min·d on ≥5 d·wk for a total of ≥150 min·wk, vigorous-intensity cardiorespiratory exercise training for ≥20 min·d on ≥3 d·wk (≥75 min·wk), or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity exercise to achieve a total energy expenditure of ≥500-1000 MET·min·wk. On 2-3 d·wk, adults should also perform resistance exercises for each of the major muscle groups, and neuromotor exercise involving balance, agility, and coordination. Crucial to maintaining joint range of movement, completing a series of flexibility exercises for each the major muscle-tendon groups (a total of 60 s per exercise) on ≥2 d·wk is recommended. The exercise program should be modified according to an individual's habitual physical activity, physical function, health status, exercise responses, and stated goals. Adults who are unable or unwilling to meet the exercise targets outlined here still can benefit from engaging in amounts of exercise less than recommended. In addition to exercising regularly, there are health benefits in concurrently reducing total time engaged in sedentary pursuits and also by interspersing frequent, short bouts of standing and physical activity between periods of sedentary activity, even in physically active adults. Behaviorally based exercise interventions, the use of behavior change strategies, supervision by an experienced fitness instructor, and exercise that is pleasant and enjoyable can improve adoption and adherence to prescribed exercise programs. Educating adults about and screening for signs and symptoms of CHD and gradual progression of exercise intensity and volume may reduce the risks of exercise. Consultations with a medical professional and diagnostic exercise testing for CHD are useful when clinically indicated but are not recommended for universal screening to enhance the safety of exercise.

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