Someone told me that she never diets during the holidays. Poppycock! The holidays are the perfect time to increase one’s commitment to health. Let’s face it, the holidays lure us to indulge. But a good way to lessen the damage is to offset it with as many healthy choices as we can muster. 

I am not thinking celery and water. However, I am serious about physical activity. Recently, the United States Department of Health and Human Services released its second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions meeting. The guidelines provide evidence-based recommendations on how to safely get the physical activity we need to stay healthy. There are new key recommendations for people of all ages including women during pregnancy and postpartum, adults with chronic health conditions, and adults with disabilities. In short, there is something for everyone. Another way of putting it is that there are no excuses to keep us from exercising.

Here are some highlights from the second edition of the physical activity guidelines for Americans:

“To attain the most health benefits from physical activity, adults need at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like brisk walking or fast dancing, each week. Adults also need muscle-strengthening activity, like lifting weights or doing push-ups, at least 2 days each week.

The first key guideline for adults is to move more and sit less. This recommendation is based on new evidence that shows a strong relationship between increased sedentary behavior and increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and all-cause mortality. All physical activity, especially moderate-to-vigorous activity, can help offset these risks.

We now know that any amount of physical activity has some health benefits. Americans can benefit from small amounts of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity throughout the day.

New evidence shows that physical activity has immediate health benefits. For example, physical activity can reduce anxiety and blood pressure and improve quality of sleep and insulin sensitivity.

We now know that meeting the recommendations in the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans consistently over time can lead to even more long-term health benefits. For adults, physical activity helps prevent 8 types of cancer (bladder, breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, stomach, and lung); reduces the risk of dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease), all-cause mortality, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and depression; and improves bone health, physical function, and quality of life.

For older adults, physical activity also lowers the risk of falls and injuries from falls.

For pregnant women, physical activity reduces the risk of postpartum depression.

For all groups, physical activity reduces the risk of excessive weight gain and helps people maintain a healthy weight.

New evidence shows that physical activity can help manage more health conditions that Americans already have. For example, physical activity can decrease pain for those with osteoarthritis, reduce disease progression for hypertension and type 2 diabetes, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improve cognition for those with dementia, multiple sclerosis, ADHD, and Parkinson’s disease.”

So folks, let’s get moving and build liver health. Click here to read more about the guidelines.