Recommendations for the amounts of activity for each category are given and are consistent with the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
Lifestyle PA (e.g., walking, household chores, yard work) is at the base of the pyramid and, therefore, represents the largest area of the pyramid. Sedentary individuals might start at the base of the pyramid and increase total PA through everyday activities. Some activities are clearly better than none (2), and lifestyle activities is one means of incorporating some PA into an individual's daily routine. Additional health benefits occur with additional activity (5). Thus, individuals should strive to do more than only lifestyle activities by climbing to the second level of the pyramid, aerobic activity. Aerobic activities include things such as brisk walking, jogging, basketball, and swimming. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans regarding aerobic activity are clearly listed on the pyramid. The pyramid states that adults should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity (can talk without pausing but cannot sing) or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity (cannot say more than a few words without pausing for breath) each week or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity PA. To achieve additional benefits, individuals should climb to the third level of the pyramid, strength and flexibility. At least two times per week, muscle-building exercises (resistance training) that include all the major muscle groups should be performed (one to three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions). Resistance training helps preserve muscle mass, increase strength, and improve balance. These benefits are important for all adults but might be especially critical for older adults. Flexibility activities also are encouraged and are necessary for optimal health. Specifically, flexibility decreases risk of back pain, reduces risk of injury, and improves freedom of movement. The American College of Sport Medicine (ACSM) recommends that they be performed at least twice weekly with a minimum of 10 minutes in duration. Finally, inactivity is at the top and takes up the smallest amount of space on the pyramid. Obviously, this symbolizes that inactivity should be limited. The back of the MyActivity Pyramid summarizes the four levels of the MyActivity Pyramid and provides more details about the new 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
Although adherence to these guidelines and the MyActivity Pyramid will result in substantial health benefits for most people, the point of maximum benefit has not been firmly established and likely varies depending on a variety of individual factors (i.e., genetic endowment, age, sex, health status, body composition) (6). Increasing to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 150 minutes (2.5 hours) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or an equivalent combination of the two, will provide additional health benefits. These benefits include an even lower risk of premature death, lower risk for colon and breast cancer, and prevention of unhealthy weight gain (8). As ACSM and the American Heart Association point out in the 2007 joint statement on PA, "many adults including those who wish to improve their personal fitness or further reduce their risk for premature chronic health conditions and mortality related to physical inactivity should exceed the minimum recommended amounts of physical activity" (6).
It also is important to remind Americans that the MyActivity Pyramid for Adults and the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans were created to improve health and may not necessarily result in weight loss. Although the PA recommendations might help maintain weight or assist in weight loss, it is likely that much more activity is necessary for clinically significant weight loss to occur (4). Thus, practitioners should encourage adults to go beyond the minimum recommendations when appropriate. The good news is that significant health benefits will occur with modest amounts of PA despite how weight changes over time (8).
The MyActivity Pyramid for Adults was piloted with 120 adults who live in urban and rural areas. In addition, it was shared with 22 nutrition and health educators. Feedback was used to help create the final version of the MyActivity Pyramid. The MyActivity Pyramid for Adults can be downloaded for free. Copies can be ordered online at www.extension.missouri.edu (publication number N388).
CONDENSED VERSION AND BOTTOM LINE
The MyActivity Pyramid is an educational tool that professionals can use to help adults accumulate the necessary amounts and variety of activity. The MyActivity Pyramid is modeled after the USDA's MyPyramid and follows the recommendations of the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey Data
. Atlanta (GA): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2007.
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on cardiorespiratory fitness among sedentary, overweight or obese postmenopausal women with elevated blood pressure: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA.
3. Corbin CB, Welk GJ, Corbin WR, Welk KA. Concepts of Fitness and Wellness: A Comprehensive Lifestyle Approach
. 7th ed. Boston (MA): McGraw Hill; 2008. pp. 87-9.
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intervention strategies for weight loss and prevention of weight regain for adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc
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with longevity. The Harvard Alumni Health Study. Am J Epidemiol
6. Haskell WL, Lee IM, Pate, RR, et al. Physical activity
and public health: Updated recommendations for adults from American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Circulation
7. Mokdad AH, Ford ES, Bowman BA, et al.
Prevalence of obesity, diabetes, and obesity-related health risk factors, 2001. JAMA.
8. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Report
. Washington (DC): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2008.
9. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity and Health: Report of the Surgeon General
. Atlanta (GA): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion; 1996.
Keywords:© 2009 American College of Sports Medicine
Physical Activity; Inactivity; Exercise; Health Benefits; 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans