The ABC of Physical Activity for Health: A consensus statement from the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences

Clare O'Donovan, Anthony Blazevich, Colin Boreham, Ashley Cooper, Helen Crank, Ulf Ekelund, Ken Fox Gill, Paul Gately, Billie Giles-Corti, Jason Gill, Mark Hamer, Ian McDermott, Marie Murphy, Nanette Mutrie, John J. Reilly, John Saxton, Emmanuel Stamatakis

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Abstract

Our understanding of the relationship between physical activity and health is constantly evolving. Therefore, the BritishAssociation of Sport and Exercise Sciences convened a panel of experts to review the literature and produce guidelines that health professionals might use. In the ABC of Physical Activity for Health, A is for All healthy adults, B is for Beginners, and C is for Conditioned individuals. All healthy adults aged 18–65 years should aim to take part in at least 150 min of moderate intensity aerobic activity each week, or at least 75 min of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week, or equivalentcombinations of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activities. Moderate-intensity activities are those in which heart rate andbreathing are raised, but it is possible to speak comfortably. Vigorous-intensity activities are those in which heart rate is higher, breathing is heavier, and conversation is harder. Aerobic activities should be undertaken in bouts of at least 10 min and, ideally, should be performed on five or more days a week. All healthy adults should also perform muscle-strengtheningactivities on two or more days a week. Weight training, circuit classes, yoga, and other muscle-strengthening activities offer additional health benefits and may help older adults to maintain physical independence. Beginners should work steadily towards meeting the physical activity levels recommended for all healthy adults. Even small increases in activity will bring some health benefits in the early stages and it is important to set achievable goals that provide success, build confidence, and increase motivation. For example, a beginner might be asked to walk an extra 10 min every other day for several weeks to slowly reach the recommended levels of activity for all healthy adults. It is also critical that beginners find activities they enjoy and gain support in becoming more active from family and friends. Conditioned individuals who have met the physical activity levels recommended for all healthy adults for at least 6 months may obtain additional health benefits by engaging in 300 min or more of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, or 150 min or more of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week, or equivalent combinations of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activities. Adults who find it difficult to maintain a normal weight and adults with increased risk of cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes may in particular benefit from going beyond the levels of activity recommended for all healthy adults and gradually progressing towards meeting the recommendations for conditioned individuals. Physical activity is beneficial to health with or without weight loss, but adults who find it difficult to maintain a normal weight should probably be encouraged to reduce energy intake and minimize time spent in sedentary behaviours to prevent further weight gain. Children and young people aged 5–16 years should accumulateat least 60 min of moderate-to-vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per day, including vigorous-intensity aerobic activities that improve bone density and muscle strength.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-591
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Volume28
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Keywords

  • Physical activity guidelines
  • chronic diseases
  • exercise

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    O'Donovan, C., Blazevich, A., Boreham, C., Cooper, A., Crank, H., Ekelund, U., Fox Gill, K., Gately, P., Giles-Corti, B., Gill, J., Hamer, M., McDermott, I., Murphy, M., Mutrie, N., Reilly, J. J., Saxton, J., & Stamatakis, E. (2010). The ABC of Physical Activity for Health: A consensus statement from the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences. Journal of Sports Sciences, 28(6), 573-591. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640411003671212