Just a few weeks after saying goodbye to the food pyramid, Americans are getting an update on weekly exercise guidelines. In June, the American College of Sports Medicine released new exercise standards, updating the recommended quantities and types of weekly activity for adults. Time to get moving!

What’s the deal?

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While the 2011 standards seem similar to the 1998 version— the last time the guidelines received an update— the ACSM made a few important adjustments and clarificationsAmerican College of Sports Medicine Position Stand. The recommended quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, and flexibility in healthy adults. Pollock, M., Gaesser, G., Butcher, J. et al. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998 Jun;30(6):975-91. Like previous guidelines, the new standards offer time and intensity recommendations for cardiorespiratory, resistance, and flexibility exercises. But the updated guidelines also outline recommendations for neuromotor exercise (sometimes called functional fitness training), which focuses on improving and maintaining motor skills like balance, coordination, gait, and agilityQuantity and Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Cardiorespiratory, Musculoskeletal, and Neuromotor Fitness in Apparently Healthy Adults: Guidance for Prescribing Exercise. Garber, C.E., Blissmer, B., Deschenes, M.R., et al. America College of Sports Medicine, Indianapolis, IN. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2011 July; 4(7): 1334 -1359.. According to the ACSM, neuromotor exercise can be especially beneficial for older people to improve balance and muscle strength, reducing the risk of falls and other injuryQuantity and Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Cardiorespiratory, Musculoskeletal, and Neuromotor Fitness in Apparently Healthy Adults: Guidance for Prescribing Exercise. Garber, C.E., Blissmer, B., Deschenes, M.R., et al. America College of Sports Medicine, Indianapolis, IN. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2011 July; 4(7): 1334 -1359.. In order to meet the neuromotor recommendations of two or three days a week, the ACSM suggests participating in activities like tai chi or yoga. Functional resistance movements involving a significant degree of balance and multiple muscle groups might also help fulfill the recommendations for neuromotor exercise.

In addition to emphasizing a new category of activity, the 2011 standards highlight a variety of ways to meet the recommended minimum 150 minutes of weekly exercise. For those with busy schedules,the new guidelines suggest exercising longer on days when more time is available, or breaking workouts into several 10-minute increments throughout the dayQuantity and Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Cardiorespiratory, Musculoskeletal, and Neuromotor Fitness in Apparently Healthy Adults: Guidance for Prescribing Exercise. Garber, C.E., Blissmer, B., Deschenes, M.R., et al. America College of Sports Medicine, Indianapolis, IN. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2011 July; 4(7): 1334 -1359.. Unfortunately, these updated guidelines make no mention of where Quidditch falls within a balanced weekly routine.

The Takeaway

To get the full list of recommendations, check out the summary from ACSM below:

Cardiorespiratory Exercise

Resistance Exercise

Flexibility Exercise

Neuromotor Exercise