The 2018 Exercise Guidelines: What the Past 10 Years Have Taught Us
The United State Department of Health and Human Services has updated its exercise guidelines! The 2018 guidelines are an update to the first-ever published recommendations in 2008, which included a weekly goal of at least 150 minutes to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity in bouts of at least 10 minutes at a time. In this second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans what they recommend may not surprise you: most of us need to move more! The Department estimates that at present 50% of Americans are not meeting the current exercise recommendations and 30% of Americans report doing no moderate-vigorous intensity physical activity at all. With the release of the new guidelines maybe what changed most significantly is the growing body of evidence behind the reasons why we should care about this.
A Growing List of Benefits
While some benefits were known and highlighted in the 2008 guidelines the 2018 report continues to add to the list of conditions which benefit from regular physical activity, including:
- Reduced risk of developing or progression of certain chronic conditions including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and osteoarthritis
- Improvements in brain health including reduced incidence of dementia and improved mood
- Prevention of weight gain
- Improved sleep including a reduction in time to fall asleep and improvements in sleep quality
- Reduced risk of developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy
- Reduction in the incidence of postpartum depression
- Reduced risk of falls and related injuries, in older adults
- Reduced risk of certain cancers including breast, colon, endometrial, esophagus, kidney, lung, stomach and bladder
The report also released new findings that show for individuals who perform little or no moderate-vigorous activity, replacing their sedentary time with light-intensity activity reduces the risk of all-cause mortality, incidence of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The evidence in this area was previously lacking.
What’s Else is New?
- Removal of the 10-minute bouts minimum- all movement now counts toward the daily goal
- New recommendations to include preschool-aged children (ages 3-5 years old) and the benefits seen in bone health and reduced risk of excessive weight gain
- A new Move Your Way campaign to help promote and inspire regular exercise
Individuals who move more tend to feel better, sleep better and have reduced risks of certain diseases! For the most benefit, Americans are encouraged to participate in some form of moderate to vigorous physical activity for 150 minutes to 300 minutes per week, plus 2 days of strength exercises. If that is not possible exercise appears to provide benefit in a dose-dependent manner, even including light-intensity movement, so any amount of movement is better than none. If you are looking for support to start, check out the interactive Activity Planner on Move Your Way, set a goal on your wearable fitness tracker or schedule it into your calendar. If you set a goal, rather than leaving it to chance, you’re more likely to follow through.
What Is Intuitive Eating?
The holiday season can be a time of hyperfocus around food, so much so that I often have clients tell me around this time of year that they want to wait to schedule their follow up visits until after the holidays so they can eat and enjoy without restriction- they tell me that it’s too hard to avoid eating their favorite holiday foods. The truth is, they’re right, the research does show that over-restriction of foods can lead to a rebound effect and is a common trigger for the common yo-yo dieting cycle. That is NOT the goal!
Intuitive Eating is a non-diet approach to food and health and in many ways, a complete about-face to the historical nutrition advice focused around counting calories or relying on willpower. Instead, Intuitive Eating is a focus on reconnecting with our body’s own hunger and fullness cues and understanding some of the emotional and behavioral reasons behind why we eat. It’s composed of 10 core principles which I will review in a future post, however for the purpose of today’s post I’m sharing 4 tips to help incorporate a more intuitive approach to your holiday meals.
1) Plan to enjoy your favorite foods!
No guilt needed. If you go into a dinner or event with the idea that “your diet starts tomorrow” it will blunt your ability to make intuitive food choices. The thinking that a diet is around the corner after “this event” or the New Year makes us more likely to feel the need to “eat while you can”. Instead, allow yourself unconditional permission to eat the foods that you have looked forward to and enjoy. Remembering to eat for the intent to feel satisfied, not restricted or over-stuffed. Being mindful of the happy memories a holiday food may bring up or noting a new recipe you may want to try.
2) Aim to keep some of your normal eating patterns during the holidays
Intuitive Eating is rooted in paying attention to your body’s own hunger and fullness cues and trusting yourself to make choices about what to eat, how much to eat and when. While schedules can get turned upside down due to holiday travel, family meals, etc. keeping some of your regular mealtimes can be helpful in feeling good about food choices. Aim to be a proactive eater rather than a reactive one. This means not skipping breakfast and lunch before a holiday meal then arriving very hungry.
3) Move when you can
Travel, house guests, weather…the list could go on of things that can get in the way of your regular exercise routine. Instead, aim to set a few realistic goals for movement. Not with the intention to burn off calories or earn a big dinner but to doing something that feels good to you. Maybe that means going for a walk after dinner or taking the stairs in the mall when out shopping. Keeping yourself active, even in small ways, can make you feel more positive about your health and reduce stress.
4) Remember the reason for the season
Focusing on the people and events that make the holidays special rather than food alone can help take some of the stress off. Think about some of your family’s holiday traditions – what things come to mind that do not involve food? A movie you always watch together this time of year, a family hike or shopping outing.
How Can I Get Started With Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive Eating does not mean making perfectly healthy choices all the time. Eating for the sake of enjoying a food, even when you’re not hungry, is still intuitive eating- the difference is it happens with greater awareness of the “why” and your mindset around the choice. Choosing to have a slice of cake after a filling dinner because it’s delicious cake and you enjoy it, rather than choosing to eat it because “you’ve already blown your diet and you might as well”. If you want to learn more about Intuitive Eating I highly suggest checking out the book by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD, and Elyse Resch, MS, RD, FADA or contact me here.