In light of new dietary guidelines that call for Americans to increase their physical activity while decreasing their caloric intake to help manage their weight, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is urging individuals of all ages and abilities, particularly those with preexisting conditions and/or disabilities, to consider the advice of a physical therapist before starting an exercise program.

Issued by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 suggest that individuals look to HHS' 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans for guidance on the amount and types of exercise needed for health benefits. For most adults, 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week is required to achieve and maintain a healthful body weight. Adults also should include muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week. For children and adolescents ages 6 years and older, HHS recommends 60 minutes or more of physical activity per day, which can be achieved through "short bursts" of time. At least 3 days a week children and adolescents should engage in muscle-strengthening physical activity.

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