INDIANAPOLIS -- The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Heart Association gave their support to guidelines for physical activity released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The organizations, which jointly published physical activity recommendations last year, say the guidelines effectively support each other and are all based on the most relevant science that links physical activity to improved health and wellness.

HHS guidelines call for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, an amount most reasonable on five days a week at a duration of 30 minutes. ACSM/AHA guidelines focus on 30 minutes of moderate-intensity daily physical activity five days a week.

In both the ACSM/AHA guidelines and those released by HHS, the latest science was evaluated to understand the physiological mechanisms by which physical activity provides health benefits and the physical activity profile (type, intensity, amount) that is associated with enhanced health and quality of life.

Both sets of recommendations conclude that relatively modest amounts of physical activity will improve health and cardio respiratory fitness of inactive persons, while expanded health gains, such as weight loss or weight maintenance, may require more than a minimum 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week. Differences on minutes-per-day or days-per-week recommendations appear because they are intended for different groups, and may be age-specific or relevant to overweight or obese individuals.

“Guidelines for physical activity have long been based on research demonstrating that even relatively moderate amounts of physical activity will have positive benefits on health,” says William Haskell, the lead author of the ACSM/AHA guidelines. “A very important idea, especially for people who are inactive, is that health and physical activity are closely linked. The more days a week that you can be active or accumulate some activity, the higher the value for your health and wellness.”