Lace up those running and walking shoes. As announced yesterday by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture, exercise is a top priority.

Yesterday, the HHS released a report, Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, that recommends 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (not counting usual activity) on most days of the week. But, it states that for most people, greater health benefits can be obtained by engaging in activity that’s more intense or for a longer amount of time. The recommendations encourage not only cardiovascular conditioning, but also stretching for flexibility and resistance exercises or calisthenics for muscle strength and endurance.

For those maintaining their weight, the HHS recommends 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity on most days of the week. Finally, for those wishing to drop pounds, 60 to 90 minutes is advised of daily moderate-intensity exercise. Now, that’s a lot of time spent at the gym.

“The new Dietary Guidelines highlight the principle that Americans should keep their weight within healthful limits and engage in ample physical activity,” said Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman in a release about the announcement. “The process we used to develop these recommendations was more rigorous and more transparent than ever before. Taken together, the recommendations will help consumers make smart choices from every food group, get the most nutrition out of the calories consumed and find a balance between eating and physical activity.”

Physical activity guidelines, along with dietary guidelines, such as an emphasis on balancing nutritious foods with activity and increasing the population’s consumption of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, made up the report that is required by federal law to be reviewed every five years. It is the sixth edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans and supports the HealthierUS Initiative. The complete report can be found at: www.healthierus.gov/dietaryguidelines.