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    Mayo Clinic Minute: New fitness guidelines for the new year

Exercise is a key factor in maintaining physical and mental health. The Department of Health and Human Services recently released new guidelines for physical activity. The new federal fitness instructions haven't changed much for adults, except for the elimination of a specific requirement.

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The point of the new fitness guidelines is to just move, and anything counts.

"A minute here, a minute there — whatever you can do, whenever you can do it is fine," says Dr. Michael Joyner, a Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist. "And it adds up in a positive way."

Not wanting to discourage people from exercising, the new federal guidelines eliminate the expectation that physical activity occurs in 10-minute blocks.

"There was new observational evidence that almost any level of exercise was useful, and that it could be in smaller bites than 10 minutes," says Dr. Joyner.

For example, you could park your car at the back of the lot, take the stairs instead of the elevator or walk your dog around the block.

"The goal is just to build up a large cumulative amount over the day and to try and get as much incidental physical activity as possible," says Dr. Joyner.

The guidelines still call for at least 150 minutes a week of moderately intense aerobic exercise, such as briskly walking, biking or swimming, and two weekly sessions of muscle training activity, like lifting weights, yoga or heavy gardening and yardwork.

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