Easy exercise

Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services released the United StatesâÄô first-ever official recommendation on adult physical activity. In his preface to the report, HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt wrote that âÄúthese guidelines are achievableâÄù and âÄúan essential component of any comprehensive disease prevention.âÄù For reasons that should escape no one, Americans ought to take note of this rare display of governmental sagacity and act on it. According to the report, the HHS recommends that adults routinely engage in an exercise regimen that includes no less than âÄúthe equivalent of 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activityâÄù spread throughout the week, an average of about 21 minutes per day. Examples of moderate physical activity cited in the report include âÄúwalking brisklyâÄù and âÄúgeneral gardening.âÄù Considering that the daily exercise requirement is shorter than the average morning commute, there is no reason why Americans should be unable to fulfill this minimal exercise requirement. Yet, despite the pittance of time and effort needed to stave off the looming specter of chronic obesity and cardiovascular disease, one canâÄôt help but suspect that compliance with the recommendation may be disappointing. Studies throughout the past five years have found that 50 to 60 percent of Americans donâÄôt get enough exercise, while approximately a quarter donâÄôt exercise at all. University students, in particular, ought to heed this advice. Habits developed in college become the habits of adult life, and squeezing in 20 minutes of daily exercise should not be difficult between 180 minutes of class time and 30-something minutes of Sudoku. Tomorrow: Pick up the Daily en route to the Rec.