Soon after writing last month’s editorial on “Exercise Lite,” I departed for the American College of Sports Medicine’s annual meeting in Minneapolis. The first question on my mind was: What will be ACSM’s future position on the frequency, duration and intensity of exercise recommended to the American public?
I was expecting some accommodation of its position to the findings of the Harvard Alumni Health Study. As reported in last month’s editorial, recent analysis of that data for the relationship between exercise intensity and longevity found “that vigorous activity was associated with longevity, but nonvigorous activity was not associated with longer life, even when the same amount of energy was expended.” It would make sense, I thought, to recommend that people get moving and work up to the effective 6 METs intensity level as soon as safe and achievable.
What I found is that ACSM is as committed as ever to the light-to-moderate exercise prescription. Moreover, this will be highly publicized to the American people over the next few years by a coalition of government, private and business entities. The coalition’s efforts may be the largest-ever “initiative to get Americans off the couch.” Several sessions at the ACSM meeting indicated how deep and wide the commitment is to the lower end of exercise duration and intensity.