"People who sit a lot have an increased risk of all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality, as well as an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and colon, endometrial, and lung cancers", the guidelines say.
"The new guidelines demonstrate that, based on the best science, everyone can dramatically improve their health just by moving - anytime, anywhere, and by any means that gets you active", said ADM Brett P. Giroir, MD, Assistant Secretary for Health in a press release.
The tweaks have been welcomed by health bodies such as the American Council on Exercise and the American Heart Association, which has adopted the updated guidelines as its official physical activity recommendations.
One key change: It used to be thought that aerobic activity had to be done for at least 10 minutes.More news: Australia misses out on hosting rights for Women's Rugby World Cup
"It is hard to convey the health benefits of physical activity in a way that does not sound like it is a "cure all", wrote doctors Brett Giroir and Don Wright, who both work under the US Secretary for Health. The Guidelines spell out what ACE Certified Health Coaches and others like them do daily, which is help individuals set physical activity goals, monitor progress toward those goals, generate social support and self-reward.
Moderate-intensity activity includes walking briskly, riding a bike on level ground with few hills and playing doubles tennis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while muscle-strengthening activity includes lifting weights, yoga and "heavy gardening", such as shoveling. "Some physical activity is better than none", wrote the authors, adding that "virtually everyone benefits from increased activities" and "even short episodes of small amounts of physical activity are beneficial".
Updated for the first time in 10 years, the guidelines add that those who now do very little physical activity have the most to gain by moving more.
Children aged 6 through 17 should get at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per day and sessions of muscle-strengthening per week.More news: Armie Hammer Slammed for Criticizing Celebrities' Stan Lee Tributes
"The American Heart Association has long recognized physical activity as a proven way to lower chances of heart disease and live a longer, healthier life". This requirement has been removed because all activity counts.
The advice is similar for older adults, but activities should include things that promote balance to help avoid falls.
There are immediate health benefits, attainable from a single bout of activity, including reduced anxiety and blood pressure, improved quality of sleep, and improved insulin sensitivity.
Physical activity helps manage more chronic health conditions.More news: Libya could hold elections next spring: Italy's foreign minister
The new guidelines prescribe activity throughout the day for preschool children to enhance growth and development.