Health, Wellness, and Heritage : Did you know?

| Written by MPRO_admin

There are physical activity prescriptions for different age groups in the Philippines.

The Department of Health (DOH) published the Philippine National Guidelines on Physical Activity (PNGPA) in 2010. The PNGPA was formulated by experts from the World Health Organization, DOH, UP Diliman College of Human Kinetics, and Strength and Conditioning, Inc. It was benchmarked against existing guidelines from other countries then modified to suit local situations and settings.

For the majority, the increasing prevalence of a sedentary lifestyle poses many major health risks, while “for a very small minority, physical or sporting activity may be life threatening,” said the DOH. The PNGPA was developed with those considerations in mind. Apart from suggestions for achieving physical health, the PNGPA also addresses the needs of Filipinos aiming for physical fitness or “physical capabilities beyond health.”

According to the DOH, the PNGPA provides simple rules that will allow individuals to pursue a physically-active lifestyle. Its promotion and adoption, however, “should also be encouraged at an institutional level.

The implementing guidelines of the PNGPA are meant for people at the forefront of promoting and implementing the program: health professionals; fitness trainers; barangay health workers; physical education, health, and sports coordinators and teachers; and human resource department officers in the workplace.

The ten guidelines

  1. An evaluation of physical activity readiness must be made before engaging in any physical activity and clearance from a physician is recommended if you want to engage in more rigorous physical activity;
  2. To ensure safety, clearance from a physician is also needed for people with illnesses that may contraindicate exercise;
  3. If deemed healthy, exercise should progress slowly and within comfortable effort levels—overexertion is not recommended;
  4. Stop if dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, and chest pains occur;
  5. Reduce the intensity of the exercise or stop totally if there are physical or verbal manifestations of severe fatigue, cramps, and joint and muscle pains;
  6. Keep a daily record of physical activity for monitoring;
  7. For implementing personnel, allow the participant to stop when he requests at any point to do so;
  8. Drink 250 ml of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes of activity to ensure proper hydration;
  9. Wear proper attire and footwear for thermal stress management and prevention of injuries; and
  10. Allow ample recovery time after physical activities.
Photo by UP MPRO

The prescribed activities

Children aged five to 12 years old should get at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity. It could be any one or a combination of the following:

  • Active daily tasks such as active travel (walking, cycling, stair climbing) and household and school chores;
  • Programmed physical activities such as exercise, dance, or sports; and
  • Unstructured spontaneous play or high impact play such as running, jumping, skipping, and other movements involved in children’s games or playground activities such as those on bars and ropes.

Adolescents to young adults aged 13 to 20 years old should also get at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity. It could be any one or a combination of the following:

  • Active daily tasks similar to those mentioned previously;
  • At least 40 minutes of programmed physical activities and for those who have fitness goals, a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes of continuous movement three to five times a week;
  • At least 20 minutes of sustained moderate to vigorous physical activities resulting in rapid breathing like brisk walking, jogging, indigenous games, and dancing; and
  • Two to three times a week of muscle strengthening and flexibility activities which involve weight or load bearing exercises that build muscle and bone strength, and flexibility.

Adults aged 21 to 45 years old should get between 30 to 60 minutes of daily physical activity through the following:

  • Active daily tasks such as active travel and household chores;
  • Moderate aerobic activity done continuously for a minimum of 30 minutes or in increments of 10 minutes or longer resulting in a noticeable increase in heart rate and breathing, or for fitness purposes, 20 to 30 minutes of continuous activity at least three days per week, or for more active people with no risk factors, vigorous aerobic activity resulting in fast breathing and substantial increase in heart rate done at least three times a week with the goal of being able to do it five to six times per week;
  • Activities using all major muscles to increase strength and endurance like weight training, weight bearing calisthenics, or stair climbing at least twice per week but on non-consecutive days, using a light load for a set of ten to 15 repetitions resulting in momentary muscle fatigue and performing at least four times a week, gentle stretches to the point of tension after aerobic exercises or at cool down, giving at least 20 seconds per position per muscle group; and
  • Two minutes of physical activity for every hour of sitting in the workplace.

Older adults aged 46 to 59 years old should get at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity through the following:

  • Active daily tasks for adults;
  • Moderate aerobic activity and prescription for more active people with no risk factors similar to those prescribed for adults;
  • Activities using all major muscles to increase strength and endurance as well as gentle stretches similar to those prescribed for adults, with the only difference being the set of eight to 12 repetitions;
  • Physical activity in the workplace similar to those prescribed for adults; and
  • Activities for balance and coordination such as walking, gentle yoga, tai chi, dance, and aquatic activities two to four days per week.

Senior citizens should get at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity. There are three sub-age groups in this category.

For the young old or those aged 60 to 69, physical activity can come from the following:

  • Active daily tasks for adults;
  • Moderate aerobic activity similar to those prescribed for adults, any rhythmic and continuous physical activity that uses large muscle groups with emphasis on load bearing activities to reduce rate of osteoporosis and to maintain bone density, or for more active people with no risk factors, low to moderate aerobic activity for a minimum of 30 minutes three to five times per week;
  • Activities using all major muscles to increase strength and endurance as well as gentle stretches similar those prescribed for adults, with the only difference being the set of ten to 20 repetitions;
  • Physical activity in the workplace similar to those prescribed for adults; and
  • Activities for balance and coordination similar to those prescribed for older adults, with recommendations for performing simple yet dynamic movements that challenge postural and positional stability such as single-leg stands or supports, exercise ball-sitting, and weight shifting.

For the middle old or those aged 70 to 79, the following activities are recommended:

  • Active travel and mild or easy household chores like gardening, sweeping, folding clothes, etc.;
  • Light physical activities such as leisurely walks and any rhythmic and continuous physical activity that uses large muscle groups while standing independently or assisted, seated, or reclined continuously for at least 30 minutes or in increments of 10 minutes or longer three times per week, or for more active people with no risk factors, low to moderate aerobic activity done continuously for 30 minutes, three times per week on non-consecutive days;
  • Activities using all major muscles to increase strength and endurance such as mild calisthenics, elastic band training, or light weight training for a set of ten to 20 repetitions resulting in light challenge to the muscle, and gentle stretches to the point of tension done after aerobic exercises or at cool down for at least eight times per direction, three times per week; and
  • Activities for balance and coordination similar to those prescribed for the young old, but with support or spotting.

For the vintage old or those aged 80 and above, the prescribed amount of physical activity can come from the following:

  • Active travel and mild or easy household chores similar to those prescribed for the middle old;
  • Light physical activities similar to those prescribed for the middle old, done for 20 minutes continuously or in increments of 10 minutes or longer;
  • Activities using all major muscles to increase strength and endurance similar to those prescribed to the middle old, for a set of ten to 15 repetitions resulting in light challenge to the muscle at least twice per week on non-consecutive days, and gentle full range of motion exercises done after aerobic exercises or at cool down for at least eight times per direction, two to three times per week on non-consecutive days; and
  • Activities for balance and coordination similar to those prescribed for the middle old, at least three days a week.

Due to length considerations, the PNGPA implementing guidelines and prescriptions of physical activities were condensed. The PNGPA can be viewed at http://www.doh.gov.ph/sites/default/files/publications/HBEAT58a.pdf.