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physical activityMyActivity Pyramid shows adults how to get in shape


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The MyActivity Pyramid, a new fitness guide developed by University of Missouri Extension, provides physical activity recommendations for adults in an easy-to-understand format.


“The MyActivity Pyramid offers adults a variety of ways that they can reach these recommendations for health and improving quality of life,” said Steve Ball, MU associate professor and extension fitness specialist.


The MyActivity Pyramid will look familiar to many because it's modeled after the USDA's food pyramid. Designed for adults ages 18-64, the MyActivity Pyramid offers a visual representation of new guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on the recommended amount and type of activities recommended for improved health and fitness.


At the base of the pyramid are lifestyle activities you can incorporate in everyday life: biking, yard work, household chores and walking. One level up are aerobic activities such as jogging, swimming or tennis. Adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity.


If you're wondering how to tell if an activity is moderate or vigorous, Ball suggests trying the “talk test.” During moderate activity, you should be able to talk but not sing. If you can say only a few words without stopping to catch your breath, then you are engaging in vigorous activity.


“The good thing is that you don't have to do all of your exercise in one setting,” Ball said. “You could break up a 30-minutes-per-day recommendation into three 10-minute bouts of exercise.”


Strength and flexibility activities fill the third level of the pyramid. At least twice a week, adults should engage in activities such as yoga, stretching or strength training, Ball said.


The top of the MyActivity Pyramid, occupying the least amount of space, represents inactivity. Adults should try to limit the amount of time they spend watching TV or playing video and computer games each day, said Robin Gammon, MU Extension dietitian.


“So many people are inactive right now. This is really just a way to help them get started and let them know how much physical activity they should be doing during the week,” Gammon said.


“Sixty-six percent of Americans are either overweight or obese. We all know it's a problem but some of us just don't know where to start,” she said. “Printing off the MyActivity Pyramid and posting it at your office or putting it on your refrigerator to remind you and others to go out and be active can be a great start.”


To download a free copy of MU Extension's MyActivity Pyramid for Adults (18-64), go to


The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans can be found at


Sources: Stephen Ball, 573-882-2334; Robin Gammon


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Last update: Thursday, April 16, 2015