Experts hope pyramid power will motivate couch potatoes

Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:01pm EST
 
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) Fitness experts have created the MyActivity Pyramid in the belief that if a picture is worth a thousand words, it can surely help Americans shed a few pounds.

Developed at University of Missouri Extension, the MyActivity Pyramid takes MyPyramid, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) food pyramid that has touted healthy eating habits since 1992, and turns that visual aid on its ear.

"Our idea was to rotate MyPyramid to the right to focus on the steps which obviously represent physical activity," said Steve Ball, associate professor of exercise physiology in the university's College of Human Environmental Sciences.

To that end the MyActivity Pyramid, which was developed privately by the university, proffers a multi-layered representation of the 2008 Physical Activity guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

According to the HHS, adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity. For weight-loss, five hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, or two hours and 30 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week is recommended.

"The (MyActivity) pyramid offers a variety of ways that adults can achieve these recommendations to improve their health and quality of life," Ball explained.

At the base of the pyramid are everyday activities, including biking, yard work, household chores and walking. The next level includes aerobic activities such as jogging, swimming or tennis. Strength and flexibility activities are on the third level.

"Sixty-six percent of Americans are either overweight or obese," said Robin Gammon, a dietitian at Missouri University Extension.   Continued...

 
<p>A handout graphic shows the MyActivity Pyramid: Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults. REUTERS/Handout</p>