Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. It has many benefits, including improving your overall health and fitness, and reducing your risk for many chronic diseases. To get the most benefit, the recommendations for how much exercise you need are:
Try to get at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity on most days.
- Aerobic activities include walking fast, jogging, swimming, and biking
- Exercise at a moderate intensity. One way to check this is to make sure that you can say a few words in a row while exercising. But you should not be able to sing - that would mean that you are not exercising hard enough.
- You can break your aerobic exercise into segments of ten minutes or more
Also, do strengthening activities twice per week.
- Strengthening activities include lifting weights, working with exercise bands, and doing sit-ups and pushups
- Choose activities that work all the different parts of the body - your legs, hips, back, chest, stomach, shoulders, and arms. You should repeat exercises for each muscle group 8 to 12 times per session.
For children and teens:
Get 60 minutes or more of physical activity every day. Most of it should be moderate-intensity aerobic activity.
- Activities should vary and be a good fit for the child's age and physical development
- Moderate-intensity aerobic activities include walking, running, skipping, playing on the playground, playing basketball, and biking
Also, try to get each of these at least 3 days a week: vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, muscle-strengthening activity, and bone-strengthening activity.
- Vigorous-intensity aerobic activities include running, doing jumping jacks, and fast swimming
- Muscle-strengthening exercise includes playing on playground equipment, playing tug-of-war, and doing pushups and pull-ups
- Bone-strengthening activities include hopping, skipping, doing jumping jacks, playing volleyball, and working with resistance bands
Seniors, pregnant women, and people who have special health needs should check with their health care provider on how much exercise they should get and what types of exercises they should do.
People who are trying to lose weight may need to get more exercise. They also need to adjust their diet, so they are burning more calories than they eat and drink.
If you have been inactive, you may need to start slowly. You can keep adding more gradually. The more you can do, the better. But try not to feel overwhelmed, and do what you can. Getting some exercise is always better than getting none.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
- AHA's Recommendations for Physical Activity in Children (American Heart Association)
- Be Active Your Way: A Guide for Adults (Department of Health and Human Services) - PDF
- Exercise Activity Calculator (American Cancer Society)
- Global recommendations on physical activity for health (World Health Organization) Also in Spanish
- How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need? (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Measuring Physical Activity Intensity (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Physical Activity (Exercise) (Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health)
- Physical Activity Guidelines (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion)
- Tips for Starting Physical Activity (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)