Regular physical activity helps improve your overall health and fitness, and reduces your risk for many chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Being active can also make you feel better, give you more energy, improve your mood, and help you lose weight.
To receive the health benefits of regular physical activity, adults should start out with moderate-intensity exercise (comparable to brisk walking):
- Aim for a minimum of 150 minutes a week.
- Activity can be accumulated in 10 minute bouts to equal the 30-minute minimum per day.
- Participate in cardiovascular exercise that noticeably accelerates your heart rate (examples are pushing a lawn mower, taking a dance class, and biking to the store).
- Begin slowly; then gradually increase frequency, duration, and intensity level.
- Use "The Talk Test" to gauge your intensity level. You should be able to carry on a conversation while exercising at a moderate intensity level.
- There is no need for medical clearance if starting with moderate activity. If you want something more vigorous, try this:
- Do cardiovascular exercise with intensity level comparable to jogging.
- Do a minimum of 75 minutes a week.
- Experience rapid breathing and a substantial increase in heart rate.
- Before starting a physical activity program, check with your health care provider if you are over 40 and plan a relatively vigorous exercise program.
Combinations of moderate and vigorous intensity activity can be performed to meet this recommendation. For example, a person can meet the recommendation by walking briskly for 30 minutes twice during the week and then jogging for 20 minutes on two other days. A rule of thumb is that 1 minute of vigorous intensity activity is about the same as 2 minutes of moderate intensity activity.
It is also recommended that adults perform muscle strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
START! Physical Activity Program
Physical Activity for Everyone
American Council on Exercise – Exercise Library