WHEN Do I Need Physical Activity?
The exact amount of physical activity you need depends on your age and health status.
Regular physical activity can improve health and reduce your risk of developing (or worsening) a number of health problems. Increasing the intensity, frequency and/or duration of physical activity leads to greater health benefits and greater quality of life. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (2nd edition) outlines the amounts and types of physical activity needed to maintain or improve health through physical activity.
Children (ages 6-17)
Children should do 60 minutes or more of physical activity every day. This hour of activity should include: aerobic, muscle-strengthening and bone strengthening activity.
Aerobic activity should make up most of the 60 minutes. This means activities like walking to school, riding a bike or rollerblading. At least three days each week, children should be doing vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (running, playing sports), muscle-strengthening activity (tree climbing, sit-ups, gymnastics) and bone-strengthening activity (jumping rope, skipping).
If you're worried about how much activity your child is getting, find out more about what counts from Move Your Way-Parents.
According to current guidelines, adults should complete moderate-intensity activities at least 150 minutes a week (2 hours and 30 minutes) or vigorous-intensity activities for 75 minutes a week (1 hour and 15 minutes).
The good news is that you don't have to get all of the activity done at one time- you can do a mixture of moderate (brisk walking) and vigorous (running) intensity activity each week. This means you don't have to be active for 60, or even for 30, minutes every day! You can spread the recommended activity time throughout the week and exercise when it is convenient for you.
Check out the Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults or view the Move Your Way campaign to gain a better understanding of the recommendations.
Older Adults (65 and over)
If you're 65 years of age or older, are generally fit, and have no limiting health conditions, you should follow the physical activity guidelines below:
Older adults should engage in at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity activity each week.
Regular physical activity can improve health and reduce your risk of developing (or worsening) a number of health problems. Increasing the intensity, frequency and/or duration of physical activity leads to greater health benefits and greater quality of life.
View the Physical Activity Guidelines for Older Adults or view the Move Your Way campaign to gain a better understanding of the recommendations.
Pregnant or Postpartum Women
The guidelines for healthy pregnant or postpartum women vary slightly from the recommendations for adults. Healthy pregnant or postpartum women should get at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) per week of moderate-intensity activity, such as brisk walking, during and after their pregnancy. It is recommended that women spread this activity throughout the week.
Healthy women who already do vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, such as running, can continue doing so during and after their pregnancy provided they stay healthy and discuss with their health care provider how and when activity should be adjusted over time.
Read the complete Physical Activity Guidelines for Pregnant and Postpartum Women for more information (Chapter 6, page 79).