Physical Activity Guidelines

New scientific information on physical activity and health helped the first Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee create science-based recommendations for the types and amounts of activity that provide the greatest benefits. Some key findings from the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, and rules to live by, are as follows.

Everyone benefits from physical activity. People of all ages, from children to older adults, pregnant and postpartum women, people with disabilities and members of every racial and ethnic group.

Even a little physical activity is better than none. Physical activity can be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes. And, even though it is best to spread your physical activity throughout the week, it is fine to get all your physical activity in a couple of days such as over the weekend.

Physical activity improves health regardless of your body weight. (healthy, overweight, obese)

Both aerobic exercise and strength training improve health. Substantial health benefits can be gained from 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity. An equivalent combination of the two also provides substantial benefits. Strength training involving the major muscle groups two or more days per week is also recommended.

More physical activity equals greater health benefits. For additional and more extensive health benefits, aim for 300 minutes (5 hours) of moderate aerobic activity or 150 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week. Or, an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous intensity activity will provide the same benefits.  Remember, additional health benefits are gained if you participate in physical activity beyond this amount.

There are many ways to be physically active: choose to do what you like best. The best way to boost physical activity is not only through planned exercise, but also through a variety of activities that expend energy throughout the day. Choose activities that you enjoy and you will be more successful in staying physically active on a regular basis.

Additional information:

Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Report 2008

2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans