Physical activity is important for all people and should be incorporated routinely in everyone’s life. Current recommendations regarding the type and amount of activity is largely dependent on age. Presented are the following guidelines for physical activity based on age:
Children and Adolescents
It is recommended that children and adolescents get at least 1 hour or more a day of physical activity in age-appropriate activities. Most of that hour should be spent doing moderate- or vigorous–intensity aerobic activities. An example of moderate-intensity aerobic activity is brisk walking, and an example of a vigorous-intensity activity is running. It is important to get vigorous-intensity aerobic activity on at least three days of the week, and include muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activities on at least three days of the week. Examples of muscle-strengthening activities are gymnastics or push-ups. Bone-strengthening activities include jumping rope or running.
In healthy adults, it is recommended that a minimum of 2-1/2 hours per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or a minimum of 1-1/4 hours per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or a combination of the two be performed.
Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activity include:
- Walking fast Walking fast
- Doing water aerobics
- Riding a bike on level ground or with few hills
- Playing doubles tennis
- Pushing a lawn mower
Examples of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity include:
- Jogging or running
- Swimming laps
- Riding a bike fast or on hills
- Playing singles tennisPlaying singles tennis
An example of an exercise routine is: a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day, five days a week; a high-intensity spinning class one day for 45 minutes, plus a half hour jog another day; or some other combination of moderate and vigorous activity. Additionally, doubling the amount of activity (5 hours moderate-intensity or 2-1/2 hours vigorous-intensity aerobic activity) provides even more health benefits. Lastly, adults should also aim to do muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week.
Activities to strengthen muscle include:
- Lifting weights
- Working with resistance bands
- Doing exercises that use your body weight for resistance (push-ups)
- Heavy gardening (digging, shoveling)
Healthy older adults should follow the guidelines for healthy adults. If an older adult cannot meet the guidelines for healthy adults due to chronic conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow. Older adults who have chronic medical conditions such as arthritis and type 2 diabetes should discuss with their healthcare provider regarding the amount and type of activity that is best for them. Physical activity can help people manage chronic medical conditions, as long as the activities they choose match their fitness level and abilities. Older adults who are at risk of falling should include routine activities that promote balance.