Staying active plays an important role in staying healthy, especially as you get older. For example, 150 minutes of physical activity a week can help you maintain or lose weight, which in turn lowers your risk of heart disease or stroke.8 There is also evidence that increased physical activity can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, such as bladder, breast, kidney, stomach, and colon, among others.5
How Much Do I Need?
Health experts suggest that the average healthy adult should get*:
- At least 150 minutes per week [moderate activity], OR at least 75 minutes per week [vigorous activity], OR an equal mixture of both.
Look below to learn what physical activities are important for you as an adult. For proper health benefits, you should do both aerobic and muscle strengthening activities. Aerobic activity is any activity that makes you sweat, breathe harder and gets your heart beating faster than when at rest. Remember some physical activity is also better than none and can still be part of a healthy lifestyle!
*For people with special needs or health conditions, it's important to check with your healthcare provider on what activities are most appropriate.
If you choose moderate level activities, you should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week.9,12
- Walking briskly
- Recreational swimming
- Ballroom or line dancing
- General yard work and home repair work
If you choose vigorous activities, you should do at least 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week.9,12
- Jogging or running
- Swimming laps
- Fast-paced dancing
- Bicycling faster than 10 miles per hour
- Jumping rope
In addition to one of the activities above, adults should also do muscle strengthening activities two or more days a week and work-out all major muscle groups.
- Include all the major muscle groups such as legs, hips, back, chest, stomach, shoulders, and arms.
- For each activity try to repeat 8-12 times, which counts as 1 set.12
- Activities like lifting weights can help you increase or maintain mass muscle and strength as you get older.13
- You can also choose to do an equal mixture of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
- Aerobic activity should usually be spread throughout the week rather than done at one time.
- Slowly build up the amount of time you do physical activities and start at a level where you feel most comfortable and capable.
- Remember to drink plenty of water when being physically active and stretch before and after to avoid injury.
Meeting physical activity guidelines each week can be difficult especially with a busy schedule. However, by making a schedule and tracking your activity you can start meeting your goals and feeling the health benefits of staying active. The CDC has great resources to help you track activity and provide examples of weekly activity routines you may want to try.