Adults gain substantial health benefits from at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity and can accrue additional benefits as the intensity, frequency, and duration increase.
This finding comes from analysis conducted by an external scientific advisory committee for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The HHS document (Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans) offers specific plans for people of all ages and physical conditions.
Any amount of exercise will result in health benefits. The guidelines recommend 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic exercise, or an equivalent combination of the two. Brisk walking, water aerobics, ballroom dancing, and gardening qualify as examples of moderately intense aerobic activities. Vigorous-intensity counterparts are racewalking, jogging or running, swimming laps, jumping rope, and hiking uphill with a heavy backpack.
Engaging in moderate aerobic exercise for 300 minutes per week or vigorous aerobic exercise for 150 minutes per week will generate even more health benefits. Resistance (muscle-strengthening) activity is also beneficial.
Older adults who can’t meet the target of 2.5 hours per week because of chronic conditions should be as physically active as possible. Exercises that maintain or improve balance are particularly important for those at risk for falls.
Children and adolescents are urged to be physically active for at least an hour a day, combining aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening forms of exercise into their daily workouts.