Recommendations and Benefits for Adults

For adults, physical activity benefits include lower risk for all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease and related mortality, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, adverse blood lipid profile, and cancers including bladder, breast, colon, endometrial, esophageal, kidney, lung, and stomach. Physical activity is also associated with decreased risk for falls and fall-related injuries in older adults.

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In addition, physical activity improves cognition, quality of life, sleep, bone health, and physical function.

Adults are advised to move more often and sit less during the day, as some physical activity is better than none. Though minimal activity may offer some health benefits, at least 150 to 300 min/wk of moderate-intensity or 75 to 150 min/wk of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity offer substantial health benefits: physical activity beyond 300 min/wk offers added health benefits. Moderate or greater intensity of muscle-strengthening activity is recommended ≥2 d/wk.

For older adults who cannot tolerate 150 min/wk of moderate-intensity aerobic activity due to chronic conditions, they should attempt to be as active as conditions may allow.

For women who are pregnant, ≥150 min/wk of moderate-intensity aerobic activity is recommended during pregnancy and postpartum. Women who are pregnant who very frequently participated in vigorous-intensity aerobic activity before pregnancy may continue their activity during pregnancy and postpartum. Women who are pregnant should consult with a health care provider who can monitor their pregnancy and assess their physical activity.

Understanding the risks associated with certain physical activity, choosing the right type of activities and associated components, setting goals to meet physical activity recommendations, and speaking with a health care provider can help Americans safely participate in physical activity while reducing the risk of injuries and adverse events.

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“The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition, provides information and guidance on the types and amounts of physical activity that provide substantial health benefits,” the authors wrote. “Health professionals and policy makers should facilitate awareness of the guidelines and promote the health benefits of physical activity and support efforts to implement programs, practices, and policies to facilitate increased physical activity and to improve the health of the US population,” they concluded.

In a related viewpoint, Brett P. Giroir, MD, and Don Wright, MD, MPH, of the US Department of Health and Human Services state, “Strategies recommended in the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition could yield tangible increases in physical activity levels in the United States, and, as a result, reduce ever-increasing rates of chronic disease and burgeoning health care spending.”2

“Physicians and other health care professionals should participate in, and indeed lead, this important call to Americans to make simple lifestyle changes that will improve longevity and quality of life,” they concluded.


  1. Piercy KL, Troiano RP, Ballard RM, et al. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans [published online November 12, 2018]. JAMA. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.14854
  2. Giroir BP, Wright D. Physical activity guidelines for health and prosperity in the United States [published online November 12, 2018]. JAMA. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.16998