In case it hasn’t been made clear yet, participation in regular physical activity is essential for optimizing an individual’s health and wellness. In order for someone to make progress specifically in their fitness, we need to first develop the foundation in their general health and that starts with physical activity. Now, we know what the difference between physical activity and exercise is but you may be asking yourself:
- How much physical activity is enough?
- What makes my physical activity “regular”?
- What types of activities count toward my daily physical activity?
- What other things might influence my health benefits?
The good news is: we have answers! The better news is: I won’t make you read this 118 page document to find them all! The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion have done the work for us.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
First released in 2008, the Physical Activity Guideline for Americans has been developed as a resource for both health policy makers and health professionals to help guide and provide a structured foundation for physical activity and health educational programming. Since it’s first release, a mid-course report (published in 2013) and a second edition (published in 2018) have also been developed and updated as more current recommendations have been made available.
The current guidelines include more specific information for a variety of specific populations including:
- children and adolescents throughout different stages of development
- older adults
- adults with specific chronic health conditions (osteoarthritis, diabetes, hypertension, etc.)
- women who are pregnant or in the postpartum period
In addition to providing information for specific populations, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans also provides information on safe participation in an exercise program including equipment use, environmental considerations, and exercise progression.
- Minimize sedentary activity by moving more and sitting less throughout the day.
- Some physical activity is always better than none.
- For health benefits adults should look to participate in at least:
150 to 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity
75 to 150 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity
Some equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous- intensity activity
- Preferably, this aerobic activity is spread throughout the week.
- Additional benefits are seen with increased activity beyond the equivalent of 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity.
- In addition to aerobic activities, for additional health benefits adults should also participate in:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2018.