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How Often Should You Exercise?

Physical activity is one of the most vital commitments on the journey to good health or maintaining good health. Physical activity is beneficial to growth and development in children and younger adults, and can result in people feeling better and sleeping better. Additionally, frequent physical activity can reduce the risk of various chronic diseases. The human body reaps immediate health benefits after exercising.

Recently, the second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans was published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in which a multitude of information pertaining to the benefits of physical activity are described. New this year, the guidelines discuss the positive impact physical activity has on brain health, cancer sites and fall-related injuries.

Key Guidelines for Adults:

  • Move more and sit less throughout the day. Even just a few minutes of physical activity is better than none.
  • For substantial benefits, adults should perform at least the following amount of exercise per week:
    • 150 to 300 minutes (2.5-5 hours) of moderate-intensity exercise; or
    • 75 to 150 minutes (1.25 to 2.5 hours) of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity; or
    • An equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
  • Additional health benefits come with exercising beyond the 300 suggested minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.
  • Perform muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups two or more days a week.

    Key Guidelines for Older Adults:
    The guidelines for adults also apply to older adults, in addition to the following guidelines:

  • Multicomponent physical activity that includes balance training as well as aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.
  • Determine level of effort for physical activity relative to level of fitness – every person is different.
  • Older adults with chronic conditions should have a firm understanding of how their conditions affect their ability to perform regular physical activity safely.
  • Older adults with chronic conditions should not push themselves to do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity if they are not comfortable, but should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.

When performing physical activity, it is important to understand the risks involved. Choose types of physical activity appropriate for your current fitness level and health goals. Increase physical activity over time to meet the key guidelines. If you are currently inactive, you should start with lower intensity activities and gradually increase how often and how long these physical activities are done. It is always a good idea to consult with a professional before engaging in a physical fitness plan.

To learn more about the second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans or to download the guidelines, click here.

Reference: Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans – Executive Summary