How Much Physical Activity is Enough for Adults to Maintain or Improve Health?

Families, Food and Fitness November 14, 2012 Print Friendly and PDF

Being physically active is one of the most important steps people of all ages can take to improve their health. The United States Department of Health and Human Services issued Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans in 2008. The key guidelines for adults include four major points:


Man and woman on exercise balls


  • All adults should avoid inactivity. Some physical activity is better than none, and adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits.
  • For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably it should be spread throughout the week.
  • For additional and more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity. Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond this amount.
  • Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on two or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits. If you are unfamiliar with proper muscle-strengthening activities, consult a certified athletic trainer.

FOR MORE INFORMATION VIEW Fit Physical Activity Into Your Day Video



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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.