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Physical Activity Basics

How Much Do I Need?

Adults

Physical activity is an important factor in improving and maintaining your health.

Physical activity is anything that gets your body moving. According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, external link you need to do two types of physical activity each week to improve your health -- aerobic and muscle-strengthening.


Explanation of
Physical Activity Guidelines

To achieve important health benefits adults need 150 minutes of aerobic activity and two days of muscle strengthening activity.

This can be broken down in the following ways:

Aerobic activity: Two hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week or one hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running) every week or an equivalent mix of both.

Muscle-strengthening activity: Complete muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

Watch the Physical Activity Guidelines video for more information.

Making Time for Physical Activity

picture of a woman doing yoga

If 150 minutes each week sounds like a lot of time, think of it instead as two and a half hours a week; almost the same time as a movie.

You don't have to do it all at once. Not only is it best to spread your activity out during the week, but you can break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day, like three 10 minute segments throughout the day.

Here are some ways you can break up your activity throughout the week.

Example 1: Moderate Intensity Activity and Muscle Strengthening Activity
Sun. Mon. Tue. Wed. Thu. Fri. Sat.
30 minute bike ride 30 minute brisk walk Weight training 30 minute brisk walk 30 minute doubles tennis 30 minute brisk walk Weight training
Total: 150 minutes moderate-intensity aerobic activity + two days muscle-strengthening activity


Example 2: Vigorous Intensity Activity and Muscle Strengthening Activity
Sun. Mon. Tue. Wed. Thu. Fri. Sat.
Rest 25 minutes playing basketball Rest 25 minute jog & weight training Rest Weight training 25 minutes swimming laps
Total: 75 minutes vigorous-intensity aerobic activity + two days muscle-strengthening activity

Children

picture of friends with soccer ball

To achieve important health benefits children and adolescents need 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day.

Regular physical activity in children and adolescents promotes health and fitness. Compared to those who are inactive, children who are regularly physically active have stronger muscles and bones, have a lower body mass index (BMI), decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and sleep better.

What can I do to get (and keep) my child active?


NAHPERD's Random Act of Fitness
Flash Mob Event
 

Safe Routes to School Program

As a parent, you can help shape your child's attitudes and behaviors toward physical activity. Here are some ways you can do this:

  • Set a positive example by leading an active lifestyle.
  • Make physical activity part of your family's daily routine by taking family walks or playing active games together.
  • Give your children equipment that encourages physical activity.
  • Take young people to places where they can be active, such as public parks, community baseball fields or basketball courts.
  • Be positive about the physical activities in which your child participates and encourage them to be interested in new activities.
  • Make physical activity fun. Activities can range from sports to recreational activities such as running, skating, bicycling, swimming, basketball, soccer, etc.
  • Limit your child’s screen time (e.g. computer, video games and TV). Encourage your child to find fun activities to do on their own or with friends and family, such as riding bikes or skateboarding.

Always provide protective equipment such as helmets, wrist pads or knee pads and ensure that activity is age-appropriate.

 

 



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