Physical Activity Guidelines

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Physical Activity Guidelines

A single session of physical activity can produce instant health benefits such as improved sleep, reduced blood pressure, and reduced anxiety symptoms. 

Adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. Some physical activity is better than none. Adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity gain some health benefits.

Pick activities you like. Every bit adds up and health benefits increase as you spend more time being active.

How much physical activity do I need?


  • At least 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity
  • Muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity on 2 or more days per week

Women during pregnancy & postpartum period

Children & Adolescents (ages 6-17)

Preschool-aged children (ages 3-5)

  • Should be physically active throughout the day to enhance growth and development.  
  • Adult caregivers of pre-school-aged children should encourage active play that includes a variety of activity types

What is the difference between intensity levels?

Use the ‘Talk Test’ to gauge your level of intensity.

If you are doing a moderate intensity activity, you can talk, but not sing during the activity. 

If you are doing a vigorous intensity activity, you will not be able to say more than a few words without taking a breath.

Light intensity

Light intensity activities require the least amount of effort, compared to moderate and vigorous activities. 

Examples include: 

  • Walking slowly (i.e. shopping, walking around the office)
  • Sitting at your computer
  • Making the bed
  • Eating, preparing food, and washing dishes

Moderate intensity

Moderate intensity activities require more effort than light activities.

Examples include: 

  • Sweeping the floor
  • Walking briskly, slow dancing
  • Vacuuming, washing windows
  • Shooting a basketball

Vigorous Intensity

Vigorous or high intensity activities require the highest amount of effort to complete the activity. 

Examples include: 

  • Running, swimming, jumping rope
  • Shoveling
  • Soccer
  • Carrying heavy loads (i.e. bricks)

Types of Activity

  • Aerobic Exercise: brisk walking, running, gardening, household chores, walking the dog, playground games, cardio class
  • Muscle-Strengthening Exercise: pushups & sit-ups, yard work, yoga class
  • Bone-Strengthening: jumping rope, running, hopscotch
  • Flexibility Exercise: stretching, yoga class

Move Your Way

Walk. Run. Dance. Play. What’s Your Move? Check out the Move Your Way interactive Activity Planner to help plan you and your family’s weekly physical activity.

This post was last updated on November 9th, 2022 at 5:42 PM

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