Regular physical activity is an important part of your “health plan.” No matter what your age, physical activity combined with good nutrition can make a big difference in your health, sense of well-being and ability to maintain a healthy weight. Make the move to be more active, and your mind and body will reap the benefits – from your brain to your heart to your bones.
Get an Active Edge with Regular Physical Activity
People of all ages should spend time each day moving to create a physically active lifestyle. The recommended level of activity and duration depends on your health and fitness goals.
Goal: Reduce your risk of chronic disease, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and certain types of cancer. Promote psychological well-being and reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.
- Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week. This is in addition to your usual daily activities.
- Most people can achieve even greater health benefits by engaging in more vigorous physical activity or by being physically active for a longer time.
Goal: Manage your weight and prevent the gradual weight gain that is common as you age with regular physical activity.
- Aim to get about 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous- intensity activity on most days of the week while staying within your body’s daily calorie intake needs.
- To maintain weight loss, participate in at least 60 to 90 minutes of daily moderate-intensity physical activity without exceeding your body’s calorie intake needs. It’s a smart precaution to consult with your healthcare provider before engaging in this level of activity.
Goal: Reduce functional declines associated with aging and achieve other health benefits of physical activity identified for all adults.
- Participate in regular physical activities that you enjoy, at a level appropriate for your age and ability. For example, walking more is often a safe and easy way to get started.
Children and Adolescents
Goal: Improve level of physical fitness and promote energy balance to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.
- Participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week while reducing the amount of time spent in sedentary activities.
Do you have a physically active lifestyle?
- A sedentary lifestyle includes only the light physical activity associated with day-to-day life. Sedentary activities include television watching, reading, video games and computer time. It’s wise to reduce the amount of time you are sedentary.
- A moderately active lifestyle includes regular physical activity equivalent to walking about 1.5 to 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour, in addition to the light physical activity associated with day-to-day life. Examples of moderate physical activity: hiking, light yard work, dancing, golfing (walking and carrying clubs), bicycling (less than 10 mph), walking (3.5 mph), weight lifting (general light workout), stretching.
- An active lifestyle includes vigorous physical activity equivalent to walking more than 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour, in addition to the light physical activity associated with day-to-day life. Examples of vigorous physical activity: running/jogging (5 mph), bicycling (more than 10 mph), swimming (slow freestyle laps), aerobics, walking (4.5 mph), heavy yard work (e.g., chopping wood), weight lifting (vigorous effort), basketball (vigorous).
Fit in Physical Activity
Any type of regular physical activity you choose to do will help you burn more calories and make it easier to maintain your weight (or, if needed, tip your energy balance equation toward weight loss) and reap the health benefits of being active. You can schedule planned activities into your day, such as exercise classes or recreational activities. Or you can add short segments (e.g., three to six 10-minute bouts) of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout your day. These may include activities that you are already doing, such as gardening or housework. Think about ways to make physical activity a regular part of your lifestyle.
Activities to Help You Get Fit
To improve your level of physical fitness, try to vary your physical activities to meet your lifestyle.
- Aerobic activities speed up your heart rate and breathing. These activities help keep your heart and lungs healthy and can help reduce body fat. Examples include brisk walking, dancing, stair climbing and cycling.
- Resistance activities help build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints. Try weight training, resistance band workouts or weight lifting (e.g., hand-held weights, young children, groceries, laundry). With more body strength and endurance, it is easier to do the basic activities of daily living.
- Stretching activities help your muscles and joints stay flexible. Examples are Tai Chi, yoga and ballet moves. Stretching, in combination with aerobic and resistance activities, keeps your muscles from tightening and helps prevent injury. It may also help older adults avoid falls.
Try these quick and easy-to-prepare Healthy Living recipes that are designed for your physically active lifestyle. Learn more about regular physical activity and make Air Fryer Chicken Parmesan, Beef Noodles Bowls or Banana Pudding Squares.