Exercise Recommendations for Adults
In 2008, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services updated its physical activity guidelines based on the report of an expert panel convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These guidelines are the basis of physical activity recommendations in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The physical activity recommendations in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans3 were based on the 2008 CDC report. Adults should get the equivalent of 150 minutes weekly, or 30 minutes five days per week, of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. These activities include brisk walking, dancing, swimming, and bicycling on level ground. Participation exclusively in vigorous activities such as jogging, singles tennis, swimming laps, and bicycling uphill reduce the recommendation to 75 minutes each week. Some individuals may need to add more activity – for a total of 60 minutes a day – and decrease calorie intake to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. This level of activity also confers additional health benefits.
A total of 60 minutes per day is recommended for children and teens in a combination of aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening activities.
Additional recommendations address the specifics of activity, as well as modifications that may be indicated for older adults. Aerobic activity does not have to be done all at once; it can be broken up into increments as short as 10 minutes. Muscle strengthening exercises are recommended at least twice weekly. Adults age 65 and older should be as active as their health allows, adding exercises to maintain and improve balance if needed.
Recommendations also emphasize reducing screen time and other sedentary behaviors.
This content is reviewed regularly. Last updated June 25, 2012.
Other Science Library Topics:
1 Haskell WL, Lee IM, Pate RR, Powell KE, Blair SN, Franklin BA, Macera CA, Heath GW, Thompson PD, Bauman A; American College of Sports Medicine; American Heart Association. Physical activity and public health: updated recommendation for adults from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2007 Aug 28;116(9):1081-93.
2 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Washington (DC): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2008. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Publication No. U0036.
32010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.