How Much Should I Exercise?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that to reduce the risk for early death, heart disease, hypertension, cancer, and Type II diabetes, all adults over the age of 18 engage in both cardiovascular (e.g., walking) and resistance training (e.g., lifting weights). 

Cardiovascular recommendations 

  • 150–300 minutes (2.5–5 hours) of moderate aerobic exercise each week 


  • 75–100 minutes (1.25–1.6 hours) of vigorous aerobic exercise each week 

This breaks down into 30–60 minutes five days a week. 

Resistance training recommendations 

Adults should do muscle-strengthening activities at a moderate or greater intensity that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these provide additional health benefits. 

An important change to the guidelines includes how those minutes accrue. Previously, it was recommended to engage in a minimum of 10-minute increments. The new guidelines say that all active minutes count, regardless of the length of time. 

What do moderate- and vigorous-intensity mean? 

Moderate-intensity exercise 

While performing the physical activity, if your breathing and heart rate are noticeably faster but you can still carry on a conversation — it’s probably moderately intense.  

Examples include: 

  • Walking briskly (a 15-minute mile). 
  • Light yard work (raking/bagging leaves or using a lawnmower). 
  • Light snow shoveling. 
  • Actively playing with children. 
  • Biking at a casual pace. 

Vigorous-intensity exercise 

Your heart rate is increased substantially and you are breathing too hard and fast to have a conversation, it’s probably vigorously intense.  

Examples include: 

  • Jogging/running. 
  • Swimming laps. 
  • Rollerblading/inline skating at a brisk pace. 
  • Cross-country skiing. 
  • Most competitive sports (football, basketball, or soccer). 
  • Jumping rope. 

Additional considerations 

The WHO guidelines also provide additional recommendations for older adults, pregnant women, and children. 

Older Adults 

Adults over the age of 65 should include balance training with their strength training and aerobic exercises. Engaging in these activates can help prevent falls and fall-related injuries and declines in bone health and functional ability. 

Pregnant Women 

Women who are pregnant should follow the same guidelines, with modifications, as necessary. Take care to stay hydrated and be aware of any indications that they should stop, such as feeling dizzy or experiencing pain. 

In women, physical activity during pregnancy and the postpartum period may provide a reduced risk for developing: 

  • Delivery complications 
  • Excessive weight gain 
  • Gestational diabetes 
  • Hypertension 
  • Postpartum depression 
  • Preeclampsia 


Children and adolescents should do at least an average of 60 minutes per day of moderate-to-vigorous intensity, mostly aerobic, physical activity across the week. 

Vigorous-intensity aerobic activities, as well as those that strengthen muscle and bone, should be incorporated at least 3 days a week. 

In children and adolescents, physical activity may improve: 

  • Bone health 
  • Cognition and memory 
  • General physical fitness 
  • Heart health 
  • Reduce weight gain 

Some Activity Is Better Than No Activity 

The new guidelines also state that some physical activity is better than none — this means that you can build up to the recommended number of minutes and if you cannot be active for 30 minutes a day, be active when you can. Benefits accrue from doing any amount of physical activity and this applies to people of all ages and abilities. 

For someone who is just starting, try to be more active today than you were yesterday. 

Your Care Team can help you find ways to incorporate regular activity into your life. 

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention