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What is Physical Activity?

Physical activity refers to any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in calorie expenditure above the resting level.  This basically means any activity in which you are moving your body.  Physical activity can be walking, dancing, gardening, participating in sports, or deliberately exercising.

How Much Physical Activity Do We Need?

As a basic rule, at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity or exercise every day, but more is always better!  Here is the breakdown by age group of what is recommended by the Federal Government in the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

Children (6 – 17 years of age):

1 hour (60 minutes) or more of physical activity every day.  This should include mostly aerobic activity, with muscle and bone strengthening activities at least 3 days per week as well.  These activities should be age appropriate and enjoyable.

Adults (18 – 64 years of age):

150 minutes (30 minutes 5 days a week) or more of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity each week.  Adults should also include 2 or more days a week of moderate of high intensity muscle strengthening activities involving all major muscle groups.

For extensive health benefits adults are encouraged to participate in 300 minutes a week (1 hour 5 days a week) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 150 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.  Exercising beyond these recommendations will continue to increase health benefits.

Older Adults (65 + years of age):

If older adults can no longer follow the guidelines for adults it is recommended that they be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.  It is also important for older adults to perform exercises which maintain or improve balance and decrease the risk of injury from falls.

For a more detailed look at these recommendations as well as recommendations for pregnant women and people with disabilities or chronic medical conditions please see the links below:

How Does Physical Activity Benefit You?

Physical activity benefits you by:

These are just a few examples, the benefits of physical activity are nearly endless!  For a more complete look check out the CDC’s Benefits of Physical Activity.


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