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How Much Physical Activity Do we Really Need?

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How Much Physical Activity Do we Really Need?

How much exercise is enough? You’re not the first person to ask that question. This is why there are recommendations on how much physical activity will benefit you through the different stages of life. This is all you and others of different ages could ever need to know about how much exercise is good for you!

1. How Kids Can Stay Physically Active?

Children should be the most active, and get one hour or more of physical activity each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you imagine a shouting match trying to get you son or daughter away from the Internet or their gaming system every single day for an hour, don’t fret. That 60-minutes can include things they’re already doing, like walking to school.

The types of exercise they need include consist of aerobic, muscle strengthening and bone-building fitness. Aerobic activity (anything that has them breathing more quickly) will make up the majority of their required amount of time –three days or more a week. And for exercise that stimulates muscles, like gymnastics or calisthenics, aim for a minimum of three days a week. Bone building is very important for kids, especially girls (who at later stage in life may be at risk for osteoporosis). Fitness with surface contact impact, like jumping rope or running, are required a minimum three days a week. It will also help with injuries. All three types of activities can be combined into various activities, for example plyometrics builds bones and raises heart rate.

2. How Much Exercise For Teens?

Between a part-time job, school and friends, you’d think the recommendations for fitness would slacken for this age group. But not quite. It’s still one hour a day, reports But it’s a complicated time, as organized team dropout rates rise, pressures to look a certain way and to lose/gain weight begin. Some solutions: talk with friends, family and health professionals about any issues you may have with fitness. As for squeezing in that hour a day, walk to school, join a team, get a job that’s physical or has you on your feet, volunteer to coach a kids team, anything that gets you moving!

3. How Much Exercise For Adults?

Men and Women

While the recommendations drop from an hour a day as kids to 150 minutes a week for adults, you would think we’d all be getting gold stars. But only 49.2 percent of adults are meeting the minimum recommendations for fitness. And it’s even less for muscle-strength recommendations: 20.8 percent. These sad facts come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At this point in your life, exercise is all about your health and injury prevention. The American Heart Association, we should get 40 minutes of aerobic exercise of moderate to vigorous intensity three to four times a week to lower the risk for heart attack and stroke.

Pregnant or Post-partum Women

There’s no change in the amount of exercise pregnant women need to stay healthy – it’s still 150 minutes. Unless, of course, your doctor tells you otherwise, report the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can begin or continue moderate-intensity aerobic activity. However, avoid moves or activities that involve lying on your back or that puts you at risk of falling or abdominal injury, such as horseback riding or physical sports.

The American Pregnancy Association suggests the following exercises as safe for most healthy pregnant women. (Check with doc first.)

  • Kegel Exercises – helps with birth and for incontinence.
  • Swimming – tones muscles without adding weight and stress to joints.
  • Walking, Running & Jogging – helps with cardio fitness levels. But don’t start running or jogging if you didn’t do it before getting pregnant.
  • Fitness Machines – stationary bike or stair climbing machines can help you stay active without the risk of falling.

Yoga and other fitness classes – as long as you don’t lie on your back, most yoga styles are safe. Choose an aerobic or dance class specific for pregnant women. Avoid spinning, leaping, and jumping.


Healthy seniors (65 and older) should still be active, getting at least 150 minutes a week of physical fitness, with two or more days of muscle training, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A key type of training is balance training that will help lower the risk for injuries. But, that being said, modifications should be made for chronic health conditions and disabilities.


It’s easy enough to grasp the glaring truth that a healthy life requires a constant, overriding commitment to exercising; but too many of us accept such a reality, without knowing what measures up as a solid, time-appropriate workout. Thanks to this piece, the research that backs it, and the tips throughout, we can hit the gym next time around well aware of what constitutes a solid workout.

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