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Top 10 Physical Activity Guidelines

The second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans provides evidence-based recommendations for adults and youth ages 3 through 17 to safely get the physical activity they need to stay healthy.

1. Adults should accumulate at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. Adults also need muscle-strengthening activity, like lifting weights or doing push-ups, at least 2 days each week.

2. There are new key guidelines for children ages 3 - 5 and updated guidelines for youth ages 6 - 17, adults, older adults, women during pregnancy and the postpartum period, adults with chronic health conditions, and adults with disabilities.

3. Preschool-aged children should be active throughout the day to enhance growth and development. Adults caring for children this age should encourage active play and aim for at least 3 hours per day.

4. Each day, youth ages 6 - 17 need at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity. Most activity can be aerobic (anything that makes their hearts beat faster). They also need activities that make their muscles and bones strong, like climbing, playing basketball, and jumping rope.

5. Physical activity has many health benefits independent of other healthy behaviors, like good nutrition.

6. Remember to move more and sit less. There is a strong relationship between increased sedentary behavior and increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and all-cause mortality. All physical activity can help offset these risks.

7. Any amount of physical activity has some health benefits. Americans can benefit from small amounts of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity throughout the day.

8. Physical activity has immediate health benefits. For example, physical activity can reduce anxiety and blood pressure and improve quality of sleep and insulin sensitivity.

9. Physical activity can help manage health conditions that Americans already have. Physical activity can decrease pain for those with osteoarthritis, reduce disease progression for hypertension and type 2 diabetes, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improve cognition for those with dementia, multiple sclerosis, ADHD, and Parkinson’s disease.

10. Meeting the recommendations consistently over time can lead to even more long-term health benefits:

  • For youth, physical activity can help improve cognition, bone health, fitness, and heart health. It can also reduce the risk of depression.
  • For adults, physical activity helps prevent 8 types of cancer (bladder, breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, stomach, and lung);
  • Reduces the risk of dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease), all-cause mortality, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and depression; and improves bone health, physical function, and quality of life.
  • For older adults, physical activity also lowers the risk of falls and injuries from falls.
  • For pregnant women, physical activity reduces the risk of postpartum depression.
  • For all groups, physical activity reduces the risk of excessive weight gain and helps people maintain a healthy weight.