National Exercise Guidelines for Adults

The following information is derived from the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, distributed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The following pages will also speak to older adults, adults with disabilities, and adults with type 2 diabetes.

Exercise Guidelines for Adults

These guidelines are for men and women aged 18 to 64 years, and focuses on exercise above and beyond what is done in the course of everyday life. The recommended activities include aerobic exercise and muscle-strengthening exercise.

Key Guidelines for Adults (as written in the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans):

  • All adults should avoid inactivity. Some physical activity is better than none, and adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits.
  • For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week.
  • For additional and more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond this amount.
  • Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.

Examples of Different Aerobic Physical Activities and Intensities (as written in the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans):

Moderate Intensity

  • Walking briskly (3 miles per hour or faster, but not race-walking)
  • Water aerobics
  • Bicycling slower than 10 miles per hour
  • Tennis (doubles)
  • Ballroom dancing
  • General gardening

Vigorous Intensity

  • Racewalking, jogging, or running
  • Swimming laps
  • Tennis (singles)
  • Aerobic dancing
  • Bicycling 10 miles per hour or faster
  • Jumping rope
  • Heavy gardening (continuous digging or hoeing, with heart rate increases)
  • Hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack

Inactive adults or those who don't yet do 150 minutes of physical activity a week should work gradually toward this goal. The initial amount of activity should be at a light or moderate intensity, for short periods of time, with the sessions spread throughout the week. For more information, visit The Physical Activities Guidelines for Americans.

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Last Modified Date: March 15, 2013

All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.
Sources
  1. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/default.aspx (Accessed 03/2013)
  2. Exercise and Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care. December 2010 vol. 33 no. 12 e147-e167 doi: 10.2337/dc10-9990. (Accessed 03/2013)

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by Nicole Purcell
Holidays are tricky, no? Between managing diabetes among massive amounts of junk food, managing stress to manage bloodsugar among (sometimes) massive amounts of family squabbling, shopping stress and the like, and trying to get enough sleep and exercise in the cold winter months - it's a lot to handle. So I've got a two tier plan to keep bloodsugars at bay this year. Tier one - diet and exercise. Typically, at this time of year I do what I call the nutrition and gym...