Physical activity guidelines for adults

How much physical activity do adults aged 19-64 years old need to do to keep healthy?

To stay healthy or to improve health, adults need to do two types of physical activity each week: aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity.

How much physical activity you need to do each week depends on your age. Click on the links below for the recommendations for other age groups:

 

Physical activity for adults aged 19-64

 

To stay healthy, adults aged 19-64 should try to be active daily and should do:

 

At least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week, and  

             muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a
             week that work all major muscle groups (legs, 
             hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms). 

 

 

75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity such as running or a game of singles tennis every week, and

             muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a
             week that work all major muscle groups (legs, 
             hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms). 

 

  

An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity every week (for example 2 30-minute runs plus 30 minutes of fast walking), and

muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).   

 

What counts as moderate-intensity aerobic activity?
Examples of activities that require moderate effort for most people include:

  • walking fast
  • water aerobics
  • riding a bike on level ground or with few hills
  • doubles tennis
  • pushing a lawn mower
  • hiking
  • skateboarding
  • rollerblading
  • volleyball
  • basketball 

5 x 30 minutes

One way to do your recommended 150 minutes of weekly physical activity is to do 30 minutes on 5 days a week.

Moderate-intensity activity will raise your heart rate and make you breathe faster and feel warmer. One way to tell if you're working at a moderate intensity is if you can still talk, but you can't sing the words to a song. 

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What counts as vigorous-intensity aerobic activity?
Examples of activities that require vigorous effort for most people include:

Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity means you're breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. If you're working at this level, you won't be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.

In general, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity can give similar health benefits to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.

For a moderate to vigorous intensity workout, try Couch to 5K, a nine-week running plan for beginners.

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What counts as muscle-strengthening activity?
Muscle-strengthening exercises are counted in repetitions and sets. A repetition is 1 complete movement of an activity, like lifting a weight or doing a sit-up. A set is a group of repetitions.

For each activity, try to do 8 to 12 repetitions in each set. Try to do at least 1 set of each muscle-strengthening activity. You'll get even more benefits if you do 2 or 3 sets.

Healthy weight

  • Adults who are overweight can improve their health by meeting the activity guidelines, even if they don’t lose weight.
  • To lose weight, you are likely to need to do more than 150 minutes a week and make changes to your diet.
  • Start by gradually building up towards 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week.

To get health benefits from muscle-strengthening activities, you should do them to the point where you struggle to complete another repetition.

There are many ways you can strengthen your muscles, whether it's at home or in the gym. Examples of muscle-strengthening activities for most people include:

  • lifting weights
  • working with resistance bands
  • doing exercises that use your body weight for resistance, such as push-ups and sit-ups
  • heavy gardening, such as digging and shovelling
  • yoga

Try Strength and Flex, a five-week exercise plan for beginners to improve your strength and flexibility.

You can do activities that strengthen your muscles on the same day or on different days as your aerobic activity, whatever's best for you.

However, muscle-strengthening activities don't count towards your aerobic activity total, so you'll need to do them in addition to your aerobic activity.

Some vigorous-intensity aerobic activities may provide 75 minutes of aerobic activity and sufficient muscle-strengthening activity. Examples include circuit training and sports such as football or rugby.

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Page last reviewed: 11/07/2013

Next review due: 11/07/2015

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Comments

The 9 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Hunnyb22 said on 21 June 2014

Since I received my bus pass (I'm a 62 year old female) I had become lazier and put on the pounds, catching the bus to go short distances instead of walking. However, I got a shock when I stepped on the scales and realised how much weight I had put on, plus my cholesterol was high. So, recently I started walking every day, ate sensibly and bought an air walker, within two weeks I lost 2Kg. I still have a fair way to go but will be happy to lose at least four more Kgs.

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rinnin said on 26 September 2013

Whats the advice for exercise if you;re over 65?

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jholt1 said on 31 January 2013

If you are wondering how you can fit exercise in your busy schedule. Here are a few tips:

Park further away from your work place. Park a mile away you get at least two miles of walking a day

Find the nearest gym to workplace and exercise before or after work (or in your lunchtime)

Cycle to work

Stop using the elevator

Do small quick exercises in your office (google desk exercises)

Communicate with your fellow workers and see what they do.

Ask your boss if there are any employee fitness programs.

If you have children, exercise with them.

Get a dog, you will be forced to take it on a walk.

Go to a gym and talk to a personal trainer and see what they can do about your busy schedule.

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Suz8673 said on 03 January 2013

And another thing....

I'd like to be able to do more aerobics, but I can't go out until 7.30pm due to child care needs. But guess what, most aerobics classes start at 7pm. Or 6. Or 7.30. Which is useless for me. I've only found one class in my area which starts at 8pm (which I go to). But tbh, I don't understand with these guidelines whether even if I did aerobics twice a week that would be enough.

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Suz8673 said on 02 January 2013

I just think this is way too complicated and seems impossible to achieve. What is the difference between strengthening and vigorous intensity etc? How do you fit in a game of tennis when you work full time, look after kids all weekend and, er, don't like tennis/don't have a tennis racquet/no one to play with?

I used to understand the 30mins of activity a day message and it felt achievable. Is there evidence that that level of activity brings no benefit? Surely it's better than nothing?

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AManCalledDada said on 29 July 2012

You forgot one: sex.

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Sarea said on 22 May 2012

All well and good (and I try to stay as active as I can) but what do you recommend for someone with a 14-hour work day, and weekend commitments centred around indoor activities?

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ecosphere said on 27 February 2012

Unfortunately, you're right - motivation is surely one of the best weapons in fighting the flab and Mr. Surfer does nothing to help us on that score. However, if you want images of a real person trying to lose weight and keep healthy, I'm available for a photo shoot any time.

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sidmcvicious said on 25 January 2012

That's great and everything, but why is there is a picture of a guy half naked on a surf board in the sea, a sea which is clearly not anywhere around this country. I think if we all lived in that country as opposed to this one, we wouldn't be scouting about this website looking for ideas to get our fat miserable backsides off the sofa, no we'd be at the beach, loving life, exercising without even thinking about it. Ultimately, that picture is unachievable and therefore not inspirational. It's made me want to microwave a bag of buttery popcorn and sit down on my fat backside to watch Point Break.

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