two women doing the cobra yoga pose

Physical Activity

Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by your muscles that requires energy. This means any kind of movement you make during leisure time, transport time (like walking to the store), or your work activities counts as physical activity. Everyone can benefit from physical activity, no matter your age, sex, race or ethnicity, health condition, shape or size. Regular physical activity can help improve overall health, fitness, and quality of life but it can also help reduce your risk of chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression and anxiety, and dementia. ​

Types of Physical Activity​

Cardio or aerobic activity is moderate or vigorous activity that gets you breathing harder and your heart beating faster. Examples include brisk walking, biking, dancing, running, swimming laps, and yard work. Cardio exercise can benefit brain, bone, and joint health. It improves circulation which can be good for skin and muscle health. ​

Strength training is any exercise that makes your muscles work harder than usual. It increases your muscles’ strength and joint flexibility, but also helps to strengthen bones. Examples include yoga, lifting  weights, climbing stairs, body weight exercises like push-ups and squats, and tai chi. Strength training helps improve balance and coordination and can help prevent falls.

How Much Do I Need? ​

Age Cardio Strength Cadence

3-4 ​years​

At least 180 minutes, at least 60 at moderate intensity​ Daily​
5-17 years​ At least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous; include strength 3x/week​ Daily​
18-64 years​ 150 minutes moderate or 75 minutes vigorous​ Exercises that involve all major muscles at least 2x/week​ Weekly​
65+ years​ Same as adults​ Focus on balance and strength exercises 3x/week​ Weekly​

Written by Adriene Worthington, M.Ed., RDN, LDN