Overall Guidelines

Overall Guidelines

Current recommendations from the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans include the following:

  • To reduce risk of chronic disease, do 30 minutes of moderate exercise (such as walking briskly) most, if not all, days of the week.
  • To obtain even greater health benefits, you should engage in more vigorous physical activity or for a longer duration. About 60 minutes a day of moderate exercise may be needed to prevent weight gain.
  • Achieve physical fitness by including cardiovascular conditioning, stretching exercises for flexibility, and resistance exercises or calisthenics for muscle strength and endurance.

Check here to get more information on Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

What is moderate to vigorous activity?

One way to measure your activity level is to do the talk test: if you can sing while you are exercising, you are working at a light intensity. If you can carry on a conversation (but not sing), you are exercising at moderate intensity. If you can do neither, you are exercising vigorously. Check this chart for examples of moderate and vigorous activity:

Moderate Activity Vigorous Activity
Walking 3 to 4.5 miles an hour. Race walking or running 5 plus miles an hour.
Bicycling 5-9 miles an hour. Bicycling more than 10mph or uphill.
Recreational swimming. Swimming steady laps.

Remember these basic guidelines on physical activity:

  • Sedentary people beginning a physical activity program should start with short durations of moderate-intensity activity and gradually increase the duration or intensity until the goal is reached.
  • People with chronic diseases (such as cardiovascular disease), or those at high risk for these diseases should consult a primary care provider before beginning a new physical activity program.
  • Men over 40 and women over 50 should consult their care provider before they begin a vigorous activity program.