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Physical Activity

Making Physical Activity Part of Everyday Living


  • Physical activity and nutrition work together for a longer, healthier, and happier life.
  • Physical activity means moving your body—walking, playing sports, dancing, or riding a bike.
  • Decide to sit less—you’ll automatically be more active!

What counts as physical activity?

All movement above your usual daily activities counts as physical activity. Aim for moderate or vigorous physical activity on most days.

Moderate physical activities:

  • Walking briskly (about 3 1/2 miles per hour)
  • Hiking
  • Gardening/yard work
  • Dancing
  • Golf (walking and carrying clubs)
  • Bicycling (less than 10 miles per hour)
  • Weight training (general light workout)

Vigorous physical activities:

  • Running/jogging (5 miles per hour)
  • Bicycling (more than 10 miles per hour)
  • Swimming (freestyle laps)
  • Aerobics
  • Walking very fast (4 1/2 miles per hour)
  • Heavy yard work, such as chopping wood
  • Weight lifting (vigorous effort)
  • Basketball (competitive)

Physical activity does great things!people

  • Makes you feel better emotionally
  • Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety
  • Relieves stress
  • Increases feelings of well-being
  • Makes muscles and bones stronger
  • Increases body flexibility
  • Helps control blood pressure
  • Makes weight loss easier
  • Reduces possibility of heart disease, colon cancer, and type 2 diabetes

How much physical activity?

Balance food intake with physical activity.


  • 30 minutes most days, preferably every day.
  • 60 minutes most days to prevent weight gain.
  • 60 to 90 minutes most days to maintain weight loss.

Children and teenagers:

  • 60 minutes every day, or most days.

Physical activity adds up:

  • 10 minutes at a time, 3 times a day adds up to 30 minutes total.

Keep it Safe!

  • If you have not been active, start small to build strength and endurance.
  • Men over 40, women over 50, or those who have a chronic disease or are at risk of chronic disease, should check with their health care provider before starting a vigorous activity program. Stop activity immediately if you experience any pain.

dancingFamilyI Can Do It! Be more active.

At home:

  • Meet a friend to walk the neighborhood or mall.
  • Push the baby in a stroller.
  • Walk the dog—don’t just watch the dog walk.
  • Clean house or wash the car.
  • Do stretches and exercises while watching TV.
  • Plant and care for a garden.
  • Make family time active time with kids—tumble in the leaves, build a snowman,
  • toss a ball, ride a bike, dance, or visit a park.

At work:

  • Get off the bus or subway one stop early and walk to work.
  • Take a 10-minute walk for your coffee break.
  • Join the office softball or bowling team.

At play:

  • Walk, jog, dance, bike, swim, skate, or cycle.
  • Take a class in martial arts, dance, or yoga.
  • Play basketball, softball, soccer, or other sport.
  • Hike or walk a nature trail.


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