The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults get at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 1¼ hours of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or an equivalent amount of a combination of the two, each week.
Why? People who do that much have a lower risk of premature death, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and depression.
Moderate intensity means you’re working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. You should be able to carry on a conversation but not sing the words to a song. Some examples:
• Walking fast (3 mph)
• Riding a bike on level ground or on terrain with few hills
• Playing doubles tennis
• Pushing a lawn mower
• Ballroom dancing
Vigorous intensity means you’re breathing hard and fast, and your heart is beating rapidly. You shouldn’t be able to say more than a few words without paus¬ing to take a breath. Some examples:
• Jogging or running
• Riding a bike fast or on hills
• Swimming laps
• Playing singles tennis
• Playing basketball
Is more exercise better? According to the CDC, adults who do 5 hours of moderate—or 2½ hours of vigorous—aerobic exercise every week have an even lower risk of heart disease and diabetes. They also have a lower risk of breast and colon cancer and are less likely to gain weight.
The CDC also recommends that adults do strength-training exercises two or more days a week. The exercises should cover all the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms), and you should do enough repetitions until you absolutely can’t lift the weight one more time or do one more sit-up.
For free videos on how to strengthen your muscles, see cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/videos.