Here’s How Much Physical Activity You Should Be Doing

So how do you make fitness part of your overall lifestyle — and reach your own individual fitness goals? Jonesco recommends starting with meeting the federal guidelines for physical activity.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends that, for general health, adults should aim for 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity each week. (18). The HHS guidelines also note that doing more than those quantities of activity will yield additional health benefits. And the guidelines recommend that adults do muscle-strengthening exercises (of moderate or greater intensity) for all the major muscle groups at least two days per week.

Research shows that aerobic exercise is important for cardiovascular health (19). (The intensity you choose should be based on your current fitness level and your doctor’s recommendations.) Examples include walking, running, cycling, and swimming.

And other research shows that strength training provides other important health benefits. A study published in the February 2015 issue of the journal Obesity shows that, compared with cardiovascular exercise, resistance exercise is more effective at preventing the accumulation of abdominal (visceral) fat, which is linked to the development of chronic diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer (20). And a 2019 study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that individuals who regularly strength trained had a lower risk of heart attack, stroke, or death related to heart disease compared with people who didn’t strength train — and those benefits were independent of whether or not they regularly did aerobic exercise. (21)

These strength workouts should target one or all of the body’s basic muscle groups, such as the legs, core, back, hips, chest, or arms. Lifting weights, working with resistance bands, or performing body-weight exercises are all good options and should be used to match, and improve, your current fitness level.

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