Physical activity guidelines for adults


Physical activity guidelines for adults

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Physical activity guidelines for adults



How much physical activity do adults aged 19-64 years old need to do to keep healthy?

To stay healthy or to improve health, adults need to do two types of physical activity each week: aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity.

How much physical activity you need to do each week depends on your age. Click on the links below for the recommendations for other age groups:

early childhood (under 5 years old)

young people (5-18 years old)

older adults (65 and over)  

Guidelines for adults aged 19-64

To stay healthy, adults aged 19-64 should try to be active daily and should do:

At least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week, and  

muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).  

75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity such as running or a game of singles tennis every week, and

muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms). 

An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity every week (for example 2 30-minute runs plus 30 minutes of fast walking), and

muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).  

A rule of thumb is that 1 minute of vigorous-intensity activity is about the same as 2 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.  

One way to do your recommended 150 minutes of weekly physical activity is to do 30 minutes on 5 days a week. 

All adults should also break up long periods of sitting with light activity. Find out why sitting is bad for your health.


What counts as moderate-intensity aerobic activity?

Examples of activities that require moderate effort for most people include:

walking fast

water aerobics

riding a bike on level ground or with few hills

doubles tennis

pushing a lawn mower







Moderate-intensity activity will raise your heart rate and make you breathe faster and feel warmer. One way to tell if you're working at a moderate intensity is if you can still talk, but you can't sing the words to a song. 

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What counts as vigorous-intensity activity?

There is substantial evidence that vigorous-intensity activity can bring health benefits over and above that of moderate intensity activity.

Examples of activities that require vigorous effort for most people include:

jogging or running

swimming fast

riding a bike fast or on hills

singles tennis



skipping rope




martial arts 

Vigorous-intensity activity means you're breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. If you're working at this level, you won't be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.

In general, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity can give similar health benefits to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.

For a moderate to vigorous intensity workout, try Couch to 5K, a nine-week running plan for beginners.

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What counts as muscle-strengthening activity?

Muscle strength is necessary for daily activities, to build and maintain strong bones, to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure and to help maintain a healthy weight.

Muscle-strengthening exercises are counted in repetitions and sets. A repetition is 1 complete movement of an activity, like lifting a weight or doing a sit-up. A set is a group of repetitions.

For each activity, try to do 8 to 12 repetitions in each set. Try to do at least 1 set of each muscle-strengthening activity. You'll get even more benefits if you do 2 or 3 sets.


To get health benefits from muscle-strengthening activities, you should do them to the point where you struggle to complete another repetition.

There are many ways you can strengthen your muscles, whether it's at home or in the gym. Examples of muscle-strengthening activities for most people include:

lifting weights

working with resistance bands

doing exercises that use your body weight for resistance, such as push-ups and sit-ups

heavy gardening, such as digging and shovelling


Try Strength and Flex, a five-week exercise plan for beginners to improve your strength and flexibility.

You can do activities that strengthen your muscles on the same day or on different days as your aerobic activity, whatever's best for you.

However, muscle-strengthening activities don't count towards your aerobic activity total, so you'll need to do them in addition to your aerobic activity.

Some vigorous-intensity activities may provide 75 minutes of aerobic activity and sufficient muscle-strengthening activity. Examples include circuit training and sports such as football or rugby.

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Download a factsheet on physical activity guidelines for adults (19-64 years) (PDF, 568kb)