Be Physically Active
- Avoid inactivity. Some activity is better than none. Aim for at least 2 1/2 hours of
moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. Every 10 minute session counts. Do
strengthening activities at least 2 days each week.
Less than half of U.S. adults get the amount of physical activity recommended in the
2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
- All adults should avoid inactivity. Some physical activity is better than none, and
adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits.
Physical activity is safe for almost everyone, and the health benefits of physical
activity far outweigh the risks. If you do not have a chronic condition (such as
diabetes, heart disease, or arthritis) and you do not have symptoms (e.g., chest
pain or pressure, dizziness, or joint pain) you do not need to talk to a health
care provider before you become more active.
- If you have a concern regarding a health condition, talk with your health care team
about the types and amounts of activity that are best for you.
- Studies show that regular physical activity decreases the risk for developing depression,
diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, and some kinds of
- For important health benefits, you should do at least 21/2 hours each week of moderate-intensity,
or 11/4 hours a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent
combination of both.
- Physical activity is anything that gets the body moving. Start at a comfortable level. Once
this begins to seem easy, add a little more activity each time. Then try doing it
- Your body is working at a moderate intensity when you can talk but not sing. Moderate-intensity
physical activity includes things like walking fast, dancing, and raking leaves.
- Your body is working at a vigorous intensity when you cannot say more than a few words
without pausing for a breath. Vigorous-intensity physical activity includes things
like jogging, jumping rope, swimming laps, or riding a bike uphill.
- People of all ages and body types benefit from physical activity. Even if you are out of
shape or have not been active in a long time, you can begin activity safely.
- Aerobic activity should be in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and it is best to spread these out
during the week.
- Aerobic activity (also called endurance activity) is when you move your body’s large muscles
in a rhythmic manner for a sustained period of time and your heart beats faster
- Muscle strengthening activity causes your body's muscles to work or hold against an applied
force or weight. This includes resistance training and lifting weights. Resistance
can be generated using elastic bands, handheld weights or body weight. The effects
of muscle-strengthening activity are limited to the muscles doing the work.
- Strengthening activities should be performed on at least 2 non-consecutive days each week and
should target all the major muscle groups: legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders,
- Stretching can produce the following benefits: increased flexibility, improved joint range
of motion, improved circulation, and stress relief. How often should a person stretch?
Generally, it is best to stretch when engaging in physical activity. For those who
are not active on a regular basis, stretching at least three times per week to maintain
flexibility is a good starting point.
* Indicates that the link leads to a non-VA website. The VA is not responsible for
the content that is on the site.
If you have questions or interest in making a healthy living change, please
see your primary care team at the VA facility in which you receive health care.
- The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans: Designed to provide information
and guidance on the types and amounts of physical activity that provide substantial
health benefits for Americans aged 6 years and older. The main idea behind the Guidelines
is that regular physical activity over months and years can produce long-term health
- Moderate intensity: The body is working at a moderate intensity when one can talk
but not sing. Moderate-intensity physical activity includes things like walking
fast, dancing, and raking leaves.
- Strengthening activity: Any activity that works a specific muscle or muscle group
and results in increasing the strength of that muscle/muscle group. Examples of
strengthening activities are lifting weights (e.g. chest presses, leg presses, biceps
curls, triceps extensions) or using your body weight as the resistance (e.g. push-ups,
sit-ups, squats, pull-ups). Vigorous intensity: The body is working at a vigorous
intensity when one can't say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.
- Vigorous-intensity physical activity includes things like jogging, jumping rope,
swimming laps, or riding a bike uphill.
- Aerobic activity (also called endurance activity): When the body's large muscles
move in a rhythmic manner for a sustained period of time and cause a person's heart
to beat faster than usual. Aerobic activity should be in episodes of at least 10
minutes and it is best to spread it out during the week.
- CDC tobacco website.
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adults and pregnant women: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reaffirmation recommendation
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