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Exercise & Fitness at EVERY Age

Regular exercise — a critical part of staying healthy.

There are 1,440 minutes in every day. Schedule 30 of them for physical activity!

Regular exercise is a critical part of staying healthy. People who are active live longer and feel better. Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight. It can also delay or even prevent diabetes, some cancers and heart problems.

Most adults (18-64 years of age) need at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five days per week. While children (age 6-17 years of age) need at least 60 minutes (one hour) every day! Seniors (age 64+) and in good overall health, also need to devote at least 30 minutes per day for regular exercise.

The key is to find the right exercise for you. If it is fun, you are more likely to stay motivated. You may want to walk with a friend, join a class or plan a group bike ride. If you’ve been inactive for awhile, use a sensible approach and start out slowly.

References: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Children ages 6 through 16

Children and adolescents — ages 6 -17 should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity each day.

This may sound like a lot, but don’t worry! Your child may already be meeting the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. And, you’ll soon discover all the easy and enjoyable ways to help your child meet the recommendations. Encourage your child to participate in activities that are age-appropriate, enjoyable and offer variety! Just make sure your child or adolescent is doing three types of physical activity:

1. Aerobic Activity
Aerobic activity should make up most of your child’s 60 or more minutes of physical activity each day. This can include either moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, or vigorous-intensity activity, such as running. Be sure to include vigorous-intensity aerobic activity on at least 3 days per week.
2. Muscle Strengthening
Include muscle strengthening activities, such as gymnastics or push-ups, at least 3 days per week as part of your child’s 60 or more minutes.
3. Bone Strengthening
Include bone strengthening activities, such as jumping rope or running, at least 3 days per week as part of your child’s 60 or more minutes.

How do I know if my child’s aerobic activity is moderate- or vigorous-intensity?
Here are two ways to think about moderate- and vigorous-intensity:

As a rule of thumb, on a scale of 0 to 10, where sitting is a 0 and the highest level of activity is a 10, moderate-intensity activity is a 5 or 6. When your son does moderate-intensity activity, his heart will beat faster than normal and he will breathe harder than normal. Vigorous-intensity activity is a level 7 or 8. When your son does vigorous-intensity activity, his heart will beat much faster than normal and he will breathe much harder than normal.

Another way to judge intensity is to think about the activity your child is doing and compare it to the average child. What amount of intensity would the average child use? For example, when your daughter walks to school with friends each morning, she’s probably doing moderate-intensity aerobic activity. But while she is at school, when she runs, or chases others by playing tag during recess, she’s probably doing vigorous-intensity activity.

References: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Adults ages 18 through 64

According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults aged 18-64 need to do two types of physical activity each week to improve your health–aerobic and muscle-strengthening.

Physical activity is anything that gets your body moving.

2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week.
Muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

OR
1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running) every week
muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

OR
An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity
muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

References: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Older adults (65+)

As an older adult, regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can prevent many of the health problems that seem to come with age. It also helps your muscles grow stronger so you can keep doing your day-to-day activities without becoming dependent on others.

Not doing any physical activity can be bad for you, no matter your age or health condition. Keep in mind, some physical activity is better than none at all. Your health benefits will also increase with the more physical activity that you do.

If you’re 65 years of age or older, are generally fit, and have no limiting health conditions you can follow the guidelines listed below.

For Important Health Benefits Older adults need at least:

2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week.
muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

OR
1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running) every week
muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

OR
An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity
muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

References: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Children

 

Adults

Need more help with the guidelines?
Watch this video:

Everyday Fitness Ideas from the National Institute on Aging at NIH

Especially designed for ages 50 and over.

Seniors