How Much Physical Activity Does One Need?

by Michael_Koger

If physical activity can prevent disease, the question arises—how much of it is necessary to improve health?

It is well-known that physical activity can lower the risk for some non-communicable medical conditions such as coronary heart disease and diabetes mellitus. Even when a person does not meet the guidelines, there is benefit that one obtains from any effort to become physically active [2].

There is, of course, risk in the performance of physical activity, and one must visit a physician beforehand to ensure that there are no medical contraindications. This is especially true for middle age and elderly individuals; however, adolescents and young adults need an opinion as well in order to exclude the possibility of heart defects.

Also, when one begins the sessions, he or she must start on a limited basis and gradually increase over a period of several days or weeks [2].

Children, Adolescents, and Adults

Those who are between the ages of 5 and 17 need at least an hour of moderate to vigorous practice each day [1, 2].  Adults in the 18 to 64 age range will benefit from at least 150 minutes of moderately intense activity every week or a minimum of 75 minutes of vigorous motion during the week [2].

Whichever approach one follows, each of the sessions must be for at least 10 minutes [2].

Activity Limitations

Individuals who are at least 65 years old can follow the same guidelines as adults who are 18 to 64 years of age.  However, when clients over the age of 64 do not feel that they can meet those recommendations, they can engage in the sessions as much as they can.  Moreover, when a medical condition contraindicates full adherence to the program, he or she must be less physically active than the guidelines require for others [2].

Otherwise, these recommendations apply to everyone across the globe.


There are physical activity recommendations for everyone, and those who attempt to follow them can enjoy immense health benefits.


  1. Quirk, H., Blake, H., Dee, B., and Glazebrook, C.  (2015).  “Having diabetes shouldn’t stop them”:  healthcare professionals’ perceptions of physical activity in children with type 1 diabetes.  BioMed Central Pediatrics, 15, 68.
  2. World Health Organization.  (2015).  Physical activity.  Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  3. The photo shows a group of elderly individuals who are doing Tai Chi.  Reprinted with permission from Centers for Disease Control/Theresa Roebuck, Health Communication Specialist, O.D.


The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact their physician for advice.


Updated: 11/11/2015, Michael_Koger
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