At-A-Glance: A Fact Sheet for Professionals
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans At-A-Glance: A Fact Sheet for Professionals
is designed for busy professionals as a quick desk-side reference to the 2008 Physical
Activity Guidelines for Americans published by the U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services.
These Guidelines are needed because of the importance of physical activity to the
health of Americans, whose current inactivity puts them at unnecessary risk. The
latest information shows that inactivity among American children, adolescents, and
adults remains relatively high, and little progress has been made in increasing
levels of physical activity among Americans.
Substantial health benefits are gained by doing physical activity according to the
Guidelines presented below for different groups.
Children and Adolescents (aged 617)
- Children and adolescents should do 1 hour (60 minutes) or more of physical activity
- Most of the 1 hour or more a day should be either moderate- or vigorous-intensity
aerobic physical activity.
- As part of their daily physical activity, children and adolescents should do vigorous-intensity
activity on at least 3 days per week. They also should do muscle-strengthening and
bone-strengthening activity on at least 3 days per week.
Adults (aged 1864)
- Adults should do 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 1 hour
and 15 minutes (75 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity,
or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic physical
activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes,
preferably spread throughout the week.
- Additional health benefits are provided by increasing to 5 hours (300 minutes) a
week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, or 2 hours and 30 minutes
a week of vigorous-intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of
- Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle
groups performed on 2 or more days per week.
Older Adults (aged 65 and older)
- Older adults should follow the adult guidelines. If this is not possible due to
limiting chronic conditions, older adults should be as physically active as their
abilities allow. They should avoid inactivity. Older adults should do exercises
that maintain or improve balance if they are at risk of falling.
For all individuals, some activity is better than none. Physical activity is safe
for almost everyone, and the health benefits of physical activity far outweigh the
risks. People without diagnosed chronic conditions (such as diabetes, heart disease,
or osteoarthritis) and who do not have symptoms (e.g., chest pain or pressure, dizziness,
or joint pain) do not need to consult with a health care provider about physical
Adults With Disabilities
Follow the adult guidelines. If this is not possible, these persons should be as
physically active as their abilities allow. They should avoid inactivity.
Children and Adolescents With Disabilities
Work with the child's health care provider to identify the types and amounts of
physical activity appropriate for them. When possible, these children should meet
the guidelines for children and adolescentsor as much activity as their condition
allows. Children and adolescents should avoid being inactive.
Pregnant and Postpartum Women
Healthy women who are not already doing vigorous-intensity physical activity should
get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic
activity a week. Preferably, this activity should be spread throughout the week.
Women who regularly engage in vigorous-intensity aerobic activity or high amounts
of activity can continue their activity provided that their condition remains unchanged
and they talk to their health care provider about their activity level throughout
Health Benefits of Physical ActivityA Review of the Strength of the Scientific
Adults and Older Adults
- Lower risk of:
- Early death
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Adverse blood lipid profile
- Metabolic syndrome
- Colon and breast cancers
- Prevention of weight gain
- Weight loss when combined with diet
- Improved cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness
- Prevention of falls
- Reduced depression
- Better cognitive function (older adults)
Moderate to Strong Evidence
- Better functional health (older adults)
- Reduced abdominal obesity
- Weight maintenance after weight loss
- Lower risk of hip fracture
- Increased bone density
- Improved sleep quality
- Lower risk of lung and endometrial cancers
Children and Adolescents
- Improved cardiorespiratory endurance and muscular fitness
- Favorable body composition
- Improved bone health
- Improved cardiovascular and metabolic health biomarkers
- Reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression