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Physical activity helps you to:
Think about activities you enjoyed doing as a child and try them again. Take the time to discover what types of exercises are best for your physical, emotional and social health. Try a range of different activities to keep you interested and challenge different muscles. Once you find out what you like to do, increase your activity time and intensity gradually. If you are new to physical activity, start out gently and build your endurance little by little - this way you'll avoid overdoing it or injuring yourself.
The American Heart Association recommends that to improve overall cardiovascular health, at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity). Thirty minutes a day, five times a week is an easy goal to remember. What if you can't make the time goal that day? Something is always better than nothing! You will also experience benefits even if you divide your time into two or three segments of 10 to 15 minutes per day.
It is also recommended that adults include at least moderate to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activities at least 2 days per week and flexibility exercises at least 2 or 3 days each week to improve their range of motion. Please remember to never stretch a cold muscle; flexibility training should be done only after your body has been warmed up, usually after your workout.
View the General Physical Activities Defined by Level of Intensity (PDF) document.
Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website and learn about Measuring Physical Activity Intensity Levels.
The American Heart Association recommends that children and adolescents participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. Inactive children are more likely to become inactive adults. One way to help get our children moving is to start gradually reducing their amount of screen time. "Screen time" is a term used for activities done in front of a screen, such as watching TV, working on a computer, or playing video games. Screen time is a sedentary activity, meaning you are being physically inactive while sitting down. Very little energy is used during screen time.
Most American children spend about 3 hours a day watching TV. Added together, all types of screen time may often total 5 to 7 hours a day. It is recommended that children under age 2 should have no screen time and kids over age 2 should limit it to 1 to 2 hours a day.
Cutting down screen time to 2 hours a day can be hard for some children because the TV may be such a large part of their daily routines. You can help your children by teaching them how sedentary activities affect their overall health. Talk to them about things they can do to be healthier.
Here are some helpful ways to start decreasing screen time:
American Heart Association's Recommendations for Physical Activity in Children
American Heart Association's Recommendations for Physical Activity in Kids infographic (PDF)