Physical Activity Guidelines

I made dark chocolate – chocolate chip brownies last night and much to Husbandpants’ surprise, I have not eaten them all yet.

But if I’m going to be able to enjoy all of the chocolate chip pie and peach pie and apple pie and banana cream pie and sweet potato pie and coconut cream pie and chocolate pecan pie and buttermilk pie and lemon ice box pie that the South has to offer, I am really going to have to amp up my exercise routine.

That said, I wanted to share some things to consider when it comes to physical activity according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.

2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

I know. They sound a little out of date. And there is definitely science supporting some small changes in the Guidelines.

But this gives us a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t. Expect updates in … um … some number of years from now.

Canada put out new guidelines earlier this year. They probably recommend a lot of dog-sledding, snowshoeing, and ice fishing. But maybe we’ll see how they compare next week.

So here is the answers to why, who, what , where, when, and how?


Physical activity can make you feel stronger, more energetic, and more alive.

Also it’s fun if you find the right activity.

And it is oh so good for your health.


Anyone who is already physically active or has been given the go-ahead by a doctor.


This part is kinda up to you. You need to find activities that you like to do and that fit into your life.

Do both aerobic activities and strengthening activities because each offers important health benefits.

Choose aerobic activities that work for you. These make your heart beat faster and can make your heart, lungs, and blood vessels stronger. Try:

  • biking
  • canoeing
  • team sports
  • walking
  • dancing
  • martial arts
  • swimming
  • tennis
  • the list goes on

Also, do strengthening activities which make your muscles do more work than usual. Include all the major muscle groups such as legs, hips, back, chest, stomach, shoulders, and arms. Exercises for each muscle group should be repeated 8 to 12 times per session. Try:

  • lifting weights
  • yoga
  • resistance bands
  • push ups, sit ups, pull ups
  • heavy gardening


  • Join a gym.
  • Go to the park or beach or hit the streets in your neighborhood.
  • Use your garage or spare room or work out in from of the TV.
  • Check out a local yoga, pilates, or dance studio.


Work with an exercise professional to make sure you are getting the maximum benefit out of your activity. Start out with light or moderate intensity activities and then as you get better, you can work up to vigorous activities that take more effort.


It is up to you, but it is better to spread your activity throughout the week and to be active at least 3 days a week. Do at least 10 minutes of physical activity at a time.

When you are just getting started, start with a few minutes and do a little more each time. Once you feel comfortable, do it more often.

  • If you choose activities at a moderate level, aim for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes a week.
  • If you choose vigorous activities, aim for at least 1 hour and 15 minutes a week.

Slowly build up the amount of time you do physical activities.

The more time you spend, the more health benefits you gain.

Once you’ve met the goals above, aim to double them.

  • Try to do strengthening activities at least 2 days per week.

And remember! Any physical activity is better than none.

How does the amount of physical activity you do compare to the guidelines?
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  1. Physical Activity Guidelines « ProjectEatMe
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