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How to Start Being Active

How Active Do I Need to Be?

​​​​​​​​​​Most people know they should be active, but many people don’t know how much activity they need to do.

Physical activity has many health benefits like preventing diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis.

How much activity do I need?

It’s a good idea for adults to get 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic activity every week. Moderate intensity means your breathing and heart rate are a little higher than normal and you’re sweating a little by the time you’re finished.

There are lots of ways to get 150 minutes of physical activity per week. You can do:

  • 30 minutes of activity, five days a week
  • 10 minutes of activity, fifteen times a week (e.g., during lunch or breaks at work)

How much activity do children and teens need?

Children and teens (5 to 17 years) need more activity than adults. They should do moderate to vigorous activity for at least 60 minutes everyday. It’s even better if they’re active for longer.

If children are very inactive, they can get health benefits from 30 minutes of moderate activity every day and slowly work up to 60 minutes. More is always better!

What does activity intensity mean?

Being active means you have to make an effort. Here are some examples of different types of activity and how much intensity is needed to do them.

  • Light intensity: light walking, stretching, or easy gardening
  • Moderate intensity: brisk walking, raking leaves, or biking
  • V​​igorous intensity: a​erobics, jogging, cross country skiing, or hockey

What types of activity are there?

To get the most benefits from being active, do different types of activities like:

  • Aerobic activities, which help your heart and lungs so you’re not out of breath after climbing stairs.
  • Flexibility activities, which help your muscles and joints move easier so you can bend down to pick a weed out of your garden.
  • Strength activities, which keep your muscles and bones strong so you can carry a heavy bag of groceries.

No Matter What You Do — Start Slowly

If you haven’t been active lately, start slow. You can slowly increase how long you’re active for. If you do too much too soon, your muscles and joints will be sore. You won’t find it fun, and you’ll likely stop doing it.

Anything you do is better than nothing. After sometime, your body will get used to being active. The more you do, the more benefits to your health.

Current as of: October 24, 2018

Author: Chronic Disease Prevention, Alberta Health Services