Physical Activity Recommendations

Physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but it’s a good idea to check with your healthcare provider before starting a regular exercise program. After doing so, keep these recommendations in mind when working out:

  • Regular physical activity reduces the risk of many adverse health outcomes.
  • Some physical activity is better than none.
  • For most health outcomes, additional benefits occur as the amount of physical activity increases through higher intensity, greater frequency, and/or longer duration.
  • Both aerobic, or endurance, and muscle-strengthening, or resistance, physical activity are beneficial.
  • Health benefits occur for children and adolescents, young and middle-aged adults, and older adults, and
  • When exercising, aim for your target heart rate.

To determine your estimated target heart rate, use this chart from the American Heart Association.

Target heart rates differ according to age. In the age category closest to yours, find your target heart rate. Your maximum heart rate is about 220 minus your age. The numbers below are averages, so remember to use them as general guidelines.

Target Heart Rate
(beats per minute)
Average Maximum Heart Rate
(beats per minute)
20 100 - 170 200
30 95 - 162 190
35 93 - 157 185
40 90 - 153 180
45 88 - 149 175
50 85 - 145 170
55 83 - 140 165
60 80 - 136 160
65 78 - 132 155
70 75 - 128 150

After you’ve determined your target heart rate, you’re ready to begin your physical activity. Some additional recommendations, to help you include:

  • For substantial health benefits, do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity aerobic* activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous intensity aerobic activity.
  • Warm up for five to ten minutes before each activity.
  • Gradually decrease the intensity of your workout, then stretch to cool down during the last five to ten minutes.
  • It’s best if your workout routine includes aerobic exercises and resistance, or muscle-strengthening, training. The resistance training should consist of two to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions, with light to moderate weight, two to three times per week. Try to use at least eight to 10 major muscles during your resistance training.
  • For additional and more extensive health benefits, increase aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes a week of moderate intensity aerobic activity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous intensity activity.
  • If you have heart disease or have cardiovascular risk factors, your provider may recommend exercise stress testing and risk stratification. A physical therapy program or cardiac rehabilitation program may be suggested.
  • It’s always a good rule of thumb to start out slowly and gradually increase the intensity and length of your workout.
  • For older adults:
    • Be as physically active as abilities and conditions allow if you’re unable to do 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity a week.
    • Do exercises that maintain or improve balance if you’re at risk of falling.
    • Consider your level of fitness before determining your level of activity.
    • Understand how chronic conditions affect your ability to do regular physical activity safely.

*Aerobic activity should be performed in segments of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout your week.