How Much Exercise

By Nikki Bojanovic BS, ATC

When it comes to physical activity and personal fitness, a common question that is always asked among the participants is, “How much is enough?” How often, how long should a workout be and how often should you be physically active to begin to see the results that you want? While there are several different avenues (HIIT training, weight lifting, yoga, etc) that you can pursue to meet your goals, the reality of how long you should apply those stresses to your body at one given time tend to stay the same.

  • Youth 1,2
    • 60 minutes/day
    • Moderate to vigorous intensity
    • Majority of this should be aerobic
    • Strengthening activities at least 3 times/week
    • Benefits
      • Improves cardiorespiratory health
      • Improves muscular fitness
      • Improves bone health
      • Metabolic health
      • Reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • General Public (18-64 y.o.)1,3
    • At least 30 min/day
    • Moderate intensity at least
    • However, for sedentary adults, 30 min will likely not be enough to prevent unhealthy weight gain or to elicit progress to meet fitness related goals (weight loss, muscle gain, etc)
    • In earlier/past years, the ACSM (American college of sports medicine) recommended 3-5 days of moderate intensity for 30 min, however, this was quickly changed because of the lack of effects really seen with these parameters
    • Basic health recommendation still remains 30 min, however to see progress or to meet physical fitness goals, at least 45 minutes of intense physical activity is needed
    • Most people assume that the more you workout at once the better, however after about 60-75 of exercise, you have met the capacity and everything after that time period will not really provide much benefit
    • Bottom line recommendation: 45-60 minutes of intense exercise to progress fitness; 30 minutes to maintain basic health effects (cardiovascular health, metabolic health, etc)
  • Older population (65+ y.o)1,3
    • At least 150 minutes/WEEK à moderate intensity AEROBIC activity
    • OR 75 minutes/week à VIGOROUS intensity aerobic activity
    • Activities that enhance balance à prevent falls/injury
    • Muscles strengthening/anaerobic activities at least 2 days/week
    • Be as physically active as your current health status allows


  1. World Health Organization. Global recommendations on physical activity for health. 2010.
  2. Strong WB, et al. Evidence based physical activity for school-aged youth. The Journal of Pediatrics. 2005;146(6):732-737.
  3. Blair SN, et al. The evolution of physical activity recommendations: how much is enough? American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2004;79(5):913S-920S.


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