Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. 

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Am Fam Physician. 2008;77(8):1138

See related article on physical activity counseling.

Why should I get regular physical activity?

Getting regular physical activity can help keep your heart healthy, prevent some diseases, and make depression better. It also can help you stay at a healthy weight and give you more energy.

How much physical activity do I need?

Most people should get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on at least five days of the week. You can split up the 30 minutes of physical activity into 10-minute blocks. Moderate-intensity activity makes you feel like you feel when you walk fast. If moderate-intensity is too hard, you can start slower and work up to it.

What types of physical activity should I do?

There are many activities that you can do at a moderate level to stay healthy:

  • Walking

  • Dancing

  • Bicycling

  • Aerobics

  • Gardening

  • Household chores

  • Actively playing with your children

You can also work physical activity into what you already do. For example, walk to the store instead of driving, use a push instead of a riding lawnmower, or park further from entrances.

How do I get started?

Making a plan can help you get started. Think about what activities you would enjoy and when and where you can do them. Some people like to do physical activities by themselves. Others like to do physical activity with a partner or in an organized group. Consider planning active time with family members to set a good example, or help them get the physical activity they need to stay healthy. Ask your doctor if it is safe for you to increase your physical activity.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor

American Heart Association

Active Log

  • Web site:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Spark People

ShapeUp America

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