How much physical activity?
In order to achieve an active lifestyle, adults should accumulate (build up) at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. Children should accumulate (build up) at least 1 hour or more of moderate physical activity most days of the week.
It needn't all be done in one go though! Physical activity can be built up over time. By developing an active lifestyle piece by piece, the small chunks of moderate activity achieved throughout the day, over time, will add up to a more active, healthier lifestyle.
It's important to remember that the kind of effort involved in sports such as hockey or football, or the effort involved in running for a bus is not required to gain the health benefits. Many people really like expending this kind of effort, and may even enjoy it, but for people who are not as active as they would like to be, thinking that physical activity means getting sweaty and working hard can often put them off.
Remember that we should actually be invigorated by our activity rather than tired by it! The effort we need to put in to gain health benefits is the same as the feeling we have when we are walking briskly.
Moderate activity is the equivalent of brisk walking. Moderate intensity physical activity should feel comfortable, and should not lead to injury. If physical activity is painful then it's likely you're overdoing it and may need to reduce the intensity and possibly the frequency of the activity.
- Frequency = how often you are physically active.
- Intensity = the level at which the activity is maintained and how hard you think it feels.
- Duration = length of time you spend being physically active.
A combination of frequency, intensity and duration can be used as a guide to monitor levels of physical activity.