How much is enough? Physical activity guidelines

If you’re looking to build more movement into your everyday life, it’s useful to know how much activity you need to do in order to benefit your health. There are lots of apps, programmes and gadgets out there, which will help you keep track of your activity levels. However, the UK government has also published simple, straightforward guidelines that will help you set some targets for how much activity to do. Below is a summary of the guidelines for adults aged 19 to 64. There are specific guidelines for other groups, and you can find links to those at the bottom of this page.

Starting out – some is good more is better

The good news is that for beginners and people at the start of their journey, adding any amount of physical activity into your everyday life will start to make a difference. Even small amounts of movement can improve your health and wellbeing, so why not take a look at our three-a-day activities page for some really simple ways to get started.

Aim to do something every day

Getting into the habit of being more active is one of the hardest parts. By simply trying to do something, even just for a few minutes, every day, will help you build that habit. Perhaps keep a diary of your activities or try to plan out your week, looking for opportunities to be active, such as taking 10 minutes of your day to do an Active 10 walk.

Include strengthening exercises

As we start to become more active, it can be easy to overlook strengthening exercises as part of your everyday routine. It’s important to keep your muscles and joints strong in order to aid balance. Try to do some strengthening exercises at least twice a week. You’ll find some on our three-a-day exercises page, or you could have a go at the NHS strength and flex programme.

Aim for 150 minutes a week

The government guidelines suggest that we should all aim to take part in 150 minutes, or two-and-a-half hours, of physical activity every week. This may seem unachievable at first and it’s important to understand that when you’re just starting out, it may be a hard target to reach. In the early stages it might even do more harm than good to strive for 150 minutes. However, over time, by making small changes to your everyday life and starting to make physical activity a habit, it should be a target you can reach.

Raise your breathing rate

When you do any physical activity, the aim should be to raise your breathing rate – that’s when you know it’s starting to make a difference. This is called “moderate intensity activity” and as a guide, if you’re exercising at moderate intensity you should still be able to talk, but wouldn’t be to sing a song. If you’re doing “vigorous intensity” activity, you’ll feel out of breath and will struggle to hold a conversation. You don’t need to do as much vigorous intensity activity to start to achieve health benefits – you only need to do about half as much as you would with moderate intensity activity.

Download the guidelines

These infographics can help you understand how much physical activity to aim for, and act as a handy reminder as you continue along your journey to becoming more active on an everyday basis. Perhaps print one out and stick it to the fridge?

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY GUIDELINES FOR ADULTS & OLDER ADULTS

Physical activity guidelines for early years (children up to 5)

Physical activity guidelines for children and young people (5-18 years)

Physical activity guidelines for disabled adults

Physical activity guidelines for pregnant women

Physical activity guidelines for women after giving birth

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