How Much Exercise Do We Need?

Updated May 29, 2019
woman with phone at gym

The amount of exercise you should get daily or weekly depends on your goals. Are you trying to maintain your health, lose weight, or increase your fitness level? The answer dictates how much exercise you should get.

Weekly Recommendations

Though some official recommendations for the amount of exercise someone should get are broken down daily, breaking it into weekly recommendations allows people to plan out their activities for the week. Any amount of exercise you get counts toward your weekly goal; three, ten minute walks counts as 30 minutes of activity even if they happened hours (or days) apart.

Recommended Exercise
Goal Weekly Minutes
Maintain Health 150 (moderate) or 75 (vigorous)
Weight Loss 200 to 300

Department of Health & Human Services Recommendation

The United States Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes of exercise weekly for health benefits for adults, although this recommendation drops to 75 weekly minutes when the activity is vigorous. Not all activity is considered equal under these guidelines. For example, someone who does leisurely walks for activity will want to walk a total of 150 minutes weekly to meet the guidelines whereas someone who participates in vigorous HIIT workouts will only need to do 75 minutes a week to meet the guidelines.

The American Heart Association Recommendations

The American Heart Association releases recommendations to help people live healthy lives. Activity benefits the heart, and a sedentary lifestyle is detrimental to cardiovascular health. AHA recommends the same as the HHS above, yet they further state people should simply try to move more and to spend less time sitting. They also say that 300 minutes of weekly activity will yield further health benefits.

The World Health Organization

The World Health Organization agrees with the recommendation of 150 minutes of exercise weekly but further states that this recommendation is different for people with disabilities that hinder movement, pregnant women, and people with heart disease; people falling within these categories should speak to a medical professional about what amount of exercise is ideal for them.

American Council on Exercise

The American Council on Exercise clarifies that the 150 minute recommendation should be seen as a minimum recommendation, stating that people should strive for at least 150 minutes per week or exercise. ACE trainers are also encouraged to prompt their clients to participate in 150 minutes of aerobic activity weekly in addition to two weekly sessions of strength training.

American College of Sports Medicine

The American College of Sports Medicine agrees with 150 minutes weekly as a guideline to maintain health, but further states that 200 to 300 minutes weekly is better for long-term weight loss.

Excessive Exercise

More is not always better when it comes to exercise. There is no magic number as to when exercise becomes "too much," but if you're not allowing your body adequate time to recover in between workouts, you leave yourself susceptible to:

  • Overuse injuries
  • Exhaustion
  • Lowered immune system
  • A plateau in progress
  • Disturbed sleep

Weekly Effort for Health

How much intentional exercise you should do weekly depends on your lifestyle. A person with a very physical, active job may reach their 150 minutes without setting foot in a gym just like a sedentary person may need to set aside at least 150 minutes to spend in intentional exercise. Get activity in when you can and keep track of your daily activity to make sure you are at least reaching the minimum every week.

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How Much Exercise Do We Need?