Exercise: What Is Our RDA?

Wondering how much physical activity you should be getting? The results may surprise you.

Table of Contents

We checked out the details on recommendations established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization on exactly how much physical activity is advised for various age groups.

The results may surprise you. In some cases, hopefully it will encourage you to get moving. 

Recommendations for Different Age Groups

We’ll start with the recommendations from HHS. For adults, the agency recommends at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. It also recommends strengthening activities at least 2 days per week. 

For kids aged 6 to 17, HHS recommends 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise daily.

In its latest update to its recommendations, HHS added guidelines for preschoolers. The agency advised that kids aged 3 to 5 should be engaged in active play of light, moderate or vigorous intensity for at least 3 hours per day. 

Understanding Exercise Intensity

So what does moderate and vigorous intensity look like? According to HHS, a person doing moderate-intensity aerobic exercise can talk, but not sing. A person doing vigorous exercise can only say a few words before pausing for a breath. 

The World Health Organization also has recommendations for pregnant women without contraindications. These women are advised to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week as well as incorporate strengthening and gentle stretching into their routine. Pregnant women who were engaged in vigorous-intensity exercise prior to becoming pregnant can continue while pregnant, according to WHO.

For those who are quite sedentary, it’s recommended to start activity and build up gradually. Once you get going, the benefits are numerous.

The Benefits of Physical Activity

For children and teens the benefits include:

  • Improved bone health
  • Improved cognition
  • Decreased risk of depression
  • Improved cardio and muscular fitness

For adults, the benefits include:

  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Reduced risk of Type-2 diabetes
  • Reduced risk of breast and colon cancer
  • Improved mental health, decreased depression and anxiety
  • Reduced risk and delays in onset of dementia
  • Maintenance of healthy weight
  • Improved sleep (improved sleep quality, reduced daytime sleepiness, decreased use of medication to aid sleep)
  • Decreased risk of falls and injuries from falls

Global estimates in 2016 indicated that nearly 30 percent of adults and 81 percent of adolescents did not meet the guidelines set by the World Health Organization. And trend data since has shown limited improvement. 

According to HHS, only 26 percent of American men, 19 percent of women and 20 percent adolescents met the guidelines.  

Tips for Meeting Exercise Guidelines

So what are some easy ways to meet the guidelines? Here’s a few:

  • Brisk walking
  • Running
  • Bicycling 
  • Jumping rope
  • Swimming 
  • Dancing

For children, HHS recommends such activities as bike or tricycle riding, playing on a playground, swimming, gymnastics, and ball sports. 

For those who already meet the guidelines, HHS reports there are enhanced benefits for those who exceed the 300-minute threshold.

For those with room for progress, the journey to health and wellness promises to be a fun one. There are limitless possibilities. Here are Sun Physical Therapy’s recommendations:

  • If you are new to an exercise program, get clearance and starting guidance for a healthcare professional.
  • Once cleared, begin with activities that truly make you happy. Exercise does not need to be a chore. It should be fun.
  • Start with a friend, trainer or exercise group that will encourage you as you are establishing the new habit of regular exercise.
  • Reward yourself in a healthy manner when you meet your new exercise goals. 
  • Take the first step. Just do it. The first step can often be the most difficult. It will get easier.
  • Seek advice from people around you who are active. How do they meet their exercise goals? You can learn valuable tips from others.

And of course, if you have any pain or problems along the way, always remember that a physical therapist is here to help. We love to see people meet their health and wellness goals. We love watching patients climb those mountains, run those marathons, and take those amazing vacations. If you need anything, let us know.  

Where does Lorem Ipsum come from?
Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.
Schedule a Free Consultation Today
A consultation is a 15-minute one-on-one, in-office session with a licensed physical therapist to discuss your injury and learn about treatment options.
Related Articles
Schedule Your Appointment Today: Start Your Healing Journey with Our Austin Physical Therapist
Don’t let pain or injury hold you back any longer. Contact our Austin physical therapy clinic today to schedule your initial consultation and start your journey towards a healthier, more mobile life. Our caring team of professionals is ready to help you regain your strength and confidence.

Request a Session

Schedule Your Appointment Today to Begin Your Healing Journey


15-minute one-on-one, in-office session to discuss your injury & learn about treatment options.