Activity Pyramid


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends the following physical activity guidelines for adults:

Participate in moderate-intensity cardio physical activity on 3-5 days for a minimum of 150 minutes each week
Participate in vigorous-intensity cardio physical activity on 3-5 days for a minimum of 75 minutes each week
Perform 8-10 strength-training exercises, 8-12 repetitions of each exercise twice each week.

Understanding the recommendation:

  • Cardio or aerobic activity will help strengthen your heart and lungs and manage weight.
  • Moderate-intensity cardio activity means you are working hard enough to raise your heart rate, but are still able to talk while doing the activity. Examples of moderate-intensity activities are: walking, biking, swimming and group aerobics.
  • Vigorous intensity cardio activity means you are breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. Examples of vigorous intensity activities are jogging and swimming laps.
  • Strength training helps to strengthen muscles and maintain lean muscle tissue. Examples of strength training activities are: lifting weights, using resistance bands, curl-ups and push-ups.

The activity pyramid is a guide that adults may use to plan for an active lifestyle. Choose activities from all levels of the pyramid and consider these tips:

  • Check with your health care provider before you begin a moderate intensity physical activity program.
  • Choose activities that you will enjoy.
  • Begin slowly and set a realistic goal. For example: "I will take a 10-minute walk during lunch on three days each week."
  • Record and reward your progress.
  • Get support from family and friends.
  • Plan for problems. Have an indoor activity plan for bad weather days.

Download the Activity Pyramid (PDF) 
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