Table 1

Public Health recommendations for PA

The ACSM-AHA primary physical activity recommendations*
  • All healthy adults aged 18–65 years should participate in moderate intensity aerobic PA for a minimum of 30 min on 5 days/week or vigorous intensity aerobic activity for a minimum of 20 min on 3 days/week.

  • Combinations of moderate and vigorous intensity exercise can be performed to meet this recommendation.

  • Moderate intensity aerobic activity can be accumulated to total the 30 min minimum by performing bouts each lasting ≥10 min.

  • Every adult should perform activities that maintain or increase muscular strength and endurance for a minimum of 2 days/week.

  • Because of the dose-response relationship between PA and health, individuals who wish further improve their fitness, reduce their risk of chronic diseases and disabilities and/or prevent unhealthy weight gain my benefit by exceeding the minimum recommended amounts of PA.

Cardiorespiratory (‘aerobic’) exercise†
 Frequency≥5 days/week of moderate exercise or ≥3 days/week of vigorous exercise or a combination of moderate and vigorous exercise on ≥3–5 days/week is recommended.
 IntensityModerate and/or vigorous intensity is recommended for most adults. Light to moderate intensity exercise may be beneficial in deconditioned persons.
 Time30–60 min/day (150 min/week) of purposeful moderate exercise or 20–60 min/day (75 min/week) of vigorous exercise or a combination of moderate and vigorous exercise per day is recommended for most adults. ≥20 min/day (150 min/week) of exercise can be beneficial, especially in previously sedentary persons.
 TypeRegular, purposeful exercise that involves major muscle groups and is continuous and rhythmic in nature is recommended.
 VolumeA target volume of ≥500–1000 MET min/week is recommended. Increasing pedometer step counts by ≥2000 steps per day to reach a daily step count ≥7000 steps per day is beneficial. Exercising below these volumes may still be beneficial for persons unable or unwilling to reach this amount of exercise.
 PatternExercise may be performed in one (continuous) session per day or in multiple sessions of ≥10 min to accumulate the desired duration and volume of exercise per day. Exercise bouts of ≥10 min may yield favourable adaptations in very deconditioned individuals. Interval training can be effective in adults.
 ProgressionA gradual progression of exercise volume by adjusting exercise duration, frequency and/or intensity is reasonable until the desired exercise goal (maintenance) is attained. This approach may enhance adherence and reduce risks of musculoskeletal injury and adverse CHD events.
Resistance exercise†
 FrequencyEach major muscle group should be trained on 2–3 days/week
 Intensity60%–70% of the 1RM (moderate to hard intensity) for novice to intermediate exercisers to improve strength.
≥80% of the 1RM (hard to very hard intensity) for experienced strength trainers to improve strength.
40%–50% of the 1RM (very light to light intensity) for older persons beginning exercise to improve strength.
40%–50% of the 1RM (very light to light intensity) may be beneficial for improving strength in sedentary persons beginning a resistance training programme.
≤50% of the 1RM (light to moderate intensity) to improve muscular endurance.
20%–50% of the 1RM in older adults to improve power.
 TimeNo specific duration of training has been identified for effectiveness.
 TypeResistance exercises involving each major muscle group are recommended. A variety of exercise equipment and/or body weight can be used to perform these exercises.
 Repetitions8–12 repetitions are recommended to improve strength and power in most adults. 10–15 repetitions are effective in improving strength in middle-aged and older persons starting exercise 15–20 repetitions are recommended to improve muscular endurance.
 SetsTwo to four sets are the recommended for most adults to improve strength and power. A single set of resistance exercise can be effective especially among older and novice exercisers. ≤2 sets are effective in improving muscular endurance.
 PatternRest intervals of 2–3 min between each set of repetitions are effective.
A rest of ≥48 hours between sessions for any single muscle group is recommended.
 ProgressionA gradual progression of greater resistance and/or more repetitions per set and/or increasing frequency is recommended.
Flexibility exercise†
 Frequency≥2–3 day/week is effective in improving joint range of motion, with the greatest gains occurring with daily exercise.
 IntensityStretch to the point of feeling tightness or slight discomfort.
 TimeHolding a static stretch for 10–30 s is recommended for most adults. In older persons, holding a stretch for 30–60 s may confer greater benefit. For PNF stretching, a 3–6 s contraction at 20%–75% maximum voluntary contraction followed by a 10–30 s assisted stretch is desirable.
 TypeA series of flexibility exercises for each of the major muscle–tendon units is recommended. Static flexibility (active or passive), dynamic flexibility, ballistic flexibility and PNF are each effective.
 VolumeA reasonable target is to perform 60 s of total stretching time for each flexibility exercise.
 PatternRepetition of each flexibility exercise two to four times is recommended. Flexibility exercise is most effective when the muscle is warmed through light to moderate aerobic activity or passively through external methods such as moist heat packs or hot baths.
 ProgressionMethods for optimal progression are unknown.
Neuromotor exercise training†
 Frequency≥2–3 days/week is recommended.
 IntensityAn effective intensity of neuromotor exercise has not been determined.
 Time≥20–30 min/day may be needed.
 TypeExercises involving motor skills (eg, balance, agility, coordination and gait), proprioceptive exercise training and multifaceted activities (eg, tai ji and yoga) are recommended for older persons to improve and maintain physical function and reduce falls in those at risk for falling. The effectiveness of neuromuscular exercise training in younger and middle-aged persons has not been established, but there is probable benefit.
 VolumeThe optimal volume (eg, number of repetitions, intensity) is not known.
 PatternThe optimal pattern of performing neuromotor exercise is not known.
 ProgressionMethods for optimal progression are not known.
  • *ACSM, American College of Sports Medicine; AHA, American Heart Association; extracted from the ACSM Guidelines for Exercising Testing and Prescription, chapter 1, p. 4.15

  • †Extracted from ACSM position stand,2 table 2, p. 1336.

  • 1 RM, one-repetition maximum; CHD, coronary heart disease; MET, metabolic equivalent of task; PA, physical activity; PNF, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation.