How much physical activity should adults get daily?

Our recommendation

We recommend that all adults aim for 30 minutes of moderate daily activity that gets your heart going.

It's good to be active in different ways, including vigorous and moderate activities and strengthening exercises. Find your favourites and fit in at least one every day. There are lots of ways to fit physical activity into your day without going to a gym.

Moderate aerobic activity

Moderate aerobic activity makes you breathe harder and your heart beat faster. You should be able to talk but not sing.

  • walking quickly
  • skating
  • cycling
  • household chores like vacuuming or shovelling snow

Vigorous aerobic activity

Vigorous aerobic activity makes your heart rate increase quite a bit. You won't be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.

  • running or jogging
  • dancing
  • swimming
  • cross-country skiing
  • hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack

Strengthening activity

Muscle-strengthening activities build up your muscles.

  • push-ups and sit-ups
  • lifting weights
  • digging in the garden

Bone-strengthening activities help make your bones stronger.

  • rowing
  • carrying groceries
  • climbing stairs

Before you start any new exercise routine, it's a good idea to check with a healthcare professional. Your doctor may be able to suggest activities that suit your age, fitness level and general health – and let you know if there are any activities you should avoid.

For Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, visit the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology.

Fun ways to be active every day without going to a gym

For many people, the key to making regular physical activity a long-term habit is to make it part of your daily life. Every little bit helps – and starting small is often the best way.

Try one of these ideas each week. You'll find your favourites and probably think of new ways to be active too.

Swap 30 minutes of television for a 30‐minute walk each day

Use the time to listen to a new podcast or your favourite music.

Fit activity in throughout the day

Add a bit here and there by doing bicep curls with bags of groceries, lunges down the hallway, calf raises while brushing your teeth, desk push‐ups before sitting down and wall sits while on the phone or reading the paper.

Designate certain TV shows as exercise programs

While you’re watching, lift weights or do sit‐ups, walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike, jump rope or stretch.

Try a new activity for each season

Ideas include golf, tennis, cycling, hiking, mall‐walking, dancing, yoga and swimming.

Take the stairs and avoid the elevator

Start small by alternating walking down the stairs one day and walking up the stairs the next until you take the stairs for both trips.

Walk at least 10,000 steps every day

Start with 2,000 to 4,000 steps at a brisk pace.

Wear a pedometer or other activity tracking device

Counting your steps and activities will help keep you motivated.

Start an activity club at work or school

Ideas include walking, running, yoga, cycling or strength training.

Walk, rollerblade or cycle to work or school – or part of the way

Build up the distance that you travel each day until you can make it the whole way.

Stretch throughout the day

This can relieve tension when you have to sit for long periods of time.

Make playtime with your kids physical for everyone

Instead of watching them play, join them in a game of tag or soccer.

Go to the park with a group of friends and a Frisbee

Invite the neighbours and their kids over to play ball hockey, cricket or basketball.

Walk to a co‐worker’s office to discuss an issue

This is a great way to find a solution together instead of phoning or sending an email.