Exercise is any form of physical activity that helps to promote overall health. Most movement of the body is considered beneficial, as long as it is done in moderation and at the skill level of the person. There are many ways for people to exercise including, gardening, walking, sports activities, and dancing. Patients beginning an exercise program should choose activities that fit their levels of strength and endurance. Exercise that causes extreme pain or discomfort is considered by many experts as unhealthy, and may even cause permanent damage to the body.
Exercising on a regular basis may decrease the risk of developing many illnesses, such as heart disease.
Based on expert opinion, most regular exercise plans adjusted for the abilities and goals of the patient are about equally beneficial. The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that patients choose exercise programs they will do consistently. They also recommend lower impact forms of exercise, such as walking or swimming for pregnant patients and patients unable to handle more intense forms of exercise.
American College of Sports Medicine: For cardio-respiratory fitness and body composition: 20 to 60 minutes of continuous or intermittent (bouts of at least 10 minutes) aerobic activity at 55 to 90% maximum heart rate, or at 40 to 85% maximum oxygen uptake, 3 to 5 days per week. For muscular strength and endurance, body composition and flexibility: One set of 8 to 10 exercises, with 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise, 2 to 3 days per week.
American Heart Association: 30 to 60 minutes of exercise at 50 to 80% aerobic capacity, at least 3 to 4 days per week.
International Agency for Research on Cancer: To maintain healthy body weight: 60 minutes moderate activity on all or most days of the week. For cancer prevention: Substitute moderate for vigorous activity several times per week.
International Association for the Study of Obesity: To prevent weight regain in formerly obese individuals: 60 to 90 minutes of moderate activity daily, or shorter periods of vigorous activity. To prevent transition to overweight or obesity: 45 to 60 minutes of moderate activity daily, or 1.7 PAL. For children, more activity time is recommended.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): 30 minutes of moderate activity on all or most days of the week.
World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research: 30 minutes of vigorous or 60 minutes of moderate activity daily, plus additional 30 to 60 minutes of vigorous activity once a week.
World Health Organization: 30 minutes of moderate activity every day.

Related Terms

Aerobic exercise, athletic activity, cardiovascular fitness, physical fitness, sports, weightlifting, weight loss, weight training.