February 21,

Physical Activity Guidelines

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Physical Activity Guidelines



To achieve health benefits, youth aged 12-17 years should accumulate at least

60 minutes (1 hour) of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily. This should include:

  • Vigorous-intensity activities at least 3 days per week
  • Activities that strengthen muscle and bone at last 3 days per week


More daily physical activity provides greater benefits.


Types of physical activity:

Aerobic (Cardiorespiratory Endurance)

Activity in which the body’s large muscles move in a rhythmic manner for a sustained period of time. Examples include brisk walking, running, swimming, and cycling.


Activities against resistance to strengthen muscles and bones, as well as improve posture, balance and coordination.  Examples include push-ups, sit-ups, squats and lifting weights.


Activities involving reaching, bending and stretching that enhance the ability of joints to move through their full range of motion. Examples include stretching, martial arts and yoga.

Note: Some types of activities incorporate elements of multiple types of physical activity. Examples include many sports, martial arts and yoga.


Activity intensity

The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend being active at a moderate-to-vigorous intensity for a minimum amount of time each day or week.

At moderate-intensity activity, you are breathing harder and your heart beats faster. You should be able to can talk, but not sing. Activities like brisk walking and bike riding.

At vigorous-intensity activity, your heart beats even faster. You will not be able to say more than a few words without catching a breath. Activities like jogging and cross-country skiing.

Moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA) is a combination of moderate and vigorous intensity activity. This is what you are aiming for to meet the physical activity guidelines.


Note: Although light-intensity physical activity does not help meet the physical activity guidelines, it is still important for active living and can help break up and reduce time spent sitting. Examples include standing up and stretching or walking for a few minutes after sitting for a long time.



The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP), www.csep.ca/guidelines

Centers  for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity

Last modified on Jan 28, 2015