Physical Activity for Adults (19-64)

Why is physical activity important for adults?

Being physically active has countless benefits to both your body and your mind. Some of the benefits of physical activity include:

  • improved sleep
  • helps maintain healthy weight
  • helps manage stress levels
  • improves quality of life
  • decreased chance of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers

Physical Activity guidelines for adults:

At least 150 mins of moderate intensity activity a week OR 75 mins of vigorous intensity activity a week. Do strength and resistance activity that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) on at least 2 days a week.

What counts as moderate aerobic activity?

Moderate activity will raise your heart rate, make you breathe faster and feel warmer. If you can talk but not sing, you're working at moderate intensity!

  • brisk walking
  • water aerobics
  • sports like cycling, doubles tennis
  • dancing
  • pushing a lawn mower
  • hiking
  • rollerblading

What counts as vigorous activity?

Vigorous intensity activity makes you breathe hard and fast, you will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for breath. 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week can give similar health benefits to 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity. Most moderate activities can become vigorous if you increase your effort.

Examples of vigorous activities include:

  • running
  • swimming
  • riding a bike fast or on hills
  • walking up the stairs
  • sports, like football, rugby, netball, martial arts and hockey
  • skipping
  • aerobics

What counts as very vigorous intensity activity?

Very vigorous activities are exercises performed in short bursts of maximum effort broken up with rest. This type of exercise is also known as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

Examples of very vigorous activities include:

  • lifting heavy weights
  • circuit training
  • sprinting up hills
  • interval running
  • running up stairs
  • spinning classes

What activities strengthen muscles?

To get health benefits from strength exercises, you should do them to the point where you need a short rest before repeating the activity. You can do strength and resistance exercises at home, outside in a park or open space, or in a gym.

Examples of muscle-strengthening activities include:

  • carrying heavy shopping bags
  • yoga, pilates and tai chi
  • lifting weights
  • working with resistance bands
  • doing exercises that use your own body weight, such as push-ups and sit-ups
  • heavy gardening, such as digging and shovelling
  • wheeling a wheelchair
  • lifting and carrying children

Read more about strength and resistance activity specifically here.


  • Aim to spread exercise evenly over 4 to 5 days a week, or every day
  • Reduce time spent sitting or lying down and break up long periods of not moving with some activity
  • You can achieve your weekly activity target with:
    • several short sessions of very vigorous intensity activity
    • a mix of moderate, vigorous and very vigorous intensity activity
  • These guidelines are also suitable for:
    • disabled adults
    • pregnant women and new mothers

Explore some practical tips to get moving a little more here: