Exercise – how much is enough for adults?

Many of us are aware of the health benefits associated with physical activity but we all live busy lives and being ‘time poor’ makes a significant impact on our daily activity routine. It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that incidental exercise is enough. Just taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking further away and walking the distance will certainly help, but is it enough?

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines recommend that adults should participate in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardiorespiratory exercise per week. The amount is accumulative, so it could be broken up to 30 minutes of moderate activity five days per week or 60 minutes three days per week. Even several shorter 10 minute sessions throughout the day can be beneficial; It’s best to gradually increase intensity and duration. Alternatively, this recommendation can be met by engaging in vigorous activity for 20-60 minutes three times per week. The ACSM guidelines also state that resistance training activities should be performed two to three days each week, focussing on major muscle groups. For older adults or adults who have been relatively sedentary, start slowly with light intensity and gradually increase as you progress. The recommendation to improve strength and power involves between two to four sets of each exercise, performing 10-12 repetitions. The rep range for muscular endurance is 15-20. It’s important to allow 48 hours between resistance sessions to allow your muscles to repair.

The bottom line is that any physical activity is better than none at all. In terms of incidental exercise, it may be easy to accumulate the recommended amount of minutes per week; however it may not always be an appropriate intensity. For most adults, achieving the recommended activity accumulation at the appropriate intensity requires dedicated time in the weekly routine.

For more information on the ACSM exercise recommendations or if you would like any assistance increasing your physical activity levels contact the team at Absolute Balance at info@absolutebalance.com.au or head to the website www.absolutebalance.com.au.


Bianca Dobrich (B.Sc. Human Movement, Grad Dip. Exercise Rehabilitation)

Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) (ESSAM)