How much of physical exercise is needed?

It is recommended to carry out at least 45 minutes of physical activity of moderate-intensity for at least 5 days in a week. This amount of physical activity may reduce the risk of some chronic diseases. To lose weight, experts recommend that at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity be taken on most days of the week. In addition, one should follow a nutritious eating plan and consume fewer calories. Therefore, it is essential to remember that the body weight is affected by the balance of “calories consumed” and “calories burned”.

Levels of physical activity

There are two basic levels of physical activity.

Moderate: This includes walking briskly (about 5-6 KM in an hour), climbing, gardening/yard work, dancing, walking short distances for fetching milk and vegetables, bicycling (about 16 KM in an hour), and weight training (a general light workout), yogasanas and pranayama, playing with children.

Vigorous: Examples are running/jogging (7 KM in an hour), cycling (> 16 KM in an hour), swimming (freestyle laps), aerobics, brisk walking (6 KM in an hour), weight lifting (vigorous effort), competitive sports and heavy yard work, such as digging, cutting wood.

If a physical activity does not increase the heart rate, it is not intense enough to be counted in the category of “45 minutes of exercise a day”. Activities that do not increase the heart rate include walking at a casual pace, grocery shopping, and doing light household chores.

Health Benefits of Physical Activity

  • Controls body weight and composition.

  • Reduces risk chronic diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis, arthritis and certain types of cancers.

  • Builds strong muscles, bones and joints.

  • Improves flexibility.

  • Wards off depression.

  • Improves mood, sense of well-being and self esteem.

Children and teenagers need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. In the case of pregnant women 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity every day is recommended. However, it should be undertaken in consultation with the physician. Like others, geriatric population also will be benefitted considerably by physical activity, which will help in the reduction of functional impairment and improve lean body mass.


  • A minimum 30-45 minutes brisk walk/physical activity of moderate intensity improves overall health.

  • Include ‘warm-up’ and ‘cool- down’ periods, before and after the exercise regimen.

  • Forty five minutes per day of moderate intensity physical activity provides many health benefits.

(Source – Dietary guidelines for Indians, NIN)