How much physical activity is enough?

How much physical activity is enough?

This is something we often get asked in clinic.  Everyone knows it is important to stay physically active. Regular physical activity can help prevent many illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.   Physical activity can also help with thinking, learning, judgement skills as well as reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.



Moderate intensity   These  activities cause a slight, but noticeable, increase in breath and heart rate. You can still carry out a conversation throughout.

This may include activities such as brisk walking, aqua aerobic, swimming, cycling, household chores, kapa haka and general gardening.

Vigorous Intensity   Any activity that makes you out of breath and it is too hard to chat and do these activities at the same time.

These activities may include walking/tramping up hill, competitive sports, or running/jogging.

Aerobic activity   If there is an increase in your heart rate and you are breathing faster, its aerobic activity!

Strengthening activities   These are exercises that target your muscles and specifically make them work harder improving their ability to produce force.

These may include lifting heavy objects, climbing stairs, running, walking, playing on the playground, weight training and exercises that use body weight for resistance such as push ups and sit ups.

Balance Activities  There are a number of different activities other than just standing on 1 foot that challenge your balance.

These include bowls, golf, Pilates, social dancing, standing with one foot in front of the other on a line or yoga.


The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ministry of Health have recommendations for people across their lifespan.

Children between the ages of 5-17 years

  • An average at least of one hour per day of moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity throughout the week
  • Activities that strengthen muscles should be incorporate at least 3 days a week.
  • Limit screen time to no more than 2 hours per day

Adults ages 16-84 years

  • At least 2.5 hours of moderate intensity aerobic activities a week OR 1.25 hours of vigorous intensity aerobic activity
  • Muscle strengthening should be undertaken at least 2 days a week.

Adults ages 65 years and over

  • 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least 5 days a week
  • Three sessions of flexibility and balance activities and two sessions of muscle strengthening activities a week.

Top tips to help you get started

  1. Be active with friends and/or family. This helps keep you accountable as someone else is relying on you.
  2. ‘Snack” on activities. Short periods of activity count towards your weekly activity levels. Try taking the stairs or parking a couple streets further away from work.
  3. Have fun! Do something you enjoy whether that is dancing, aerobics, or weightlifting.
  4. Make it easy. If your busy at home, pop on a YouTube video. They even have ones as short as 5 minutes. Its better than nothing
  5. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Often, we see people start too hard too fast and they burn out or get off track and loose motivation. Something is always better than nothing so don’t be too hard on your self!


If you want more advice over starting your journey to better health, ask us next time you are in and we are only too happy to go offer suggestions or answer your questions.