Guide to Activities  

Experts recommend that adults over the age of 18 need at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week to stay healthy- that’s about 30 minutes a day, five days a week.  

The activity should be spread throughout the week, ideally on at least 3 days of the week.  It can be broken down into short 10 minute sessions, without losing any of the health benefits.  The actual time you spend being active depends on the degree of effort.

effort vs time needed chart

Source: Public Health Agency of Canada | Printable version | Chart summary

A well-balanced program should include the following types of activity:

  1. endurance/cardio (aerobic) activities 4 to 7 days per week;
  2. flexibility activities 4 to 7 days per week; and
  3. resistance (strength) activities 2 to 4 days per week. 

For safety, it’s important to warm up beforehand, learn proper techniques to protect your back and joints and breathe while exercising.  Stretch afterwards to reduce the risk of injury.

Endurance / cardio (aerobic) activities

These include any rhythmic activities performed continuously.  They exercise your heart and increase your heart rate. And, like any other muscle, regular exercise will make your heart stronger and improve its performance. 

Endurance / cardio activities also increase your energy, help you burn calories and help improve your lungs and circulatory system by pumping more oxygen and blood through your body. Some endurance/cardio (aerobic) activities to try are:

Note: The amount of calories burned after 30 minutes is influenced by body weight, intensity of activity, conditioning level and metabolism.

Calories burned after 30 minutes of activity

Activity

Weight in pounds (lbs)

130 lbs

155 lbs

180 lbs

205 lbs

Brisk walking  (3.5 mph)

112

134

156

177

Walk/run, playing with children (moderate intensity)

118

141

164

186

Running ,6 mph (10 min mile)

295

352

409

466

Swimming, treading water (moderate intensity)

118

141

164

186

Climbing stairs

266

317

368

419

Shoveling snow by hand

177

211

245

294

Stationary cycling (moderate intensity)

207

247

288

326

 Skating, average speed

207

247

288

326

Source: Calculations are based on research data from Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise

 

Flexibility

This refers to how far and how easily your joints can move. Better joint mobility helps to keep you agile and moving more easily, especially as you get older.

It’s a good idea to stretch after your endurance or strength activities, when your muscles are warm. Stretch slowly and smoothly, without bouncing or jerking, and breathe deeply as you move.

Calories burned after 30 minutes of activity

Activity

Weight in pounds (lbs)

130 lbs

155 lbs

180 lbs

205 lbs

Yoga

118

141

164

186

Tai Chi

118

141

164

186

Full body stretches, light intensity

74

88

102

117

Golf (without a golf cart)

 133

159

184

210

Bowling

89

106

123

140

Housework (dusting, sweeping, vaccuum) – moderate intensity

74

88

102

117

Source: Calculations are based on research data from Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise

 

Strength activities

These help strengthen your muscles and bones, help to prevent diseases such as osteoporosis and help to improve your posture. They also help you build lean muscle tissue, which increases metabolism and reduces body fat.

Calories burned after 30 minutes of activity

Activity

Weight in pounds (lbs)

130 lbs

155 lbs

180 lbs

205 lbs

Lifting weights (light intensity)

89

106

123

140

Weight lifting, vigorous

 177

 211

 245

 279

Calisthenics (push ups, sit ups…) light intensity

104

123

143

163

Calistenics (push ups, sit ups…) vigorous intensity

236

282

327

373

Circuit training (minimal rest)

236

282

327

373

Rowing machine (moderate intensity) *

207

247

286

326

* This activity includes aerobic and stretching elements
Source: Calculations are based on research data from Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise

Exercising precaution

Everyone can benefit from regular physical activity, regardless of age or fitness level, but you may need to take some precautions.  Start by taking the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire and, if needed, talk to your doctor or health care practitioner before you start a new exercise program.

If you’ve had open-heart surgery or a heart attack, ask your doctor about a cardiac rehabilitation program. If you have cardiovascular problems, you can start the HeartWalk Workout, a walking program that has been developed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation.


Get active with these resources: