How much exercise do you need?

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Exercise brings physical and mental health benefits — and NHS advice for adults is to do at least 150 minutes of “moderate intensity” physical activity per week.

People can split this into 30-minute sessions on different days of the week.

Moderate intensity means working hard enough to get a bit warmer and breathe more heavily, but not so hard that you can’t talk at the same time.

If you are unfit, overweight or have a health problem, you may only have to walk up a slope to get these feelings. If you are already fit, you could be able to run quickly and still talk.

Split it up

If 30 minutes a day sounds like a lot, don’t worry. You can split it into two 15-minute or three 10-minute sessions.

For your heart to benefit from physical activity, it needs continuous work for at least 10 minutes.

If 30 minutes a day seems too much, start by doing five minutes at least three times a day — building up slowly.

Nothing is too little. The people who benefit most from starting to do regular physical activity are those who don’t exercise at all now.

If you have not exercised for a while, or if you have medical conditions or are concerned about starting to exercise again, speak to your GP first. Adjust your activity and intensity to your personal fitness level.

Key sources and further reading

NHS Live Well: Exercise guidelines

15 March, 2023