How Much Exercise is Enough

This is the question. The truth is that the answer is as varied as the individuals who ask the question. That said, there are guidelines based on research that can shed light on this important question. After all, if you exercise too much, you risk injury. Exercise too little, and you reduce the positive benefits that exercise has on your health.


The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that adults age 18 to 64 should strive to accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week.

Children ages five to 11 and youth ages 12 to 17 should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity daily, and

  • Include vigorous-intensity activities at least three days per week.
  • Include activities that strengthen muscle and bone at least three days per week.

What is Moderate to Vigorous Intensity all about?

There are different ways to measure your exercise intensity. One of the best ways to find out what intensity means for you, is to get a fitness assessment from a qualified personal trainer”:/directory/trainers/. For some people, measuring your heart rate, is the way to go. But if numbers are too complicated for you, there are simple methods you can use to self-assess the intensity of your exercise level based on your breathing and how you feel.

Light intensity

  • no noticeable changes in your breathing pattern
  • you don’t break a sweat
  • You can easily talk
  • On a scale of one to ten you might rate your level of intensity as a 2 or 3, similar to a 20% – 30% of a 220-age Heart Rate level

Moderate intensity

  • Your breathing is faster—but you’re not out of breath
  • You start to sweat
  • You can talk, but not as easily (singing would be difficult, for example)
  • On a scale o fone to ten you might rate your level of exertion as a 4 or 5 (similar to a 50% to 60% of a 220-age Heart Rate level)

Vigorous exercise intensity

  • Your breathing is rapid
  • You develop a sweat after a few minutes of activity and continue to sweat
  • You can’t say more than a few words together without pausing for breath
  • On a scale of one to 10, you might rate your exertion as a 6 or 7 (similar to a 70-80% Heart Rate)


  • Shortness of breath
  • lightheadedness/dizzy
  • Pain

ANY OF THESE symptoms may indicate that your exercise intensity is probably higher than your current fitness level allows.

  • If this happens, cut back and gradually build up your intensity level over time. Happy Exercising!

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