Get Moving This New Year : Current Guidelines On Physical Activity

On a global level …inactivity is the 4th leading risk factor in global mortality rates, increasing the prevalence of deaths from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) i.e. diseases that aren't passed from person to person. Not doing enough exercise is a significant public health problem prompting the need for global recommendations on frequency, duration, intensity, type and total amount of physical activity needed to stave off and minimise the onset of NCDs such as Obesity, Diabetes and Cardiovascular disease.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Takes Action

Sometimes people just want to know the facts, the need for long winded explanations, often arbitrary stats are just more words to read, so lets cut to the chase on what the WHO deem to be the best course of action for physical activity in order for people to get the most out of 2014…

The WHO acknowledge the difference between age and gender when specifying physical activity requirements, so they break it down as follows:

5-17 years old

Physical activity for this age group includes play time and games, sports, recreational activity, school lessons such as PE and planned activity such as school and family activities. The physiological processes that occur in children of this age range are vast, the development of major organs such as the heart, kidneys and lungs are still ongoing placing extra emphasis on the amount and duration of physical activity. Healthy bone development is fundamental at this age and regular impact exercises are as important to bone development as a healthy balanced diet is.

  • To meet these demands children and young people should aim to accumulate a minimum of 60mins exercise a day i.e. they should perform a minimum of 60mins over the course of the day
  • Aim for a minimum of 5 days a week physical activity
  • More than 60mins physical activity a week comes with additional health benefits
  • The majority of activity should be aerobic (CV), but at least 3 days of the week should include vigorous- intensity activity that also strengthen muscle and bone

18- 64 Years old

In this group of adults, current recommendations in order to improve cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, bone health and reducing the risk of NCDs and depression include the following:

  • 18- 64 year olds should aim to perform a minimum of 150mins of moderate intensity activity over the course of a week. Alternatively they should perform a minimum of 75mins of vigorous physical activity over the week or an equivalent combination of the two
  • Aerobic activity should be for a minimum of 10mins at a time
  • 300 mins of moderate activity or 150 mins of intense activity a week will further improve health
  • 2 or more days of the week should include some form of resistance training

65 years and above

This age range is very subjective because of many reasons, but the general rule of thumb is that they should seek physical activity in the form of recreational activities, leisure time physical activity, transportation (walking or cycling), occupational, household chores, games, sports or planned physical activity such as the gym. Any activity is good activity, the key is to make it consistent.

Physical activity (particularly impact activity) is vital in this age bracket, especially when it comes to maintaining bone health and mineral density, functional health, reduce the risk of NCDs, depression and minimise cognitive decline. To help with all of the above try to do the following:

  • 150mins of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or a minimum of 75mins vigorous intensity activity over the week. Alternatively they can perform an equivalent combination of these two forms of activity
  • Aim to perform bouts of at least 10 mins at a time to maximise efficacy
  • 300 mins of moderate activity or 150 mins of intense activity a week will further improve health
  • People in this bracket who suffer with poor mobility should aim to perform physical activity a minimum of 3 days a week to improve balance and minimise falls
  • Isolation of individual muscle groups is useful to improving muscle strength, and should be performed a minimum of 2 days a week
  • If those people in this bracket cannot perform the above recommended physical activity, they should strive to do as much as physically possible, whilst minimising risk, as they can

So if you think your physical activities can improve, have your sights firmly set on 2014...start with moderate intensity activity and increase gradually over time. The overall benefits of physical activity significantly outweigh the negatives, so don’t put it off guys,


World Health Organisation, (2010). Global recommendations on physical activity for health. Retrieved 26th November, 2013, from

About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!
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