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- As a general recommendation, adults should try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day. Recommendations can vary, so be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise routine.
- Include vigorous-intensity physical activity at least 3 days a week, participate in muscle-strengthening physical activity on at least 3 days of the week and include bone-strengthening physical activity on at least 3 days of the week.
- If older adults cannot do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week because of chronic conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow. Older adults should do exercises that maintain or improve balance if they are at risk of falling.
Children and Adolescents
- It is important to encourage young people to participate in physical activities that are appropriate for their age, that are enjoyable and that offer variety.
- Children and adolescents should get 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity daily. Most of the time should include either moderate- or vigorous-intensity, aerobic physical activity.
Health Benefits of Physical Activity
- Brain Health: Physical activity can give you a brain boost! Benefits include improved thinking or cognition for children 6 to 13 years of age and reduced short-term feelings of anxiety for adults. Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age. It can also reduce your risk of depression and anxiety and help you sleep better.
- Healthy Weight: Your diet and your level of physical activity help maintain a healthy body weight. Weight gain happens when you consume more calories (from food and beverages) than the amount of calories you burn, including those burned during physical activity. Therefore, you have to balance calories consumed and calories burned through activity. Remember, though, that people vary greatly in how much physical activity they need. You may need to be more active than others to reach or maintain a healthy weight.
- Heart Health: Heart disease and stroke are two of the leading causes of death in the United States. Following daily physical activity recommendations can reduce your risk for these diseases. Regular physical activity can also lower your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol levels.
- Diabetes: Regular physical activity can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, which is some combination of too much fat around the waist, high blood pressure, low High Density Lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol, high triglycerides, or high blood sugar.
- Cancer: Physical activity may lower your risk for developing several commonly occurring cancers. In addition, if you are a cancer survivor, regular activity can boost your physical fitness and quality of life.
- Strengthen Bones & Muscles: It is important to protect your bones, joints, and muscles so that you are able to live your life and participate in all of your daily activities. Doing aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening physical activity can slow the loss of bone density and help increase or maintain your muscle mass and strength, which can also decrease as you age.
Remember, some physical activity is better than none! To meet your daily recommendations, you do not need to do the full 30 minutes (adults) or 60 minutes (youth) at one time. If it fits your schedule better, you can break that up throughout the day. For example, if an adult takes three, 10-minute walks during a day, that meets the daily recommended activity of 30 minutes. You may see additional health benefits by engaging in physical activity beyond the daily recommendations.
Are you ready to start? If you want to move well but don't quite know where to start, try walking! Walking doesn’t require any equipment or a gym membership, and you can do it anywhere. As with any exercise that is new to you, start slow to help your body get used to the new routine.