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Exercise Guidelines

Below are examples of exercise activities, duration and intensity that might be most appropriate for your age and fitness level.

These guidelines were developed in consultation with Rear Admiral Susan Blumenthal, MD, former U.S. Assistant Surgeon General and national health expert. The recommendations synthesize information from some of the most respected authorities on health, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the World Health Organization, the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association.

At 24 Hour Fitness, we're here to help you every step of the way!

Adolescents (ages 11-17)

Cardio Exercise

5-7 days per week

60 minutes of aerobic activity at either moderate intensity* or vigorous intensity**; with at least 3 days each week of vigorous-intensity** activity.

Examples of moderate-intensity activities include skateboarding, bicycling or walking to school.

Examples of vigorous-intensity activities include jumping rope or playing sports (i.e., soccer, basketball, or ice/field hockey)

Strength Exercise

3 days per week

Structured around light resistance, controlled movement and proper technique to minimize risk of injury

Examples of muscle-strengthening activities include gymnastics and rope climbing.

Adults (ages 18-64)

Cardio Exercise

5 days per week

  • 30 minutes at moderate-intensity activity*; or
  • 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity**.

Increase for additional health benefits:

  • 60 minutes at moderate-intensity activity; or
  • 30 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity.

To help lose weight or maintain weight loss increase to:

  • 5 days per week for 60-90 minutes.

Examples of moderate-intensity activities include raking leaves, playing golf, biking or washing the car. Examples of vigorous-intensity activities include playing sports, climbing stairs or walking uphill.

If you can't do this much, try to fit in 10 minute chunks of activity throughout your day. Every minute counts!

Strength Exercise

2-3 days per week

8-10 strength training exercises with 8-12 repetitions of each exercise (with at least one day of rest in between).

Include exercises for all major muscle groups.

Examples of muscle-strengthening activities include sit-ups and push-ups.

Older Adults (ages 65+)

Cardio Exercise

Follow the adult guidelines.

If there are limitations due to chronic conditions, avoid being inactive and be as physically active as your abilities allow.

Examples of moderate-intensity activities include ballroom dancing, brisk walking and water aerobics. Examples of vigorous-intensity activities include hiking or climbing stairs.

Strength Exercise

Follow adult guidelines as much as your abilities will allow.

Do exercises that maintain or improve your balance, strengthen your core and increase your flexibility.

Examples of muscle-strengthening activities include walking backwards or on your toes, or Tai Chi (a form of martial arts).

Pregnant & Postpartum Women

Cardio Exercise

Talk with your obstetrician about recommended activity levels throughout your pregnancy and whether adjustments are needed to your exercise plan.

Healthy women should participate in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio activity 5 days a week.

Examples of moderate-intensity activities include swimming or brisk walking. Examples of vigorous-intensity activities include stationary bicycling. Pregnant women should avoid activities that involve lying on the back or that pose a risk of falling or abdominal injury.

Strength Exercise

Consult with your doctor to determine appropriate regimen.

Correct form when strength training is very important.

Examples of muscle-strengthening activities include light yoga and lifting weights.

Steps For Success

We know that reaching your fitness goals is not always easy, but we're here to help you every step of the way. That's why in addition to introducing the 24 Hour Fitness® Exercise Guidelines we've also listed below some simple ways to help you get started on your fitness journey, or to add additional activity to your day, whether you're at the gym, at work or at home!

Consult your doctor: Before beginning your fitness plan, speak with your doctor about any limitations on your physical activity and for suggestions to fit with your health status. As you get started with your exercise program, know your health history, particularly any conditions or injuries that might limit vigorous exercise. Plan your activities accordingly.

Fitness your way: Choose cardio, core and strength training activities that support your fitness goals and are enjoyable. Exercising should be fun - not a chore. Make sure to include cardio exercise as well as strengthening activities for your bones and muscular fitness, as well as core activities (targeting your abdomen, lower back and hips), stretching and balance training. If you do not enjoy running or walking, try taking a Group X® class or try other pieces of cardio equipment our clubs have to offer - like the elliptical or stationary bike. If you don't like lifting weights, try doing exercises using different equipment like tubing or medicine balls. You can also do a variety of exercises using your own body weight. 24 Hour Fitness provides a variety of ways to get your heart rate up and strengthen your body.

Start slow and build: If you haven't been exercising regularly, ease into your new fitness regimen. Every little bit counts such as taking the stairs instead of using the elevator. As you build strength, remember to stretch every time you exercise to eliminate muscle imbalances. Also, be sure to warm up before each workout, cool down after a session and stay hydrated.

Set realistic goals and have fun: Give your exercise program some structure by setting time, distance, and strength goals that are difficult enough to challenge you, but achievable enough to keep you motivated. Engage in exercise following these guidelines: for adults, 30 minutes at least 5 days a week of moderate level activity; for adolescents, 60 minutes at least 5 days a week of moderate level activity. Remember, every little bit counts! At 24 Hour Fitness, you can have fun while you are achieving your fitness goals.

Try a variety of activities: Mix up your exercise program by participating in a different activity each day. 24 Hour Fitness offers a variety of Group X classes and equipment to support your fitness goals - try swimming laps, participating in strength training, or joining a Group X class you haven't tried before.

Cross-train to avoid injury: Cross-training (e.g., on an indoor bike or elliptical) at least once a week is another great way to add variety to your fitness routine. This also helps to prevent boredom and allows your muscles to recover, reducing the likelihood of overuse injuries.

Build a support system to enjoy and strengthen your fitness routine: Whether you meet a friend at the gym, join a Group X class or sign up for personal training with a 24 Hour Fitness Personal Trainer, establishing a support system can help motivate you to maintain your fitness regimen. Consider participating in a community event like a local charity walk.

Make fitness part of your daily routine: Once you have begun exercising regularly, physical activity will become a natural element of your daily schedule. If you stay fit with fun and engaging activities, exercise will help boost your physical and mental health, improve sleep, help manage your weight, and help you look and feel better. Physical activity is an important step towards a healthier future.

These tips are not intended to be used for the diagnosis or treatment of a health problem or as a substitute for consulting a licensed medical professional.

Details

Remember to stretch every time you exercise, or at least 3 times per week. Adolescents and adults with disabilities should work with their health care provider to identify the types and amounts of physical activity appropriate for them. Whenever possible, adolescents and adults with disabilities should meet the physical activity guidelines for their age group or participate in as much activity as their condition allows.

*On a scale of 0-10, with 0 equaling inactivity or rest and 10 equaling maximum effort, moderate-intensity refers to activity that is usually performed at a 5 or 6 level of effort

**On a scale of 0-10, with 0 equaling inactivity or rest and 10 equaling maximum effort, vigorous-intensity refers to activity that is usually performed at a 7 or 8 level of effort

Sources:

  • 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Available at: http://www.health.gov/

  • Physical Activity and Public Health: Updated Recommendations for Adults from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association (2007).

Available at: http://www.acsm.org/

  • Strength Training: OK for Kids? Mayo Clinic.

Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/

These materials are not intended to be used for the diagnosis or treatment of a health problem or as a substitute for consulting a licensed medical professional.