Physical Activity Safe for Almost Everyone

Physical Activity: It’s Safe for Almost Everyone

Most people are not likely to be injured when doing moderate intensity activities. However, injuries do sometimes happen. The most common problems are bone injuries. Even so, studies show that only one such injury occurs for every 1,000 hours of walking.  Fewer than four injuries occur for every 1,000 hours of running.

Both physical fitness and total amount of physical activity affect risk of bone injuries. People who are physically fit have a lower risk of injury than people who are not. People who do more activity have a higher risk of injury than people who do less activity. So what should people do if they want to be active and safe? The best strategies are to:

  1. Be regularly physically active to increase physical fitness.
  2. Increase physical activity gradually over time. This minimizes injury risk from doing medium to high amounts of activity.

Key Guidelines for Safe Physical Activity

To do physical activity safely and reduce risk of injuries and other adverse events, people should:

  • Understand the risks. Be confident that physical activity is safe for almost everyone.
  • Choose to do types of physical activity that are appropriate for your current health goals.  Some activities are safer than others.
  • Increase physical activity slowly.
  • Inactive people should “start low and go slow”.  Gradually increase how often and how long activities are done.
  • Protect yourself by using appropriate gear and sports equipment. Look for safe environments and make sensible choices about when, where, and how to be active.
  • Be under the care of a doctor if you have health problems. People with chronic conditions should consult their doctor about the types and amounts of activity appropriate for them.

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Key Guidelines for Safe Physical Activity
Key Guidelines for Safe Physical Activity


Choose Appropriate Types and Amounts of Activity

People can reduce their risk of injury by choosing appropriate types of activity. The safest activities are moderate intensity and low impact. They don’t involve purposeful collision or contact.

Walking, gardening or yard work, bicycling or exercise cycling, dancing, swimming, and golf are activities with the lowest injury rates. Walking is a moderate-intensity and low-impact activity. Walking has a third or less of the injury risk of running.  Running is a vigorous-intensity and higher impact activity.

Hit that perfect beat.

Dancing raises your pulse – a key to a healthy heart. Running and biking will do the same. Regular physical activity has many other disease-fighting benefits. It reduces your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, lowers your risk of developing cancer, and helps you prevent bone loss (osteoporosis), and maintain mobility and independence in later years.

The risk of injury for a type of physical activity can also differ according to the purpose of the activity. For example, recreational bicycling or bicycling for transportation leads to fewer injuries than training for and competing in bicycle races.

People who have had a past injury are at risk of injuring that body part again. The risk of injury can be reduced by performing appropriate amounts of activity and setting goals. Performing a variety of different physical activities may reduce the risk of overuse injury.

The Continuum of Injury Risk Associated With Different Types of Activity
The Continuum of Injury Risk Associated With Different Types of Activity

Source: Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

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Fitness Guidelines for Adults

Fitness Guidelines for Adults

All adults should avoid inactivity. Some physical activity is better than none. Adults who participate in any amount of physical activity achieve health gains. Learn what the fitness guidelines are for adults and get moving!

  • Moderate Activity Fitness GuidelinesFor substantial health gains, adults should do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise.  If your exercising at a vigorous level, 75 minutes a week of aerobic physical activity is enough. You can also do the equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous intensity aerobics. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes and should be spread throughout the week.


  • Vigorous Physical Activity Fitness GuidelinesFor additional and more extensive health gains, adults can increase aerobics to 300 minutes a week of moderate intensity. That is equal to five hours of aerobics.  You could also do 150 minutes a week of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity.  Another option is a combination of moderate and vigorous intensity activity. Additional health gains occur when you are physically activity beyond this amount.


  • Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or high intensity. All major muscle groups should be exercised on 2 or more days a week. These activities provide additional health gains. Visit our Essential Exercises section for exercises for all levels of fitness.

Muscle Strengthening to meet fitness guidelines

Over 55?

You can exercise a bit less strenuously, but should still exercise! Check out our Exercise Guidelines for Seniors for information and exercises modified for seniors. We offer many different exercises to work each major muscle group safety and effectively. You want to stay in shape as you age to continue enjoying an active quality of life.

Physical Guidelines Level for Adults

Recommended Physical Activity Amounts for Aduts Infographic

In Summary

Adults should do 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobics every week.

Instead of 150 minutes of moderate intensity, you could do 75 minutes of vigorous aerobics each week. Be sure you are in good shape if you choose this option.

Muscle strengthening should be done twice a week. All major muscle groups should be challenged with resistance. If you are new to muscle toning, consider Exercising with Therabands.

If you have any specific health issues, do consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

Source: US Dept of Health and Human Services, Physical Fitness Guidelines for Americans