What activities count as “moderate” exercise?

September 24th, 2020

Doctors love to recommend moderate exercise as part of a healthy exercise, but what exactly does “moderate” mean? Not knowing what moderate exercise is can make starting a new routine feel intimidating. How can you start a new routine without knowing what it should be?

First, to answer the initial question: Technically, it depends on who you ask. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Heart Association have slightly different definitions. However, they generally agree that 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week is a good goal. When you break it down, that’s only about 30 minutes five days a week. Sounds more manageable already, right?

Now, as for what activities count for moderate exercise. Any activity that gets your heart rate 50 to 60% higher than your resting rate counts as “moderate” exercise. So with that in mind, here are some activities that qualify. We’ve also included the pace and amount of time to aim for.

  • Walking (2 miles in 30 minutes)
  • Biking (5 miles in 30 minutes)
  • Swimming laps (about 20 minutes)
  • Running (1.5 miles in 15 minutes)
  • Water aerobics (about 30 minutes)
  • Volleyball (about 45 minutes)
  • Basketball (about 20 minutes)
  • Jumping rope (about 15 minutes)
  • Climbing stairs (about 15 minutes)

Obviously, not all of these activities are in increments of thirty minutes. This is because some are more impactful than others. But, 10 minutes is the minimum amount of time needed to reap the benefits of this type of exercise. 

Of course, the above list isn’t complete by any means. There are numerous activities that also count as exercise, even if you don’t realize it. Here are a few more examples that could contribute to the 150 minutes.

  • Washing your car (45 minutes to 1 hour)
  • Gardening (30 to 45 minutes)
  • Raking leaves (about 30 minutes)
  • Mowing the lawn (30 to 45 minutes)
  • Dancing (about 30 minutes)
  • Vacuuming (30 to 45 minutes)

If you aren’t used to exercising, you may not want to jump into a strict routine. Instead, start with 10 to 20 minutes. Let yourself get used to exercise and learn how you’ll respond. Then, ramp up from there. Of course, you should always consult your doctor before starting a new routine, especially if you have medical conditions.

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