Aerobic Physical Activity: Guidelines For Adults

Regular physical activity improves overall well-being and helps the body function at its best.

There are many benefits to regular exercise including:

  • Decreases stress.
  • Improves mood.
  • Increases the ability to cope with life’s demands.
  • Reduces the risk of premature death.
  • Reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases such as
    • Heart disease,
    • Stroke,
    • High blood pressure,
    • Certain types of cancer,
    • Type 2 diabetes, and
    • Osteoporosis
    • (management of these conditions is typically improved as well).
  • Helps the body to maintain its natural weight.

What are the Guidelines?

To achieve health benefits, adults should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.

This is best spread out over a week, for example, 30 minutes or more of moderate intensity activity on five days a week.

Lets Talk Intensity


Physical activities cause you to feel somewhat warm and to sweat a little. Your breathing is harder, but you should be able to carry on a conversation while exercising.


  • Brisk walking, 5-6.5 km/hr (9-12 minute kilometer).
  • Ice Skating at a leisurely pace.
  • Bike riding.


Physical activities cause you to sweat and feel quite warm. Your breathing is more rapid making it difficult to carry on a conversation while exercising.


  • Race walking, jogging, or running.
  • Cross country skiing.


  • It is beneficial to add muscle-strengthening activities, which use major muscle groups, at least two days per week.

  • It is not advisable to do more than five vigorous workouts per week while moderate exercise can be done every day of the week. If you like vigorous activity, try doing a moderate intensity workout between days of vigorous activity to ensure that your body has time to recover between workouts.

  • Finding something you enjoy is key. While moderate and vigorous activity both provide health benefits, many people find a moderate pace more enjoyable. Most often people "fall off the exercise wagon" because they have chosen an activity or plan that doesn’t fit them - not because they are lazy or lack willpower. Give some real thought to the kinds of activity that you like and find invigorating - rather than exhausting. Physical activity should feel good!

Exercise and Weight Loss

Many people exercise to build muscle and in hopes of burning body fat. Surprisingly, this only works if you are eating enough - between 1,800–2,500 kcal/day for a moderately active woman (depending on height, build and genetics).

If you exercise when your food intake is low (e.g., less than 1,500 kcal/day) your body cannot use fat for fuel and will break down muscle tissue to use instead.

To get the most benefits from being physically active, eat regularly (at least every 4-5 hours) and try to get enough of the energy and nutrients you need from wholesome foods.

How Much Exercise is Too Much?

It can be tempting to apply the "more is better" philosophy to exercise, but the benefits of physical activity are actually reversed if we do too much.

Performing vigorous exercise on more than five days a week doesn’t give your body enough time to repair itself and puts you are at risk of overtraining. While our bodies typically let us know when we are doing too much, it’s easy to ignore the signals.

If you are frequently tired and sluggish, it may time to scale back your workouts. Pay special attention to your body; if two or more signs and symptoms of over exercising (called overtraining) apply to you, you may be doing too much! Performance is actually enhanced when you treat your body will care.

Signs and Symptoms of Overtraining

If you experience two or more of the following symptoms, reduce your activity for at least a few weeks and note whether the issues improve. If symptoms persist, consult with the appropriate professional (e.g., physician, physiotherapist, personal trainer).

  • Exercise feels harder than usual.
  • Tired and sluggish.
  • Slower recovery from workouts.
  • Heart rate is higher than usual at a given pace and does not level off as it typically does.
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Regular stiff and sore muscles and joints.
  • Frequent sore throats, colds, and/or cold sores.
  • Constipation or diarrhea.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Loss of menstruation.
  • Feeling down.
  • Less interest or pleasure in activities.
  • Decreased confidence.
  • Mood swings.
  • Difficulty concentrating.


Run a Bit to Keep Your Grades Fit. Study Naturally: the balanced way to increase your GPA

Exercise is a great way to improve brain function. Exercise improves your brain’s ability to focus by increasing your blood circulation, which delivers oxygen and glucose to the brain, while also taking away waste products. When paired with other Study Naturally techniques, exercise can help improve your focus and help you achieve academic success.  

Regular exercise improves memory. Research suggests that aerobic exercise training can lead to improvements in attention and processing speed, executive functioning, and memory. Exercise can also prevent age related memory loss.

I Don't Exercise. Where do I Start?

Choose a Minimum

Your body will benefit from several 10 minute exercise activities throughout the day. 30-60 minutes of moderate intensity activity daily is recommended. Try to do at least your minimum every day.

Avoid Trying Too Much Too Soon

You may become discouraged and quit, so start slowly and progress gradually.

Practice Safety Precautions

Stretch before you begin, wear a helmet, walk in well-lit areas or with a partner, and always drink plenty of water. Don’t over-exert yourself.

Do it with a Group

You will likely be more motivated and exercising will be more fun. Involve your family members, friends, and neighbors.

Whatever You Do, Make Sure You Enjoy It

If not, find something that you can enjoy, you’ll be more likely to stay involved with your exercise program. 

Benefits of Exercise

Boosts Your Endorphins

Exercise helps your brain produce feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins. These will help you shed tension and focus on a single task.

Helps Improve Sleep

A moderate amount of daily aerobic exercise can help improve sleep quality and reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, leaving you less tired while you are in class or studying.

Boosts Energy Level

Exercise improves blood circulation which helps you stay alert.

Improves Memory

Exercise at regular intervals leads to the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which helps improve memory.

Reduces Stress

Exercise helps burn off chemicals, such as adrenaline, which can help reduce stress.

Distracts from Negative Thinking

When we exercise we can get away from stress-provoking circumstances for a while.

Exercise and Exams

During exam time you may feel unable to take much time out from studying. Instead of giving up on exercise completely, try taking small, regular breaks to refresh your body and mind. Take a walk around the library or campus.

Think about what times of day you study best. Some find doing homework easier in the morning while others are more productive in the afternoon. Plan your day and fit some exercise around your study plan. 

What Should I do when I Lack Focus or Can't Study?

Visit the PAC

Check out a state of the art fitness facility at the Physical Activity Complex on Campus. Get in your daily exercise by visiting the campus fit centre, climbing wall, indoor track, or pool. The PAC also offers a wide range of fitness classes. For more information go to Campus Recreation Services online.

Join an Intramural Team

Join a competitive or recreational team. Intramural sports include: badminton, basketball, curling, dodgeball, floor hockey, football, futsal, hockey, innertube basketball, innertube water polo, slopitch, soccer, ultimate Frisbee and volleyball. For more information go to Campus Recreation Intramurals online.

Check out Campus Walking Routes

We are fortunate on campus to have access to some of the best indoor and outdoor walking paths in Saskatoon. See of the routes

Fit Tips

  • Exercise during commercials or study breaks.
  • Do calf raises while standing in line-ups.
  • Take the stairs rather than the elevator.
  • Add steps to your day – park far away, walk to a further bus stop, or take the long way to class.
  • Walk to a further bus stop.
  • Use readily available household products to build strength like soup cans for bicep curls or a strong box for step-ups.
  • Take up a new hobby like yoga, dancing, or gardening.
  • Involve your children in active family activities like hiking or playing tag.
  • Commit to fitting into your favourite jeans, building strength to play with your children, or increasing endurance to do a 5K walk/run.

What if I Exercise Too Much?

It can be tempting to apply the "more is better" philosophy to exercise, but the benefits of physical activity are actually reversed if we do too much.

Signs of Overtraining

  • Exercise feels harder than usual.
  • You are tired and sluggish.
  • Slower recovery from workouts.
  • Frequent headaches or stomach pains.
  • Difficult sleeping.
  • Muscles and joints are regularly stiff and sore.
  • Frequent sore throats or colds.

If you find yourself putting your workouts above everything else in you life - studies, relationships, or other activities, and you are not training for a specific short term goal, please talk to a counsellor, or health providers at Student Wellness Centre.


Study Naturally Techniques

Use all the Study Naturally techniques together to help reach your academic goals!

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