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Ask the expert: Physical activity

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Swati Biswas, M.D.​​​​

Swati Biswas, M.D.​​​​
Physical medicine and rehabilitation
Sees patients at Marshfield Clinic Wausau Center

Question: Is there a government standard for physical activity for Americans?​​​

Yes. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services now has a set of Physical Activity Guidelines, the most comprehensive federal recommendations ever.

These guidelines recognize the importance of physical activity to the health of Americans, whose current inactivity puts them at unnecessary risk.

Under these guidelines, adults should get at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity each week, such as brisk walking, or 1¼ hours of a vigorous-intensity activity, such as jogging or swimming laps.

Adults should also do muscle-strengthening (resistance) activities two or more days a week at a moderate- or high-intensity level for all major muscle groups.

This includes exercises for the chest, back, shoulders, upper legs, hips, abdomen and lower legs.

Children and adolescents should do an hour or more of moderate-intensity to vigorous aerobic physical activity each day.

This should include vigorous activity at least three days a week, and bone-strengthening activities such as running, jumping rope, skipping, playing hopscotch and muscle-strengthening activities such as tug of war, modified sit-ups and push-ups.

Older Americans and those with disabilities should follow the guidelines for other adults if they are able, or at least be as active as their physical condition allows.

To view the federal guidelines, visit​ or contact your health care provider.

​Marshfield Clinic provides Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation​ in a number of our centers. Your primary care doctor can refer you to the appropriate specialty and location​​