At least 30 minutes of moderate activity each day will help to lower your risk for cancer. The more activity you do, the lower your risk.
The key thing to remember about physical activity is that every little bit counts. By simply moving more and sitting less throughout your day, you can experience health benefits.
For improved health, physical activity should preferably be medium- to high-intensity (causes some huffing and puffing), and add up to at least 150 minutes per week or about 30 minutes a day.
- During medium-intensity activity, your heart will beat faster and you’ll breathe harder than normal, but you’ll still be able to talk. Examples include walking briskly, cleaning, mowing the lawn or cycling.
- During high-intensity activity, you will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath. Examples include running or jogging, swimming, soccer or hiking uphill.
The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology has developed guidelines for how much activity you should get in every 24-hour period.
- 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of medium- to high-intensity aerobic physical activity. Aerobic activity makes you breathe harder and gets your heart pumping harder.
- Add in bone strengthening activities (like climbing stairs) at least two days a week for added benefits.
- 420 minutes (7 hours) of medium- to high-intensity aerobic physical activity.
- An easy way to do this is to aim for one hour of activity each day.
- Add in bone strengthening activities three days per week for added benefits.
Finding time to get active when balancing a busy schedule can be difficult, so start with small, manageable goals and build from there. You also don’t have to do all your physical activity at once. Choose a variety of activities spread out throughout your day and week.
The important thing is to do what works best for you, to have fun with it and be proud of your progress.
A sedentary lifestyle is a significant risk factor for heart disease and cancer, among other serious health issues. Even if you are physically active for 30 to 60 minutes each day, if the rest of your day is spent mostly sitting or being still (e.g., at work, driving, watching TV, etc.), you may still be at risk for health problems.
During waking hours, try to limit your sedentary time to eight hours or less per day, including no more than three hours of screen time for adults and no more than two hours for children and youth.
Take regular breaks from sitting. Consider standing up for five minutes every hour at work or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. It might not sound like a lot, but research shows that even light activity, which can include leisurely walking, stretching and household chores, has some health benefits.
Here are a few no- or low-cost ideas to help get you moving:
- Explore a park in your neighbourhood, and ride your bike, jog or walk through it. There are always new things to see.
- Walk instead of drive for a few trips each week, or get off the bus or train one stop earlier to give yourself some extra walking time.
- If it’s hard to fit activity into your day, try a 15-minute walk during a work or lunch break, or take a walking meeting or call instead of sitting at your desk.
- Skip the elevator or escalator and take the stairs, when possible. Stair climbing benefits not only your heart and muscles, but also helps your bones stay strong.
- Try a free workout video on YouTube.
- Keep up with regular house chores. Yes, it's true—vacuuming, mopping and other vigorous cleaning and maintenance tasks count toward your daily physical activity!