How to Get the Ideal Mix of Exercise

smiling woman holds hand weights

The American Cancer Society recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week, preferably spread throughout the week.

Examples of moderate-intensity activities include brisk walking, dancing, leisurely bicycling, yoga, golfing, softball, doubles tennis, and general yard and garden maintenance. Examples of vigorous-intensity activities include jogging, running, fast bicycling, swimming, aerobic dance, soccer, singles tennis, and basketball. All of these activities are in addition to those that are part of your usual routine at home and work – things like walking from your car to the garage, and climbing a flight of stairs.

In addition, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends strength-training exercises for all major muscle groups at least 2 times a week. Strength training can be performed with free weights such as barbells and dumbbells, resistance bands and tubes, weight machines, or with no equipment at all. Aim to do a single set of each exercise, using a weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 8 to 12 repetitions.

An ideal workout, according to the AHA, would also include flexibility exercises such as stretching, yoga, or Pilates. And balance exercise such as yoga, Pilates, tai chi, dance, balance boards, or stability balls. These exercises should be done 2 or 3 days each week.

For example, a week of a healthy exercise mix could look like this:

  • Sunday: light stretching, then 30 minutes of brisk walking
  • Monday: 30 minutes of gardening and yard work
  • Tuesday: light stretching, then 30 minutes of brisk walking
  • Wednesday: resistance band exercises, yoga
  • Thursday: light stretching, then 30 minutes of brisk walking
  • Friday: light stretching, then 30 minutes of brisk walking
  • Saturday: resistance band exercises, yoga

General goals

  • Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
  • For even more health benefits, increase activity levels slowly over time.
  • Reduce sitting time, even if you’re getting the recommended amount of physical activity. Sitting for hours at a time has been shown to be a health risk.
  • Make regular physical activity a regular part of your lifestyle, even if you can spare only 10 or 15 minutes each day.
  • A little exercise is better than no exercise. Start slowly, and work your way toward your goals.


The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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