How much cardio exercise do I need for health benefits?

For general health benefits, it is recommended that you perform 30-60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity, five to seven days a week. Activities for general health improvements can include general activities such as walking your dog, mowing the lawn, taking the stairs, dancing, and playing with your children. The intensity of the activity should be moderate enough to raise your heart rate and increase breathing rate. Choose activities that you enjoy. If you find 30-60 minutes is a little too challenging, try splitting your activity up into three bouts of 10 minutes. Research has shown that performing 10 minutes of activity, three times a day, is just as effective as performing one 30 minute bout of activity.

If you are trying to make a healthy lifestyle change then consider 30 minutes of moderate cardio (ex. walking, hiking, biking) 5-7 days per week. If you cannot do 30 minutes all at once then consider doing three 10 minute periods of cardio to still have a positive impact on your overall health. If you are trying to lose weight, then the National Academy of Sports Medicine recommends, cardio 3-5 days per week, 20-60 minutes at a time, at 60%-90% of your maximum heart rate. Though, given our busy lives, it may be more realistic to go with 5-7 days with 30 minutes of cardio at a given time.

Remember to consult your doctor before starting any program to ensure your body can handle the stress of cardio workouts.


The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend adults engage in 150 minutes a week, or 30 minutes 5 times a week, of moderate-intensity activity, such as brisk walking, to help improve their overall health and fitness and reduce their risk for developing numerous chronic diseases. If clients cannot achieve the suggested minimal guidelines for cardiorespiratory training, they can break it up into shorter increments. For example, they can exercise for 10 minutes at a time until they meet 150 minutes per week.

Howard Sichel
Physical Therapy
You can look up all of the guidelines for how much CV exercise to do but my suggestion is to just start doing more than you are now and slowly increase it to 30 -45 minutes of exercise 4-5 x per week. Find something you enjoy doing and stick to it. Anything is better than nothing so get out there and do it.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.