How much exercise should you be getting and what are the main benefits of exercise?

How much exercise should you be getting and what are the main benefits of exercise?

TheDepartment of Health and Social Care have rather handily put these easy-to-digest infographics together to illustrate the amount of exercise we, as adults, should be getting per week, as well as the benefits that we can expect to reap as a result of that exercise.

In this blog we’re taking a quick look at what they advise for adults and older adults, but we’ll also be looking at the amount of exercise pregnant women, women who have recently given birth, and disabled adults should aim for, as well as the benefits. 

A runner in reflective highvis clothing


So what are the main benefits of exercise according to the research undertaken by the Department of Health and Social Care?

  • Broad health benefits
  • Improves sleep
  • Maintains a healthy weight
  • Manages stress
  • Improves quality of life

Undertaking exercise also helps reduce the chances of certain illness or injuries such as:

  • Type II Diabetes - reduced by 40%
  • Cardiovascular disease - reduced by 35%
  • Falls - reduced by 30%
  • Depression - reduced by 30%
  • Joints and back pain - reduced by 25%
  • Cancers (colon and breast) - reduced by 20%
Horse rider exercising, wearing a BTR highvis gilet


The Department of Health and Social Care suggest two alternative approaches to the amount of exercise you should aim for each week. It should be either:

At least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week (that is your breathing increases but you can still talk). A moderate cycle ride, walk around the block or swim are great ways to start quickly and easily.


At least 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise per week (so you’re breathing fast, and have difficulty talking). If you’re a runner, keen cyclist, or a sports person, you’re already on the right track. If you’re restricted to home or want to slot something in around ‘life’, use the stairs but take those steps a little faster than you might normally!

The guidance also suggests that you should build muscle strength on at least two days per week, perhaps through particular exercises at the gym or yoga.

A cyclist


As well as this, it is important to break up any periods of sedentary time so going for a walk after sitting at your desk for a while, for example.

If you’re starting to get towards your later years, it’s also advisable to partake in activities that help improve your balance, thereby reducing the chances of a fall. Consider a tai chi or dance session.

Many of you reading this are probably already exercising regularly and well above the Government guidelines. However if you’re new to exercise, have been ‘resting’ for a while, or know someone else who could do with upping their physical activity, this is a good target to aim for, and the stats relating to illness reduction are compelling evidence to motivate even the couchiest of potatoes!


Government guidance on the amount of exercise an adult should do

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