Fitting in Fitness

Simple steps add up

Did you know you benefit from even small amounts of moderate activity throughout the day? Regular physical activity is easier to fit in than you may realize and can significantly lower your lifetime risk for cancer – and heart disease and diabetes, too.

You’ll find the American Cancer Society’s physical activity guidelines for adults and children below. These recommendations are based on the latest scientific information to help reduce the risk of developing cancer.

ACS Physical Activity Guidelines for Cancer Prevention

Adults: Get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week (or a combination of these), preferably spread throughout the week.

Children and teens: Get at least 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous intensity activity each day, with vigorous activity on at least 3 days each week.

  • Moderate activity is anything that makes you breath as hard as you do during a brisk walk. During moderate activities, you'll notice a slight increase in heart rate and breathing, but you may not break a sweat.
  • Vigorous activities are performed at a higher intensity and generally use large muscle groups. They cause a noticeable increase in heart rate, faster breathing, and sweating.

Being more physically active than usual, no matter what one’s level of activity, can have many health benefits.

Examples of moderate and vigorous physical activities


    Moderate intensity activities

    Vigorous intensity activities

    Exercise and leisure

    Walking, dancing, leisurely bicycling, ice skating, roller skating, horseback riding, canoeing, yoga

    Jogging or running, fast bicycling, circuit weight training, aerobic dance, martial arts, jumping rope, swimming


    Volleyball, golfing, softball, baseball, badminton, doubles tennis, downhill skiing

    Soccer, field or ice hockey, lacrosse, singles tennis, racquetball, basketball, cross-country skiing

    Home activities

    Mowing the lawn (push mower), general lawn and garden maintenance

    Digging, carrying and hauling, masonry, carpentry

    Occupational activity

    Walking and lifting as part of the job (custodial work, farming, auto or machine repair)

    Heavy manual labor (forestry, construction, fire fighting)

Active substitutions

Don’t think you have time to add physical activity to your day? Consider simple substitutions. Think about how much time you spend sitting, versus being active. Are there ways to replace sitting with moving? For instance:

  • Use stairs rather than an elevator.
  • Walk or bike to your destination.
  • Exercise at lunch with your workmates, family, or friends.
  • Take a 20-minute exercise break at work to stretch or take a quick walk.
  • Walk to visit co-workers instead of sending an email.
  • Go dancing with your spouse or friends.
  • Plan active vacations, rather than driving trips.
  • Wear a pedometer every day to increase your daily number of steps.
  • Join a sports or recreation team.
  • Use a stationary bicycle or treadmill while watching TV.

No matter what kind of activity you choose, the important thing is to get moving. Try to look for opportunities to be active throughout your day.


The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: June 30, 2014 Last Revised: June 30, 2014

American Cancer Society medical information is copyrighted material. For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy.