Physical Activity Basics

2 women dancing in dance class

The evidence is clear—physical activity fosters normal growth and development, improves overall health, can reduce the risk of various chronic diseases, and can make people feel better, function better, and sleep better. Some health benefits start immediately after activity, and even short bouts of physical activity are beneficial.

Physical Activity Benefits and Needs for Everyone

Learn how physical activity can improve overall health for everyone, no matter age, ability or physical shape.

Are you having trouble being physically active? Learn how to overcome barriers to being physically active.

Physical Activity Recommendations Icons

Physical Activity Recommendations for Different Age Groups

Measure Your Progress

Learn how to measure your physical fitness level and progress toward your fitness goals over time.

Measuring Physical Activity Intensity
Perceived Exertion (Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale)
Target Heart Rate and Estimated Maximum Heart Rate
Physical Activity Diarypdf icon [PDF-571KB]

Physical Activity Guidelines

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd editionexternal icon outlines the amounts and types of physical activity needed to maintain or improve overall health and reduce the risk of chronic disease. It also highlights individual and community-level strategies that can make being physically active easier in the places where people live, learn, work, and play.

Other Benefits of Physical Activity

Complementary Resources