Ideas for getting active

Looking for ideas for physical activity that fit your lifestyle?

Experts say to do regular moderate activity and/or vigorous-intensity activity.

But how do you know which activities are “moderate” and which are “vigorous”? In general, you notice your heart beating faster than usual when you do an activity at a moderate level. When you do something at a vigorous level, your heart beats much faster and you breathe harder.

Here are some ideas for both types of activities. You can boost many of the moderate activities in the left column to a vigorous level by doing them faster or harder.1

Moderate intensity

Vigorous intensity

General exercise:

  • Brisk walking
  • Slimnastics and Jazzercise
  • Light to moderate calisthenics (for example, home exercises, back exercises, getting up and down from the floor)
  • General health club exercise
  • Low-impact aerobic dancing
  • Jogging on a small trampoline
  • Weight lifting, body building, using a lot of effort

General exercise:

  • Jogging or running
  • Walking uphill
  • Heavy calisthenics (push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, etc.)
  • High impact aerobic dancing
  • Step aerobics
  • Jumping rope
  • Circuit training with little rest

Water exercises:

  • Leisure swimming (not swimming laps)
  • Treading water with moderate effort
  • Water aerobics or water calisthenics
  • Rowing a canoe for pleasure
  • Kayaking, canoeing, white-water rafting
  • Springboard or platform diving
  • Paddle boating
  • Sailing and windsurfing
  • Water skiing
  • Snorkeling
  • Surfing
  • Water volleyball

Water exercises:

  • Swimming laps, any type of stroke
  • Treading water with fast, vigorous effort
  • Water jogging
  • Synchronized swimming
  • Rowing a canoe in competition
  • Skimobiling
  • Skin diving and scuba diving
  • Water polo

Bicycling:

  • Street biking at 11 mph or slower

Bicycling:

  • Mountain biking
  • Street biking at 12 mph or faster

Gym equipment:

  • Stationary bicycling, with light effort
  • Light to moderate workouts on gym equipment like Nautilus or Universal machines or a rowing machine
  • Light effort on a rowing machine

Gym equipment:

  • Stationary bicycling, with moderate to vigorous effort
  • Using a stair-climber or skiing machine
  • Moderate effort on a rowing machine

Organized sports:

  • Basketball: Shooting baskets
  • Coaching sports teams
  • Cricket
  • Curling
  • Drag racing
  • Fencing
  • Casual racquetball (not competitive)
  • Archery (non-hunting)
  • Badminton
  • Golfing
  • Motocross
  • Shuffleboard and lawn bowling
  • Skateboarding
  • Sky diving
  • Softball
  • Ping-Pong
  • Noncompetitive volleyball

Organized sports:

  • Basketball: playing a game, officiating
  • Boxing
  • Broomball
  • Football
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Handball and jai alai
  • Competitive racquetball
  • Judo, karate, and tai kwan do
  • Kickball
  • Lacrosse
  • Polo
  • Rugby
  • Roller skating
  • Soccer
  • Squash
  • Tennis
  • Competitive volleyball

Outdoor activities:

  • Horseback riding in general
  • Fishing and hunting
  • Playing with a Frisbee
  • Children's games, like hopscotch, 4-square, and dodge ball
  • Playing on playground equipment
  • Hacky Sack

Outdoor activities:

  • Horseback riding—trotting or galloping
  • Competitive sports like rugby, field hockey, and soccer
  • Orienteering
  • Rock climbing
  • Hiking with a backpack

House and yard work:

  • Sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping floors
  • Washing the car with vigorous effort
  • Sweeping the garage, sidewalk, or patio
  • Washing the dog
  • Mowing or raking the lawn
  • Digging in the garden

House and yard work:

  • Carrying groceries upstairs
  • Carrying boxes or furniture
  • Baling hay or cleaning the barn with vigorous effort

Winter activities:

  • Ice skating slowly
  • Downhill skiing with light to moderate effort
  • Snowmobiling
  • Shoveling snow

Winter activities:

  • Ice skating more than 9 mph
  • Downhill skiing with vigorous effort, as in racing
  • Bobsledding, tobogganing
  • Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing

Citations

  1. Ainsworth BE (2002). Compendium of Physical Activities Tracking Guide. Columbia, SC: Prevention Research Center, Norman J. Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina. Available online: http://prevention.sph.sc.edu/tools/compendium.htm.

Last Updated: August 26, 2008

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