How Much Do I Need?

Physical Activity Guidelines

To get the health benefits, individuals must get the recommended amounts and types of physical activity for their age group indicated in the guidelines below:

24 Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years (zero to 4)

24 Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth (five to 17)

Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults (18 to 64)

Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines Older Adults (65 and older)

2019 Canadian Guidelines for Physical Activity throughout Pregnancy

Benefits of being active

Regular physical activity is part of a healthy lifestyle and offers benefits for all ages and abilities. Physical activity also:

  • Contributes to healthy growth and development in children.
  • Increases cardiovascular fitness, strength, and bone density.
  • Lowers the risk of many medical conditions, including heart disease, stroke, hypertension, breast cancer, colon cancer, Type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.
  • Improves flexibility, balance and coordination.
  • Lowers the risk of falls, keeping us strong and independent.
  • Improves mental health and energy levels.

Parenting in Ottawa has more information on physical activity for babies, children and youth.

We all need to move more

Did you know?

Only 18% of adults meet Canada’s Physical Activity Guidelines, which recommend doing at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week.

Watch this short ParticipACTION video and look at the ParticipACTION Pulse Report to learn about Canadian attitudes, beliefs and opinions about physical activity.

Make physical activity a priority!

  • Recreation programs are a great way to get and stay active with others! Activities are available for all age groups.
  • Need some help? Try using ParticipACTION's Get Started program!
  • Local fitness and community centres may have programs of interest for you or your family.
  • Sit less and move more at work with UPnGO.
  • Explore your neighbourhood's parks!
  • Check out Parenting in Ottawa for information about active living for children.

It is possible to be physically active AND sedentary!

If you meet the recommended guidelines for physical activity for your age group, but are sedentary for long periods during the day – sitting in front of a computer or reclining while watching TV – you are at increased risk.

Therefore, breaking up sedentary time by standing, moving or walking is recommended. Moving more and sitting less on a regular basis will help to reduce your risk for chronic disease and helps to improve bone density and mental health.

Check out the Less Sitting is Better infographic and take a stand against sedentary behaviour. Look for opportunities to stand and move whenever possible.

What is the single best thing we can do for our health?

Resources for older adults

It is never too late! There are many classes available for older adults. Find out which older adult program is best for you.

Tips to get moving
  • Do a variety of activities you enjoy
  • Try a new activity to add variety
  • Set realistic physical activity goals and make a plan to reach your goals
  • Do activities with friends and family
  • Join a activity group, team or a club
  • Start slow and increase the amount of time you spend doing physical activity by 10 minutes at a time
Build physical activity into your day!
  • Whenever possible, take the stairs instead of using an elevator or escalator
  • Park further away to increase your steps
  • Bike, walk or bus instead of driving
  • Get off an earlier bus stop and walk the rest of the way
  • Keep a pair of comfortable shoes at work and go for a walk at lunch
  • Carry your groceries home
  • Be active outdoors whenever possible
  • Perform exercises using your body weight and do stretches at home
  • Join a Recreation program to get active with others
  • If you are wondering if it is safe for you to increase your physical activity level, complete the Get Active Questionnaire (CSEP)(PDF) and, if needed, the Reference Document(PDF).
  • If you are new to exercise or have not been active in some time, talk with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

Updated December 2022

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