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Physical Activity Guidelines: Are You in Step?

The federal government's Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend 60 minutes of physical aerobic activity daily for children ages 6-17 and 30 minutes daily for adults ages 18-64. Physical activity is any form of exercise or movement of the body that uses energy. Obviously that includes working out at the gym, playing in a pick-up basketball game or taking a jog. But it also may include some of your daily life activities like walking to the bus stop, doing yard work or taking the dog for a walk.

According to Harvard Medical School, the following activities can burn calories at the following rate: (The calorie burn is based on 30 minutes of activity for someone who weighs 155 pounds.)

ActivityCalories Burned
Swimming 330
Running (9-minute mile) 330
Jumping rope 300
Beach volleyball 298
Tennis 260
Hiking 223
Ballroom dancing 205
Skateboarding 186
Shoveling snow 180
Washing the car 167
Playing hopscotch 149
Food shopping 130
Raking the lawn 120
Bowling 112
Cooking 93
Standing in line 47
Watching TV 28

Your activities should include a mix of aerobic activities and muscle-strengthening activities, according to the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.

Aerobic activities require moderate to vigorous effort and get your heart pumping at a faster rate. Examples include running, biking, dancing, soccer, basketball, etc. Muscle-strengthening activities work the major muscle groups including legs, back, chest, stomach, shoulder and arms. These activities include lifting weights and doing push-ups or sit-ups.