Make it your goal to get 30-60 minutes of physical activity a day at least 5 days a week. You can finish all at once or break up the time throughout the day in a way that works for you.

How physical activity helps improve your mood and overall health

How it helps How I might feel
More energy or feeling more awake I am awake and ready for my day!
Boost your brain power I am smart!
More confidence I know I can!
Better mood I am fun to be around!
Stronger heart and lungs I am fit!
Feel better in favorite clothes I deserve to look and feel good in my favorite clothes!
Better sleep I am rested and ready to do my best!

Tips to become more active every day

Make it fun

  • Get moving with a friend, family member or pet. Everyone can enjoy the company!
  • Play your favorite music while you do your activities.
  • When you go for a walk, take photos of things that interest you.
  • Try and keep doing activities you enjoy. Physical activity should be fun and you will be more likely to stick with it.
  • Reward yourself for your efforts (with something other than food).
  • Use a pedometer (footstep tracker) or fitness app to track your steps. Aim for about 10,000 steps a day!

Keep it up

  • Start any new activity slowly. Small changes build up over time and can make a big difference.
  • Be realistic. Any activity you choose has to be enjoyable and fit into your schedule and lifestyle.
  • Be consistent. This means choosing to do your activities on more days of the week than not. Your body responds well to consistency.
  • Make a calendar or add your activities to your phone calendar.

Physical activity ideas

There are lots of options when it comes to physical activity! Choose your favorites or choose something you have always wanted to try:

At home

  • Turn on your favorite music and have a dance party by yourself or with friends.
  • March in place while you brush your teeth.
  • Offer to help with chores, such as vacuuming, carrying groceries or dusting
  • While watching TV, walk in place, dance or practice martial arts (such as Tai Bo).
  • Do Just Dance® or physical activities on your favorite game console as a family or with friends. Make it a competition!
  • Do a free or low-cost at-home workout video on YouTube®, DVD or streaming to your favorite device.

Outdoors and in your community

  • Take a walk, go for a run or ride your bike by yourself (if it is safe) or with friends.
  • If you have a dog, take your dog for a walk.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
  • When you go to a store, park farther away from the entrance.
  • Swim or paddle in a canoe or kayak.
  • Take a fitness class, such as yoga or Zumba®.

At school

  • Help run an errand down hall for your teacher.
  • Play your favorite sport.

Different types of physical activity

There are many different types of physical activity. They each help your body do different jobs:

  • Aerobic activity gets your blood pumping. It helps burn fat and calories stored in the body. Examples of aerobic activity include walking and dancing.
  • Anaerobic activity helps share your body and build strength. They also help speed up your metabolism (how fast your body burns food for energy) and build strong muscles and bones. Examples of anaerobic activity include weightlifting, using resistance bands or even carrying groceries.
  • Stretching activity helps you relax and become more flexible. Examples of stretching activities include yoga and Pilates®.

How many calories do I burn in 30 minutes?

Team sports

  • Baseball (141 calories)
  • Basketball (340 calories)
  • Football – touch (238 calories)
  • Volleyball (173 calories)

Walking, cycling and water sports

  • Swimming – 2.5 miles per hour (mph) (150 calories)
  • Walking normally – 105 calories
  • Walking quickly – 201 calories
  • Walking upstairs – 525 calories
  • Water skiing – 219 calories

Other sports and activities

  • Bowling (132 calories)
  • Cross-country skiing (351 calories)
  • Dancing (126 calories)
  • Golf (122 calories)
  • Horseback riding (173 calories)
  • Ice skating (197 calories
  • Rollerblading (173 calories)
  • Weightlifting – light (136 calories)
  • Weight lifting – heavy (306 calories)

Rev. 4/2019. Reviewed by the MGHfC Family Advisory Council. MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.