Physical Activity Guidelines

So, Are you getting it for 30 mins, 5 times a week?

Physical Activity Guidelines

The National Survey of Lifestyles Attitudes and Nutrition (SLÁN 2007) showed that only 41% of Irish adults took part in moderate or strenuous physical activity for at least 20 minutes three or more times a week. This level of activity has not changed much over the past ten years – 40% in 2002 compared with 38%in 1998.

In Ireland, 61% of all adults and 25% of 3-year-olds are overweight or obese; 26% of 9-year-olds have a body mass index outside the healthy range. Three in four people over fifty in Ireland are either overweight or obese.

The incidence of heart disease, cancers, type-2 diabetes, (including type-2 diabetes in children and adolescents) is set to increase.  Obesity is the leading cause of cancer in non-smokers.[

We clearly need change. Part of that change is to increase our Physical Activity. Here’s what we should be doing at minimum to keep ourselves healthy……


Guidelines for adults (aged 18–64)

30 mins x 5 days

Strength + Endurance x 2 days


At least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity on 5 days a week (or 150 minutes/2 ½ hours  a week).

American guidelines give an alternative of one hour and 15 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.

This does not sound like much to you? Or it sounds like a lot? Either way most of us failing to do even this much and that this is a MINIMUM recommended amount. We really are designed to be physically active.

Every adult should be active. Some physical activity is better than none, more is better than some, and any amount of physical activity you do gains some health benefits.

You can count shorter bouts of activity towards the guidelines. These bouts should last for at least 10 minutes. Add activities which increase muscular strength and endurance on 2 – 3 days per week.


Examples /Ideas on how to fulfil the minimum:

  • Take a brisk walk for 30 minutes on five days (moderate intensity); exercise with resistance bands two days (muscle strengthening).
  • Take a brisk walk for 30 minutes two days (moderate); go dancing for an hour one evening (moderate); mow the law for 30 minutes (moderate); do heavy gardening two days (muscle strengthening).
  • Do 30 minutes of an aerobic dance class (vigorous); do 30 minutes of running one day (vigorous); take a brisk walk for 30 minutes one day (moderate); do calisthenics (sit-ups, push-ups) on three days.
  • Bike to and from work for 30 minutes on three days (moderate); play softball for 60 minutes one day (moderate); use weight machines two days.
  • Play doubles tennis for 45 minutes two days (moderate); lift weights one day; hike vigorously for 30 minutes and go rock climbing one day (muscle strengthening).

Other Tips:

  • Get it done early in the day – you can then feel smug ALL day long
  • Keep at it  – it has to become a habit – so that you feel odd if you miss it – like going out without brushing your teeth
  • Build it in to your work commute or schedule
  • Have walking meetings – we don’t always need to sit
  • What works for you?……



Guidelines for children and young people (aged 2 –18)

60 mins x 7 days

Strength + Endurance x 3 days

All children and young people should be active, at a moderate to vigorous level, for at least 60 minutes every day.

Include muscle-strengthening, flexibility and bone-strengthening exercises 3 times a week.


Guidelines for older people (aged 65 +)

30 mins x 5

Include strength and balance

At least 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity activity on five days a week, or 150 minutes a week. Focus on aerobic activity, muscle-strengthening and balance.



  1. Healthy Ireland, A FRAMEWORK FOR IMPROVED HEALTH AND WELLBEING 2013 – 2025. Department of Health, (2013).
  2. Get Ireland Active, Promoting Physical Activity in Ireland, The National Guidelines on Physical Activity for Ireland, Department of Health.



Useful Resources to get you Active  General Information on Sports at all levels in Ireland plus many useful links. : This website gives general tips and details of events by county  Age & Opportunity is the national not-for-profit organisation that promotes opportunities for greater participation by older people in society through partnerships and collaborative programmes.

Sports Partnerships

An initiative of the Irish Sports Council. There is a Sports Partnership site for every county. Their mission is to increase the number of people participating in sport, exercise and physical activity.  Includes focus on young people, teenage girls, women, people with disabilities, minority groups and older people. I’ve listed some of the links below, if your County is not listed simply search County name and Sports Partnership. These sites give information on events and programmes going on in your county. These will be of interest to you and helpful in promoting Physical Activity for your clients. South County Dublin Sports Partnership  This website provides an overview of the background to the establishment of the Kildare Sports Partnership, a clubs directory, an events calendar, details of programmes being rolled out through the Partnership, details of funding available to clubs, local news, publications of interest and useful links.


Other Physical Activity related sites and documents: Coordinates and drives the implementation of an Irish Trails Strategy to promote the use of recreational trails in Ireland. National Guidelines on Physical Activity for Ireland The HSE site on Health Promotion The Irish Heart Foundation is the national charity fighting stroke and heart disease.
Their vision is that every person living in Ireland will live a long, active and healthy life free from heart, stroke and blood vessel disease. Provides information on heart health. Provides heart health programmes, Co-ordinates the training of medics and the public in emergency lifesaving skills (CPR). Supports research, education