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Ulster University’s Marie Murphy, Professor of Exercise and Health and Dean of Postgraduate Research led the expert group of 8 academics from universities across the UK who were tasked with reviewing the 2011 guidance for adults.

New physical activity guidelines have been issued by the four Chief Medical Officers of Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England offering advice for all age groups.

Drawing on the most up-to-date scientific evidence on the benefits of physical activity for health, the revised 2019 guidelines emphasise the importance of building strength and balance for adults, as well as focusing on cardiovascular exercise.

The new guidelines will be used by health professionals to promote the benefits of physical activity.

Physical activity guidelines for Adults

  • For good physical and mental health, adults should aim to be physically active every day. Any activity is better than none, and more is better still.
  • Adults should do activities to develop or maintain strength in the major muscle groups. These could include heavy gardening, carrying heavy shopping, or resistance exercise. Muscle strengthening activities should be done at least two days a week, but any strengthening activity is better than none.
  • Each week, adults should accumulate at least 150 minutes (2 1/2 hours) of moderate intensity activity (such as brisk walking or cycling); or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity (such as running); or even shorter durations of very vigorous intensity activity (such as sprinting or stair climbing); or a combination of moderate, vigorous and very vigorous intensity activity.
  • Adults should aim to minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary, and when physically possible should break up long periods of inactivity with at least light physical activity.

Professor Marie Murphy, Professor of Exercise and Health and Dean of Postgraduate Research commented:

The new activity guidelines are backed by extensive expert review of research findings from a range of sources and show that the health benefits of physical activity cannot be underestimated. Daily physical activity can protect against obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and depression and can have a significant impact on quality of life. Adults who are physically active report more positive physical and mental health. All activity is beneficial some is good, more is better and it’s never too late to make a start.

For the first time, new advice is tailored for pregnant women, new mums and disabled adults.