Activity Progression

An increase in physical activity is an important part of your weight management program. While most weight loss occurs because of decreased caloric intake, sustained physical activity helps prevent weight regain. In addition, exercise has a benefit of reducing risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes beyond that produced by weight reduction alone. Start exercising slowly, and gradually increase the intensity. Trying too hard at first can lead to injury.

Examples of moderate amounts of physical activity:


  • Washing and waxing a car for 45-60 minutes
  • Washing windows or floors for 45-60 minutes
  • Gardening for 30-45 minutes
  • Pushing a stroller 1 1/2 miles in 30 minutes
  • Raking leaves for 30 minutes
  • Walking 2 miles in 30 minutes (15 minutes per mile)
  • Shoveling snow for 15 minutes
  • Stairwalking for 15 minutes


  • Playing volleyball for 45-60 minutes
  • Playing touch football for 45 minutes
  • Walking 1 3/4 miles in 35 minute (20 minutes per mile)
  • Basketball (shooting baskets) for 30 minutes
  • Basketball (playing game) for 15-20 minutes
  • Bicycling 5 miles in 30 minutes
  • Dancing fast (social) for 30 minutes
  • Water aerobics for 30 minutes
  • Swimming laps for 20 minutes
  • Bicycling 4 miles in 15 minutes
  • Jumping rope for 15 minutes
  • Running 1 1/2 miles in 15 minutes (10 minutes per mile)

Your exercise can be done all at one time or intermittently over the day. Initial activities may be walking or swimming at a slow pace. You can start out by walking 30 minutes for three days a week, and build to 45 minutes of more intense walking at least five days a week. With this regimen, you can burn 100 to 200 calories more per day. Also, try to increase “every day” activity such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Reducing sedentary time is a good strategy to increase activity by undertaking frequent, less strenuous activities. With time, you may be able to engage in more strenuous activities.


For the beginner, activity level can begin at very light and would include an increase in standing activities, special chores like room painting, pushing a wheelchair, yard work, ironing, cooking, and playing a musical instrument.

The next level would be light activity, such as slow walking of 24 minutes per mile, garage work, carpentry, house cleaning, child care, golf, sailing, and recreational table tennis.

The next level would be moderate activity such as walking 15 minutes per mile, weeding and hoeing a garden, carrying a load, cycling, skiing, tennis, and dancing.High activity would include walking 10 minutes per mile or walking uphill with resistance or added weight, tree felling, heavy manual digging, basketball, climbing, soccer, or kick ball.

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
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