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Definitions

Aerobic Physical Activity

In this kind of physical activity, the body's large muscles move in a rhythmic manner for a sustained period of time. Examples include brisk walking, jumping rope, running, bicycling and swimming.4

Bone-Strengthening/Weight-Bearing Physical Activity

This kind of activity produces a force on the bones that promotes bone growth and strength. This force is commonly produced by impact with the ground. Examples include brisk walking, jumping jacks, jumping rope, running and weight-lifting exercises. As these examples illustrate, bone-strengthening activities can also be aerobic and muscle strengthening.4

Moderate Physical Activity

Any activity that burns 3.5 - 7 kcal/min and raises a person's heart and breathing rate. Examples of moderate-intensity physical activity include walking briskly, mowing the lawn, dancing, swimming or bicycling on level terrain. A person should feel some exertion but should be able to carry on a conversation comfortably during the activity.1

Muscle-Strengthening Physical Activity

This kind of activity causes the body's muscles to work or hold against an applied force or weight. These activities often involve objects, such as weights, that are lifted to train various muscles but can also be done using elastic bands or body weight for resistance (e.g., climbing a tree, going across the monkey bars or doing push-ups).4

Structured Activity

Formal, teacher-led exercises such as an obstacle course, action songs (e.g., Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes) or active games (e.g., Duck, Duck, Goose; Red Rover).5

Unstructured Activity

Child-led free play such as playing on playground equipment or climbing trees.5

Vigorous Physical Activity

Any activity that burns more than 7 kcal/min. Vigorous physical activity should be challenging, cause sweating and allow for only a few words of conversation before needing to pause for a breath. Examples of vigorous physical activity include running, climbing, jumping, or riding a bicycle or tricycle.1

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005. http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/document/default.htm. Accessed May 28, 2010.
  2. Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Title 21, Part 133. http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title21/21cfr133_main_02.tpl. Accessed August 13, 2010.
  3. Food Standards New Zealand Australia. Food Standards Guide, 2001. http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/_srcfiles/Meat_0801.pdf. Accessed June 11, 2010.
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2008. http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/pdf/paguide.pdf. Accessed June 11, 2010.
  5. Nemours Health and Prevention Services. Best Practices for Physical Activity: A Guide to Helping Children Grow Up Healthy, 2009.
  6. American Heart Association. What is Cholesterol? http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3046103 Accessed June 30, 2010.