Definitions – Physical Activity Visualizations

Recommended Level of Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity for Adults (18+ Years)
≥150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or ≥75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both

Recommended Level of Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity for Children/Adolescents (12-17 Years)
≥60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day

Moderate Intensity Physical Activity
3.0 to 6.0 METs* (3.5 to 7 kcal/min)

Vigorous Intensity Physical Activity
> 6.0 METs* (>7 kcal/min)
*One MET is defined as the energy expenditure for sitting quietly which, for the average adult, approximates 3.5 ml of oxygen uptake per kilogram of body weight per minute (1.2 kcal/min for a 70-kg individual). For example, a 2-MET activity requires two times the metabolic energy expenditure of sitting quietly.

Exclusion/Inclusion Criteria
Pregnant women are excluded from analyses

Performed using age distributions from the 2000 US Census

Hispanic designation for race/ethnicity represents Mexican-Americans only through 2006. After a NHANES sampling redesign in 2007, Hispanic designation includes all Hispanics. More details on survey design changes and analytic note can be found here.

Non-Hispanic Asians are reported separately starting in 2011-2012. Non-Hispanic Asians were included in the “Other” category for race/ethnicity in 2009-2010 due to insufficient sample sizes.


Data Source and Methods

NHANES is a cross-sectional survey designed to monitor the health and nutritional status of the civilian noninstitutionalized U.S. population using highly stratified, multistage probability designs. The survey consists of interviews conducted in participants’ homes and standardized health examinations conducted in mobile examination centers (MECs).

Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) 2011-2014 are used for these visualizations. For analysis of data for subpopulations, the estimates are performed using four years of data (two cycles merged) to increase statistical stability. Estimates are age-adjusted to the subpopulations based on population distributions in the 2000 Census. Appropriate sampling weights were used so that the sum of the weights added to the total U.S. population.

For more information about the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, you may visit the NHANES website at:


1 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Available at: Accessed December 18, 2018.