Healthy Behaviors

Individuals are healthier when communities surround them with access to healthy, affordable food and safe places to be physically active. The Physical Activity and Nutrition Program supports policies, programs and environmental changes that make the healthy choice the easy choice for individuals. So what is the healthy choice?

Physical Activity

Regular physical activity is associated with a healthier lifestyle, but any amount of physical activity is better than none. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans offer specific recommendations for children and adolescents, adults, older adults as well as people with special needs. Adults should get both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity:

  • 30 minutes of moderate activity like a brisk walk at least five times a week or 20 minutes of vigorous activity like cycling, jogging or running three times a week

  • Combine weight training and stretching two or more days a week


Food and nutrition play a crucial role in health promotion and chronic disease prevention. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans offer specific recommendations for families.  For active healthy lifestyles, adults should: 

  • Eat five fruits and vegetables a day
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Balance calories consumed with calories burned through physical activity
  • Make healthier food choices by following
  • Limit your salt, refined sugars, caffeine and alcohol consumption
  • Breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for most infants and can also reduce the risk for some short- and long-term health conditions for both infants and mothers.


Bodyweight that is higher than what is considered as a healthy weight for a given height is described as overweight or obese. At an individual level, body mass index (BMI) can be used as a screening tool but is not diagnostic of the body composition or health of an individual. A trained healthcare provider should perform appropriate health assessments in order to evaluate individual health status and risks.

Both physical activity and quality nutrition help reduce the risk of developing other chronic diseases and expensive health conditions like diabetes, stroke, arthritis, sleep apnea, asthma, heart attack and certain cancers.