Australian Government - Department of Health
Australian Government - Department of Health - Healthy Weight

Being Active

Great Reasons to be Active

Being active is good for you in so many ways. It can provide a huge range of fun experiences, make you feel good, improve your health, and is a great way to relax and enjoy the company of your friends.

Regular physical activity can:

Physical activity recommendations for 5-12 year olds

A combination of moderate and vigorous activities for at least 60 minutes a day is recommended.

Examples of moderate activities are a brisk walk, a bike ride or any sort of active play.

More vigorous activities will make kids “huff and puff” and include organised sports such as football and netball, as well as activities such as ballet, running and swimming laps. Children typically accumulate activity in intermittent bursts ranging from a few seconds to several minutes, so any sort of active play will usually include some vigorous activity.

Most importantly, kids need the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities that are fun and suit their interests, skills and abilities. Variety will also offer your child a range of health benefits, experiences and challenges.

Children shouldn't spend more than two hours a day using electronic media for entertainment (eg computer games, TV, internet), particularly during daylight hours.

Physical activity recommendations for 12-18 year olds

At least 60 minutes of physical activity every day is recommended. This can built up throughout the day with a variety of activities.

Physical activity should be done at moderate to vigorous intensity. There are heaps of fun ways to do it: Vigorous activities are those that make you “huff and puff”. For additional health benefits, try to include 20 minutes or more of vigorous activity at least three to four days a week.

Try to be active in as many ways as possible. Variety is important in providing a range of fun experiences and challenges and provides an opportunity to learn new skills.

Make the most of each activity in your day. For example, you can walk the dog and replace short car trips with a walk or bike ride.

Physical activity guidelines for adults

There are four steps for better health for Australian adults.

Together, steps 1-3 recommend the minimum amount of physical activity you need to do to enhance your health. They are not intended for high-level fitness, sports training or weight loss. To achieve best results, try to carry out all three steps and combine an active lifestyle with healthy eating.

Step 4 is for those who are able, and wish, to achieve greater health and fitness benefits.

Step 1 – Think of movement as an opportunity, not an inconvenience
Where any form of movement of the body is seen as an opportunity for improving health, not as a time-wasting inconvenience.

Step 2- Be active every day in as many ways as you can
Make a habit of walking or cycling instead of using the car, or do things yourself instead of using labour-saving machines.

Step 3 – Put together at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days.
You can accumulate your 30 minutes (or more) throughout the day by combining a few shorter sessions of activity of around 10 to 15 minutes each.

Step 4 – If you can, also enjoy some regular, vigorous activity for extra health and fitness
This step does not replace Steps 1-3. Rather it adds an extra level for those who are able, and wish, to achieve greater health and fitness benefits.

More information:

Physical Activity Recommendations for Older Australians

It’s never too late to start becoming physically active, and to feel the associated benefits. “Too old” or “too frail” are not of themselves reasons for an older person not to undertake physical activity. Most physical activities can be adjusted to accommodate older people with a range of abilities and health problems, including those living in residential care facilities.

Many improved health and well-being outcomes have been shown to occur with regular physical activity. These include helping to: There are five physical activity recommendations for older Australians.
  1. Older people should do some form of physical activity, no matter what their age, weight, health problems or abilities.

  2. Older people should be active every day in as many ways as possible, doing a range of physical activities that incorporate fitness, strength, balance and flexibility.

  3. Older people should accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days.

  4. Older people who have stopped physical activity, or who are starting a new physical activity, should start at a level that is easily manageable and gradually build up the recommended amount, type and frequency of activity.

  5. Older people who continue to enjoy a lifetime of vigorous physical activity should carry on doing so in a manner suited to their capability into later life, provided recommended safety procedures and guidelines are adhered to.

Physical activity for the management of overweight and obesity

In Australia there are currently no guidelines for physical activity and weight loss. However, America has released physical activity recommendations for the management of overweight and obesity.

In addition to physical activity recommendations for ‘good health’, here are some suggestions for the management of overweight and obesity:
  1. To help manage body weight and prevent gradual, unhealthy body weight gain in adulthood: Engage in approximately 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity on most days of the week while not exceeding caloric intake requirements.

  2. To sustain weight loss in adulthood: Participate in at least 60 to 90 minutes of daily moderate-intensity physical activity while not exceeding caloric intake requirements. This recommendation pertains to formerly obese individuals who have lost a large amount of weight such as 20kg.
(Source: “2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans”)