Guidelines Evidence Summary

A summary of the new guidelines and changes from the existing guidelines is provided below.

Page last updated: 07 February 2014

Guideline Evidence Summary (PDF 500 KB)

Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines

Each of the revised guidelines is supported by a rigorous evidence review process and has been considered through a stakeholder and expert consensus process. Further information is available at Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour.

The revised guidelines provide greater consistency with international evidence and guidelines*.

Physical Activity Guidelines for Children (5-12 years) and Young People (13-17 years)

For health benefits, children aged 5-12 years / young people aged 13-17 years should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity every day.
  • This guideline is consistent with the existing guideline.
Children / Young people’s physical activity should include a variety of aerobic activities, including some vigorous-intensity activity.
  • This is a new guideline.
  • A range of activities are preferred for the general population of children and young people. This also takes into consideration the many different contexts in which physical activity could and should take place and that different types of physical activity provide different health benefits.
  • There is evidence that vigorous intensity physical activity provides health benefits (e.g. musculoskeletal and cardiorespiratory health benefits) and that these benefits may be additional to the benefits found for lower intensity activity.
* This statement was correct at the time of publication in February 2014.

On at least three days per week, children / young people should engage in activities that strengthen muscle and bone.
  • This is a new guideline.
  • Based on evidence used by the Canadian, United States and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.
More activity – up to several hours per day – is associated with additional health benefits.
  • This guideline includes new detail to further expand upon an existing guideline in relation to doing more activity to achieve greater health benefits.
  • This concept is well supported by the evidence.
  • In practical terms, up to several hours should be interpreted as up to three hours per day.

Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for Children (5-12 years) and Young People (13-17 years)

To reduce health risks, children aged 5-12 years / young people aged 13-17 years, should minimise the time they spend being sedentary every day.
  • This is a new guideline.
  • This new guideline is consistent with and expands upon the existing guideline relating to limiting screen-time (which is retained in the revised guidelines – see below).
  • Consistent with the Canadian and United Kingdom sedentary behaviour guidelines*.
  • Consistent with the new evidence included as part of this review, which outlines that overall health risk can be reduced through minimising sedentary time.
* This statement was correct at the time of publication in February 2014.

To achieve this: Limit electronic media for entertainment (e.g., television, seated electronic games and computer use) to no more than two hours a day; lower levels are associated with reduced health risks.
  • This sub-guideline is consistent with the existing guideline.
To achieve this: Break up long periods of sitting as often as possible.
  • This is a new sub-guideline.
  • The evidence used to inform the Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines was used to inform this sub-guideline*.
* This statement was correct at the time of publication in February 2014.

Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults (18-64 years)

Doing any physical activity is better than doing none. If you currently do no physical activity, start by doing some, and gradually build up to the recommended amount.
  • This is a new guideline.
  • Evidence suggests that there is a greater rate of risk reduction at the lower end of the activity scale, and that significant public health benefits can be achieved by persuading adults who do no moderate or vigorous intensity activity to do some.
    • In addition, there is no obvious lower threshold, indicating the some activity is better than none.
  • The health benefits of physical activity are continuous, beginning with any increment in activity above zero.
Accumulate 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week.
  • This is a new guideline.
  • No definitive optimal amount of physical activity is available, but substantial health benefits are gained from an overall volume or amount of activity ranging from about 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week, or various combinations of moderate and vigorous activity.
    • Activity at the lower end of scale (i.e. 150min of moderate /75min of vigorous) provides considerable health benefits, including reduced risk of CVD, type 2 diabetes, psychosocial and musculoskeletal problems.
    • Activity at the upper end of the scale (i.e. 300min of moderate / 150min of vigorous) is required for the prevention of unhealthy weight gain and some cancers.
Be active on most, preferably all, days every week.
  • This guideline is consistent with the existing guideline.
Do muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week.
  • This is a new guideline.
  • Resistance training is important for maintaining strength, and also for the prevention of falls, as well as to reduce risk factors for CVD and type 2 diabetes.

Sedentary Behaviour Guideline for Adults (18-64 years)

Minimise the amount of time spent in prolonged sitting. Break up long periods of sitting as often as possible.
  • This is a new guideline.
  • This is important as people may meet the physical activity guidelines, and yet sit for many hours each day, with adverse metabolic effects over time resulting in poorer health outcomes.

Make your move - Sit less Be active for life!