Healthy living

Tips for being active

Young boy throwing a basketballBeing active is a great way to help you lead a healthier and happier life. It is important for healthy growth and development, and can reduce your risk of major illnesses and increase your chances of living longer. 

It’s never too late to start. Having existing health problems doesn’t mean you can’t be active, as most health problems can be helped by activity. Check with your doctor about the type and amount of activity you can do. 

For children, the best way to be active is to play - indoors or outdoors. Most importantly, it is fun! Provide children with a positive and safe environment and give plenty of support and encouragement. 

For adults, building physical activity into daily routines is a good way to accumulate the recommended amount of 150-300 minutes per week and meet the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines.

Here are some easy, free or cheap ideas to build physical activity into your day during each stage of your life.

Infants
  • Choose ‘active’ toys that encourage reaching, stretching, crawling and moving.
  • Spend time playing with children.
  • Play music to encourage movement.
  • Play push and pull games with balls and soft toys.
  • Encourage movement and play during bath time.
Toddlers and pre-schoolers

  • Choose ‘active’ toys that encourage movement and help develop skills like running, kicking, throwing and catching.
  • Play with balloons – punch, kick or throw them to keep them off the ground.
  • Play games like hide-and-seek, follow the leader, stuck in the mud, or tag.
  • Walk or cycle to everyday places such as school and childcare.
  • Create obstacle courses using boxes, sheets, chairs and tables.
  • Encourage jumping games using ropes, sticks or other everyday items.
  • Dig and build in the sand, either at the beach or in a sand pit.

Children 5-17 years
  • Keep balls, frisbees or kites handy and you will always be ready for action.
  • Encourage children to replace time spent using electronic media with active play.
  • Give ‘active’ gifts such as bats, balls, skipping ropes and scooters or bikes.
  • Encourage walking, skateboarding, scooting or riding to school.
  • Sign up to the local Walking School Bus.
  • Support participation in sports – team and/or individual.
  • Get children to walk the dog (and tag along as well).
  • Play music for dancing.

Better Health Program

Better Health Program (external site) is a free healthy living program for kids above a healthy weight, running across the Perth Metropolitan region. This fun and interactive program helps children aged between 7 and 13 years and their families to adopt a long-lasting healthy lifestyle. The program focuses on improving:

  • eating habits
  • fitness
  • teamwork
  • overall health.

Programs are led by qualified health professionals and take place after school, running parallel with school terms. Children and their families become fitter, healthier and happier as they have fun, meet new friends and learn new skills.

Register your child for the program (external site).

Adults
  • Make small changes and move more throughout the day.
  • Choose activities you enjoy.
  • Make physical activity part of your daily routine – walk during lunch, cycle or take a bus or train to work.
  • Start a walking group with friends or family.
  • Start slowly and safely. If you are over 50 or have any medical issues, check with your doctor before getting active.
Older adults
  • Look for opportunities for incidental activity, for example housework, walking to the shops, gardening and vacuuming.
  • Try golf, lawn bowls, bocce, dancing or other social activities.
  • Join a walking group

Places to be active

Being active can happen anytime, anywhere. You don’t need to visit the gym or any special venue to be active. Here are some easy, free or cheap ideas to build physical activity into your day at home, work and in your neighbourhood.

At home
  • do active chores, such as washing the car, vacuuming, and gardening
  • watch less TV and limit recreational computer use
  • stand while talking on the phone
  • stand up to change TV channels
  • be a positive role model for your children. Join in with games and other active pursuits.
At work
  • walk or cycle to work. If it’s too far, drive half way and walk or cycle the rest of the way
  • take public transport and get off the bus or train early and walk
  • schedule walk and talk meetings, or at least stand for some of the time
  • park your car further away from your destination and walk
  • take the stairs at every opportunity
  • alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day
  • walk to deliver a message, rather than using email
  • print documents to the furthest printer.
In your neighbourhood
  • walk the dog
  • walk the children to school
  • ride your bike or walk to the shops
  • picnic in the local park (and walk there)
  • see what activities your local recreation centre offers
  • organise active outings such as bush walking, going to the zoo, and bike riding
  • go for a swim at the beach or your local pool.

Where to get help

Remember

  • Building physical activity into daily routines is easy.
  • Encourage active play in children.
  • Be active with others to help you stay motivated.
  • Find occasions to be active together as a family.
  • It’s never too late to start being active.

Acknowledgements
Chronic Disease Prevention Directorate

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

infographic stating that one in four Australian children are overweight, know your child's ideal weight