Healthy living

Getting active

Being active is a great way to help you lead a healthier and happier life. It can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and even some cancers.

Most activities are free, easy and there are many different types you can consider depending on your age:

Being active may help your self-esteem, mood, energy levels and sleep quality, as well as reduce your risk of dementia, improve your mental health and help you maintain a healthy weight.

What counts as being active?

The amount of time you should spend being active on a daily basis will vary depending on your age:

  • early childhood (under 5 years) ­­– at least 3 hours, spread throughout the day
  • young people (5-17 years) ­­– at least 1 hour of moderate to vigorous activity
  • adults (18-64 years) ­­– between 20 to 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity
  • older adults (65 and over) ­­– at least 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days, preferably all. 

Moderate activity is when you move quick enough to raise your heart rate, breathe faster and feel warmer. If you can still talk but can't sing the words to a song whilst doing an activity, this is a moderate activity.

Examples include:

  • water aerobics
  • doubles tennis
  • pushing a lawn mower
  • walking fast or hiking
  • skateboarding.

Vigorous activity makes your body work a little harder. You can tell you are doing a vigorous activity when you are breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate goes up quite a bit. You won't be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.

Examples include:

  • swimming fast
  • singles tennis
  • jogging or running
  • riding a bike fast or on hills
  • football or rugby.

Getting started

The easiest way to get moving is to make activity part of everyday life, like walking or cycling instead of using the car.

The more you do, the better is it for your health.

Make sure you start slowly and safely at the beginning to make sure your body gets used to moving. With time, the easier it will get and the stronger your body will get. You will be able to do activities for longer and maybe try new or harder ones.

If you are over 50 or if you have any medical issues that you are concerned about, check with your doctor first before getting active.

Staying active

No matter what kind of activity you choose, try to make it a daily habit. Here are some tips:

  • choose activities you enjoy
  • give yourself time 
  • make it part of your routine 
  • keep it varied
  • ask family and friends to keep you motivated
  • increase the intensity (from walking to jogging, or water aerobics to swimming) or time you do the activity.

Want to find out more?

Where to get help

  • See your doctor.
  • Visit a GP after hours.
  • Ring healthdirect Australia on 1800 022 222.

Remember

  • Being active is important for everyone.
  • Getting active is easy.
  • Start slowly and safely.
  • There are different activities for all ages.

Acknowledgements

Australian Government (National Physical Activity Recommendations)


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.

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