We all know that there are benefits of being more active. Yet the 2017-2018 Australian National Health Survey found that almost half (45%) of Australian adults (aged 18 to 64 years) didn’t exercise for the recommended 150 minutes per week or more, and only 15% met the recommendations for both overall physical activity and muscle strengthening.

While the type and amount of exercise that is right for you will depend on a number of factors including your age, current fitness level, exercise goals and any health problems you might have, almost everyone can benefit from being active.

Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines provide evidence-based recommendations for physical activity for the general population, with separate guidelines for adults aged 18-64 years, older adults (65 years and over) and children.

These are a good starting point when it comes to increasing your activity levels – and knowing whether you need to!

Guidelines for adults aged 18-64 years:

  • Doing any physical activity is better than doing none. If you currently do no physical activity, start gradually now, and build up to the recommended amount.
  • Be active on most, preferably all, days every week.
  • Accumulate 150 to 300 minutes (2.5 to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1.25 to 2.5 hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week.
  • Do muscle-strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week.
  • Minimise the amount of time spent in prolonged sitting.
  • Break up long periods of sitting as often as possible.

Guidelines for older Australians (65 years and older):

  • Do some form of physical activity, no matter what your age, weight, health problems or abilities.
  • Be active every day in as many ways as possible, doing a range of physical activities that incorporate fitness, strength, balance, and flexibility.
  • Accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all days.
  • If you have stopped physical activity, or are starting a new physical activity, start at a level that is easily manageable and gradually build up to the recommended amount, type and frequency of activity.
  • If you’ve exercised vigorously over your lifetime you should carry on doing so in a manner suited to your capabilities, provided you follow recommended safety procedures and guidelines.

Guidelines for children and young people (ages 5-17 years):

  • For health benefits, accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day. Include a variety of aerobic activities.
  • On at least three days per week, engage in activities that strengthen muscle and bone.
  • To achieve additional health benefits, engage in more activity – up to several hours per day.
  • To reduce health risks, minimise the time spent being sedentary every day. This can be achieved by limiting the use of 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) and breaking up long periods of sitting as often as possible.

There are also Guidelines for younger children (birth to 5 years)

For more information:
Visit the Department of Health website:

Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines.

National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18: Physical Activity.

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