noun (Collins English Dictionary)
2. capability of the body of distributing inhaled oxygen to muscle tissue during increased physical effort
Since the industrial
revolution, our lifestyle has been gradually changing to reduce our need to be
physically active. Many Australian adults can be fully occupied all day
and rarely move
from a sitting position.
These changes in our lifestyle and the ready
availability of food have play a role in the worldwide epidemic of
childhood obesity. However weight gain is not the only negative consequence of
a sedentary lifestyle.
Reasons to be Active
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:
prevent heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure;
the risk of developing type II diabetes and some cancers;
build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints reducing the risk of
- improves balance, reducing chance of injury by falling;
- improves our circulation and removal of toxins from the body;
- improves mental health and reduces depression; and
- reduces insulin resistance.
Because our lifestyle demands so little physical activity we need to change our
attitude towards being active.
opportunity for movement should be seen as a bonus. As physical activity
is no longer part of our daily toil or work it needs to become part of our
The National Physical Activity Guidelines recommend we put together at least 30 minutes of moderate - intensity physical
activity on most, preferably all days as the minimum level of activity
required for good health. The guidelines also recommend if you can, also enjoy some regular vigorous physical activity for extra
health and fitness. For many Australians it is a challenge to fit even the minimum level of
activity into their lifestyle. The Guidelines emphasize that the 30 minutes can
be put together from several short activity sessions.
There is still some
discipline required to ensure that the goal of 30 minutes moderate - intensity
physical activity is reached on most, if not every, day. People of all ages and abilities can benefit from physical activity.
Physical activity doesn't have to be chore and
doesn't necessarily mean a hard run. Some ideas for physical activity
- Walking the dog
- Riding a bike
- Trying a new sport
- Throwing a frisbee
Your 30 minutes of physical activity can also be
made up by increasing the amount you move during the day (also called
incidental activity) by:
- Getting off the bus one stop early and walking the extra
- Parking further away and walking the extra distance
- Taking the stairs instead of the lift or escalators
- Putting down the remote and getting up to change the channel
- Go for a walk during your lunch hour
activity guidelines for adults
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
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, day.
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.
activity recommendations for 5-12 year olds
combination of moderate and vigorous activities for at least 60 minutes a day
Examples of moderate activities are a brisk walk, a bike ride or any sort of
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
Children shouldn't spend more than two hours a day using electronic media for
entertainment (eg computer games, TV, internet), particularly during daylight
activity recommendations for 12-18 year olds
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:
activities like brisk walking, bike riding with friends, skateboarding and
activities such as football, netball, soccer, running, swimming laps or
training for sport.
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
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.
Activity Recommendations for Older People
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:
or improve physical function and independent living;
social interactions, quality of life, and reduce depression;
and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints, reducing the risk of
injuries from falls; and
the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type II diabetes,
and some cancers.
are five physical activity recommendations for older people.
1. Older people should do some form of
physical activity, no matter what their age, weight, health problems or
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
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 Q&A
What are the health consequences of
Physical inactivity increases
the risk of mortality from a range of diseases and conditions. Physical
inactivity can lead to an increased risk of chronic disease such as heart disease, type 2
diabetes, and some cancers.
In contrast, regular physical activity reduces feelings of depression and
anxiety, helps to maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints, helps to prevent
falls among older people and promotes feelings of well-being.
How much physical activity should I
Try to build up to doing 30
minutes of moderate-intensity activity a day – or more! You don’t have to do it
all at once – you can accumulate your 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity
activity by combining a few shorter sessions of about 10-15 minutes each
throughout the day.If you are looking to lose weight try building up to doing
60-90 minutes per day.
How can I be more physically active
with my family?
Less active family members
need plenty of encouragement and support, especially in the beginning. Ideally,
find an activity you can do together.
Here are some ways to get everyone
- Play actively with your children –
kick a footy around, skip, jump on the trampoline
- Go on a family bike ride
- Take your dog (or the neighbours
dog) for a walk
- Walk your children to school
- Buy a fitness DVD and get the whole
family to join in – a great way to have a laugh and be active.
- Include physical activity in family
- Keep a box full of bats, balls,
kites, frisbees etc. – both at home and in the car and you will be always ready
- Walk and talk – practice spelling
and maths homework on the move; or go for a walk while you all catch up on each
How can I be
more physically active when I have no time?
Life can be extremely hectic,
and it is easy to think that there just isn’t enough time to be physically
active, however, like most things; you just need to plan and prioritise.
There are tremendous benefits to getting even a small amount of physical
activity each day, both mentally and physically. Being active gives you more
energy, helps you sleep better, reduces the risk of depression and can help to
prevent a range of chronic diseases.
Physical activity plays an important role in the prevention and delaying the development
of chronic diseases. All you need is 30 minutes of physical activity on at
least 5 days of the week. You don’t have to do it all at once – you can
accumulate your 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity activity by combining
a few shorter sessions of about 10 to 15 minutes each throughout the day.
Research has shown that accumulated short bouts of moderate-intensity activity
are just as effective at improving health factors such as blood pressure and
Here are some activities you can do everyday:
- Keep a pair of comfortable walking
or running shoes in the car or at work and you will always be ready for a walk
- Build as much incidental activity
into your daily routine as you can. Just getting up out of your chair every half
hour and going to get some water or walking to see a neighbour or co-worker
instead of calling can make a difference
- Take the stairs rather than the
lift, or walk rather than rest on escalators
- Go for a short walk during your
lunch break at work
- Start a walking group with work
colleagues or friends and stick to a routine of certain days or times to go out
- Buy yourself a pedometer – a gadget
which when worn on your hip counts how many steps you take. Use this to
motivate you to keep increasing your daily steps
- Work in the garden
- Catch up with friends by walking
together rather than meeting for coffee or a meal
- Walk or cycle instead of using the
car for short trips
What is the difference between
“moderate” and “vigorous” physical activity?
activity will cause a slight but noticeable increase in your breathing and
heart rate. A good example of moderate-intensity activity is brisk walking;
that is, at a pace where you are able to talk comfortably, but not sing. Moderate-intensity
activity should be carried out for at least 10 minutes at a time. Vigorous
activity is where you “huff and puff”; for example, where talking in full
sentences between breaths is difficult. Vigorous activity can come from such
sports as football, squash, netball, basketball and activities such as
aerobics, speed walking, jogging, andfast cycling.