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What are the physical activity guidelines?

Updated: Jul 30, 2022

A common question that patients will ask is, "What is the best type of exercise to do?"

The answer is, "Well, that depends!"

Physical activity is beneficial for all human beings, regardless of your age. It can benefit older adults, as well as young toddlers. Pregnancy is also a good time to remain active, with specific considerations for that special time of life, too.

The benefits of exercise are well known and include:

  • reduce the risk of, or help manage, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease

  • maintain or improve blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels

  • reduce the risk of some cancers

  • prevent unhealthy weight gain and help with weight loss

  • maintain strong muscles and bones

  • create opportunities for socialising and meeting new people

  • help develop and maintain physical and mental wellbeing.

In June 2021, the Australian Government released guidelines for physical activity. The guidelines are based on rigorous evidence and include moderate as well as vigorous activity, and 2 days a week of strength training.

For those 18 to 65, we should be doing 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate activity, or 1.5 to 2.5 hours of vigorous physical activity per week.

Some moderate activities include a brisk walk, golf, mowing the lawn or swimming. And more rigorous activity includes jogging, aerobics, fast cycling, soccer or netball.

You might also do a combination of the above, too, to meet the right dose of exercise. The main goal is to increase physical activity. If you are not doing anything at the moment, begin small and add a little more each day.

If you are over 65, guidelines recommend a variety of moderate activities for at least 30 minutes on most days. Regarding strength based activities, it is recommended that you do a range of activities that incorporate fitness, strength, balance and flexibility. Resistance training should be part of what you are doing to meet the recommendations.

There are pregnancy specific guidelines, which are similar to the 18-65 age recommendations, with the addition of pelvic floor exercises.

There are seperate recommendations for infants, toddlers and children 5 to 17. There are also guidelines for those with disability or chronic conditions.

A seperate category of people are those with persistent pain, sometimes called Chronic Pain. There are some better resources available for those with this persitent pain condition, including this free ebook:

The main message is that we should all aim to increase our activity levels, and that a combination of vigorous, moderate and strength based exercises is recommended.

Keeping it simple, play a sport you love and lift some weights!

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