for increasing physical activity
Physical Activity Guidelines for Australians. Active
Australia 1999. Developed by the University of
Australia and the Centre for Health Promotion and
Research Sydney for the Commonwealth Department of
Health and Aged Care
1. Think of
movement as an opportunity, not as an inconvenience.
Our lives are much different than the lives of our
parents and grandparents in times past. We now have
technology available to do the everyday things our
parents and grandparents had to be physically active
to get done. For everyday things like washing clothes,
heating houses, cooking food, washing dishes,
transport from A to B, recreational activities,
modern machines and facilities are not only saving us
time but also causing us to be less active in our
daily lives. Consequently we
as a nation are beginning to view movement as an
something that interrupts our enjoyment of being idle,
often in front of the TV.
We need to learn to think thrice before saying
something like "pass me the remote
control". A statement like that implies the
- we are too lazy to move to reach for the
remote control ourselves
- we are too lazy to get up the change the
- we are too lazy to be deriving our
entertainment from something that is
physically more active than watching TV.
Movement in modern times
The technology of today
has reduced much of the need for human movement. Cars now reduce the
need for walking. Machines carry out heavy work for us. Home
entertainment such as TVs, videos and computers keep us inactive for
long periods of time. The need for even small amounts of movement or
physical activity in the course of our daily lives has been reduced.
For example, the effort required changing channels on TV, or to open
the garage door has been eliminated for many by the use of remote
control technology. The effort of washing dishes and clothes has
been replaced by the automatic dishwasher and clothes washing
machines. Even the need to move to communicate has been reduced by
the hand-held telephone and electronic mail (e-mail)in the office.
The need for movement
All of these changes
have come upon us gradually, almost unnoticed, with advances in
technology. Yet the human body was designed to move. Through
hundreds of thousands of years of evolution, humans have been active
in the process of survival-hunting, gathering or farming food,
collecting fuel and participating in manufacture and commerce.
Decreases in activity in
society have been associated with an increase in obesity and other
health problems. Without awareness of these problems, humans have
begun to enthusiastically embrace the benefits of machines and to
consider ‘unnecessary’ movement as an inconvenience. This is
combined with our social attitudes that the more appliances we have
to do things for us, the more successful we are.
Changing our mind-set
Underlying all education
about increased physical activity for health must be a change in our
attitude towards movement. If all movement is regarded as an
opportunity to improve health rather than as a time-wasting
inconvenience, the benefits of modern technology can be enjoyed
without the negative health consequences.
active every day in as many ways as you can.
The health benefits of
becoming more active
The increase in
effort-saving technology in modern societies has coincided with
increasingly busy lifestyles. Hence, we not only have less need to
be active, but seem to have less time. However, itis possible to
regain some of the health benefits of regular movement through being
more active in everyday life.
Recent research has
shown that even the most inactive or sedentary people can gain
health benefits if they become even slightly more active. Based on
these findings, governments around the world have now identified
increased physical activity as apriority in improving the health of
Ways of increasing
Small increases in daily
activity can come from small changes carried out throughout the day.
For example, making a habit of walking or cycling instead of driving
or riding in a car; doing some gardening; walking upstairs instead
of using the lift or an escalator; and/or doing things by hand
instead of using labour-saving machines. All these things can add to
the level of daily physical activity.
It is important to
remember that some activity is better than none, and more is better
than a little.
Being and thinking
Being active in lots of
little ways throughout the day, combined with an attitude that
regards all forms of physical activity as an opportunity to improve
our health, will help increase the amount of physical activity we
carry out and improve our well-being. Being active in small ways is
likely to provide health advantages to almost all people,
irrespective of age, body weight, health condition or disability.
together at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity
physical activity on most, preferably all, days.
activity doesn’t have to be continuous
In the past, it was
thought that for exercise to be beneficial, it had to be carried out
vigorously, 3 to 4 days a week for a minimum of 30 minutes. However,
a review of exercise research has shown that this only applies to
increases in physical fitness. Improvements in indicators of health
- such as blood pressure, blood cholesterol and body weight - can
result from putting together shorter amounts of moderate-intensity
activities totalling a minimum of 30minutes a day on most days, or
doing 30 minutes continuously.
activity will cause a slight, but noticeable, increase inbreathing
and heart rate. A good example of moderate-intensity activity is
brisk walking at a pace where you are able to comfortably talk but
not sing. Other examples include mowing the lawn, digging in the
garden, or medium-paced swimming or cycling. Moderate-intensity
activity should be carried out for a minimum of around10 minutes at
a time without stopping.
The 30 minutes total can
be achieved through one, or a combination of activities such as
parking the car further away from a destination and walking briskly,
getting off a bus before the final stop, or active play with
children. It can also be achieved through combining activities such
as cycling, brisk walking, dancing or swimming for 30 minutes, or
carrying out any of these for at least 10 minutes each fora total of
30 minutes or more.
It is important to
remember that the 30 minutes total need not be continuous.
Combining activity with
family, community or social life
To provide positive
benefits, and to be enjoyable and sustainable, the activity, or
combined activities designed to total at least 30 minutes per day,
can be part of work, family, community or social life. Putting
together 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity will add to the
health benefits of being more active every day.
4. If you
can, also enjoy some regular, vigorous exercise for
extra health and fitness.
Vigorous activity and
This guideline does not
replace earlier recommendations to put together 30 minutes of
physical activity on most days. It adds an extra level to this
recommendation for those adults who are able and who wish to achieve
greater health and fitness benefits. Children
and teenagers under the age of 18 should follow this guideline
Research has shown that
able-bodied people can get added health and fitness benefits (beyond
those achieved through increasing daily movement or regular moderate
intensity activity), by carrying out some regular vigorous exercise.
These benefits include
extra protection against heart disease. Vigorous exercise will also
help to improve fitness and sports performance in activities
requiring a high level of energy use.
How hard is vigorous?
activity, which makes you ‘huff and puff’, and where talking in
full sentences between breaths is difficult. In technical terms this
is exercise at a heart rate of 70-85% of maximum heart rate (MHR),
where MHR is calculated as 220 minus your age. Vigorous exercise can
come from active sports such as football, squash, netball and
basketball, and activities such as aerobics, circuit training, speed
walking, jogging, fast cycling or brisk rowing. For best results,
this type of activity should be carried out for a minimum of around
30 minutes on3 to 4 days a week.
Seeking medical advice
Although there’s no
age barrier to carrying out vigorous activity, medical advice is
recommended for those who have been previously inactive, who have
heart disease, or close relatives with heart disease, or who have
other major health problems. Vigorous activity in pregnancy is not
recommended without strict medical supervision.
stretching and a gradual build-up from an inactive level are also
recommended with vigorous exercise, in line with most recommended
fitness training programs.
activity guidelines for Australians have been developed through
extensive consultations with a wide range of experts in physical
activity1. They incorporate recent thinking about physical activity
forhealth2, in addition to the more widely understood concepts of
exercise3 for fitness4.
Guidelines 1 to 3
stress the importance of all forms of movement5, including
moderate-intensity physicalactivity6, particularly in those who are
currently inactive. Guideline 4 illustrates the added health and
fitness benefits which can be gained from higher levels of physical
activity or exercise. The guidelines refer to the minimum level of
physical activity required for the attainment of good health and a
healthy bodyweight. They are not meant for high level fitness or
sport training. They also do not include the warm-up, cool-down and
stretching requirements of more vigorous sports or exercise.
For best results, the
guidelines should be combined with an ongoing pattern of healthy
eating. In general, this means eating a wide variety of foods
including plenty of breads and cereals (preferably
wholegrain),vegetables (including legumes) and fruits. It also
involves choosing foods which are low in fat, particularly saturated
fat, and also low in salt. Only a moderate amount of sugars and
foods containing added sugar should be chosen, and for those who
drink alcohol, it should be done in moderation.
Dietary Guidelines for
Australians can be obtained from government departments of health or
community health centres.
For the purpose of this
document the following definitions have been adopted:
activity refers to any activity that
involves significant movement of the ody or limbs.
in this instance, refers to metabolic well-being as reflected in low
risk levels of blood fats, blood pressure and body weight as well as
general physical and mental well-being.
is a type of physical activity defined
as a planned, structured and repetitive body movement done to
improve or maintain physical fitness.
relates to the capacity of the heart
and lungs to supply oxygen-rich blood to the working muscles and the
capacity of the muscles to use oxygen to produce the energy for
is defined here as any motion of the
body and limbs.
physical activity will cause a slight,
but noticeable, increase inbreathing and heart rate and may cause
light sweating in some people.