Physical activity – How much is enough?

Published: 20 Apr 2020

Physical activity – How much is enough?

While we all enjoy being couch potatoes and watching Netflix all day, or having a long gaming session, ultimately this means we are not being physically active. 

Ken Truong, Physiotherapist

Here are some (pre COVID-19) statistics from The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 


Physical activity and screen time recommendations:

The Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines has provided recommendations regarding preferred activity levels for different ages and are summarized below:

3-5 years of age:

  • 180 minutes of varied physical activity per day including 60 minutes of high energy activities like running and jumping 
  • 1 hour maximum of screen time over a 24 hour period  

5-17 years of age:

  • Accumulate 60 mins of moderate to vigorous aerobic activities. Some examples are:
    • Walking
    • Jogging
    • Running
    • Swimming 
    • Riding a bike
    • Skipping ropes 
  • Several hours of light activities
  • No more than 2-hour screen time per day

18-64 years of age:

  • 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous  activity each week
  • Be active as much as possible. Doing some physical activity is better than none!
  • Avoid sitting for long periods 

65 years +

  • Accumulate 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity 
  • If you have stopped being physically active or are starting something new, start small and gradually build up 

What is moderate and vigorous intensity?

Moderate intensity exercises should increase your heart rate, make you breathe faster and you should develop a sweat after about 10 minutes of activity. You should still be able to manager a conversation while working out. For example, cycling at light effort.

During vigorous intensity exercise, you will feel that you are breathing hard, your heart rate will increase significantly, sweating will occur after 3-5 minutes of exercise. While exercising, you should only manage to talk in short phrases. For example, running at high effort.

Why be active?

Physical activity and exercise have been found to have numerous health benefits including:

  • Increase in bone mineral density 
  • Weight loss 
  • Decrease risk of heart disease 
  • Reduces depressive symptoms 
  • Regulates cholesterol levels 
  • Reduce blood pressure 
  • Increase glucose uptake and regulation for diabetes
  • Improved cognitive abilities and decrease risk of Alzheimer’s disease 

What are some examples of aerobic exercises?

  • Brisk walking 
  • Jogging
  • Running 
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Hiking 

How can I integrate this into my lifestyle if I am too busy?

It is important to integrate small bursts of activity into your day. Some ways to do this includes, walking for short trips, walking to catch a bus instead of driving, getting off the bus one stop earlier to walk, using stairs instead of escalator or lift or even parking further away to walk to your destination.../Downloads/b22.jpg

Would you like to learn more about physical activity guidelines and health benefits of being active? Go to this link. Or, here.