How much exercise you need to do depends on what you want to achieve. Do you want to lose weight, walk to improve your general health, or give your fitness level a bigger boost with more vigorous activities? Whatever your goal, you’ll gain a lot from adding more movement into your life — healthier blood pressure, reduced stress, better sleep and a lower risk of many chronic diseases are just a few of the benefits.
You can read more below for tips on how much exercise you may need to achieve specific health goals.
This is a good move – regular physical activity is ‘good medicine’ against many chronic diseases including heart disease and diabetes. The advice from the National Physical Activity Guidelines for adults is:
Although there are currently no Australian guidelines for physical activity and weight loss, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends the following:
The National Heart Foundation of Australia suggests that people living with diabetes or people at risk of developing diabetes who have no limitations to exercise should try to build up to 45–60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most days of the week in order to lose weight.
If you’re not physically active currently, briskly walking for up to 60 minutes a day might sound daunting. However, you can start off with short periods of walking each day and gradually build up your exercise time as you get fitter.
Thirty minutes of brisk walking every day is excellent — it can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, may help you lose weight, and it can make you feel good by increasing your energy and mood. But you don’t have to stop there. Exercising for longer periods or more vigorously will bring even greater health benefits.
‘Vigorous’ exercise is activity that makes you puff enough so that talking in full sentences between breaths is difficult. Activities that count as ‘vigorous’ include:
For best results, a minimum of 30 minutes of vigorous exercise three or four days a week is the amount advised by the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines. However, if you’re unused to physical activity, start off slowly with the recommendations above until your fitness level improves and have regular checkups with your doctor to see how you’re going.
Age is no barrier to vigorous exercise. However, check with your doctor first if you’ve been leading an inactive or mostly inactive lifestyle, have heart disease or a family history of heart disease, or have any other major health problems. Vigorous activity also isn’t recommended in pregnancy.
Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing: An active way to better health http://www.health.gov.au
American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Physical activity and public health guidelines. [online] Indianapolis, IN: ACSM. c2007 [accessed 11 Aug 2010]
Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Physical activity guidelines. [online] Canberra, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia. c2007. [last updated 23 Mar 2009, accessed 11 Aug 2010] Available from: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines
Donnelly JE, Blair SN, Jakicic JM et al. Appropriate physical activity intervention strategies for weight loss and prevention of weight regain for adults. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Feb 2009; 41(2): 459–471.
National Heart Foundation of Australia. Physical activity in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes. [online] Australia: National Heart Foundation of Australia. 2009 [accessed 11 Aug 2010] Available from: http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/
Last published: 31 October 2011Top of page
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