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Staying active for better heart health

Healthy living


Physical activity


Staying active for better heart health

Moving more every day is one of the best habits you can have.

  • Live your best life by getting into the habit of being active – you’ll enjoy the benefits for the rest of your life
  • Not sure how much to do? Check out the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines (below) which differ by age group.
  • If you’ve already reached the recommended 30 minutes of activity a day for adults, try gradually building your minutes and/or intensity for even more benefits.
  • Stay active year-round. Mix up your activity between indoors and outdoors to be ready for any weather.

Regular physical activity strengthens your muscles, builds stronger bones and makes you feel better about yourself.  It makes you less likely to have a heart attack or develop heart disease.

You can start at any age and feel the benefits for the rest of your life. If you’re a parent or carer of children, getting more active sets a great example and helps create healthy habits. 

Are you doing your 30 minutes a day?  

 If you are that’s great. You can make your heart health even better by picking up the pace. Try gradually increasing the amount you spend being physically active, or exercise intensity. You’ll feel great and see longer-term health benefits, too.

If you aren’t, you’re not alone. More than half of all Australians aren’t active enough. Start slowly and gradually increase your physical activity. Consult your doctor for advice on the best exercises for you.

Aim for 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate physical activity each week or 75 minutes (1 ¼ hours) of vigorous exercise. ‘Vigorous’ exercise requires more effort and makes you breathe harder and faster, for example, jogging. Moderate and vigorous physical activity can help improve heart health, blood pressure, cholesterol, muscle and bone strength.  

How to get active

Depending on your age, you’ll have different physical activity requirements.  

Children aged under 5 years 
  • Infants (birth to one year) should engage in supervised floor-based play in safe environments 
  • Toddlers (1 to 2 years) should spend at least 180 minutes a day doing physical activities, including energetic play (e.g. running and jumping) 
  • Pre-schoolers (3 to 5 years) should spend a minimum of 180 minutes a day in a range of physical activities, including 60 minutes of energetic play.  
Children and young people aged 5 to 17-years old 
  • Children and young adults should accumulate 60 or more minutes of moderate to high-intensity physical activity a day  
  • Vigorous physical activity and muscle and bone strengthening activities should be done at least 3 days per week.  
Adults aged 18 to 64-years old 
  • Adults from 18 to 64 should be active on most or all days 
  • Each week, adults should accumulate 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity 
  • Muscle strengthening activities should be done at least two days a week.  
Adults aged 65 years and older 
  • Older people should do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most if not all days 
  • Those with poor mobility should do physical activity three or more days a week to improve balance and prevent falls 
  • If you cannot do the recommended amount of physical activity due to health conditions, be as physically active as your abilities allow 
  • If you have pre-existing health issues, speak to your doctor before starting any new physical activity. 

Make getting fit enjoyable
  • Pick activities you like. You’re more likely to keep to an exercise plan if you enjoy it. 
Choose activities that suit your lifestyle
  • Think about your budget, abilities and amount of free time you have.  
Check out local exercise options
  • Find opportunities to be active in your neighbourhood, including at council leisure centres, sports clubs, parks, footpaths or walking trails, bike paths, swimming pools and exercise classes. 
Walk wherever and whenever to easily stay active 
  • Wear comfortable shoes every day to help you do more walking 
  • Use a fitness tracker to keep tabs on your progress. 
Plan for bad weather
  • Head indoors to your local indoor pool, gym or other activity centres on rainy days. 
Keep some exercise equipment at home
  • This may be a stationary bike or treadmill, skipping rope or fitness ball. Check out apps and fitness videos on YouTube for ideas.
Have fun getting physical
  • Go dancing, fly a kite, throw a frisbee or swim in the open water – you’re not limited to sports and structured exercise programs. 
Get active around the house 
  • Housework, washing the dog and gardening are all physical activities that are good for heart health. 
Take every opportunity to move your body every day 
  • Get off the train or bus one stop early or take the stairs instead of the lift. The more often you huff and puff, the better! 
Make physical activity part of family time
  • Get the kids involved in gardening, play together as a family, keep a box of skipping ropes, frisbees, balls and hula hoops handy for some fun-filled exercise 
  • It’s a great way to spend quality time together and starts good habits for your kids. 

Get your family moving with more of our  tips

Look for opportunities to avoid sitting in traffic when going to work, school or heading out for a get-together. With extensive public transport systems – including bus networks, numerous cycle paths, bike and park facilities  -it's never been easier to take the first step towards an active lifestyle. Combining different forms of transport will help you meet your daily physical activity requirements. 

Active travel to school or part of the way  

Walking, cycling or scooting with your children to school is a great way to incorporate physical activity into your day and help make everyone more productive for the day ahead. You may be able to get to work and back home this way, too. 

Park and pedal 

Park your car for free in the suburbs and pedal your bike for the rest of your journey. Cycling allows you to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. 

Walk or ride to local destinations 

This is not only good for your health but also a great way to connect with your community. Living within walking distance of shops, parks, public transport stops and having accessible bike paths makes it much easier to get the physical activity we need every day. 

Have walking meetings in the workplace 

Walking the talk is an easy way to add some activity time to your day. Make sure you also take regular breaks from your computer and use meetings as a chance to stand up and reduce your sitting time. Try standing at the back of the room during presentations.  

Have fun with friends, families or neighbours and add an activity to your get-togethers. Street or park festivals and community walks or runs are just some of the ways to combine moving more and connecting with others.

  • Join a Heart Foundation Walking Group.
  • Download a free Personal Walking Plan
  • Go on outings that encourage walking, such as visiting the zoo, botanical gardens, national parks, theme parks, expos or historic sites
  • Visit your local park and take a picnic with friends and family
  • Discover your local walking tracks
  • Meet up with friends to do activities, such as bowling, bike riding, tennis, rock climbing, dancing, swimming and bushwalking
  • Join a community class, such as dancing, tai chi and yoga
  • Go camping for your next holiday
  • Try a new activity – dancing, skipping, rollerblading, frisbee, hula hoop, beach cricket, volleyball – anything that takes your fancy!
  • Form your own sports team with friends or colleagues or join an existing club. 

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Last updated10 March 2024