Physical activity

We all need to be active! Being active helps our health in many ways – giving us more energy, improving posture and balance, making our bones and muscles stronger, letting us sleep better and reducing the risk for many conditions, such as heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, depression and some cancers.

How much?

Adults are advised to do

  • At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. Moderate-intensity activity makes you breathe harder than normal but still able to talk. For example:
    • Brisk walking, biking on the flat, ballroom dancing, line dancing, raking the garden, trimming shrubs, hoeing, aqua aerobics


  • You can try to do 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity each week. Vigorous-intensity activity makes it hard to say more than a few words. For example:
    • HIIT workouts, dance aerobics, jogging, fast lap swimming


  • Add muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week. Muscle-strengthening activities also strengthen our bones. For example:
    • Push-ups, sit-ups, carrying heavy children/shopping, rock climbing, weight lifting

A mix of moderate-intensity, vigourous-intensity and muscle-strengthening activity is ideal. If you do more physical activity than this, it’s even better for your heart health. For extra health benefits (including weight loss), do at least 5 hours of moderate or 2 1⁄₂ hours of vigorous physical activity spread throughout the week.

Every little bit counts. Try to gradually increase your activity. Over time you will find your fitness improves and you can do more than when you first started. Moderate to vigorous exercise means an increased heart rate and some ‘huffing and puffing’ so if you haven’t been active for a while you will need to work up to this level.

For children and young people, the aim is to do 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. For children this means spending less than two hours (outside school hours) in front of the television, computer or game console.

Sit Less, Move More

Everyone should be conscious of how long they sit in front of the computer or television. This is sedentary behaviour, the opposite of physical activity. Aim to break up long periods of sitting. An easy way to get moving is by adding more activity into everyday life e.g.,

  • Go for a walk at lunchtime
  • Take the stairs rather than the lift
  • Walk or bike to the local shops, school or work.

Getting active doesn’t need to be a chore – find something you enjoy. Joining a club or finding someone to exercise with can really help and motivate you. Here are some activity ideas:

  • Group fitness classes – there is something for everyone, from yoga and pilates to boxing.
  • Dancing – This is a fun way to burn lots of energy. Try rock ‘n roll, salsa, jazz, ballroom or even belly dancing!
  • Skipping – This can be done in the privacy of your own home, but make sure to move all the breakables out of the way
  • Indoor sports are growing in popularity and include squash, netball, cricket and soccer.
  • Get outdoors with golf, tramping and orienteering.
  • Swimming, aqua-jogging and aqua-aerobics are a great low impact option
  • Check out your local recreation or leisure centre or sports club.


Last modified: June 20, 2022