23 ways to get active

Thursday, 13 February 2020

During the warmer months it may be tempting to dream of days on the couch streaming your favourite show or watching cricket.  But, for optimal health, it’s very important to stay active.

Sitting or lying down (with the exception of sleeping) are what we call ‘sedentary’ behaviours. You can be sedentary at work, at school, at home, when travelling or during leisure time. Sedentary behaviour requires little energy expenditure.

Examples of sedentary behaviour include:

  • Sitting or lying down while watching television or playing electronic games.
  • Sitting while driving a vehicle, or while travelling.
  • Sitting or lying down to read, study, write, or work at a desk.

Being physically active is really good for you, in lots of ways. It helps you to be strong and fit, keeps your body healthy and diabetes in-check. It helps you stay a healthy weight and can create opportunities for being social. The National Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for Adults (18-64 years) recommend accumulating at least two and a half to five hours of moderate intensity physical activity, or one and a quarter to two and a half hours, of vigorous intensity physical activity a week. Or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities.

“But I am over 65. How much physical activity do I need?”

Being physically active and staying fit and healthy will help you to get the most out of life, whatever your age. There are five physical activity recommendations for older Australians:

  1. Older people should do some form of physical activity, no matter what their age, weight, health problems or abilities.
  2. Older people should be active every day in as many ways as possible, doing a range of physical activities that incorporate fitness, strength, balance and flexibility.
  3. Older people should accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days.
  4. Older people who have stopped physical activity, or who are starting a new physical activity, should start at a level that is easily manageable and gradually build up the recommended amount, type and frequency of activity.
  5. Older people who continue to enjoy a lifetime of vigorous physical activity should carry on doing so in a manner suited to their capability into later life, provided recommended safety procedures and guidelines are adhered to.

Being physically active for 30 minutes every day is achievable and even a slight increase in activity can make a difference to your health and wellbeing. Remember – the 30 minutes does not have to be done all at once, but can be accumulated in blocks of 10 minutes. Moderate intensity physical activity equates to a level of 4-6/10 on an RPE (rating of perceived exertion) scale, and increases your heart and breathing rate but not to the point where you can’t maintain a conversation.

Here are some ideas for building up 30 minutes of physical activity

Get out in nature

  1. Go for a bush walk, mountain hike or walk along the beach
  2. Visit a waterfall, lookout or lake that involves a walk
  3. Get a book on birds and go birdwatching in the bush, beach, or park
  4. Get out in the garden and plant some vegetables

Get wet

  1. Visit the local pool, rockpool, waterhole or dam for a swim
  2. Go snorkelling, kayaking or canoeing
  3. Join an ocean swimming group or event
  4. Learn to SUP (stand-up paddle)
  5. Join an aqua-aerobics class

Work-out at home

  1. Cleaning e.g. mopping, vacuuming, washing the car, yardwork
  2. Resistance training using bands, hand weights (or tins of food) – see our Resistance Training Guide at the Diabetes Shop https://diabetesshop.com/product-category/healthy-living/exercise-equipment/
  3. Try a workout DVD or app
  4. Do sit to stands (or other exercises) during the add breaks on TV
  5. Do calf-raises while brushing your teeth, or waiting for the kettle to boil

For more information, see https://www.makehealthynormal.nsw.gov.au/activity/workouts for home-based workout plans. Speak with your GP prior to undertaking new exercise program.

Get outdoors

  1. Join in a game of backyard cricket with your family / friends
  2. Take your dog for a walk, or ask a friend / neighbour if you can walk theirs
  3. Take your children / grandchildren to the park or beach – and be active with them instead of watching
  4. Walk or cycle for transport instead of using the car or public transport (or get off a stop earlier than your destination)
  5. Go for a bike ride on a local cycleway

Get social

  1. Sign up for a community fitness challenge e.g. fun-run or walk, mini-ocean swim or triathlon
  2. Join a summer sports club e.g. swimming, tennis, bowls, golf
  3. Try a local Parkrun (it’s free and you don’t have to run!)
  4. Learn to dance, or go dancing


By Kate Battocchio, Accredited Exercise Physiologist

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