Get Active For A Healthy Heart

August 15 2018

Many Australian adults aren’t active enough to get health benefits. Are you one of them?

How much activity should I aim for?

We support Australia’s physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines. They recommend for adults:

  • Any physical activity is better than none. It’s fine to start with a little and build up.
  • Be active on most, preferably all, days every week.
  • Aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity or vigorous intensity physical activity each week.
  • Do muscle-strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week.

Some easy ways to achieve this are:

  • Do 30-45 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (like brisk walking) most days of the week. You can build up activity in shorter bouts, like in three 10-minute walks.
  • Do muscle-toning activities twice a week. This could be bodyweight exercises (e.g. push-ups, squats or lunges), tasks involving lifting, carrying or digging (e.g. gardening or carrying shopping), or weights or other resistance training (e.g. a gym based weight training program).
  • This is the minimum you need for health benefits. Longer times and more days of the week are even better.

For children:

  • Toddlers and pre-schoolers should be physically active every day for at least 3 hours.
  • Children and teenagers should get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day.
  • Children and teenagers should limit use of electronic media for entertainment (e.g. television, seated electronic games and computer) to 2 hours per day.

No matter how active you are, it’s also important to sit less.


What’s ‘moderate intensity’ and ‘vigorous intensity’ physical activity?

Physical activity means any activity that gets your body moving, and makes your breathing harder and heart beat faster.

  • Moderate-intensity activities make you breathe harder, but you can still talk while you’re doing the activity (e.g. brisk walking, dancing, golf, social tennis, or household jobs like washing windows).
  • Vigorous-intensity activities make you huff and puff and you can’t talk as easily during them (e.g. jogging, aerobics, many organised sports).

Why be active

Being physically inactive is one of the risk factors for heart disease. ‘Inactive’ means not getting the amount of activity recommended by the Australian guidelines.

Regular physical activity makes you less likely to have a heart attack or develop heart disease. It also helps control other heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and being overweight.  In fact, physical activity can help prevent and manage over 20 chronic including some cancers, type 2 diabetes and depression.

There are plenty of other benefits too. If you get regular physical activity, it’s likely you will live longer, feel more energetic, have stronger bones and muscles, and feel happier and more relaxed.

And if you have heart disease, physical activity is important to help you manage it.

Check with your doctor before you start

If your doctor has said you have heart problems or you think you might have heart disease, it’s really important to check with your doctor before you start an activity program. Read about being active when you have a heart condition.

You should also talk to your doctor if:

  • You’re a man over 35 or a woman over 45
  • You’re pregnant
  • Physical activity causes chest pain
  • You often faint or have severe dizzy spells
  • Moderate-intensity activity makes you very breathless
  • You smoke, are overweight, or have high cholesterol or high blood pressure
  • Your heart beats too fast or irregularly.

Set yourself up to succeed

Choose activities you enjoy – that way, you will be more likely to keep doing them.

Vary the type of activity you do so that you don’t become bored with the one thing.

Set yourself small, realistic goals for your activity. For example, saying something like, “Tomorrow I will start with a 10-minute walk at lunchtime”.

Set aside certain times of the day, or one period that suits you to be active – you are more likely to be committed if you schedule it into your routine.

Be active with friends, family, your partner or join a group. This way you can motivate and encourage one another. The social support you may gain from being active with others can also improve your health.

Why not start with walking?

Walking is a great way to get into being active. It’s fun, free and you don’t need any special equipment!


Article sourced and originally posted on the Heart Foundation.