About physical activity and exercise

Exercise is any activity that makes your body move, your breathing faster, and your heart rate increase.

Physical activity can take many forms.

  • The incidental activity is a simple task such as cleaning your house, mowing your lawn, or walking to the bus stop.
  • Exercise – structured physical activity such as going to a gym, swimming or jogging every day
  • sports such as rugby, netball, and tennis
  • Weight training and body weight exercises are good examples of muscle-strengthening activities.

Physical activity can vary in intensity, for example:

  • You may not even notice that you are using light, for example, when walking around your garden, dressing, or stretching.
  • Moderate – when you exert some effort, but it’s not strenuous. For example, cycling or taking a brisk stroll.
  • Vigorous exercises include jogging or star jumping, as well as sit-ups.

Exercise can provide immediate and lasting health benefits. It would be best if you exercised every day or at least most days.

The Australian guidelines for physical activity outline

  • How much physical activity should we do?
  • How much sleep should children get?
  • The maximum time that we should spend lying or sitting down (sedentary behavior).

These guidelines provide some ideas on how to include physical activity in your daily routine.

Sedentary behavior, physical Inactivity, and what they Mean

Sedentary behavior is Inactivity, such as sitting or lying flat for a long time (except while sleeping). Inactivity is a common occurrence at work, school, traveling, and when relaxing.

Many sedentary behaviors involve screen time. Screen time includes:

  • Working or doing your homework on the computer
  • playing video games
  • Scrolling through social media
  • Watching movies

Sedentary behavior is a part of our lives. Babies can also be inactive, for instance, when they are strapped into a car seat or stroller. Keep passive activities to a minimum.

Physical Inactivity means that you are not following the daily guidelines for physical activity. If you spend most of your time lying or sitting down, then it is possible to do enough physical exercise to meet the guidelines and still be considered passive.

Inactivity and sedentary behavior can increase the risk of certain health conditions such as depression, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Physical Activity in Australia

Many Australians do not exercise enough due to a variety of reasons, including injury, poor health, and lack of time.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and Australian Bureau of Statistics researchers found that Australia:

  • Guidelines for Physical Activity: More than half of adults (55%) do not meet these guidelines
  • Two-thirds (70%) of children between 2 and 17 years old do not meet the guidelines
  • Only 3 out of 10 women who are pregnant comply with the guidelines
  • Only 2% of teens aged 13-17 abide by the guidelines
  • Almost half (44%) of working-age adults sit for most of their day.
  • In Australia, physical Inactivity accounts for more than 6 percent of cancer cases. Tobacco smoking is the second leading cause.
  • Diabetes, bowel cancer, and uterine cancer are the most closely related diseases to Inactivity.

COVID-19 has created additional barriers to people being active, particularly in organized sports. Australians have had to adjust their physical activity levels and habits due to health concerns.

It is the children who are most affected. An Ausplay report revealed that only one in six kids will be active outside of school in 2020.

Why Physical Activity is Important

Active living is essential for good health at any age. Everyone should be busy every day, or at least most days.

Move more and sit less:

  • Improve physical and Mental Health
  • Improve your quality of life
  • Increase energy
  • Reduce the risk of several health conditions
  • Reduce the risk of obesity and overweight
  • Maintain or improve your blood pressure chol,esterol, and blood sugar levels.

The Australian guidelines for physical activity will help you to understand how much exercise you need every day to stay healthy.

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