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Getting started: What’s right for you?

Friday, 05 Jan 2018

Physical activity is any action that burns energy, gets you moving, quickens your breathing, and raises your heart beat. However, most of us think that exercise is the only form of physical activity.

But, getting back into shape doesn’t have to mean sweating buckets as you huff and puff in a gym, on the road, or in a park.

You can improve your general health and fitness level with moderate-intensity activities. A brisk walk, pushing a stroller, recreational swimming, dancing, social tennis, or golf – even cleaning windows or raking leaves – all burn energy.

Build-up gradually

Aim to accumulate between 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week, or 75-150 minutes of vigorous activity. (First, check with your doctor before starting any vigorous activity.)

Breaking up moderate-level activities into several 5 to 10 minute bursts each day allows you build up fitness over time.

Begin by make a list of physical activities you enjoy and incorporate them into your fitness plan. Why not make fitness a family affair by buying or hiring bikes to go riding in local parks, or taking canoes to your local lake or river on the weekend?

Reducing the amount of time you sit at work or home will also improve fitness. Get up and move around every 30 minutes – or at least stand up and stretch.

Get expert advice

If you’ve been inactive for a while and/or have a sedentary job, be realistic about your current fitness level and general health – especially if you have a chronic disease or risk factors such as high blood pressure.

Determine if you should first consult a GP, an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP), or another qualified health professional to recommend the appropriate level of activity or the exercise program that’s right for you.

Make physical activity an opportunity, not an inconvenience. Regular activities can develop into an enjoyable, personalised lifestyle program that helps you get back into shape.

Simple ways to build physical activity into your life:

Walking home from shopping


  • Walk to the grocery store instead of driving
  • Take stairs when possible, instead of the lift
  • Get off the bus or train a few stations earlier and walk the rest of the way
  • Park further away from your destination and walk.
Using the stairs instead of the elevator

At Work

  • Take the stairs instead of the lift
  • Take your lunch break outside and enjoy a short walk
  • Organise walking meetings
  • Take a 10-minute break and walk around the block
  • If you’ve got a mobile phone, walk around while you’re talking to someone.
Doing an indoors activity like yoga


  • Body weight exercises such as push-ups, squats and lunges
  • Indoor activities such as dancing, indoor swimming, yoga, squash and rock climbing.

Lauren Spencer

As an Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Lauren has experience in injury prevention and management programs and individual or workplace health promotion initiatives.