Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines

Original Editor - Ben Kasehagen

Top Contributors - Ben Kasehagen  

Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines (2014)

The latest Australian physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines have been released for 2014 by the Australian Government’s Department of Health[1]. These newly updated guidelines are supported by the most recent scientific evidence available[2][3][4]. In particular, special consideration has been applied to both the relationship between physical activity and health outcome indicators as well as the relationship between sedentary behaviour/sitting time and health outcome indicators and how each of these factors influence the risk of chronic disease and obesity[1].


The premise behind these evidence based guidelines is to encourage all Australians (regardless of age) to participate in continued physical activity while reducing their time spent performing sedentary activities. The guidelines are broken down into specific age groups that contain both physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines and recommendations.


Guidelines for Children 0-5 years[1]

Daily physical activity is important for the healthy development and growth of infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers. These recommendations are for children who have yet to begin school.


Physical Activity Recommendations

  • For healthy development in infants (Birth to 1 year) physical activity – particularly supervised floor-based play in safe environments – should be encouraged from birth.
  • Toddlers (1 to 3 years) and pre-schoolers (3 to 5 years) should be physically active every day for at least three hours, spread throughout the day. 


Sedentary Behaviour Recommendations

  • Children younger than 2 years of age should not spend any time watching television or using other electronic media (DVDs, computer and other electronic games).
  • For children 2 to 5 years of age, sitting and watching television and the use of other electronic media should be limited to less than one hour per day.
  • Children up to 5 years of age should not be sedentary, restrained or kept inactive for more than one hour at a time, with the exception of sleeping. 


Guidelines for Children 5-12 years[1]

The guidelines for Children aged 5-12 years aims to establish the development of motor and social skills while creating opportunities for making friends. These guidelines target those children that  have started at school.


Physical Activity Guidelines

  • For health benefits, children aged 5-12 years should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day.
  • Children’s physical activity should include a variety of aerobic activities, including some vigorous intensity activity.
  • On at least three days per week, children should engage in activities that strengthen muscle and bone.
  • To achieve additional health benefits, children should engage in more activity – up to several hours per day.

Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines

To reduce health risks, children aged 5-12 years should minimise the time they spend being sedentary every day. To achieve this:

  • Limit use of electronic media for entertainment (e.g. television, seated electronic games and computer use) to no more than two hours a day - lower levels are associated with reduced health risks.
  • Break up long periods of sitting as often as possible. 


Guidelines for Young People 13 -17 years[1]

These guidelines are for all young people that acknowledge the difficulty of maintaining being physically active while limiting sedentary behaviour at a time when you are moving through school, possibly beginning work and becoming increasingly independent.


Physical Activity Guidelines

  • For health benefits, young people aged 13-17 years should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day.
  • Young people’s physical activity should include a variety of aerobic activities, including some vigorous intensity activity.
  • On at least three days per week, young people should engage in activities that strengthen muscle and bone.
  • To achieve additional health benefits, young people should engage in more activity – up to several hours per day.


Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines

To reduce health risks, young people aged 13-17 years should minimise the time they spend being sedentary every day. To achieve this:

  • Limit use of electronic media for entertainment (e.g. television, seated electronic games and computer use) to no more than two hours a day - lower levels are associated with reduced health risks.
  • Break up long periods of sitting as often as possible.


Guidelines for Adults 18-64 years[1]

These guidelines for all adults aged 18-64 years encourage being physically active while limiting sedentary behaviour daily to improve and maintain your overall health and wellbeing.


Physical Activity Guidelines

  • Doing any physical activity is better than doing none. If you currently do no physical activity, start by doing some, and gradually build up to the recommended amount.
  • Be active on most, preferably all days, every week.
  • Accumulate 150 to 300 minutes (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week.
  • Do muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week. 


Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines

  • Minimise the amount of time spent in prolonged sitting.
  • Break up long periods of sitting as often as possible. 


 
Guidelines for Older Australians (65 years and older)[1]

These guidelines are designed to assist Older Australians to achieve a sufficient level of physical activity that will enable them to remain active and stay healthy to get the most out of life.


Physical Activity Guidelines

  • Older people should do some form of physical activity, no matter what their age, weight, health problems or abilities.
  • 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.
  • Older people should accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days.
  • 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.
  • 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.


References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Department of Health. Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines. www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines#npa05 (accessed 21 May 2014).
  2. Department of Health. Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines.Guideline Evidence Summary. http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines/$File/Guideline%20Evidence%20Summary.PDF (accessed 21 May 2014).
  3. Okely AD, Salmon J, Vella SA, Cliff D, Timperio A, Tremblay M, Trost SG, Shilton T, Hinkley T, Ridgers N, Phillipson L, Hesketh K, Parrish A-M, Janssen X, Brown M, Emmel J, Marino N. A Systematic Review to update the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines for Children and Young People. Report prepared for the Australian Government Department of Health, June 2012.
  4. Okely AD, Salmon J, Vella SA, Cliff D, Timperio A, Tremblay M, Trost SG, Shilton T, Hinkley T, Ridgers N, Phillipson L, Hesketh K, Parrish A-M, Janssen X, Brown M, Emmel J, Marino N. A Systematic Review to inform the Australian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for Children and Young People. Report prepared for the Australian Government Department of Health, June 2012.

Brown WJ, Bauman AE, Bull FC, Burton NW. Development of Evidence-based Physical Activity Recommendations for Adults (18-64 years). Report prepared for the Australian Government Department of Health, August 2012.

Sims J, Hill K, Hunt S, Haralambous B, Brown A, Engel L, Huang N, Kerse N, and Ory M. 2006. National physical activity recommendations for older Australians: Discussion document. Canberra: Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.