Lack of exercise is a major risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease, which remains the leading cause of death in Australia in both men and women. An enormous body of scientific literature has confirmed again and again the key role of physical activity in preventing heart disease.

People who are not physically active are almost twice as likely to die from coronary heart diseases as those who are. Regular moderate physical activity throughout life (for example brisk walking) reduces the risk of dying from all causes, as well as the incidence of, and fatality rate from, cardiovascular disease. Physical activity also reduces the risk of diabetes, and favourably influences body weight, blood pressure and cholesterol. It is also extremely beneficial in promoting good mental health.

The current low prevalence of adequate physical activity within the Australian community is of great concern. Only around 57 per cent of the adult Australian population takes sufficient physical activity for health, and this number continues to decrease, as levels of overweight and obesity rise. Evidence suggests that this increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity in Western societies is strongly linked to an overall decline in energy expenditure through everyday physical activity and movement.


The Heart Foundation’s National Physical Activity Guidelines for Australians have been developed based on the best available evidence. These encourage Australians to be active every day in as many ways as they can, and to put together 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all days.

Aim to accumulate 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity. An alternative is to accumulate 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous intensity physical activity each week, as there is good evidence that shorter bursts of high intensity exercise carry similar health benefits. Try to include muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week.

Use strategies to increase incidental exercise as part of your day, such as walking or cycling to work, or, if you bus or train in, getting off one stop early.

At the end of the day, the best form of exercise for you is one that you enjoy doing!