How much physical activity is recommended?

For cancer prevention the more physically active you are the better.

We recommend that you follow Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines (adults) and Australian 24-hour movement guidelines (children). These guidelines are based on the best current evidence on how physical activity and sedentary behaviour (sitting time) affect our health.

Guidelines for children aged 0-5 years

These guidelines are for all children from birth to 5 years who have not yet started school, irrespective of cultural background, gender or ability.

Physical activity recommendations

For healthy growth and development in:

  • Infants (birth to one year) physical activity particularly through supervised interactive floor-based play in safe environments should be encouraged from birth. For those not yet mobile, 30 minutes of tummy time including reaching and grasping, pushing and pulling, and crawling spread throughout the day during awake periods is encouraged.
  • Toddlers (1 to 2 years) should spend at least 180 minutes a day doing a variety of physical activities including energetic play such as running, jumping and twirling spread throughout the day- noting more is better.
  • Pre-schoolers (3 to 5 years) should spend at least 180 minutes a day in a variety of physical activities, of which 60 minutes is energetic play such as running, jumping and kicking and throwing, spread throughout the day - noting more is better.

Sedentary behaviour recommendations

  • Infants (birth to one year) should not be restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g. in a stroller, car seat or high chair). Infants should also not spend any time watching television or using other electronic media (DVDs, computer and other electronic games) and instead, when sedentary, the caregiver is encouraged to engage with them through activities such as reading, singing, puzzles and storytelling.
  • Toddlers (aged 1-2 years) should not be restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g. in a stroller, car seat or high chair) or sit for extended periods. For those toddlers younger than 2 years, screen time is not recommended during sedentary periods. For those aged 2 years, screen time should be no more than 1 hour in total throughout the 24-hour period- less is better. When toddlers are sedentary, the caregiver is encouraged to engage with them through activities such as reading, singing, puzzles and storytelling.
  • Pre-schoolers (aged 3-5 years) should not be restrained, for more than 1 hour at a time e.g. in a stroller or car seat) or sitting for extended periods. Sedentary screen time should be no more than 1 hour in total throughout the 24-hour period -less is better. When pre-schoolers are sedentary, caregivers are encouraged to engage with them through activities such as reading, singing, puzzles and storytelling.

Guidelines for children aged 5-17 years

These guidelines are for all children aged 5-17 years, irrespective of cultural background, gender or ability.

Physical activity guidelines

A healthy 24 hours includes:

  • Accumulating 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day involving mainly aerobic activities.
  • Several hours of a variety of light physical activities;
  • Activities that are vigorous, as well as those that strengthen muscle and bone should be incorporated at least 3 days per week.
  • To achieve greater health benefits, replace sedentary time with additional moderate to vigorous physical activity, while preserving sufficient sleep.

Sedentary behaviour guidelines

  • Break up long periods of sitting as often as possible.
  • Limit sedentary recreational screen time to no more than 2 hours per day.
  • When using screen-based electronic media, positive social interactions and experiences are encouraged.

Guidelines for adults (18-64 years)

Being physically active and limiting your sedentary behaviour every day is essential for health and wellbeing. These guidelines are for all adults aged 18 - 64 years, irrespective of cultural background, gender or ability.

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.

For more information and resources visit LiveLighter.

Guidelines for older adults (65 years and older)

Being physically active and staying fit and healthy will help you to get the most out of life, whatever your age. These recommendations are designed to help older Australians achieve sufficient physical activity for good health as they age. They are mainly for people who are not currently building 30 minutes of physical activity into their daily lives, and are looking for ways they can do so.

Being physically active for 30 minutes every day is achievable and even a slight increase in activity can make a difference to your health and wellbeing.

Physical Activity Recommendations

There are five physical activity recommendations for older Australians:

  1. Older people should do some form of physical activity, no matter what their age, weight, health problems or abilities. 
  2. 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. 
  3. Older people should accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days. 
  4. 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. 
  5. 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.