Exercise and physical activity

Exercise and physical activity is essential for good health and wellbeing. As current and former elite athletes, our members understand the instant and lasting health benefits of physical activity. Elite physical performance aside, members can improve their quality of life and feel more energetic through regular activity. More than half of all Australians are not active enough, so it’s important that current and past AFL players support themselves, their families and friends and the community to incorporate more physical activity into their lives.

How to increase your physical activity at any age

Think about when and where you can be physically active. Making some small changes to your daily routine can make a big difference.

Build Activity into your Day:

  • For short trips, walk or cycle and leave the car at home.
  • For longer trips, walk or cycle part of the way.
  • Use the stairs instead of the lift or escalator.
  • Get off the bus one stop earlier and walk the rest of the way.
  • Park further away from your destination and walk.
  • Active and Safe
  • If you are new to physical activity, have a health problem, or are concerned about the safety of being (more) active, speak with your doctor or health professional about the most suitable activities for you.
  • Protect yourself from the sun – you should wear sun-protective clothing, including a hat, and apply sunscreen regularly.

Active at Work

  • Take the stairs instead of the lift.
  • Walk to deliver a message to your colleague, rather than emailing
  • Leave your desk at lunch time and enjoy a short walk outside.
  • Organise walking meetings.

Active Indoors

  • Don’t let the weather stop you!
  • Body weight exercises like squats, push-ups, sit-ups and lunges, can all be done indoors.
  • Try indoor activities like;
    • dancing,
    • indoor swimming,
    • yoga or pilates,
    • martial arts,
    • squash, or
    • indoor rock climbing.


Australian Government Department of Health (Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines)

Physical activity guidelines for older adults

How much physical activity do older adults aged 65 and over need to do to keep healthy?

The amount of physical activity you need to do each week depends on your age and level of health.

To stay healthy or to improve health, older adults need to do two types of physical activity each week: aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity.

Why physical activity is important

Physical activity has many benefits for older people. It not only helps you to feel better physically and emotionally, it:

  • helps to control weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and bone and joint problems like arthritis)
  • reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers
  • helps to manage pain
  • helps to maintain and increase joint movement
  • Importantly, it helps to reduce the risk of injury from falls, a major concern with ageing.

How much physical activity do you need?

Adults aged 65 or older who are generally fit and have no health conditions that limit their mobility, should try to be active daily.

It’s recommended that adults aged 65 or older do at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days.

Some activity, however light, is better for your health than none at all — you should aim to do something, no matter what your age, weight, health problems or abilities.

What counts as moderate-intensity aerobic activity?

Moderate-intensity aerobic activity means you’re working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. One way to tell if you’re working at a moderate intensity is if you can still talk but you can’t sing the words to a song.

Examples of activities that require moderate effort for most people include:

  • walking fast
  • doing water aerobics
  • ballroom and line dancing
  • riding a bike on level ground or with a few hills
  • playing doubles tennis
  • pushing a lawn mower
  • canoeing
  • volleyball

Daily activities such as shopping, cooking or housework don’t count towards your daily 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity. This is because the effort required isn’t hard enough to increase your heart rate.

However, it’s important to minimise the amount of time you spend sitting watching TV, reading or listening to music. Some activity, however light, is better for your health than none at all.

What counts as vigorous-intensity aerobic activity?

Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity means you’re breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. If you’re working at this level, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath, and you should stop if you feel unwell.

The Australian Physical Activity Guide for Older Australians doesn’t recommend you exercise to this level, but it’s OK if you do. If you have enjoyed a lifetime of vigorous physical activity, you should carry on doing it in a way that suits you now, provided you stick to recommended safety procedures and guidelines.

What counts as muscle-strengthening activity?

Muscle-strengthening exercises are counted in repetitions and sets. A repetition is 1 complete movement of an activity, like lifting a weight or doing a sit-up. A set is a group of repetitions.

For each activity, try to do 8 to 12 repetitions in each set. Try to do at least 1 set of each muscle-strengthening activity. You’ll get even more benefits if you do 2 or 3 sets.

To gain health benefits from muscle-strengthening activities, you should do them to the point where you find it hard to complete another repetition.

There are many ways you can strengthen your muscles, whether at home or in the gym. Examples of muscle-strengthening activities include:

  • carrying or moving heavy loads such as groceries
  • activities that involve stepping and jumping such as dancing
  • heavy gardening, such as digging or shovelling
  • exercises that use your body weight for resistance, such as push-ups or sit-ups
  • yoga
  • lifting weights

Make a time to do specific strength exercises 2 or 3 times a week, and build some of them into your everyday activities.

Read More – Tips and Ideas for Older Australians (65 years and older)


Australian Government Department of Health (Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines), Department of Health (Choose Health: Be Active), Nutrition Australia (Physical activity for older adults)

Combatting sedentary behaviour

Sitting or lying down, (with the exception of sleeping), are what we call ‘sedentary’ behaviours. You can be sedentary at work, at school, at home, when travelling or during leisure time. Sedentary behaviour requires little energy expenditure. Examples of sedentary behaviour include:

  • Sitting or lying down while watching television or playing electronic games.
  • Sitting while driving a vehicle, or while travelling.
  • Sitting or lying down to read, study, write, or work at a desk or computer.

There is a difference between a person who is sedentary and a person who is physically inactive. Being ‘physically inactive’ means not doing enough physical activity (in other words, not meeting the physical activity guidelines ). However, being ‘sedentary’ means sitting or lying down for long periods. So, a person can do enough physical activity to meet the guidelines and still be considered sedentary if they spend a large amount of their day sitting or lying down at work, at home, for study, for travel or during their leisure time.

Sedentary behaviour is associated with poorer health outcomes, including an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. You will benefit from minimising time spent sitting each day, and from breaking up periods of time spent being sedentary, as often as possible.

Tips for Reducing Sedentary Behaviour

  • Get up to change the channel on the TV instead of using the remote
  • When tidying up, put things away in multiple small trips rather than one big haul
  • Preset the timer on your TV to turn off after an hour to remind you to get up and move more
  • Walk around when talking on your mobile phone
  • Stand up and move during your favourite TV shows
  • Instead of sitting and reading, listen to recorded books while you walk, clean, or work in the garden
  • Stand on public transport and get off one stop earlier than your destination
  • If you work in an office:
    • Take your lunch break outside or in another location instead of sitting and eating at your desk.
    • Stand while you read at work.
    • Move your rubbish bin away from your desk so you have to get up to use it.
    • Use the speakerphone for conference calls, and walk around the room during the conference.
    • Ask your boss for a ‘walk and talk’ meeting rather than a sit down meeting.
    • Why not turn off the TV during the day and get out in the garden?
    • Set an alarm on your computer to remind you to stand up and move more often.
    • How about delivering the message in person, instead of by email?

Make your move – Sit less – Be active for life!


Australian Government Department of Health (Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines), Department of Health (Choose Health: Be Active), Nutrition Australia (Physical activity for older adults)