Physical activity and sedentary behaviour

Being physically active has multiple social, environmental and economic benefits as well as being  important for overall health and wellbeing regardless of age. Limiting sedentary behaviour can also bring about additional health benefits.

Benefits of physical activity and reducing sedentary behaviour

Doing any physical activity is better than doing none.

People who do no physical activity are advised to start by doing some, and gradually build up to the recommended amount (external site).

People may plan to be physically activity through sport or recreation or activity may happen in an unstructured way through:

  • working
  • playing 
  • doing household jobs 
  • gardening 
  • walking 
  • cycling.

Being physically active is important for overall health and wellbeing (external site) regardless of age and also has many social, environmental and economic benefits.

Physical activity is important for children’s (external site) healthy growth and development.

Physical activity reduces the risk (external site) of:

  • cardiovascular disease 
  • some cancers and 
  • type 2 diabetes,

and helps to:

  • improve musculoskeletal health 
  • maintain body weight 
  • reduce symptoms of depression.

How much physical activity gives these benefits?

There are national physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines (external site) available which provide recommendations for children, young people, adults and older people.

The weekly recommendation for adults aged 18-64 is:

  • at least 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous physical activity; or  
  • 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity; or 
  • a combination of moderate and vigorous activities.