Ready to start exercising? Here’s what you need to know

Created with the Heart Foundation
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Walk, swim or bike your way to better fitness. Our handy hints will have you exercising regularly in no time!

What is physical activity, anyway?

Physical activity is basically anything that gets you moving your body, from doing housework or taking a stroll around the neighbourhood, all the way through to playing a team sport or doing a fitness class. Even the simplest forms of exercise – like walking, swimming, cycling or jogging – can have a surprising impact on your health. 

How much is enough?

If you’ve never been a regular exerciser, or if you’ve been out of the fitness loop for a while, it can be hard to know where to begin. So, let’s start with the basics: how much exercise do you really need to do?

According to national guidelines, you should be aiming to do at least 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity – that is, moving in a way that that makes you breathe harder and huff and puff – every week. That might sound like a lot, but when you break it down, it’s only 30 minutes, five days a week. You should also add muscle strengthening activities (body weight exercises or lifting weights) at least two days a week.

By following these guidelines, you can improve not only your heart health but your general health and mental wellbeing as well.  The good news? There’s no ‘right’ type of exercise – just about anything that increases your heart rate will do!

Getting started is easier than you think

Prioritising your heart health, overall health and mental wellbeing is one of the best gifts you can give yourself – and your family!  Ready to get moving? Here are some handy tips to help to kickstart your fitness journey.

Start small: Like most things, getting fit is a journey – don’t feel pressured to run a marathon from the get-go. Instead, start with something manageable like a 10-minute walk and gradually increase your frequency, intensity and time (F.I.T). from there.  

Use what’s around you: When it comes to building strength, you don’t need special equipment. Start with bodyweight exercises and gradually add in household items – like canned food or a full water bottle – to increase resistance. 

Book it in: Making exercise part of your daily routine can help you stick to your goals. Pop it in your calendar, set a reminder on your phone, or commit to a regular session with a friend.

 Aim high: Setting yourself a big goal – like a charity walk, a hiking trip or an ambitious daily step total – can keep you motivated by giving you something to aim for.

Do what you love: Choose activities you already enjoy to keep your momentum going.

Change it up: Add new activities into your exercise schedule, over time. Try out tai chi or yoga, try a local fitness class.

Make it social! Exercising with family, friends, your dog or a neighbour can make getting fit a social activity. You could also join a Heart Foundation walking group  to add variety to your workouts. Located across Australia, these groups welcome members of all ages (even 80+!). Some are dog- and kid-friendly as well. 

Be prepared: Take a sensible approach to exercising – dress for the weather (and the sun!), stay hydrated, and keep your headphone volume low enough to hear traffic and other sounds. If you’re exercising at night, choose well-lit areas and take a buddy with you.

Don’t forget to talk to your doctor

If you’re a non-exerciser, or if you haven’t exercised for a while, make sure you chat to your doctor before launching your get-fit plans. This is especially important if you:

  • have a heart condition (or suspected heart condition) or another medical condition that restricts your activity experience chest pain when you’re being active 
  • have dizzy spells or often faint  
  • feel breathless after moderate activity 
  • smoke 
  • are pregnant 
  • are overweight 
  • have high cholesterol or high blood pressure 
  • have a fast or irregular heartbeat.

Once you get the okay from your doctor, it’s onward and upward towards your fitness goals. 

Logo of Coles and Heart Foundation

Coles has partnered with the Heart Foundation to provide this content to you and help Australians live healthier and happier lives.

For personalised heart health information and support, contact the Heart Foundation Helpline 13 11 12.


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