Physical activity

What is good health?

Physical activity is good for your heart and blood pressure. It helps to control weight, prevent and control diabetes and relieve stress. Yet only about two-thirds of ACT workers (65%) are getting their recommended 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity physical activity on at least five days of the week1.

This physical activity doesn’t have to be done in one block of 30 minutes per day. It can be achieved by combining a few shorter sessions of 10 to 15 minutes each, such as walking to and from the bus stop or parking your car further away and walking the last bit2.

For those workers spending many of their waking hours sitting, emerging research is showing that this is also a risk for poor health, even for adults who are still undertaking the recommended 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each day3.

The challenge for employers is to help their employees find at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day and to be active in as many ways as possible.

Workplace strategies

A combination of ‘healthy people’ and ‘healthy places’ strategies are most effective in promoting health and wellbeing in the workplace.  Healthy people strategies may look to increase the health knowledge, awareness and positive attitudes of workers (personal development) and/or facilitate their active participation in healthy behaviours (behaviour change).  Healthy places strategies are about providing a health promoting workplace environment through facilities, supportive cultures and/or policies.

For detailed information on developing and implementing a workplace health and wellbeing program, download a copy of the Guide to Promoting Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace 2016 (pdf – 5.4mb).  Also refer to Links to Further Resources for great ideas, services and information to assist your workplace in implementing the example strategies below, and more.

Examples of workplace physical activity Healthy People Healthy Places
? Provide information to employees about the benefits of physical activity via factsheets, education seminars, posters and newsletters


? Promote the use of stairs instead of lifts or escalators using communication methods such as prompts at the lift, posters, flyers, emails, screen savers.


? Remind employees to get out of their chair and stretch.


? Circulate physical activity program opportunities via newsletters, pay slips, etc.


? Set up an information station that provides employees and visitors with access to active transport information, local cycling maps, public transport timetables for frequently used services and active transport activity information.


? Organise talks and seminars about ways to become more physically active.


? Introduce walking groups and other activity groups that meet before, during or after work. There are a number of service providers that can assist in this area.


? Commence a walking challenge, e.g. using the 10,000 Steps program.


? Organise and encourage corporate teams for events such as fun runs/walks.


? Organise a corporate rate at the local gym for staff.


? Encourage ‘walking meetings’ where space permits.


? Promote information about joining local sporting clubs and opportunities to get physically active via email, company intranet or websites, noticeboards and newsletters.


? Provide incentives to promote physical activity, such as flexible work hours or provision of 15 minutes work time to supplement 15 minutes of break time to be physically active.


? Target specific groups (e.g. those who are most sedentary, women, men) through tailored initiatives.


? Hold cycling information sessions on safe cycling strategies, cycling road rules and bicycle maintenance.


?? Provide bike racks, showers, change room facilities and lockers for walkers, runners and cyclists; or promote access to shared facilities.


?? Develop a Workplace Travel Plan to make getting to and from the workplace easier for staff and to reduce dependence on private vehicles and parking space.


?? Develop and implement a policy that supports physical activity at work


?? Provide or organise on-site physical activity classes for employees such as yoga, Pilates, swimming (whether free, partially-subsidised or user-pays).


Within these tables:  ?  this symbol indicates an easy or low-resource activity  ?? this symbol indicates a more comprehensively resourced activity.

Links to Further Resources

The following websites provide great ideas, services and information to assist your workplace in implementing the above example strategies and more.

Health Campaigns and Information

You can also seek advice, support and referrals from your General Practitioner or other health professionals regarding your health and wellbeing.

Programs and Activities

Sedentary behaviour

Active travel


  • ACT CANwalk Portal – information on ACT walking groups, maps and events
  • Workplace walking program (Heart Foundation) – support to establish workplace walking groups
  • 10,000 Steps (Central Queensland University) –  workplace walking challenge
  • Walking meeting (Victoria Walks) – tips on conducting a walking meeting
  • Walk to Work Day (Pedestrian Council of Australia) – a national community event to promote in your workplace
  • MOVchallenge (Physical Activity Foundation ACT) – corporate and community challenges encouraging people to be active


Sporting groups

  • Sporting club (Australian Sports Commission) –  find a club search engine
  • ACT Gold (Southside Community Service) – opportunities for ACT residents 50 years+ to participate in free or low-cost activities
  • Sportenary (Canberra 100) – showcasing a diversity of sport and recreation activities

Community events

Targeted physical activity programs

Promote or conduct a targeted physical activity program in your workplace

  • Beat It (Australian Diabetes Council) – a tailored physical activity and lifestyle program for those at risk of, or living with, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions
  • Heart Moves (Heart Foundation) – a low-to-moderate intensity exercise program for people living with health conditions


  • SunSmart (Cancer Council of the ACT) – information sessions  for all types of workplaces, including Outdoor Workers

Workplace Policy


For more information on providers of health and wellbeing activities go to the Service Provider section

[1] PricewaterhouseCoopers (2011). ACT Workplace Health Promotion Needs Analysis: Summary Report. Prepared on behalf of the ACT Government Health Directorate.  Accessed 7 March 2012 at[2] Department of Health and Ageing (1999). National Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults.  Australian Government: Canberra

[3] Katzmarzyk PT, Church TS, Craig CL, Bouchard C (2009). ‘Sitting time and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.’ Medicine and science in sports and exercise. 41(5): 998-1005.