Shape up: Free or low-cost fitness programs in Australia

Nov 07, 2019
Over-60s should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. Source: Getty

Regular exercise, especially among older adults, is fundamental to ageing well. From weight loss to boosting the immune system and even reducing the risk of chronic diseases, exercise has an array of benefits for our health. But how much exercise is enough?

The good news is that exercise doesn’t have to be done for long periods to be beneficial for your health. According to Queensland Health, over-60s should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day.

If you’re just beginning to exercise, start by doing 10 minutes once or twice a day and gradually build up to the recommended amount. Remember, getting a little bit of physical activity is better than none.

Research shows that as little as 30 minutes of exercise per day can reduce the risk of diseases like heart disease and stroke, some cancers, high blood pressure, diabetes and dementia. It’s also good for your mind, assists in weight management and can improve bone health.

Don’t know where to start? Some examples of moderate-intensity activities include brisk walking, water aerobics, ballroom dancing and gardening. It’s also important to incorporate weight training into your weekly fitness routine. Get active during television commercial breaks by doing some pushups or wall sits.

If you’re looking for a little motivation though, there are a number of free or low-cost exercise programs that may be able to help you get started on your fitness journey.

Free or low-cost exercise programs in Australia

Australia wide

The Heart Foundation has developed a low-to-moderate intensity exercise program, called Heartmoves, for people with health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. The program is offered nationwide and incorporates components of aerobic activity, weight-bearing exercise, balance and stretching. Costs range from $5 to $12 per class.

The Heart Foundation also provides free group-based walking groups across Australia. Find a local walking group near you. 


Get Healthy is a free government-funded phone service that helps Queenslanders reach their health goals. The service offers up to 10 free calls with a personal health coach for up to six months, practical tips on healthy eating and being physically active and access to other great tools.

Meanwhile, My Health for Life is a free six-month program that is designed to support positive lifestyle changes in order to reduce an individual’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and lifestyle related cancer. Learn more here.

If you need a little inspiration before you get your fitness on, Queensland Health also has a collection of free exercise videos online. Learn more here.

South Australia

The Strength for Life program encourages older South Australians to attend strength training sessions. Costs range from $8 to $10 per class. There’s also a number of outdoor free gym facilities available in public parks across the state, while Get Healthy is also offered in SA.

New South Wales

The Active Over 50 program is designed to help older New South Wales residents lead a healthy and more active lifestyle. The low-cost classes include gentle exercise, aqua aerobics, Tai Chi and more. Get Healthy is also offered in NSW.

Western Australia

COTA Western Australia’s Living Longer Living Stronger initiative is a low-cost exercise program aimed at improving the health, wellbeing and independence of people over 50 through strength training.


Living Longer Living Stronger is also offered in Victoria at community health centres, fitness and leisure centres and neighbourhood houses.

Northern Territory 

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or simply seeking a healthier lifestyle, Healthy Darwin provides a variety of free or low-cost activities (no more than $5) across Darwin, such as Pilates, aqua aerobics, Zumba and boxing.

Australian Capital Territory 

Live Life Get Active is a free fitness camp open to all members of the public, offering circuit-based and boxing classes.


The Get Active Program (GAP) is a 10-week program that promotes health and fitness by discussing issues such as motivation, stress management and self-esteem, and participating in fun physical activities such as bush walking, boxing, yoga, cycling and kayaking. The cost is usually below $6.

Do you workout often? How do you get your 30 minutes in?

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