Health & lifestyle
When was the last time you went for a walk? Played sport? Or chose the stairs instead of the lift? If you answered “I can’t remember” then now is a good time to start thinking about being active. Lack of physical activity is linked to a range of health problems, including obesity, heart disease and some forms of cancer.
Keeping active has other health benefits, such as helping to build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints, promoting psychological well-being and as you get older, ensuring independent living. In addition, physical activity can lead to more social interaction and better quality of life.
With all these benefits why are so many people not keeping active?
Regular physical activity is a low priority for at least one third of Australian men. It might be because of time constraints, a lack of interest or motivation, health problems or limited access to suitable activities. Whatever the reason, it should be addressed because in order to stay healthy, exercise needs to be a part of your life.
Making sure you get the benefits of exercise
You might not have time for golf or be motivated to attend the gym, but including regular exercise as part of your lifestyle does not need to be difficult or gruelling. It is about making some simple decisions about how you go about your day.
Did you realise that you only need to do about 30 minutes of exercise a day to achieve significant health benefits? And you don’t even have to do this all at once. Doing two 15-minute blocks, or even three 10-minute blocks can be just as effective. So if you think about your day you could walk for 10 minutes at lunchtime, ride your bike to work instead of driving or perhaps get off the bus (or train) at an earlier stop and walk the rest of the way. Any activity, such as walking, gardening and even washing the car which works the major muscle groups is usually demanding enough to offer health benefits. The key is to find a few things that you enjoy and fit into your lifestyle.
Booking time into your diary is one way to ensure that it is a priority in your day. You might even want to plan a month of physical activity. Setting achievable goals for yourself can help you to keep on track with your physical activity. With each goal that you achieve you are likely to be motivated to keep going and to set new goals for yourself.
You don’t need to exercise alone
Exercising with your friends or family can also help. Not only does it add to the enjoyment of the activity, but it can also motivate you to keep to your plans. Knowing that you have committed to meeting a friend at lunchtime for a walk means you are less likely to come up with a reason for putting it off. Who can you ask to join you next time you are exercising?
Not exercised for a while?
If you have not been physically active for some time, it is best to start slowly. Going too hard, too early can cause pain and injury. It might also be a good idea to talk to your doctor or a sports physiotherapist about your plan to exercise because they might have advice on how you can get the most out of it.
Creating a new habit that involves physical activity might take a little while, but once you have achieved this, the health benefits will be apparent. The decisions you make today about keeping active will influence how you live tomorrow. Get active and give your body the best chance to stay healthy, fit and in shape.
Want to know more?
To help you find out more about healthy physical activity we have put together some relevant links and resources on being active.Read more