Importance of Exercise in Australia

Health and wellbeing is an important part of life.  Exercise, along with a balanced diet are the basics for living a healthy and happy lifestyle.

Being physically active is also a great way to meet and have fun with other people, as well as improve your self-esteem.

Regular physical activity is important for maintaining a good standard of health.  Exercise helps to:

®     Promote a healthy weight

®     Reduce the risk of or help manage type 2 diabetes

®     Improve mental health

®     Prevent heart disease

®     Improve sleep

®     Reduce the risk of and assist with rehabilitation from some cancers

®     Improve bone and muscle strength

®     Increase longevity

It is recommended that adults aged 18 to 64 should do at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week.

Moderate activities take some effort, but you can still talk while doing them.  Some examples are:

  •          A brisk walk
  •          Recreational swimming
  •          Dancing
  •          Leisure cycling
  •          Social sports, such as tennis or golf
  •          Household tasks like cleaning the bathroom or vacuuming the floors

Vigorous activities require more effort and will make you much breathe harder and faster than normal.  Some examples are:

  •          Jogging
  •          Aerobics
  •          Hiking
  •          Fast cycling
  •          Many organised sports, such as rugby, soccer or netball
  •          Tasks that involve lifting, carrying, or digging

Did you know?  More than half of all Australian adults are not active enough – that is about 10 million people!

For some people, getting started is the hardest part.  Before you begin, ticking off the following steps will hopefully get you on the right path to success.
Exercise Routine
  • Get the all-clear from your doctor

Before you embark on a new physical activity program, it’s a good idea to visit your doctor for a check-up – especially if you’ve never exercised before or it’s been a long time since you exercised regularly.

Your doctor can give you help and advice about kicking off and maintaining your new fitness regime safely.

  • Identify your goals

Think about what you want to get out of your exercise program. Your goals will help you decide what type of activity to choose. For example, if one of your goals is to lose weight, you will probably need to consider some high-intensity activity. If you want to become stronger or increase your cardiovascular fitness, these will each require slightly different exercise types.

Perhaps you’re thinking about using physical activity as a mode of transport, like walking, running, or cycling to work. Or you may want to improve your core stability and balance through activities like yoga or Pilates.

Setting firm goals will give you something to strive for, and help you stay motivated and on track with your new exercise program. It will also help you measure your achievements.

  • Make it fun

Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore.  Nor do you have to stick to the same routine every time.  In fact, it’s beneficial to mix up your exercise to include both strength-building exercises and cardio to give your body an overall balanced workout.

But have you ever thought about what interests you have already that get you moving? Or is there something you always wanted to try and haven’t yet? For example, have you ever wanted to take up horseback riding, rock climbing, ballroom dancing, martial arts, or kayaking? All require physical interaction and if an activity interests you personally, you’re more likely to stick with it long term.

If the above sounds too strenuous, get creative and think about how you could incorporate more physical activity into your day. Have an interest in art? Why not make a list of art galleries to visit, and tick these off your list one by one. You might not realise how far you’ve walked whilst taking in each piece of art. The same could be done looking at flowers at your local botanical gardens, or out wondering your local markets.

  • Don’t listen to your excuses

It’s very easy, even before you start to exercise, to make excuses as to why you can’t.

A common excuse is that you think you’re too busy. Whilst a good 45 minute workout has its benefits, short 15 minute bursts are also known to be effective. Simply prioritising this time throughout your week could make a big difference. Think about where you could substitute some of your time to dedicate to getting your body moving.  Maybe sitting in front of the TV or computer for 30 minutes less 3 times a week could be the way for you to achieve your health goals.

Another excuse is that you might think your body is not up to exercise, either due to an injury, your weight, or your age. There are many ways to get your body moving that don’t involve a lot of mobility. Low impact exercise, such as swimming, water aerobics, or pilates may help you to get your heart rate up without aggravating an existing injury. Walking is also suitable as a place to start to begin building up some fitness. There are also thai chi, pilates, and yoga classes available that will tailor an exercise routine depending on your needs.

“I can’t afford it”. It’s very easy to immediately dismiss a plan to exercise based on not being able to fund it. Gym memberships can be expensive, though many do offer a no-contract ‘pay-as-you-go’ arrangement that can be a little more affordable if mixed with some free activities. You don’t have to use exercise equipment to be fit, but if you like using it, many parks across Australia now have these available to the public for free. Look up your local council website to find out if you have one in your area.

  • Know your limits

Anyone can add exercise into their lives, just remember to know your limits. Don’t push yourself too hard, and seek advice from a doctor if you have any injuries or illnesses that concern you.

If you find yourself going off track and exercising less, keep in mind that you managed to begin once before, and use the same strategy that got you started in the first place. Remember what you enjoyed about it before and set yourself small goals first, and you’ll be back on track in no time!

Tip! If you are having a busy week or find it hard to fit exercise into your routine, you can choose to do a combination of moderate and vigorous exercise activities. 

20 minutes of moderate activity = 10 minutes of vigorous activity.

Gyms

Gyms are hugely popular for the variety of activities they offer, availability of exercise equipment, accessibility of fitness professionals, and opportunity to meet new people. Many gyms offer a range of group classes, with qualified instructors who cater to all fitness levels and abilities. Gyms also have a great variety of equipment for cardio and weights workouts that you can use on your own, or with a friend. Some gyms are accessible 24 hours a day, making it easy to fit your workout into your daily routine.

Bootcamps

Fitness boot camps are a type of group training program, usually conducted in the outdoors, by gym staff and personal trainers. They adopted their name from military boot camps, where new recruits are sent for initial training and are often conducted in a military-style. Boot camps are great if you love training with other people in a team atmosphere and want to be challenged a little harder than you may otherwise push yourself.

Exercise Bootcamp

Organised Sports

Participating in an organised sport can be a great way to meet new people, or get your work colleagues together for some fun and team building.  There are many team sports to choose from, like soccer, netball, volleyball, hockey, or touch football (a non-contact version of Rugby League). There are also individual sports like tennis and squash.

Sporting clubs welcome new players and can connect you with people at your level, or even arrange to coach if you’re new.

Dancing

Want an exercise that’s good for the mind, body, and soul? Dancing might be just the right one for you! Dancing is a full-body workout that is medium intensity, increases cardiovascular fitness, improves coordination and flexibility, and is just plain good fun. Dance class is also a great place to meet new people. There are many different types of dance classes for all ages, including jazz, salsa, hip-hop, and ballroom. Your local council will have details of classes near you, or you could check online for a DanceSport Australia venue or a dance school in your area.

Exercise Dancing

Yoga classes

There is a wide range of health benefits to be gained by the practice of yoga. It focuses on nurturing physical, emotional, and mental well-being through a range of techniques including postures and movement, breath awareness, relaxation, and meditation. Although yoga is not known to improve cardiovascular fitness, it will improve core strength and flexibility. Yoga is suitable for a wide range of ages and abilities.

There is a range of yoga styles and what happens in classes may vary depending on the style of the teacher or school. It may take a bit of experimenting to find one that suits you best.

Home workout apps

There are many fitness apps available to download on your mobile.  These smartphone apps can assist with tracking diet and exercise.  They can offer a variety of daily workout routines, tips for eating healthy and staying on track plus much more.  You can tailor the content to your individual needs, which makes it feel like you have your own personal trainer motivating you through your exercise routine.

Exercise Workout Apps

The term physical activity is often used interchangeably with the term exercise.  However, exercise is just one type of physical activity.

Physical activity includes exercise as well as other activities carried out as part of daily life, for example walking to work or university, taking the stairs, doing housework, or mowing the lawn.

Some easy ways to get physical are:

®     Try cycling, jogging, or walking part of your journey to work or school

®     Set aside 20 minutes after dinner every evening for a walk

®     Get off the bus or train one stop before your destination stop

®     Always take the stairs or walk up the escalator

®     Exercise while watching television

®     Get active during breaks or at lunchtime – try walking or jogging with a colleague

Did you know? Muscle tissue is approximately three times more efficient at burning calories than fat.

There is so much to see and do while you’re in Australia, and a great way to see as much as you can is to get active!

Here are a few fun ways to experience Australia and get active at the same time:

®     Find a hiking or bushwalking track

®     Take a walk or bike ride through an area you haven’t explored yet

®     Go for a swim at a patrolled beach with your friends (always swim between the red and yellow flags and obey the directions of lifeguards)

®     Surfing lessons

There are many health benefits to being active for people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities, but you should consult your doctor before starting any new vigorous activity.  Use our find a doctor tool to schedule a health check today.