As the weather starts to fine up, it provides us with a wonderful opportunity to get up and go outside for a short walk, ride a bike, go for a swim or play with our children.

There are many proven benefits of moving your body every day. A short walk for example, can improve overall mood and wellbeing, and regular physical activity can lower the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Physical inactivity is in fact the second greatest contributor behind tobacco smoking, to the cancer burden of Australia.

Did you know however, that walking just 15 minutes every day can extend your life by as much as 3 years? Did you also know that walking boosts your immunity and limits your odds of catching colds and flus? Even 15 minutes of walking a day can reduce Australia’s burden of disease by approximately 13%.

Want some additional benefits?

Being active on a daily basis increases energy levels, reduces stress, as well as helps to improve the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Did you also know that exercising in middle age can save your memory later? A 20-year study shows that regular physical activity is the number 1 protector against cognitive decline. Regular exercise of any type, whether it’s walking, swimming or mountain climbing was found to protect against memory loss. If you don’t already exercise regularly, this is another great reason to move more, and to move more often.

Physical inactivity has consistently been shown to be one of the most powerful, modifiable risk factors for all causes of death and disease, alongside smoking and obesity…

So what can you do?

Move more and sit less. Break up long periods of sitting as often as you can. Even walking 2 minutes per hour can help! It can lower your risk of dying younger by 33%. Walk 10 minutes a day and your arteries will be protected!

Want some tips to help you get started?

For even the most inactive, some movement is achievable on a daily basis. This could include the following:

  • a short walk before, during or after your working day (if you travel into work, park the car a little further, or if on the bus, get off at an earlier stop)
  • organise a walking meeting with your family (or when at work with your colleagues)
  • take yourself out for a short walk during your lunch break and explore the neighbourhood
  • find a car spot that is a little further away from the shopping centre’s entrance
  • break up your sitting time at work or at home, by getting up every hour (even less is preferable) and grab a glass of water, make yourself a cup of tea, speak to a co-worker or loved one, check the letterbox, or just take a few deep breaths as you step outside
  • take the stairs whenever you can and as often as you can
  • whilst watching TV, stand up during some of the ad breaks and do some stretches, or if you’re feeling adventurous, do some push-ups!
  • keep an exercise diary – make an appointment with yourself to go for a walk
  • play with your kids – kick a footy, visit the local park, ride your bikes together
  • put a reminder on your phone to help you stand and stretch
  • participate in some online activities – join a Zumba class or try tai chi

Pressed for time? Then break up 20 minutes or 30 minutes, into two or three 10 minute slots of movement per day. Any movement is better than none – even a short 5 minute walk around the block can do wonders for your overall health and wellbeing. This is a small and achievable change that can be realised and maintained by anyone.

Once you’re feeling confident with exercising on a regular basis, it’s important to include some muscle strengthening activities on at least two days of the week. Muscle strengthening activities include activities such as working with resistance bands or lifting weights, using your own body weight such as doing push-ups and squats, or if out in the garden, doing some heavy gardening such as shovelling or digging…

Muscle strengthening exercises or resistance training is very important! It not only helps you maintain the ability to perform everyday tasks such as carrying the grocery bags and picking up young children (due to increased muscle strength), but it furthermore helps to increase and maintain bone density, improve joint strength and balance, as well as in the older population, reduce falls.

Regular strength training also helps with weight management and can overall improve an individuals’ confidence and sense of wellbeing.

Take some action: What will you do today?

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and incorporating more movement into your day can be achieved. The key is to be consistent with your choices every day. Creating new habits requires uniform effort every day, even on those days when we’re tired, it’s important to get up and move.

So what will you choose to do today to help you sit less and move more?

Until next time, wishing you all great health and wellbeing!

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REFERENCES

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2017). Impact of physical inactivity as a risk factor for chronic conditions: Australian Burden of Disease Study. Australian Burden of Disease Study series no. 15 Cat. no. BOD 16. Canberra: AIHW.

Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines (2014).

Better Health Channel (2020).

Szoeke et al (2016). Predictive Factors for Verbal Memory Performance Over Decades of Aging: Data from the Women’s Healthy Ageing Project. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

World Health Organization (2009). Global Health Risks: mortality and burden of disease attributable to selected major risks. World Health Organization.