Physical exercise releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel good – boosting your self-esteem, increasing your energy levels, and helping you concentrate as well as sleep better. It has also been found to reduce the risk of many health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes; anxiety; depression; musculoskeletal problems; some cancers; and unhealthy weight gain.
For optimal results, experts recommend that you be physically active on most days of the week, averaging across the week 150 to 300 minutes (2 1⁄2 to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1 1⁄4 to 2 1⁄2 hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities.1
Having said that, doing something is better than doing nothing at all! Here are some suggestions for building more physical activity into your daily routine:
- If you find it hard to get started, make sure you choose an activity you enjoy, or build a social element into it – you are more likely to keep at it.
- Brisk walking is one of the best exercises you can do and it’s free! To keep your interest up and challenge different muscles vary your course regularly, incorporate some high intensity intervals, such as a few short jogging intervals or running up and down stairs; walk with a friend; walk barefoot on the beach; do a bush walk; listen to music while you walk; or use an app that records your progress.
- Do something you haven’t tried before, like signing up for a new class at the local gym or community centre.
- Investigate what’s on offer for free on YouTube! You’ll be surprised at the variety of online exercise sessions that you can do in your own home.
- Build more exercise into your weekly routine by using an exercise bike, swimming, gardening, mowing the lawn, kicking the ball around with your children or grandchildren!
- Increase the number of steps you cover in a week in small ways, for example, parking further away from the supermarket – it all adds up!
1. Australian Government Department of Health: Australia’s Physical and Sedentary behaviour Guidelines for Adults 18-64 years