Shake a Leg! (Activity)

Get up off the lounge, turn off the TV and get yourself moving ” your body will thank you for it.

It’s a harsh truth ” as a society, we’re getting lazier. We drive everywhere instead of walking, we change the television channel with a remote control, we eat home delivered food instead of cooking, and we play computer games instead of football.

All this inactivity is causing more than just spreading waistlines. Physical activity plays a critical role in reducing the risk of heart disease ” people who aren’t regularly active are almost twice as likely to die from coronary heart disease as those who do. Being inactive also increases your risk of developing other diseases such as diabetes. Ultimately, physical inactivity ranks only second to smoking in terms of the burden of disease in Australia.

Research has also shown that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are less active than the rest of the population. Considering the rest of the population aren’t particularly active anyway, this is quite a worry.

There are some common social and environmental barriers to exercise, including living in a remote area with limited access to exercise facilities, or not being able to afford expensive gym memberships. But being active enough doesn’t require you to become a gym junkie or a professional football plater. All you need is your own feet ” walking is a great way to get active.

An important thing to remember is that it’s not about how hard you exercise; it’s about how often you exercise. Here are some suggestions to help you start an exercise program and stick to it.

  • Set yourself achievable goals. Aim for a 20 minute walk three times a week to start off with, and increase it as your fitness improves.
  • Exercise with a friend or family member. They can keep you company, as well as help keep you motivated.
  • Work exercise into your daily routine. For instance, walk a different way to school or work, get off the bus one stop earlier and walk the extra distance, leave the car at home and walk to the shops and use the stairs instead of the lift.
  • Vary your routine. You’ll only get bored if you do the same thing every day. Alternate walking with swimming, playing footy or tennis or some other activity you enjoy.
  • Aim to get a bit puffed. Walk a bit faster; include hills and steps in your regular routine, gradually increasing their number and difficulty.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and comfortable, supportive shoes.
  • Don’t give up. If you have to miss out on exercising for one day, don’t beat yourself up over it – there’s always tomorrow.

Being active and exercising regularly are essential if you want to avoid becoming overweight and being at risk of a whole host of serious illnesses. Make the decision to start being more active today ” you won’t regret it!

Some facts from the Heart Foundation

  • More than 8000 people die each year in Australia due to problems associated with physical inactivity.
  • People who are physically inactive are nearly twice as likely to have a heart attack as people who are moderately active.
  • Almost half the population don’t exercise enough.
  • Physical inactivity ranks second only to tobacco smoking in terms of the burden of disease in Australia. It accounts for 6 per cent (second highest burden for men) of the total burden of disease and injury among males and 8 per cent among females (highest burden for women)
  • At a medium pace, an extra 10 minute walk per day adds up to an extra 328kms walked per year ” that’s like walking from Sydney to Newcastle and back.
  • Playing a ball game for half an hour once a week instead of playing a computer game for the same amount of time, burns an extra 466 kilojoules. Over a year, this equates to 24,232 kilojoules.

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