According to Sports Australia, most Australians do not meet the physical activity guidelines for their age. This national inactivity has led to a rapid increase in obesity and is now the “fourth-largest cause of chronic conditions in Australia.”
So why aren’t more of us getting active? We know exercise leads to better physical, mental, and social health, so what stops us?
The exercise problem & some solutions
Whether it’s Sport Australia, The American Heart Association, or our own Chief Medical Officer, all of them identify the same recurring barriers to exercise. Below are the most common issues facing inactive Australians:
- Lack of time: Much like booking in time to go to the dentist, the best way to make time for exercise is to put it in your calendar. Start with walking around your local area and get used to making time for your fitness.
- Lack of motivation: Plan and understand when your body feels motivated to get active. A good way to do this is to spend the rest of the week recording when you feel most active. Then next week, set up calendar reminders to be active when you are most motivated. Setting goals is also a fantastic way to keep motivated.
- Lack of knowledge: What is the best form of exercise? We are runners, so let’s start there. Start with the basics. Step Up can provide you with introductory running and walking programs to build up your knowledge. Then as you build your strength and confidence, you can expand your horizons.
- Family obligations: Some parents already know this, but a four-year-old child is the best fitness instructor you will ever get. Rather than using kids as an excuse not to exercise, get them to exercise with you. Walk with them around the oval or learn a new sport together.
What is enough exercise?
As we travel through life, our exercise habits change, and our minimum suggested physical activity requirements also change. So, according to Sport Australia’s guidelines:
- Youth (15-17) should aim to get 60 minutes or more of intense physical activity daily.
- Young Adults (18-34) should aim to get 150 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity per week.
- Adults (35-64) should aim to get 150 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity per week.
- Older Adults (65+) should aim to get 30 minutes of moderate physical per day, focusing on balance and core exercises.
So now that you know how much time you should aim for, how can you get started?
Take small steps first
One of the most common mistakes people make when starting to exercise is going all out. Signing up for every group fitness session at the gym may seem productive, but this is the fastest way to injure yourself.
If you haven’t exercised in a while, start off slow with a focus on building habits rather than trying to beat your 5km time from 10 years ago on Day 1. Head to Step Up’s Running Plans for more information about how to tackle the first run.
Step Up your Fitness game
Here at Step Up, we want to help our community champion get active! Through Step Up you can:
- Track your physical and mental health;
- See your progress over time to help understand your well-being;
- Receive personalised physical and mental health resources;
- Connect with social opportunities to meet new people and become more socially confident.