Fitness and Wellbeing

Trailing for Trailwalker Obstacle Racing Weights

No one can deny that regular physical activity is an important contributor to good overall health, including promoting healthy weight, reducing the risk of chronic disease and mental well-being. However, the physical activity levels of many people, both in Australia and around the world, are less than the optimal level recommended to gain a health benefit. The World Health Organisation attributes the trend toward physical inactivity to be due in part to insufficient participation in physical activity during leisure time, (recognised globally as participating in less than 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most days of the week), and to an increase in sedentary behaviour as part of the activities undertaken at work and at home.

  • Physical inactivity (low levels of physical activity) is the fourth leading cause of death due to non-communicable disease worldwide (heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancers) – contributing to over three million preventable deaths annually (6% of deaths globally).
  • Physical inactivity is estimated to be the main cause for approximately 21–25% of breast and colon cancers, 27% of diabetes and approximately 30% of ischaemic heart disease burden.
  • Physical inactivity is the second greatest contributor, behind tobacco smoking, to the cancer burden in Australia.

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

  • In 2003, physical inactivity accounted for approximately 6.6% of the disease burden in the Australian population.

Source: Begg S, Vos T, Barker B, Stevenson C, Stanley L, Lopez AD, 2007. The burden of disease and injury in Australia 2003. PHE 82. Canberra: AIHW.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics released detailed results from the 2011-12 Australian Health Survey regarding the levels of physical activity and sedentary behaviour of the Australian population.

  • 60% of Australian adults did less than the recommended 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per day.

(NB: new physical activity guidelines recommend that adults accumulate 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week).
The Australian Health Survey 2011-12 indicates that:

  • Nearly 70% of Australian adults (i.e. almost 12 million adults) are either sedentary or have low levels of physical activity.

We can all acknowledge that the low levels of physical activity is not necessarily associated with aging. In many respects, it’s a product of becoming less active as we age. In other words, it’s not aging that forces us to take it easy, it’s taking it too easy that makes aging more debilitating than it needs to be. The human body is much better at repairing and maintaining itself when you keep it well conditioned through a program of regular physical activity, exercise, and good nutrition. The oft quoted adage “use it or lose it” is probably more true when you’re in your 60s and beyond than when you’re in your 40s. Slacking off on healthy habits (like regular exercise and good nutrition) is the primary factor in age-related problems like excessive muscle loss, deteriorating bone density, declines in strength and aerobic fitness, and increased difficulties with balance and flexibility.

If  you’ve remained active and continued to exercise throughout your life to date, you probably know your body well enough to recognize your strengths, your natural limitations, and the areas where you should improve to better function in your daily life. But if it’s been a while since you’ve done much exercise or regular physical activity, you should have a full medical check-up with your GP.   You would benefit from visiting a specialist Sport/Exercise Psychologist who will put together an exercise program that suits your fitness levels now to get you moving.

Personally I prefer to do a variety of exercise each and every week and normally include Pilates both mat and reformer work, a variety of Yoga classes, two sessions of Personal Training, bike riding and walking and Kayaking depending upon the weather.  There is a form of exercise that is suitable for everyone and everyone’s current fitness level. The easiest and least expensive exercise is simply walking, it doesn’t matter if initially you can only walk around the block you will get fitter day by day and the distance and time will improve.

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