Get behind November fitness campaign
IT'S UNITING everyone from NRL player Joel Reddy, former cricketer Matthew Hayden and swimming gold medallist Geoff Huegill, right through to musician Airling and celebrity chef Hayden Quinn.
And now, Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA) is calling on all Australians to get behind its 30 days, 30 reasons to exercise campaign, which raises awareness of the many benefits of exercise and runs throughout November.
ESSA Industry Development Officer Alex Lawrence said now in its second year, the campaign-an Exercise Right initiative developed as part of ESSA's exercise awareness month - had once again brought together high profile athletes, nutritionists, chefs, musicians and writers to share their reasons for exercising and inspire the masses to get moving.
"While we all know participating in regular physical activity can lower your risk of developing a number of chronic conditions, reduce stress and enhance your overall health and fitness level, many people find they also reap a number of other benefits from exercising," Mr Lawrence said.
Swimming great Geoff Huegill said exercise assisted him with everything from goal setting and team work skills, right through to developing a never-give- up mentality that was important both in and out of the pool.
"Being one of the lucky few to have been able to live my dreams through sport at the elite level, I understand the importance and the positives that regular exercise has to offer," Mr Huegill said.
"Wellbeing is more than grabbing an apple and just going for a run. The reality is that energy is finite, but regular exercise is a key ingredient to sustaining energy throughout the day and keeping up with demands of life.
It also triggers positive outcomes in both mind and body and to me, this is a strong foundation to overall wellbeing."
Matthew Hayden shared that exercising gives him the ability to visit beautiful locations and meet inspirational people, while also providing him with a sense of purpose.
"The hardest part of going for a run is putting on your shoes and pilling out the front door but when it all comes down to it, taking a deep energising breath is not only addictive but incredible satisfying," Mr Hayden said.
Rabbitohs player Joel Reddy also attested to the mental benefits of physical activity, indicating he regularly exercises to keep his mind focused.
"I also exercise to get the most out of my body. I find my challenges are more easily met when I am part of a team and motivated by the people around me."
And it's not just our elite athletes that are seeing the benefits of exercise.
"Some people report that exercise allows them to tap into their creative side, while others experience heightened cognitive function after a work-out session," Mr Lawrence said.
Author Benjamin Law - best known for his memoir The Family Law - is one of the 15-plus celebrities supporting the campaign, and said exercise played an important role for him in overcoming writer's block.
"It took me ages to make the connection, but writing involves long periods of being physically still while my brain works overtime. Exercise provides me with the opposite: moving my body so hard, which forces my mind to switch off," Mr Law said.
"All my exercise is solitary and meditative - swimming laps, yoga or doing weights. When I come back to whatever I'm writing, it's like I'm reading it for the first time."
According to the most recent Australian Health Survey*, almost 70 per cent of Australian adults are either sedentary or report low levels of physical activity. Physical inactivity has also been identified as the fourth leading cause of death due to non-communicable disease worldwide, contributing to over three million preventable deaths annually.
Mr Lawrence said such statistics were cause for concern and he stressed the need for individuals to consider whether they were participating in a sufficient amount of physical activity.
"The Department of Health's physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines** suggest Australian adults should undertake between two-and-a-half and five hours of moderate-intensity physical activity over the course of a week," Mr Lawrence said.
"If you're not sure how well you're performing or need assistance with getting started, it is worthwhile consulting with an accredited exercise physiologist or exercise scientist who can work with you to assess your physical activity levels and develop a customised exercise routine."
Mr Lawrence said the unfortunate reality was that physical inactivity is costing Australians both in terms of life years, as well as economically.
"It is estimated that physical inactivity in Australia costs in excess of $13.8 billion in healthcare, productivity and mortality costs each year," Mr Lawrence said.
"The increasing prevalence of chronic conditions has somewhat desensitised people to the seriousness of chronic disease, so it's imperative that we continue to reiterate the severity of these conditions and make exercise a priority in our daily lives."
"Participating in just half an hour of moderate-intensity physical activity of the course of a week can go a long way in improving your health outcomes."
Mr Lawrence suggested the following tips for easily incorporating more exercise into a daily routine:
• Walk or bike to the store instead of driving.
• Contact your local dog shelter and ask if you can volunteer to walk some of the dogs.
• Park farther away at the shopping centre and walk the extra distance.
• Take the stairs as often as possible.
• If you have a small work meeting, instead of sitting at a desk, try a walk-meeting.
As part of the 30 days, 30 reasons to exercise campaign, ESSA is inviting Australians to tell them what motivates them to exercise using the hashtag #30for30.
Participants will have the chance to win a Fitbit device.
To find out more about ESSA or locate an Accredited Exercise Physiologist in your area who can customise an exercise program to suit your needs, visit www.essa.org.au.