Stay Active

Written by: Nev Amp, Practice Consultant, Rural Alive & Well

We are now into winter, which means with shorter days, colder temperatures, fog, rain and snow. It can be really tempting to give physical activity a miss. Colder months play a havoc not only on our physical health, but also our mood.

We get it – when you are under stress, feeling tired or unwell, you’d much rather watch something on TV than get up and move. However, it is often when we least feel like getting active, that our bodies and minds need it the most.

It comes as no surprise that staying active has many health benefits such as:

  • Improving mood
  • Increasing energy levels and motivation
  • Promoting sleep
  • Improving memory and learning
  • Promoting relaxation
  • Providing an outlet for excess energy and frustration
  • Boosting self-esteem
  • Offering an opportunity to socialise and get social support

Where to start?

It can be helpful to ask yourself a few questions before you pick an activity, to ensure that what you choose is going to be fun and sustainable for you.

  • Do you prefer to be active indoors or outside?
  • Do you prefer group activities or individual activities?
  • Do you have barriers to overcome such as injury, illness, lack of energy, fear, lack of support?

How much exercise do I need?

If regular exercise is not already part of your routine, you might be wondering how much you need to do to give your mental health a boost.

Australian guidelines recommend that adults do at least 30 minutes of moderate to intensive physical activity on most days of the week.

Fun Fact: You can make up 30 minutes over the day by combining shorter 10-15 minute sessions.

If this feels overwhelming, keep in mind that any movement is better than none, and will give you benefits.

Staying active doesn’t have to mean playing a sport, going for a run, or going to the gym. There are many other ways of being active that may suit your stage of life, circumstances and preferences.

Below are a few suggestions on how to stay active without trying hard:

  • Park away from where you need to go
  • Use stairs whenever possibly (if safe for your body to do so)
  • Stand up when you are on your phone (better yet, walk and talk)
  • Walk while you watch your kids play sport
  • Get a walking buddy or take the dog for a walk
  • If your kids are playing join in and have fun
  • Clean the house (sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, washing the car etc.).
  • Go for a swim (especially good if you have arthritis or pain)
  • Grow a garden
  • Do yoga, stretching and or tai chi (even chair yoga can be really restorative)

Ready to take the next step?