Flashback to the 80's and the “Life. Be in it” campaign - a fun, light-hearted approach asking Australians to engage in a healthy lifestyle. Even though the campaign was launched in the 80's featuring Norm...an overweight couch potato – the message is just as relevant now as it was back then (perhaps more so, given society's vast array of take away options).
There are so many “pros” to being active..... some of them being;
- improve muscular and cardiovascular fitness
- improve posture, mobility and balance
- improve bone health
- assist with sleep difficulties
- lower rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes (to name a few)
- help to maintain a healthy weight
- helps to promote good mental health and increase resilience
- creates opportunities for socialising and meeting new people
- We all know that regular exercise is good for the body.... but it is also one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health. Regular exercise can have an impact on depression, anxiety and ADHD in such a positive way.
Exercise can be a powerful tool in helping fight mental health related issues – it can encourage all kinds of changes in the brain and create good habits that promote feelings of calm and well-being. Regular exercise also releases endorphins (powerful chemicals in your brain that energise your spirits and make you feel all kinds of good).
Finally, exercise can also serve as a distraction, allowing you to find some quiet time to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression or anxiety. When faced with mental or emotional challenges in life, exercise can help you cope in a healthy way, instead of resorting to alcohol, drugs, or other negative behaviours that ultimately only make your symptoms worse.
Regular exercise can also help boost your immune system and reduce the impact of stress, improve your memory (say goodbye to those “Dory” moments), help you sleep better, and above all, boost your mood!
Research shows that small amounts of exercise can make a difference...regardless of your age or fitness level, you can learn to use exercise as a powerful tool to feel better.
In a nutshell, exercise really is good for your mind, body and soul!
So, now you know some of the "pros", let's explore some of the “cons”;
That's right. There aren't any.
Now, I'm not suggesting you go all Michelle Bridges/Commando on yourself but here are a few suggestions on how to gently kick start yourself into being more active;
Start with small changes in your day to day routine; try walking or cycling to uni/work instead of using the car, get off your tram/train or bus a stop earlier and walk the rest of the way, or maybe walk the kids (and dog) to school.
See everyday activities as an opportunity to be active - there's no shame in doing a few squats whilst doing the ironing or cleaning your teeth, ride an exercise bike while you're watching television or just take the stairs rather than the lift.
Make it fun! What type of activities did you enjoy when you were a kid? Did you play sport? By joining a club or local community group, you are more likely to stick to being active. Participating with friends or family is a great way to stay motivated. Why not don the old hockey/soccer boots, or perhaps join a walking/swimming group? You would be surprised at just how many clubs or groups are out there.... you just need to track them down.
Don't be a slave to your desk – reduce the amount of time spent sitting at your desk. Get up and go for short walks and break up long periods of sitting as often as possible.
If you're new to exercise, or haven't exercised for a while, start out gently and build yourself up little by little – this way you’ll avoid overdoing it or injuring yourself! It’s a good idea to start with 10 minutes each day at first and then eventually work your way up to 30 minutes or more.
It's good to set yourself some short-term and long-term goals as motivation. If you miss a session, that's ok too – it's important you don't beat yourself up. Even Serena Williams needs a day off! You don't want to start seeing exercise as a “chore”, you want to enjoy exercise and all the benefits that can come from it.
Once you start achieving the goals you set yourself, why not treat yo self? By rewarding yourself, it gives you incentive to keep going. Just try to match your rewards to your new healthy lifestyle (new active wear, dress or training shoes for example). Who knows?! Once you start achieving your goals, you may just start changing your rewards to something physical, such as a nice walk by the beach or lake after work.
So, get inspired by the simple retro television commercial - don't be like the couch potato “Norm”. Queue the jingle.....Life - Be in it today, live more of your life!