Physical Activity and Exercise: What’s stopping you?

When it comes to physical activity and exercise, we all know it’s good for us, but there are plenty of things that can get in the way. I wonder …..what are the obstacles that get in your way of being active?  

Is it time? Money? Health? Weather? Tiredness? Maybe you want an exercise buddy? You don’t know what’s around or how to get started? You have caring responsibilities for other people? Or perhaps you’re worried you’ll be the slowest, most uncoordinated, oldest, or the only one without the latest trendy gear? Maybe pain or worry about medical issues is an issue?

There are so many things that can stop us even before we get started, or that get in the way of keeping the momentum going. It’s one thing to know that physical activity and exercise is good for us, and it’s definitely another thing to actually get out there and do it.

Move Your Large Muscles

The evidence is rock solid – no matter where you live, how old you are, or what your cultural background is. One of the best things you can do for yourself, family and community is to get moving. This means doing activities that use your larger muscle groups. I’m talking here about movements that involve your whole legs and whole arms or your whole body, so if you think that shuffling that pack of cards or pressing PLAY on your remote is considered movement, then you’re simply cheating yourself and your health.

Large muscle movement also means you’ll use more energy, something that’s pretty challenging when you feel tired. I know it sounds illogical, but when you’re tired, you generally feel better if you get up and move, or better still, do some exercise (see below) because movement and the right intensity of exercise can ‘give’ you energy.

And it doesn’t matter whether you’re moving because of work tasks, home activities, for leisure or for transport. Simply moving instead of sitting, standing or lying down for long periods reduces your risk of developing certain non-communicable diseases including depression, and poorer general health. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published recommendations about physical activity to improve the health of the world’s population. These recommendations have been developed after comprehensively examining hundreds and hundreds of studies from all round the globe. Many countries, including Australia, have used these recommendations to write up specific guidelines to help us get more active. It makes sense from an economic as well as a health and wellbeing perspective to get moving.

The Australian Guidelines for Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour

The Australian Guidelines for Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour state that we should aim to:

  • Accumulate 2 ½ to 5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity (this takes some effort but you can still talk while moving) or 1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours of vigorous intensity physical activity (this takes more effort and you will be breathing faster – huffing and puffing), or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week. (The everyday-easy-to-understand-version of this is 30 – 60 minutes of exercise per day depending on intensity!)

  • Be active on most, preferably all, days every week.

  • Do muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week.

  • Doing any physical activity is better than doing none. Start by doing something, and gradually build up to the recommended amount.

  • Minimise the amount of time spent sitting and break up long periods of sitting as often as possible.

  • The guidelines now also include recommendations for children over a 24 hour period which includes sleep and activity routines.

Exercise vs Movement 

If you’re ready to take your general moving and grooving up a notch and reap added health benefits, then an exercise plan will help you to structure your physical activity to reach your health or fitness goals. Basically, exercise is a routine of physical activity with the purpose of improving one or more aspects of fitness, for example, strength, aerobic capacity, endurance, flexibility. And it’s amazing how a bit of huffing and puffing each day can improve your mood as well as your general health! But don’t go it alone. There are a number of health professionals who can support you towards improved health and mood so you reduce the risk of injury, sickness and low motivation.

Invite others onto your support team!

Your doctor

If you have any health, injury or medical issues you are concerned about, please check with your doctor before starting an exercise program. Once approved, you can also ask for a referral to an exercise physiologist or exercise scientist, or you can refer yourself. Your doctor can also help you access help for respite (if you are a carer) and other services that will help you to get more active.

Exercise physiologists and exercise scientists

Exercise physiologists and exercise scientists have trained at university level to support people to get more active, and many of them specialise in working with people with medical issues. Most health funds provide a rebate for consultations, or you may be eligible to access a Medicare rebate or even fully funded consultations with a referral from your GP if you are eligible.

Personal trainers

Personal trainers usually have Certificate or Diploma level qualifications to provide exercise programs to help you reach your fitness goals. You can find personal trainers at many recreation centres and gyms, as well as self-employed in the community.

Group exercise & exercise buddies

Exercising with other people can be very motivating for a lot of us. Being able to socialise whilst moving can make it more enjoyable. Many recreation centres including swimming pools and gyms offer group exercise classes. Have a look for a class that is appropriate for your health needs and fitness goals. If you’re unsure, ask at the centre. Recreation centres and other fitness organisations can benefit from your feedback as it helps them to develop programs and classes to meet the local need. Don’t forget, you can also create your own opportunities for group exercise (or general movement) by asking a friend to go walking with you, have a round of golf, do some gardening or housework together, or walk to your favourite cafe for a cuppa and back home again.

The best advice is to move more, sit less

So remember, no matter what’s getting in the way of movement (that is, your physical activity and exercise), there are people here to help you. You are the captain of your own ship, and you can invite anyone onto your team. Remember that ‘something is better than nothing’ and you can gradually build up from ‘something’ to more and more. The main point is that simply by moving more and sitting less, you’re being kind to yourself and reducing your health risks. So keep moving, just keep moving, and gradually work your way to better health.

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

Thinking About Thinking: joining the dots between senses and thoughts

We all think in different ways. Each of us has a unique mind with different ideas, beliefs and opinions ….. and the way we PERCEIVE our own thoughts is fairly unique too. Many of us connect the PERCEPTION of our thoughts with our senses.

Thinking about YOUR thinking ….. how do YOU think?

Pictures, images, visual symbols – Do your thoughts seem to be constructed of things you can see in the external world around you? When you think about a situation, do you have a mental image of what that looks like? Faces? Places? Objects? Do you see a ‘mental’ or internal movie playing scenarios from the past or future?

Voices, sounds, words – Do you hear your thoughts, almost as if there’s another person in your mind, or perhaps your own voice chattering away. Maybe you hear several voices chattering or arguing, a voice from your childhood of yourself or someone else, or maybe unfamiliar voices. These voices speak out the thoughts that go through your mind.

Feelings, sensations, movements of the body – Do you ‘feel’ your thoughts inside your head or your body? When you think about situations or recall events, do you feel the movements or sensations associated with them?

Smell and taste – The sense of smell is often deeply connected with memories. Certain smells can trigger memories, experiences and flashbacks without warning, whether pleasant or unpleasant. The sense of taste can be similar. We use phrases such as “That left a bad taste in my mouth” and “I smell something fishy here”, all of which suggest the use of these senses in the way we perceive our thoughts.

A lot of us will find that our thinking relies on all the senses at different times or in different ways, although one sense may be more dominant than the others. For example, you might notice that your thoughts often present as images – as if you can see them and almost reach out and touch them. But this might be combined with movement and sound, as if you are watching a movie playing out in your mind.

So my question for you is …..

Thinking about YOUR thinking ….. how do YOU think?

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves.

The Three Best Things About Mountain Biking

The three best things about MTB. Hmmm ……. only 3? Okay, well ….. let’s see how this goes!

1. It gets you outdoors.
There’s a recognised association between wellness and outdoor activity. Simply being surrounded by nature is a step towards feeling more relaxed. With the sunshine stimulating our brains and enhancing our mood, there’s no better all-natural way to manage stress. Even just a few minutes outdoors is beneficial, so if you don’t have enough time for a long ride ….. have a short ride! With a bit of fresh air and sunshine, you’ll blow away the cobwebs in your mind and reconnect with those things that bring you joy.

2. It gets you moving.
Sedentary behaviour is considered a modern danger to our health with risks so serious that the problem has been compared to that of smoking. Physical activity refers to general movement throughout the day, so it has a broader meaning than ‘exercise’. Bike riding is a low impact activity and therefore a great choice for people of all ages and abilities. MTB in particular gets your whole body moving as you navigate rougher terrain. You can jump on your mountain bike to commute to and from work on paved surfaces, or hit the trails that are purpose built for recreational use. Cross country, downhill, enduro, freestyle, trials, or whatever is your preference ….. the main idea is to get your body moving.

3. It’s meditative
Formal or structured meditation practices are very helpful for developing skills of attention, concentration, relaxation and mood management. Some people find it very challenging to stay still enough to engage with this process. Whether you meditate in this way or not, you can still reap the benefits of mindfulness practices by fully bringing your attention and awareness to your bike riding. Visualise your attention as a narrow laser beam and focus on your actions and your surroundings using your senses – in particular notice what you see, hear, smell and feel. Notice the fluid movement of your body in response to the terrain, the smell of the pine trees, the breeze on your face, the physical features of the trail in front of you. When thoughts about work or other issues arise, simply refocus on your ride. Before you know it, you’ll have let go of some of those things you’ve been worrying about and given your brain a well-earned rest.

What are the 3 best things that you’ve discovered about mountain biking?

The Spiral Symbol: moving and growing

We are immersed in a world of symbols. Wherever I look, I see reflections of parts of myself – the drooping tomato plants fatigued from the long hot days of summer; the river red gums stretching tall and wide providing habitat for a whole ‘other’ world of plants and animals; the river pebble streaked with marks from its earlier life which have become integral parts of its present self. Artists, movie makers and marketing gurus use symbols of all kinds to convey messages to their audiences, and many of us use symbolic imagery in a conscious or unconscious way as we process information.

After completing my initial formal training in expressive therapies, I began to discover the richness that symbols contribute to our inner lives. Symbols are a language in themselves. They enable us to identify and communicate meaning about our inner and outer worlds in a visual way which is not limited by vocabulary. Symbols support connectedness and wholeness. They are not absolute, but remain open to the meaning that each individual attributes to them.

Historically we can pick out patterns of meaning that individuals and cultures have assigned to various symbols. This gives us a fascinating insight into shared understandings across time and space.

The spiral form has been represented in most cultures and ages with a variety of interpretations. It appears frequently in nature, and for me it’s a symbol that demands my attention; it calls out to me and speaks to my heart.

The new fern frond slowly, excitedly, intensely coloured, emerging inconspicuously at first from the ground or behind a larger frond protecting it from view. Over time unfurling, growing, becoming strong and productive.

The snail shell, offering protection and growing with the living body as needed. (Image Source: http://physics.aps.org/story/v17/st8)

 

Weather systems such as cyclones, twisting and spinning in defined semi-predictable spiral patterns. (Image Source: http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/pictures/disasters/cyclonecatarina.html)

Tendrils, often growing in a spiral fashion, twisting and twining, reaching out for support to further the plant’s growth and development. (Image Source: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=176569&picture=tendril-in-a-spiral)

For me, spirals are all about GROWTH and MOVEMENT. There is a newness, an anticipation and a vibrancy that excites the senses and stimulates the movement towards daring, reaching out and development. A natural inclination for flow between the inner and outer. Revelation, revolution and evolution. Productivity. Agelessness. Centrality and distance.

As I moved towards a new direction and a new focus with my business, I chose the spiral for my  logo as representative of all the above meanings. The fresh green colour adds to the imagery of growth and nature, both of which are foundational to my own sense of wellness and purpose. The spiral logo reflects my move towards supporting groups of professionals seeking mental health knowledge and skills development, groups of women seeking personal growth and development opportunities, and communities seeking wholeness and wellness. The spiral logo also reflects my own journey of growth and development, daring to reach out in a new and different way, searching for innovative ways to contribute to sustainable wellness practices in our society.

I invite you along on my journey. You can sign up to my e-news mailing list if you would like to stay informed about professional and personal development events which I offer throughout the year. 

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