Exercising on a budget

Getting started with a new exercise routine can seem daunting and expensive especially when you’re on a budget. There are a lot of pressures to spend your hard-earned money on exercise gear, equipment, memberships and trainers or coaches. But you don’t need a big budget to get active, improve your fitness and reduce your health risks.

Throughout history people have coped quite well with little or no special exercise equipment. So what IS the best way to improve strength, flexibility, endurance and cardio health when you’re on a budget? In this article I share with you how you can make walking your go-to exercise of choice and how you can vary your walking routine so that you stay motivated and keep your fitness progressing along ….. all on a budget!

bushwalking with family

Money, money money!

Australians spend billions of dollars a year on exercise – memberships of gyms and clubs, exercise classes, clothing, equipment, massages, personal trainers and more. Can you believe that about a third of the population pay for gym memberships but almost half of these people only occasionally use the gym, maybe 1-2 times a week? That’s a huge investment for minimal health gains!

Gym memberships are only one way to get your exercise in. There are many other ways you can spend your exercise budget – sports clubs, specialised gear and clothing, race entries, travel and accommodation to participate in races, training programs, and renovations and equipment to make your own home gym.

If you’re just starting out and want to get an exercise program going, this can seem daunting and expensive. Maybe you won’t like that sport, or maybe you won’t enjoy the gym environment. What if you purchase all the gear and equipment and then decide it’s not really for you?

Don’t fall into the trap of spending big in order to exercise. You have other options if you don’t want to spend a lot of money, or if you don’t want to spend any money at all. There are plenty of pressures out there to hand over your hard-earned money on everything in life including exercise. It’s easy to get hooked into marketing campaigns and the latest health fad which often leads people into comparisonitis, FOMO (fear of missing out) and an unhealthy focus on changing your body’s appearance. You can easily get sucked into believing that you HAVE to spend up big to get fit and healthy.

bushwalking boots

Get back to the basics with exercise

I love going to the gym and I find some of the modern technical clothing very comfortable. These things can certainly enhance your enjoyment of exercise but throughout history people have coped quite well with little or no special exercise equipment. Remember, the aim of exercise is to improve strength, flexibility, endurance and cardio health by putting a load on your body. And that doesn’t have to cost anything!

Generations before us didn’t need all the gear and memberships! Exercise was part and parcel of a hard day’s work fixing fences, chopping fire wood, baking bread by hand, walking or riding to the shops, and doing the laundry with a boiler and wringer!

Functional activity like this can provide you with plenty of exercise but today’s housework generally doesn’t cut it in terms of exercise. If you’re going to increase your physical activity without overspending, you’ll need to get back to the basics and make the most of opportunities all around you.

Start with a good pair of shoes

In my opinion, the most important piece of equipment you’ll need is a good pair of sports shoes. If you don’t have any, get yourself properly fitted out so that you protect your feet and minimise any injuries from poorly fitting shoes. Once you’ve got your shoes sorted, the rest is pretty easy. Pull on some comfy clothes, slop on some sunscreen, grab a hat and a bottle of water and you’ve got all the makings of one of the most accessible forms of exercise we have on the planet today – walking!

Walking is ideal exercise for most people wanting to improve general health and fitness. But if you have any concerns or medical issues, make sure you check with your doctor or health practitioner before beginning.

one step at a time

Walking is your ideal exercise on a budget

Walking is an ideal form of exercise because …..

  • You can set your own pace
  • There’s less opportunity for comparisonitis when you’re walking outdoors than when you’re in a group class or gym hall
  • Walking is convenient – you can walk almost anywhere no matter where you live or work or travel
  • You can walk alone or in a group
  • You’ve probably already got everything you need to go walking
  • If you don’t have everything, you still don’t HAVE to spend a lot to get started
  • You don’t need any special equipment
  • Walking is low impact exercise – perfect if you’re just starting out, coming back after injury or have joint pain.
  • Walking is free (please note that there are day entry fees or car parking fees to some National Parks and recreation reserves)
  • Walking is not boring if you change your routine regularly. Find a new place, pace, direction, gradient or length of walk. Ask someone to be your walking buddy or go alone. Walk at different times of the day including at night and explore different areas in different seasons. Adopt a different theme for each day to make it interesting – look for animals, clouds, sounds, colours on your walks.
  • Educate yourself while you walk by listening to podcasts and audio books
  • Listen to music as you walk and keep the pace
  • Walking keeps you grounded. The process of making forward motion with each repeated step can get your mind and body in sync with the world around you.
  • Spending time in natural environments can be settling when you feel anxious, down or stressed. Combine this with physical activity and you’re onto a winner!
  • Meet up with others to stay motivated. Join a walking group or try your hand at Park Run.
  • Vary your walks by including different elements and scenery. What urban walks interest you? Seek out as many flights of stairs as possible. Try a bush walk, wetlands walk or beach walk. Go barefoot at the beach and feel the sand between your toes. Pace out your steps around the farm paddock or check out your local park.
  • Walk with a purpose – walk to work, school, a friend’s place, bus or train station, shops
  • Have a go at orienteering using a map and compass
  • Use a navigation app or GPS device to pre-plan your walk or record statistics of your walk for your own purposes or to share with others.
  • Wearable devices with pedometers, smart phone apps and other data trackers can help with motivation to reach your goal (eg number of minutes walked, numbers of steps each day)
  • Wear a backpack for added weight training whilst walking
  • Schedule ‘walking meetings’ and ‘walking catch-ups’ into your week
  • Go for a lunch time walk or an end-of-day walk to wind down and de-stress
  • Earn as you walk – deliver newspapers or pamphlets along your way
  • Go ‘window shopping’ – meander along a street with retail stores after business hours and enjoy your time to look around a part of town that you usually rush through
  • Take your kids for a walk after school while everyone chats about their day
  • Add value to your daily walk by incorporating a session at the local outdoor gym, a sprint along your favourite section, carry some hand weights along the way, or pause for a few yoga stretches midway.

take time out for a night walk

Make walking your ‘go-to’ exercise

Walking is my go-to exercise. I can go walking almost anywhere, any time that fits my schedule, and with minimal gear. You can spend heaps of money on exercise, but for most of us, we don’t have to. Walking is a fantastic opportunity to move your body and improve your health, fitness and your mental health. Did you know that walking is in fact the most popular form of exercise in Australia? Don’t miss out on the everyday opportunities to be kind to your mind and body! Begin your walking adventures with any of the ideas above and let me know how you go.

Do you have some other ideas about how to exercise on a budget? I’d love to hear from you!

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.

Tips to getting motivated to exercise

If you ever have difficulty getting motivated to exercise, then you need to read these tips!

Motivation is like a part-time friend

“I know I should exercise, but I just don’t feel motivated” is a very common problem. There can be a big gap between knowing what’s good for you, and actually doing it. It’s easy to allow excuses to creep into your life. They become blocks or obstacles to your own health care – it’s a form of self-sabotage. The point is you can’t wait till you feel motivated, and you can’t rely on motivation to keep your exercise routines in place. Motivation is a fickle feeling! It comes and goes like a part-time friend who is sometimes there in your hour of need, but is often nowhere to be seen or heard.

getting motivated to exercise

Commitment, not motivation will see you through

If you can’t rely on motivation, then what can you rely on? What’s going to keep you on track to living the health-filled life you want? You need to get real, cut to the core and examine your values, your priorities and the choices you’re making.

If health is one of your values, if it’s very important to you, you’ll make sure that it’s a priority and you’ll take actions that reflect that. For example, when you have to make a choice between exercising and something else such as staying in bed, watching TV or scrolling through social media, you have an opportunity to prioritise what’s most important to you.

So, what’s on your priority list for today?

What’s on your priority list right at this moment?

Where does exercise rank on your actual (not theoretical) list of priorities?

If you’ve identified that health is high on your priority list you need to be committed to it. Commitment, not motivation, will get you to take action. Keep your commitment to exercise as your focus whenever you need to choose how you spend your time and energy.

Are my actions in alignment with my values when working from home?

Tips for staying committed to exercise

  1. Remind yourself that exercise benefits not only yourself (your physical health and mood) but also those around you. Be the role model you’d like your family and friends to have.
  2. Have a good look at your daily routine and identify the best time and space for your exercise. It has to be doable and work for you in your situation. Don’t give up – changing routines and creating new habits can take a few weeks to settle in.
  3. Find or create a tribe of other people who also value exercising. Join a club or online group that shares your goals and can help you stay on track when things get tough.
  4. Get an exercise buddy so you’re accountable to someone else.
  5. Schedule your exercise into your diary and let others around you know your plans.
  6. Organise yourself by getting your clothes and equipment ready the night before and making sure your plans (eg child care, maps, meeting points) are all sorted.
  7. Pay ahead for your exercise program eg buy a multi-use pass for a swimming pool, gym or yoga classes.
  8. If your day doesn’t go as planned, don’t opt out of exercise altogether – a 10 minute walk is better than nothing. Doing nothing one day easily leads to doing nothing the next day.
  9. Reward yourself for being consistent with your commitment but make sure your reward doesn’t sabotage your efforts. You could reward yourself with some new exercise kit rather than with a cream bun and coke.
  10. Use a calendar, chart or exercise journal to document your commitment and progress.
  11. Use technology to plan, record (and share if you like) your efforts. There are many apps and devices that can record your steps, mileage and heart rate for example. But if you find yourself stressing or obsessing over them, give them the flick. They’re intended to be an aid not a burden.
  12. Exercise can become a bit ho-hum after the novelty wears off or when your body has adapted to the intensity and type of exercise you’re doing. Make sure you change it up occasionally to keep your physical and mental health progressing not stalling. See a personal trainer for a new workout, aim for a mix of indoor and outdoor exercise, go walking with a friend, swim in the ocean instead of the pool, dig a new garden bed or do some fencing as a change from lifting weights.
  13. See yourself as someone on a progressive health journey who values exercise and nutrition rather than focusing on weight loss or physical weakness.
  14. Use an indoor exercise training plan throughout the week to prepare yourself for a challenging outdoor adventure on the weekend.
  15. If your exercise session seems too long, too hard or too boring, break it up into segments or sets. Tell yourself “Just get to that next big tree then you can have a rest” and repeat it till you get to the top. Or if you’re swimming, change your stroke every 10 minutes. Or simply stop and give yourself a pat on the back at intervals.
  16. Set yourself a fitness goal such as entering an event, scaling a mountain you’ve had your eye on for ages, or going on one bush walk every week. Then take little steps towards your goal.
  17. The best type of exercise is the one you enjoy because it’ll have you going back again and again. Put your worries about what other people might think out of your mind and do what works for you.
  18. On those days that exercise seems really hard, focus on something enjoyable or pleasurable in your experience. It might be some little flowers growing in the grass, wispy clouds, a soft breeze, the rhythmic beat of your heart, or the strength you can feel in your leg muscles.
  19. Sign up for a community challenge such as a charity fundraiser or an online challenge to walk or ride or swim a certain number of kilometres in a month.
  20. Take notice of any injuries and seek expert help before they become a problem.
  21. Be firm but gentle with yourself. If you’re tired and carrying extra stress, review and adjust your exercise program to suit. If you’re just a bit tired or feeling blah, remember that exercise gives you energy and improves sleep and attention.
  22. Use visual reminders about your commitment to exercise. Display them as a wallpaper for your computer or phone, stick one on your bathroom mirror, or hang a printed photo or quote in your workspace that keeps you inspired.

The ‘getting motivated to exercise’ trap

Above all, don’t fall into the ‘getting motivated to exercise’ trap. Stay committed to your values and your priorities. Make intentional choices and take deliberate action. Then you’ll savour the benefits of exercise and you’ll be able to let go of your attachment to motivation.

Personal coaching to stay inspired and committed

coaching for womenWould you like support to tap into your values, work towards a personal goal, overcome the messy obstacles that get in the way, and live your best life? My personal coaching program may be just what you need. Contact me for more information.

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.

Everyday in the Outdoors

everyday in the outdoors sunrise

Intentionally spending time everyday in the outdoors can add amazing value to your day, to your mental health and to your life in general. Yet many people rush through their day without even a thought about it. When you invest time and energy into connecting with the outdoors and with nature each day, you stand to gain multiple health benefits including improved attention, reduced stress levels, improved sleep and a better mood. Spending even just a few minutes outside each day can start to make a difference.

Recently the Outdoors is my Therapy Facebook Group ran a 7 Day Challenge to share ideas about some of the ways we can all get connected with the outdoors on a more regular basis – so we feel better! And live better! All of these are completely do-able, perhaps with some modifications, no matter your fitness level, age, where you live or how mobile you are. Here are the 7 challenges we undertook to spend time everyday in the outdoors:

GO FOR A WALK

I’m referring here to simply walking around, moving your larger muscle groups and immersing yourself in your surroundings. Whilst daily exercise is very important, the act of getting your body in motion and connecting with the outdoors is the focus here. You can take a walk at various times during the day depending what works best for your routine.

Morning walk

Getting out into the natural sunlight first thing in the day helps your brain to wake up, re-sets your body clock so you’re ready for sleep again after dark, and forms a solid foundation for your day.

Lunch time walk

A mid-day walk helps to break up your day. Getting outside your usual workplace and changing your focus is one of the best stress breaks you can give yourself. Perhaps you’ll love it so much you’ll incorporate a daily constitutional into your regular workday routine.

End of the day walk

A stroll at the end of the day signifies the end of work and helps you transition to family time, personal time or relaxation time. Walking as the sun goes down is especially helpful to switch modes and settle for the evening.

WITNESS SUNRISE & SUNSET

Begin your day with the waking light of dawn and finish your work day as the sun sinks below the horizon – nature’s perfect bookends for your day! If you practise yoga, why not do some sun salutations as the sun rises or sets. Or use this special time for personal prayer, meditation or breathing or stillness practices. Sunrise and sunset are global phenomena which can help us feel connected with other people and places.

SPEND TIME IN A GARDEN

Are you fortunate enough to have your own outside yard? Or do you have pot plants, indoor plants or access to a local park or green space? Maybe you have an in-house kitchen garden with herbs or bean sprouts growing? Your daily garden routine could include weeding, pruning, watering, planting or harvesting. It could also include more physically demanding jobs such as fencing, making compost and nurturing your worm farm. If you don’t have your own garden, you can spend time planning your dream garden, creating a garden either in the earth, on your balcony or on your kitchen bench. Or you can use your senses to enjoy nature’s handiwork outdoors.

HAVE A GO AT BIRDWATCHING

Bring your attention to the bird life around you. What birds can you see? And hear? You might like to identify the various birds in your neighbourhood, or simply watch and listen to them. Over time you’ll notice their patterns and routines, flight paths, nesting sites, amusing behaviours, social groupings, and how they respond to seasonal changes.

PRACTISE MINDFUL PRACTICES

Mindfulness-based practices are wide and varied. In general the focus is on slowing down and bringing your attention to your surroundings and your experiences in the moment. This can be challenging because we spend so much of our lives rushing around.

Sensory mindfulness

One way to practise mindfulness in the outdoors is to observe the world around you through each of your senses one by one. Spend a couple of minutes noticing what you see, then move on to noticing what you hear, what you smell, what you feel, and so on.

Mindful walk

There are many variations of mindful walks too. You can be barefoot or wearing shoes. Begin by pausing for a few moments, close your eyes, take a few breaths and tune into how that feels in your body. Notice the sensations of the ground beneath your feet. Slowly open your eyes and draw your gaze to the ground slightly ahead of you. Move slowly forward one step at a time, bringing your attention to the sensations as you move your foot forward – lifting, moving, placing it down, and adjusting your balance. Repeat this for each step you take bringing your attention back to the sensations of walking each time your mind wanders. Continue for a few minutes, then when you are ready to finish, pause again, close your eyes, take a few breaths and then open your eyes. This is a wonderful moment for a gratitude practice.

FIND THE LITTLE TREASURES

Make new discoveries in your outdoor spaces every day. When you begin to look, you can find little treasures everywhere! Cobwebs hiding in the corners of the fence. Bugs scurrying in search of new homes. Grasses beginning to seed. Leaves swaying in the breeze. The soft sound of bird wings as they fly by. Grains of sand sparkling in the sunlight. The feel of the breeze as it moves your hair or caresses your skin. The smell of the eucalyptus tree.

CELEBRATE LIFE WITH A PICNIC

Picnics are the perfect way to celebrate life and the outdoors. They are equally delightful whether you go solo or share it with others. Picnics can be simple or complex, planned or spontaneous, romantic or practical. All you need is some food and somewhere suitable outdoors. You might like to have a picnic rug, chairs or a park bench to sit on, but finding a fallen log or rock is heaps of fun too.

Pre-preparing picnic food can be pretty special, however turning your ordinary everyday meal into a picnic outdoors is a fabulous way to liven up your day. If you like, you can bring some extra activities with you such as a camera to do some photography, bat and ball games, “I Spy” games, books and crosswords. Turn your picnic into an adventure by adding a physical challenge to it, for example hiking or biking into your picnic spot.

Let's sum up!
We had a lot of fun sharing these activities during our 7 Day Outdoor Challenge. Which ones would you like to incorporate into your routine for getting outdoors everyday? Or what other actions are you feeling inspired to take to get connected everyday in the outdoors?

Head over to our Facebook Group to view the videos and threads about our #7DayOutdoorChallenge and share your ideas with us. By the way (if you’re not already a member) when you request to join the Group you’ll be asked to answer some questions before you can join (so we know you’re not a robot!) and you need to agree to the rules which are there to keep the group as a safe space for sharing and inspiring.

You can also listen to this article in the Outdoors is my Therapy podcast!

Kathryn talks you through how you can incorporate a daily routine of spending time in the outdoors that works for you!

Daisy Spoke avatar has long curly hair and smiling mouth

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.

Where to go walking in the Southern Downs

Whether you’re a visitor or a local, there are plenty of choices when it comes to walking in the Southern Downs. The region is about 1 ½ to 2 hours south west of Brisbane in Queensland. The two main urban centres are Warwick and Stanthorpe, with dozens of smaller rural towns and villages across the region.

This post is an overview of just some of the many walks you can choose from. Keep an eye out for future posts that will give you heaps more detail on a selection of the bushwalks and mountain bike trails in the region like the one I wrote last year on Bushwalking in Goomburra, Main Range National Park.

Thinking about taking up hiking? My blog post How To Get Started Bushwalking will get you going!

Walks in and around Warwick

Queen’s Park River Walk

Condamine River winds through parkland
Walking in the Southern Downs – the beautiful River Walk in Warwick

The Southern Downs region promotes 5 different urban walks close to the Warwick CBD which you can follow along on this map. The popular River Walk at Queen’s Park has recently been extended past Hamilton Oval in the direction of Gillam Park. The River Walk is also suitable for bicycles, scooters, prams and wheelchairs with easy access to toilet facilities and picnic tables. There’s plenty of shade and a fenced off-leash area for dogs.

Walks in and around Stanthorpe

Quart Pot Creek

Quart Pot Creek is an absolute gem in the centre of Stanthorpe flanked by parklands on both banks with extensive walking and cycling paths, gardens, picnic tables, toilets and play equipment. You can access this beautiful green belt from many points along its length including Apex Park, Lions Park, Heritage Park and from the Stanthorpe Visitor Information Centre.

Mt Marlay

Mt Marlay is a small bushland reserve in the middle of Stanthorpe, popular for many years with locals on their regular walking routes. There are a couple of short, marked walking tracks on Mt Marlay which you can see on the map below. The regional council and the Southern Downs Mountain Bike Club have recently begun developing a small network of mountain bike trails here which are clearly marked so that you don’t accidentally wander off the dedicated walking tracks onto the mountain bike tracks.

walking in the southern downs - Mt Marlay map
Walking and MTB trails at Mt Marlay, Stanthorpe

Donnelly’s Castle

Donnelly’s Castle  is about a 20km drive to the north west of Stanthorpe. Access is from Castle Lane which comes off Donnelly’s Castle Road at Pozieres. Donnelly’s Castle is a natural formation of the locally occurring granite rocks and boulders which apparently served as a fabulous hideout for the bushranger known as Thunderbolt. You can really imagine the truth of this legend when you scramble up, around and through the rocks and peer into the distance from the lookout at the top. Kids and adults alike are bound to have a heap of fun here exploring the ‘castle’. I’d recommend close supervision of young children and keeping a keen eye out for snakes. Toilet facilities and picnic tables are available.

Girraween National Park

Rocky expanse of Girraween National Park
Walking in the Southern Downs is stunning at Girraween National Park

Girraween is about a half hour drive south of Stanthorpe. This unique national park is a landscape of stark contrasts. Girraween is famous for its abundant wildflowers and its rugged granite outcrops. The national park is also home to an extensive variety of birds, kangaroos, frogs, reptiles and other wildlife and is a popular place for day visitors and campers. As I write this article in January 2020, the camp grounds have been closed for some time due to ongoing drought, and the area has suffered from recent bushfires. As with all natural environments, Girraween changes with the seasons and I’ve loved watching the cycles of regeneration here over many years. There are signed bushwalks at Girraween ranging from 280metres to 11kms. Or simply explore the granite rock pools near the day use area. Toilet facilities, picnic tables and BBQs available.

You can read more about Girraween in my Great Backpacking Adventures series.

Sundown National Park

Sundown National Park rocky gorge
A rocky gorge at Sundown National Park

Sundown National Park can be accessed by most conventional vehicles from the south near Glenlyon Dam, or from the north off Texas Road and onto Nundubbermere Road. A third access point is along Sundown Road via Ballandean however once at the National Park the tracks become rough and steep so a 4WD is recommended along here. Sundown has several walks of varying lengths and difficulty as well as some camping areas. Look at the Sundown National Park website to plan your trip before heading out there as it is more remote than other regional parks with fewer facilities.

Walks in and around Allora and Goomburra

Dalrymple Creek Park

Dalrymple Creek Park is a shady park along the banks of Dalrymple Creek in Allora. The walking trail leads you along the banks of the creek with toilet facilities, picnic tables, BBQs, and play equipment along the way.

Goomburra Section, Main Range National Park

Waterhole in Goomburra National park
The Cascades walk in Goomburra National Park

The Goomburra section of Main Range National Park is about 40kms east of Allora. Sections of the road into the National Park are unpaved and at times can be difficult for low clearance vehicles to navigate. After rain there can be several water crossings into the entrance of the park. A day use area and camping sites are available within the National Park as well as toilets and a variety of walking tracks that begin at the camping and day use areas, as well as other walking tracks that can be accessed from Lookout Road. Goomburra walks range from less than a kilometre to 12 kilometres long. All the walks are on unpaved surfaces and can include steep sections, natural obstacles (eg tree roots) and creek crossings. Spectacular views of the surrounding valleys and ranges can be seen from the high points of some of the walks.

Walks in and around Killarney

Queen Mary Falls, Main Range National Park

Queen Mary Falls
Queen Mary Falls in Main Range National Park

Queen Mary Falls is about 45kms east of Warwick. It offers a beautiful day use area with car parking, picnic tables, toilets, water and BBQs as well as a small kiosk across the road.  The walk to The Falls is a 2 km circuit through the forest to the bottom of the Falls and back up again. The walk is steep in places, has stairs and is not suitable for prams or wheelchairs. The causeway at the bottom can be slippery.

If you’re looking for a shorter walk that’s suitable for prams, wander along to the two lookouts on either side of the Falls just a couple of hundred metres from the car park.

Browns Falls

Browns Falls is accessed from Spring Creek Road as you travel from Killarney towards Queen Mary Falls. Park your vehicle at Brown Falls Park where there is play equipment, picnic tables, BBQs and toilet facilities. Follow the track under the road and along the watercourse in an easterly direction for about 600 metres. The track is not well defined in places and you will need to scramble or rock hop along the watercourse. Take care as it can be very slippery when wet. The falls plunge into a beautiful waterhole surrounded by rock.

Walks near Maryvale

Cunningham’s Gap Section, Main Range National Park

Cunningham’s Gap is at the top of the Range on the Cunningham Highway about 90 minutes south west of Brisbane or 45 minutes east of Warwick. The closest town in the region is Maryvale only 15 minutes on the western side of the range.

There are two main access point to the walks in this section of the National park. At the top of the range known as “The Gap” there is a small car park and toilet facilities on the northern side of the highway with additional limited parking along the southern side of the highway. If you are crossing the highway to access the facilities or the walks on the other side, take great care and follow any signage that has been placed there for your safety as this is a very busy highway. Most of the walks are accessed from the northern side of the highway.

Kathryn looks amazed and wide-eyed at the rainforest in Main Range National Park
The rainforest in the Cunningham’s Gap section of Main Range National Park is stunning!

The alternative place to access The Gap walking tracks (and my personal favourite because it’s off the highway!) is via the West Gap Creek picnic area on the western side of The Gap. From Warwick, West Gap Creek picnic area is on your left just past “Stacey’s at the Gap” a couple of kilometres before you reach the The Gap. There are two small car parking areas, an extensive grassy picnic area, toilets, water, picnic tables and access to the Box Forest Walking Track which takes you about 2.5 kilometres through rainforest uphill to The Gap and the other walks. Walks here range from 1.6 kms to 12 kms long with varying levels of difficulty. Once again, check the National Parks site if you intend visiting as there were extensive bushfires through the Park in late 2019 resulting in closures of most walks throughout Main Range.

Some things to remember when walking in the Southern Downs!

There are simply SO MANY wonderful choices when it comes to walking in the Southern Downs. With so much natural beauty surrounded by a rural landscape, it’s the perfect place to relax and unwind. But safety always comes first! Here are a few reminders to help you have a truly fabulous time whilst minimising risks:

  • Always prepare by doing your research before leaving home
  • Check the National Parks ALERTS web page for closures and other advice, or contact the Rangers at the Park you plan to visit
  • Take plenty of drinking water and food for everyone in your walking group as drinking water may not be available
  • Wear comfortable closed shoes suitable for the terrain
  • Protect yourself from the sun
  • Follow signage and advice from authorities such as staying on track and taking all your rubbish with you
  • Be First Aid aware and be well prepared including knowing how to manage snake risk and other injuries
  • Mobile service may not be reliable in all areas
  • Let someone know where you are going and what time you expect to be back
  • Make sure you have plenty of fuel in your vehicle – some parks like Sundown National Park are a long way from fuel stations

For more information about walking in the Southern Downs

For more information about the parklands across the Southern Downs region, go to the Southern Downs Regional Council website or check with the Visitor Information Centres or the many tourism operators.

Let me know your favourite places and spaces for walking in the Southern Downs and further afield! And join us over on our community Facebook Group Outdoors is my Therapy where you can share ideas and inspiration no matter where you live or how you love to spend your time outside!

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.

How to keep exercising outdoors in the drought

“How CAN you keep exercising outdoors in the drought????”

I’m writing this blog post because over the past year lots of people have said they just don’t know how I can keep exercising outdoors in the drought. We typically think of nature as nurturing and health-giving, a place of solace and retreat. Being confronted by a shockingly dry environment with frequent bushfires, brown landscapes that used to be green, National Park closures, and dry waterways, it’s clear that nature has a shadow side as well.

flowers before the drought

“It’s REALLY tough!”

To be completely open, I’ve also questioned how I can keep exercising outdoors in the drought. The whole climatic situation has been tough. Really tough! The ripple effect of the drought has swept up farmers, wildlife, local businesses, ‘town’ people, and those in the cities. We’re all affected in various ways either directly or indirectly. There’s a pervasive and damaging sense of hopelessness, and like any emotion, it’s contagious. Yet a sense of hope is exactly what we need to survive difficult or traumatic situations. Where there’s hope, there’s life. Without it, we spiral into a self-fulfilling doom and gloom mentality.

Exercising outdoors has been very confronting. I can’t walk on my home trails without seeing or smelling death. The brown dust colours my view as if I’m looking through a sepia filter. Ticks are in plague proportions. Swarms of good ole slow country flies are driving me nuts. The heat is unbearable. And there’s not enough water for washing your hair after a workout.

My stress tank is overflowing! How about you?

My connection with nature runs very deep, as does my yearning to be active. But in this tough time, I also came down with shingles. My stress tank began to overflow. I had to do something differently. Bushwalking and bike riding whilst constantly thinking about the drought and feeling unwell was contributing to the stress.

So what CAN you do when being in nature is SO stressful?

You have to put your creative thinking hat on to find a solution when things get tough. What worked before is no longer effective. The questions people keep asking me (and that I wanted solutions for too) are:

  • How can I reconnect with the side of nature that heals and nurtures and teaches?
  • How can I enjoy my time outdoors without feeling overwhelmed?
  • What mindset shift do I need?
  • What actions do I need to take?
  • How can I keep exercising everyday?
exercising in the drought
Exercising in the drought has it’s challenges

So I set you to explore this new territory and experiment with the possibilities!

Here are 6 solutions that I’ve discovered. I hope they work for you too!

1. Podcasts

If you haven’t got on the bandwagon yet, then you really need to! Podcasts are audio shows, a bit like a radio show, that you can either stream from the Internet or download onto a device to listen to later. I download episodes from my favourite shows onto my phone, plug my ear phones in, and listen to inspiring, energising interviews while I walk. Instead of focusing my attention on my surroundings, I lose myself in the show and arrive back home with excitement for life and new ideas to put into action. Watch out for a future blog post about my favourite podcasts suitable for Android or Apple.

2. Set an Intention

Before heading out on a walk or ride, I often choose an intention – something I want to focus on or get out of my experience. This is a personal choice, so it can be anything at all. Some of the intentions I’ve set for myself go like this:
“Today I will notice new growth”
“Today I will focus on the sensations in my legs”
“Today I will find fun”
“Today I will discover colour”
“Today I will notice sounds”

3. Mindful Walking

With mindful walks I like to focus on one sense at a time and when I notice my mind has wandered away from my body, I gently bring it back to rest on my senses. I’ve especially enjoyed focusing on my sense of hearing – noticing the many different bird calls, the sounds of the breeze in the trees, my footsteps on the ground, insects buzzing around, wallabies bounding along. I usually focus on one sense for a few minutes, then move onto another one. With my sense of touch, I focus on how it feels to have clothes on my skin, feet in my shoes as I take a step, muscle movement, sunscreen on my face, leaves brushing my skin. When I focus on my sense of sight, I challenge myself to find colours and light and patterns that I don’t normally notice. You can also use a meditation app with a guided practice for mindfulness of walking.

4. Photography

I’ve discovered that taking photos along the way really helps me to bring my attention to the beautiful things. Sometimes I combine photography with an intention or a mindful walk so that I can collect images that bring me joy, and at the same time it helps my brain to collect evidence that there is hope.

5. Make it Social

Walking or riding with other people can be really helpful because the focus is on that invisible connection between myself and someone else. Give me a deep and meaningful conversation with a friend any day, plenty of laughs, a chance to debrief the stuff of life that drives me crazy, and to celebrate the rest. Sometimes, too, there’s a sneaky competitive edge that sees me running or riding faster when I’m with others. Inevitably that ends up in a heap of laughs too, gasping for air, heart pounding out of my chest, and the satisfaction that I’ve done my weekly interval training.

6. Mix it up

I’ve always said “I’m not a gym person”. I’ve built a business and identity around my outdoor adventures. BUT, being unwell and being in the drought has helped me re-set my rigid thinking about exercise. Instead of going outdoors everyday, I went to an aqua class with a friend, did loops of the river walk in town where it’s a bit greener, and took up an irresistible offer to join a gym. I’ve extended the variety of exercise I get which is a fantastic thing! It will help me enjoy and have greater success with my outdoor adventuring which I’m still doing at least a couple of times a week. Going to the gym also gets me focusing on my sadly neglected strength training (one of those things I really ‘should’ be doing at my age!), all whilst staying out of the flies and heat. I get to make new friends and pace myself sensibly (sort of) as I recuperate. At home I’ve also begun a more regular yoga practice – something I’ve been wanting to do but it’s been a lower priority until now.

To Sum Up: Choose Your Focus!

It’s really all about CHOOSING WHAT YOU FOCUS ON. When we feel like we have What's my plan of action to deal with this issue?no control or influence over a situation (like the drought), it’s important to push the pause button, think about it creatively, and choose your focus. Like many people, I’ve struggled with exercising outdoors in the drought. The ideas I’ve shared in this article have made a huge difference to me, my mental state and my physical health. My hope is that they help you too.

Let me know what works for you! Have you got some other ideas to share with our readers?

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.

How to get motivated to exercise

How do YOU get motivated to exercise? It’s cold, blustery and misty outside today. I spent most of summer yearning for the cool Arctic breeze to greet me so I can go walking or riding any time of the day without feeling like I’m going to pass out from the heat. After our long, hot, drought-ridden summer, winter has finally arrived. And here I am, huddled in my flannelette pyjamas, fluffy dressing gown and hand-knitted knee rug dreading the thought of going outside.

It’s a tricky head space to be in – knowing that I advocate for an outdoor adventurous lifestyle, and yet here I am, cocooned in my layers, inside my house, and trying desperately to find another thing to delay me before I go outside.

Being very conscious that my actions and values are simply not in alignment, I’ve given myself a stern talking to this week. Motivation is a pretty fickle thing. You can never rely on it. It’s a feeling that comes and goes and is affected by many different things – both positively and negatively. Sitting around waiting for motivation to arrive is fruitless. You need to take ACTION, and motivation will follow in its own good time.

motivation is fickle

I figured I’m probably not the only one who’s struggling at the moment (tell me that is so!!), so I’ve put together a list of tried and true strategies to get us exercising, no matter the weather, and no matter our motivation levels!

18 ways to get motivated to exercise

  1. Be accountable! To someone else, like a friend that you’ve agreed to meet for a walk. Or simply write your planned exercise activity in your diary and let others know ahead of time about your commitment.
  2. Something is better than nothing! Don’t get caught in the all-or-nothing type of thinking. If you’re running short on time, do what you can – 10 minutes is better than nothing.
  3. Make exercise part of your daily routine so there is little room for debate about what you’re going to do and when.
  4. Choose your reward! External rewards work well for some people – think of stickers for your exercise chart, or buying that new piece of gear when you’ve kept to your commitment. Or do you prefer to acknowledge that you feel great on the inside, knowing you’ve chosen well despite it being difficult, or noticing that you feel better?
  5. Celebrate your achievements! Be joyful for the hard work you’ve put in. But be careful you don’t self-sabotage your efforts by spending the rest of the day on the sofa or munching on a box of doughnuts.
  6. Change it up! Any activity that you repeat over and again can lose its gloss. Change your activity, route, place or even the time of day you’ve been exercising.
  7. Change how you see yourself! When you identify with a “healthy me, happy me” mentality, you’ll focus on healthy choices. Conversely if you see yourself as lazy and unfit, your actions are likely to reinforce that attitude.
  8. Break it down! If an hour of exercise seems like an eternity, then you’re going to dread it again tomorrow. Break it down into time portions, or ‘sets’. When I swim laps, I work on 10 minute sets each of kick board, freestyle, backstroke and so on. You can break your walk or ride up into sets too, aiming for a certain number of minutes, steps, mileage or landmarks in each set.
  9. Set goals! Register for an event and use it to keep you on track with your ‘training’ exercise. Or set a new goal each week, for example to walk 25 kilometres or to go to 3 classes by the end of the week.
  10. Do what works for YOU! Get a routine going that works FOR YOU. It’s your life. Your family. Your work situation. Your community. Whatever exercise routine you choose, make it do-able for you.
  11. Focus on something enjoyable! It could be the way the grass is blowing in the breeze, the smell of the wattles flowering, how awesome your new t-shirt feels, the increasing strength in your legs as you pound the pavement.
  12. Sign up! Check out what programs, challenges and memberships are available in your area or online.
  13. Pay your way! Does financial investment motivate you? Some people feel an extra commitment to get out the door after purchasing a membership, training program, new shoes or other equipment.
  14. Get expert support! Exercise physiologists and personal trainers can customise exercises and training plans that gradually build up as you do.
  15. Do what you love to do! If dancing around the lounge room to loud music is your thing, then do it! If digging holes in the paddock to put new fence posts in is your thing, then do it! If running marathons is your thing, then do it! You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.
  16. Be realistic! Know what is do-able for you and set your expectations and goals accordingly to boost your confidence, sense of achievement, and motivation.
  17. Do it for yourself! You’ll feel better, you know you will!
  18. Do it for those around you! Exercise and nature has incredible benefits for the way our brains work, the way we feel, and the behavioural choices we make. Generally, we’re nicer people to be around when we’ve looked after ourselves.

You owe it to yourself as well as others!

And if that’s not enough reason to motivate me to get outside on a blustery day, then I remind myself that I’m accountable to the community of women around me. The women who get involved with my projects, counselling and mentoring programs. I constantly encourage these women to get outside and get active, yet I also know how challenging it can be at times. I owe it to my family, friends and the community of women I work with to shut up, show up and practise what I preach.

Women exercising outdoors

In the end, a little bit of discomfort to get going will reap amazing benefits for the rest of the day. It doesn’t sound that hard, but, man oh man, that gusty wind sure is blowing away some of my motivation!

How will you manage your motivation today?

Let me know:

What are your biggest challenges when it comes to motivation to exercise?

And what strategies work for you?

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.

How to exercise on a budget: what about walking?

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How DO you exercise on a budget?

There are so many pressures to spend your hard-earned money on, well, ummmm ….. basically everything! Including exercise. If you tune into the world around you or if you’re easily hooked into comparing yourself to others, you’ll probably believe that you HAVE to pay for a gym membership, you HAVE to buy fancy equipment to get fit, and that you HAVE to have the latest super-tech clothes if you intend to work up a sweat (which kind of goes along with exercise!).

Well I’m telling you that all these have-to’s are simply not true. Sure, some of those fancy clothes or equipment can enhance your exercise, but for aeons humans have coped quite well with little or no special exercise equipment. I mean, exercise is basically improving your strength and aerobic health through activity that puts a load on your body. It doesn’t HAVE to cost anything, and crying poor is never a reason to stay on the sofa.

Back in my day …..

Ask your grandparents or great grandparents (if they’re still around) and they’ll tellfirewood you what it was like back in their day. I bet they’d say no one needed any gyms or fancy schmancy pants in the olden days: exercise consisted of a hard day’s work out on the farm fixing fences, collecting and chopping wood for the kitchen fire, walking to the shop and doing the laundry in a boiler!

You don’t need a big budget!

Yes, times have changed and it’s a different world we live in, but there are some things that have stayed the same. To exercise on a budget, you simply get back to the basics – focus on your daily dose of physical activity instead of the frills-and-all approach that can suck you in. Get yourself a decent pair of shoes, pull on some comfy clothes and a hat. Slap on some sunscreen. Grab a bottle of water. And you’re all good to go walking, one of the best and most accessible types of exercise we have.

Why is walking ideal? Oh my goodness, let me count the ways!

  1. You can set your own pace
  2. It’s convenient – slip on your shoes and get out the door no matter where walking in bootsyou live or work or travel
  3. You can do it alone or in a group
  4. You’ve probably already got everything you need to go walking
  5. If you don’t have everything, you still don’t HAVE to spend a lot to get started
  6. No special equipment needed
  7. It’s free in general – to tell you the truth, there are a few places I’ve been to that charge a small fee such as a day entry fee to some National Parks or car parking fees in busy tourist or urban spaces, but that’s the exception not the rule. Walking is one of the cheapest ways to exercise on a budget.

Walking ….. “BORING!”

Walking is boring, you say? Well, anything’s boring if you repeatedly do the same thing day after day, in the same place, and in the same way.

Never be bored again!

Here are some ideas to vary up your workout so you’ll never be bored again, even if you need to exercise on a budget (and that’s most of us)!

  1. Mix it up – walk in different placeswalking on the beach
  2. Choose different length walks – some days go long, and other days go short
  3. Go solo, or meet up with a buddy
  4. Join a walking group
  5. Have a go at Park Run
  6. Change up which direction you go on your usual route
  7. Challenge yourself to an uphill climb
  8. Relax with a downhill walk
  9. See the city sights on an urban walk
  10. Climb those stairs – repeatedly!
  11. Go exploring on a water walk – river, dam, ocean
  12. Treat yourself to a bushwalk – check out National Parks, State Forests, reserves
  13. Wander along the beach, feel the sand between your toes
  14. Walk with a purpose: walk to work, school, a friend’s place, bus or train station, shops
  15. Swap your usual routine and enjoy the sights at a different time of day
  16. Grab a map and compass and give orienteering a go
  17. Use a navigation app or device to pre-plan your walk – you can even be really creative by designing a funky picture that overlays the streets and then follow that on your walk
  18. Pace the paddock or local park
  19. Walk with a backpack for added load, or take some light hand weights
  20. Walking meetings are all the rage!
  21. Have a walking break at lunch time or after work to wind down and de-stress
  22. Leave your car a few kilometres from work or the train / bus station and walk the rest of the way
  23. Earn as you walk – deliver newspapers or pamphlets house-to-house
  24. Go window shopping
  25. Take your kids for a walk after school while everyone chats about their day

Walking can be your go-to exercise too!

Walking has always been my go-to exercise because I can do it almost anywhere, any time, with little equipment, no expense, and all the benefits of feeling great and knowing I’m giving my future health an awesome boost! And you can too! Start with any of the ideas above and let me know how you go, or share your other ideas with me on how to exercise on a budget. 

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.

How do you spring clean your mind?

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Spring cleaning can happen at any time of the year

It’s spring at the moment in Australia where I’m sitting at my computer writing this blog post. As I reflect on the very warm day we’ve had, and the cool breeze wafting in through the window, thoughts of spring cleaning come to mind. But, why wait for spring??? Spring cleaning can happen at any time of the year!

Let go of what is no longer needed

Let go, spring cleaningWhat a great feeling it is to clean out the house, office or car; throw away, recycle or give away the excess that has accumulated over the past months, year, or more. Spring cleaning offers us a sense of lightness, organisation and order. It gives us renewed energy, like a gentle breeze after a hot day. We’ve swept out the cobwebs and feel fresh and clean again.

Our minds can do with a spring clean too

It’s not just our houses, offices and cars that need regular spring cleaning. Our minds need de-cluttering too, and in my opinion we can all benefit from a little de-cluttering every day. When we organise our thoughts and simplify our lives, our lives run smoother.

You can choose how to de-clutter your mind

Spring clean your mind on MTBSpring cleaning our houses is one thing, but how on earth do we go about de-cluttering our minds? One of the best ways to do this is by going for a walk, especially in a green zone. But you might prefer to spend some quiet time in the garden, listen to music, or do some painting. Perhaps you prefer more energetic methods of de-cluttering your mind like running, boxing, swimming or mountain bike riding (a personal favourite!).

Consistency and regularity are key!

Whatever your choice, remember to be consistent and regular with your actions so that things don’t get on top of you. Caring for your mind is just like housework and yard work. When you take regular small steps to clean up and clear out, life seems a whole lot less messy and there is space and energy for the things you value most.

Remember …. no matter the season, no matter the weather, you don’t need to wait till spring. Jump into spring cleaning today!

What works for you?

How do you de-clutter your mind and organise your thoughts?

 

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

13 Things To Do When It’s Too Wet For MTB

For nearly 2 weeks the weather has been drizzly and windy. It’s exciting to see the browns turn to bright greens as the water soaks in and gives us hope that we won’t forever more be living in drought. But with our usual MTB trails and State Forests closed until the ground dries out, we have to get our fix in other ways.

Here are 13 different things that I’ve been doing instead of riding in the great outdoors. What other ideas do you have?

1. Baking. Especially coffee muffins. Perfect for your next mid-ride snack!

2. Go for a walk. If you can’t do it on two wheels, do it on two legs. Get out of doors, into nature and breathe in that fresh air.

3. Pace out that tricky section of MTB trail that gets you stuck. As you become more familiar with the tricky technical bits, you’ll be able to find a line and visualise yourself riding it. A great set-up for the next time you ride.

4. Spring clean that cupboard that’s been on your to-do list for months but you’ve been too busy riding to get to it. Admittedly, not as fulfilling as riding right now, but think of your sense of satisfaction as you cross it off your list knowing you’ve well and truly earned your next ride.

5. Rearrange your furniture, reorganise your shed or change-up your bike storage. The process of sorting and organising can be inspiring as well as energising, and flows into other areas of our lives.

6. Plan your next holiday or MTB adventure. Read, research, talk to others, plot a route on a map, create a budget, make some bookings. You know you want to!

7. Give your bike/s a bit of love and care. Catch up on your maintenance and servicing activities to keep your best buddy rolling along through your next adventure.

8. Remember those hobbies you used to have before you discovered the joys of MTB? Yeh, well they’re still waiting for you, so make the most of the rainy weather and immerse yourself in your other loves.

9. Go on a picnic with your family. You know, those other non-riding people you live with? Show them a bit of love and maybe at the same time you could check out that new trail in preparation for the next time you go riding!

10. Core strength training. We all know that MTB is so much fun that we make that our priority, and the added extras like core strength training are a bit hit or miss. So unroll your yoga mat while you have the chance and work those abs!

11. Gardening. It’s amazing how much strength training you can accomplish by even gentle weeding, pruning and digging in the garden. You’ll be sore the next day – proof that you’ve worked those muscles that have been sadly neglected through focused bike riding.

12. House management tasks. Get them done now while you can. Tomorrow could be perfect riding weather and you don’t want to be stuck in the house cleaning or needing to go to the grocery store when you could be outside with your friends riding.

13. Indoor training. Interval training on the stationary bike to your favourite rock music that gets your legs spinning, your heart pumping, and the time flying by. Bruce Springsteen’s my all time favourite. Nothing beats a good workout to the tunes of “Come on up for the Rising”, “Waiting on a Sunny Day”, “Rosalita”, and “Born to Run”. You’ll feel the difference in your fitness next time you have a real dinky-di outdoors-y MTB ride!

 

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.

 

What’s the Deal With Exercise?

 

We all know that exercise is generally a good thing we can do for ourselves. Exercise is clearly linked with reduced risk to many health problems, including mental health, and this is where my interest especially lies.

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Social Changes

Over many years our society has gradually developed a more sedentary lifestyle. Our work, home, transport, leisure and play have all become less physically demanding as technology and industry have changed. While our parents, grandparents, great grandparents (and maybe even ourselves!) once spent hours physically kneading bread, beating butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon, digging holes and levelling ground by hand, sweeping the footpath with a broom, chasing each other in an after-school game of tiggy or helping to round up the chooks and cows, we are now much more reliant on our time and energy-saving devices to do the hard work for us or to entertain us.

Imagine living hundreds and thousands of years ago – people were even more active in these times, hunting and gathering food on a daily basis, building and re-building shelters at frequent intervals, tuned into their environments ready to fight, flight or freeze as the need arose. Yes! That thing we now call “anxiety” had a well-defined purpose for basic survival!

There have certainly been lots of changes to our way of living, our surroundings, our environment …… and yet our bodies basically work the same as they always have. In our sedentary lifestyles, we suffer for the lack of activity and exercise that our bodies and minds desperately need. We have discovered that many physical and mental health issues are exacerbated or even caused through lack of activity. Read more about exercise and depression here

http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/docs/ExerciseandDepression.pdf

What is the ‘right’ way to exercise?

When we commit to improving our health, whether it’s for our own sake or for the love of our family and community, we might feel pressured to exercise in ‘the right way’. There are lots of conflicting messages out there about what is the best form of exercise, the right time to exercise, and how much exercise we should be doing.

But let’s make one thing clear – doing something is better than nothing. We know the evidence says we need to be active, and throughout history human physical activity has taken all sorts of forms from basic survival activities (eg hunting, gathering, migrating, running / swimming / climbing from danger) to physically demanding farming and home management activities (horse-riding, fencing, digging, baking, washing) to a myriad of options we now have before us. We could, theoretically, choose any of the above activities, but now we also get to include walking / riding on specially constructed paths, swimming at the heated pool, gym programs, fitness classes, weight lifting, team sports, dance classes, adventure-based holidays, and the list goes on!

With so many options before us, we might seem spoiled for choice. There really is something for everyone whether you prefer to exercise in a group or alone, compete or engage in recreational pursuits, spend lots of money on the latest equipment / clothing / memberships or exercise at no or low cost. There are even more excuses for NOT exercising – more about that in a future blog!

So, how much exercise do we need?

The latest research was most recently packaged into the Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines in 2014 and is still considered current. Basically the evidence shows that we need to focus on being more active and less sedentary. This means for adults:

  • doing any physical activity is better than none!
  • limit the time you sit down
  • break up periods of sitting down with standing / walking activities as often as possible
  • aim for 2 ½ – 5 hours of moderate intensity activity a week or 1 ¼ – 2 ½ hours of vigorous intensity exercise a week
  • be active on most or all days of the week
  • do muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days a week

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines

Exercise vs activity – what are my choices?

Note that the guidelines refer to ‘activity’ rather than ‘exercise’! Consider how you can incorporate a greater amount of physical activity into your day. Here are some ideas to get your imagination and motivation going:

  • Go for a walk (footpath, park, beach, bush, in a large shopping centre)
  • Create your own treasure hunt activity to be completed over a few days or weeks (eg list natural or man-made objects you can seek whilst on your walk, maybe take a photo of each item as you go)
  • Join an adult learn-to-swim class or other skills-based program to build your confidence and increase your options for exercise
  • Run around with your kids after school in the park or back yard (it’s a great way to tire them out so they sleep better at night – same for you!)
  • Check if there are any walking groups in your neighbourhood or shopping centre
  • Take a daily stroll through your garden, along your street or in the park and really start to notice the colours and seasonal changes
  • Get up and stretch
  • Walk the dog or cat
  • Challenge yourself to complete a household or gardening task without the use of external power
  • If you enjoy combining technology with your exercise, try mapping out a walking or cycling path using a GPS or other mapping device, then get out there and follow it! For an extra challenge, take up the latest craze of mapping out a specific pattern to follow eg a star shape.If you have any concerns about your health and how this effects your capacity to be active, it’s very important that you talk to your GP or other health provider. So, no excuses now! Get up, get out there, and do something! Because something is better than nothing 🙂

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