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Barriers to physical activity
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, over half of all Australian adults lead a sedentary lifestyle. A lot of our time is spent sitting or lounging around due to the nature of our work and the amount of screen time we have.
Although there are many reasons why people aren’t active, main barriers for adults include:
don’t have enough time
health condition or injury
dislike sport or physical activity.
Although 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity is recommended for children’s growth and development, sport371 only around 12% of children (5-12 years) and 2% of young people (13-17 years) meet the guidelines for physical activity and sedentary behaviour.
Main barriers for children include:
not having enough time
don’t enjoy physical activity
no access to transport.
Physical inactivity increases with age – people over 65 are more unlikely to be physically active.
Across all age groups (18-65+), women are less likely to be physically active than men.
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Benefits of regular physical activity
Being active regularly, offers a range of health benefits:
Increases flexibility and movement and improves joint mobility.
Improves co-ordination, movement and balance – helps to reduce the risk of falls and injury.
Strengthens bones, muscles and joints – lowers risk of developing osteoporosis or joint problems (such as arthritis).
Helps to stabilise blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Helps to maintain your weight – reduces body fat.
Reduces risk of various diseases – including cardiovascular disease (CVD) and some cancers.
Helps to prevent and manage mental health conditions (such as depression) and lowers stress and anxiety.
Lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease (such as heart disease and stroke).
Improves our state of mind – boosts mood, energy levels, concentration and confidence.
Helps us relax and sleep better.
Assists in managing some health conditions (such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes).
Aids rehabilitation after surgery, injury or illness, especially when there have been long periods of bed rest.
Can give you an opportunity to meet people and have fun.
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Tips to get physically active
Here’s some ideas to build physical activity into your day:
Change your mindset – if you are busy, think of movement as an opportunity, not an inconvenience. For example, try to walk or cycle instead of using the car, or take the stairs instead of using the lift.
If you can’t choose a physical activity – do something you enjoyed as a child.
Exercise with a friend or family members.
Doing any physical activity is better than doing none. If you currently do no physical activity, start by doing some, and gradually build up to the recommended amount.
Set goals to keep focused and motivated.
Be active on most, preferably all, days every week.
If you are finding it difficult to make time, look for ways to be active throughout the day – don’t make excuses for housework – vacuuming, gardening or washing the car can burn kilojoules!
Minimise the amount of time you spend sitting for long periods – break it up as much as you can.
Research your options – you may like to join a health or fitness centre or get help from a personal trainer
Get help to draw up an exercise program tailored to suit your needs and fitness level.
Try not to make excuses – you may feel flat before you start, but will have more energy when you finish.
Limit screen time for entertainment to no more than – children (2-5 years) = 1 hour each day in a 24-hour period. Children and teenagers (5-17 years) and adults = 2 hours each day.
Parents or carers – encourage children to have a positive experience when using screen-based devices. Screen time can be healthy if it is balanced throughout the day with physical activities, socialising and creative play.