When stacked up against all your other commitments, exercise often doesn’t make the grade. And it’s not doing us any good. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian adults spend an average of 4 hours a day doing sedentary leisure activities like watching TV, compared to just half an hour of physical activity. And a whopping 62% of us don’t meet the recommended physical activity guidelines of 30 minutes of daily or almost daily moderate intensity exercise. If you’re not getting your daily movement on, here are five reasons exercise is worth making time for.
#1 It gives us ‘me’ time
As women we wear many hats – mum, daughter, boss, co-worker, friend, sister etc. We’re pulled in a thousand different directions and are disappointed when we can’t be everything to everyone. Exercise is a chance to take time out from these demands and do something purely for ourselves; either in a group or on our own. And when we make time for ourselves, we’re more likely to make time for others – win-win!
#2 It makes us feel good
Besides giving us the chance to get away from everything, exercise recharges, re-motivates and makes us feel good on the inside. When we feel good on the inside, we’re happier, more confident and more motivated – clearly not a bad thing. And if that isn’t enough, according to a number of scientific studies, regular physical activity has been scientifically proven to reduce the symptoms of depression, improve brain health, and protect us against memory loss and diseases like dementia.
#3 It keeps us healthy
Lack of physical activity increases our risk of developing health issues like heart disease, Type II Diabetes and high blood pressure. When you consider that heart disease is the number one killer of women in Australia (you’re 3 times more likely to die from it than breast cancer), it makes finding half an hour a day for exercise that much more important. Regular exercise also helps us maintain a steady weight as we age, reducing stress and strain on our joints and spines.
#4 It helps us sleep
No one functions well without enough quality sleep. It makes us irritable, less alert, leads to weight gain and generally means we’re no fun to be around. Exercise is a proven sleep aid because it results in the production of serotonin, a mood boosting chemical helping to regulate our sleep/wake cycle. So along with improving our general disposition, regular exercise can also help banish interrupted sleep and insomnia.
#5 It makes us look good
Even the most dedicated exercisers have to admit they exercise at least in part to look good. It’s not vanity, narcissism or self-obsession to admit it because when we look good, we feel good. That in turn makes us more confident, allowing us to challenge ourselves, taking advantage of opportunities we might otherwise dismiss. And if we’re being totally honest with ourselves, we also have to admit how good it makes us feel when we’re complimented on how good we’re looking, a benefit regular exercise is guaranteed to provide.
Easy ways to make exercise part of your (every) day
The key to exercise is consistency. Because that can be hard to find, consider these tips for making exercise part of your (every) day:
- Make it fun. You’ll never stick with it if you don’t enjoy it so find something physical you really enjoy. Try out different group classes, organise bushwalks or hikes on the weekend, buy a bike, enrol in bootcamp – your options are only as limited as your imagination!
- Be accountable (and find a friend!). We’re more likely to stick with things if someone is relying on us to show up. So make a commitment with friends or co-workers to start moving more – organise a daily walk, agree to go to a class together or find an activity you can enjoy as a group.
- Find some free stuff. Depending on your budget it can be hard to find the money for exercise classes. Check out programs run by your local council, get a group together and ask about group discounts for personal training or ask the HR department if they’d pay for a weekly pilates or yoga class.
- Make incidental movement part of your day. All the little things add up so get off the bus or train one stop early, park your car further away, get up and have regular walks around your office, use the stairs rather than the escalator or lift and try not to sit for long periods of time. You’ll be surprised at how effective this can be.
- Treat it like an appointment. Some of us need deadlines and other incentives to get the things we don’t really want to do, done. Treat exercise like any other appointment, schedule it into your diary and turn up (just like you would at the dentist). Over time it’ll become a habit and you’ll find yourself moving things around it to make sure it gets done.
Shauna is a Pilates and Xtend Barre teaching copywriter from Brisbane. She can help you with everything from touching your toes to learning the grapevine to creating original conversational content for your business.