18 May 5 Simple Ways to Exercise in Rural and Remote Areas
Distance doesn’t need to be a burden to your health.
With approximately one third of the population living in regional and remote areas, the limited access to gyms, pools, sporting facilities and health services is a prominent issue for many Australians. Unfortunately distance generally puts us at a disadvantage in regards to our health status.
People living in regional and remote areas typically have a shorter life expectancy and a higher incidence of illness and disease than those living in major cities. We can however lessen the health gap with a few tips and tricks to staying active and healthy.
Exercise plays a vital role in the prevention and management of many chronic diseases and illnesses. Mental health, Cardiovascular Disease, including heart attack and stroke, and many cancers are among the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in regional and remote dwellers.
Overweight and obesity, alcohol consumption, smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol have been reported as the leading risk factors for poor health. With just a little bit of exercise, we can reduce the burden many of these diseases have on those living outside the city limits.
Here are 5 simple ways to stay active without having to travel to the long roads:
1. Get the heart pumping – get out and go for a walk or a jog! We are so lucky to have beautiful landscapes in regional and remote areas of Australia. Enjoy the fresh air, nature and wide open spaces. Walking and jogging are great for our aerobic fitness, improving our cardiovascular health, reducing the risk of us having a heart attack or stroke and aerobic exercise has positive benefits to our mental health. Start small, just 10 minutes is all it takes. Gradually work up to 30-60 minutes, 3-4 times a week for the most benefits to our health.
2. Involve family, friends and work colleagues – being active with our nearest and dearest can make exercise that much more enjoyable. Mark out some lines in the paddock and have a kick of the footy. Grab a rope from the shed and have a skipping competition. Throw a Frisbee or even have relay races. The options are endless. Most importantly have fun and a bit of a laugh – it is good for those tummy muscles and our overall health and well being!
3. Work those muscles – resistance training, working our muscles and building muscle strength, helps with reducing our risk of injury, managing chronic pain such as that from arthritis, reducing the risk of metabolic diseases such as diabetes and improving posture. With a little bit of imagination we can find objects that can be used in place of weights in a gym for some resistance training. Find an object that is a challenge but not too heavy to lift. Do some bicep curls, punch the object over your head and out of front, do some squats and lunges. Perform 2-3 sets of 1-12 repetitions of each exercise.
4. Move our bodies – keep moving and reduce the time spent doing sedentary activities. Sedentary behaviours are a huge risk factor for chronic disease. Spending as much time on our feet and moving around increases our metabolism, ensures our heart and muscles are working and it significantly reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases. Park our car further away and add a bit of an extra walk to our day, stand up and move during the ad breaks of our favourite TV show and stand up having morning tea break.
5. Stretching and relaxation – after hard days’ work a good stretch and relax is great for the mind and body. Put some relaxing music on or just enjoy the peace and quiet, stretch all the major muscles in the body, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, low back, shoulders and neck. Our muscles will thank us for it.
To find out how exercise can improve your quality of life, talk to an accredited exercise professional.