17 Mar Why farmers should not ignore exercise
As a farmer you will know that work never ends. Up at dawn and asleep later than most. Farming has always been considered one of the most physically demanding environments to work in. Although a lot of the workload is physical, research shows that many farmers don’t do as much physical activity as they used to.
Don’t get us wrong – farming is still a physically demanding way of life but information from the National Centre of Farmer Health show that modern age farming is relying more on machinery and other vehicles. This essentially means farmers are spending a lot more time sitting down.
The importance of exercise is no secret and it’s not specific to any one person or industry – all workers will benefit from daily exercise and movement. However, those who are spending most of the time sitting during the day are at a higher risk of serious health complications such as diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, mental health issues, and musculoskeletal aches and pains.
A study conducted by The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that when compared with people living in major cities and inner regional areas, people living in outer regional, rural and remote areas were more likely to engage in high risk behaviours.
High risk behaviours include:
- Poorer eating patterns
- Risky alcohol consumption
- Not getting enough exercise.
When compared with the average Australian male aged 25 to 74, male farmers and farm managers experience higher death rates from:
- Coronary artery disease and certain cancers
- Respiratory diseases, such as chronic asthma and bronchial infections
- Stress, depression and other mental health issues
COMMON ISSUES FOR FARMERS
The physical pressures put on the body when farming in turn puts a lot of demands on the joints, spine, and nervous system which activates a lot of stressors. From lifting heavy objects, jumping up and down off machinery, and having to react quickly to animals, these can all pose a risk to your body.
“Having a body that is strong and stable can help reduce injuries and help the body react safer and faster to any situation,” explains Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Carly Ryan.
“Farmers need to focus on three key areas to keep themselves primed: cardiovascular fitness, strength, and suppleness (another phrase for flexibility and mobility). Some farmers may feel they do enough in their job to tick all those boxes, however, we find this is not the case.”
“Our bodies need more than just our job to be in peak condition!”
Mental health should always be a focus!
Mental health and alarming suicide rates are the re-occurring theme throughout the communities affected by the drought. Tragically, Beyond Blue reports that the suicide rate in very remote areas of Australia is more than double that within our major cities.
“Health is seen as a luxury item when the local community is facing drought,” says Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Director of Better Movement, John Dennehy.
“Health and well-being in rural areas has been a growing concern among communities. Suicide, depression and sense of failure is more common in the rural towns in drought. Despite the significant amounts of funding and research into this, the stigma of mental health still delays seeking help.”
Exercise has proven to be a great way to support mental health, it helps pump powerful happy chemicals through our bodies. It also is a fantastic way to have some time away from the grind of daily life and responsibilities and can help you have a better night’s sleep.
“The age of the farmer is also getting older with the average age now 57 years old. With little disposable income and an ageing farmer, we see a significant amount of chronic conditions such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and depression in a more degenerative and severe status than clients we see in our urban centres,” explains John.
Keeping your physical and mental health in tip top shape as we age is vital to reduce age related concerns. Exercise can support every single part of our bodies fight off the effects of age!
If you are over 65, Exercise Right is offering subsidised exercise classes run by professionals to help you get more active and take control of your health. Click here for more.
WHY EXERCISE IS IMPORTANT
Exercise relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances well-being through the release of endorphins. Essentially anything that gets your body moving can help.
It’s important to note that exercise doesn’t have to be in a gym or a custom-built facility, it can be as simple as a walk, stretching session, or using items around the house as weights.
“In our ideal world, Aussie farmers will start to see exercise as a way to be able to perform every part of their job at the highest level, which means avoiding injuries and being able to work for longer. Outside of work, farmers need to view exercise as an opportunity fight off work related health conditions and to support their mental health,” explains Carly.
“There is a huge range of wonderful accredited exercise professionals supporting our rural and remote farming population. These are university trained professionals who know what life is like on the land and can support you through ‘no nonsense’ plans to get your health back on track.”