While current uncertain and unpredictable times have made an impact on our daily routines, being well, physically and mentally, can help us respond better to things that are out of our control and support ourselves, our families and our communities. Luckily, it can be easy to take steps (literally!) to improving our overall health.
Proactive…planned…organised – three things that may be tough to be during times of uncertainty. The great news is though, there are some simple ways for each of us to be on the front foot, take the initiative and prioritise our physical and mental health – and here’s how you can get started.
The National physical activity guidelines for adults suggest that about 30 minutes of exercise a day, 5 days a week, has a positive effect on our health including reducing the long-term risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and improving our mental wellbeing. This exercise doesn’t need to be exhausting, or complicated though – simply walking or swimming, doing yoga or playing with a pet or kids in the backyard – can all help incorporate extra physical activity in your daily routine and bring with it added health benefits.
“Walking is a great way to be more active and to add more physical activity to your day. It can be done almost anywhere and at any time. It is important to make walking a daily habit and take every opportunity to squeeze more walking into your routine” said Dr Peter Abernethy of Health and Wellbeing Queensland.
“Invite a friend to join you and enjoy a chat as you walk. Encourage your kids to join you on their bikes or scooters or consider walking or cycling to your local coffee shop rather than taking to car. And to burn a few more kilojoules as you walk? just pick up the pace from a stroll to a brisk walk as this can help you burn up to twice as many kilojoules”.
“Being proactive about your health doesn’t just relate to physical health. Thinking about your nutrition and overall wellbeing can also help you during times of stress. Consider planning your meals and snacks in advance, add more movement to your daily routine, and take time to recharge through meditation and mindfulness” added Peter.
“There are a number of groups you can join or contact to take the first step. Consider joining a local walking group or the 10,000 steps program which actively encourages participants to track their steps and help achieve their step count goals.” said Peter.
When it comes to taking proactive steps towards our mental wellbeing, there are a variety of resources available that help us cope with stress, anxiety and taking care of our overall mental health during these uncertain times.
Life in Mind is an online resource hub run in collaboration with the Queensland Mental Health Commission which includes a comprehensive list of resources for families, small business owners as well as links to online support groups led by leading mental health professionals. Women’s Health Queensland also run yoga classes via Zoom and ‘Mindful Fridays’ an online 10 week program designed to help women learn more about and experience mindfulness.
Learning to cook delicious and nutritious meals for ourselves, our families and communities is a great way to take better care of our wellbeing. There’s nothing more satisfying than enjoying a meal that you’ve learned how to make from scratch. The Jamie Oliver Ministry of Food offers online cooking courses for all abilities and is a great place to get started!
Taking the first step to moving more
Starting exercise for the very first time or resuming after a long break can be daunting, and to be honest, will be the most difficult time for anyone just starting out. We know it’s hard, but it does get easier, and as it gets easier, you will be able to progress even more. Take a realistic approach, start off slowly and know your limits – you’ll then be well on your way to achieving your goals.
Make it enjoyable
Do you enjoy art, cooking or learning a language? Studies show that we are more likely to stick with new activities that we find enjoyable, so break out the dance moves in the lounge room, pick up a new book from the library or get outdoors in your garden and do what you enjoy.
Start off with smaller goals like taking the stairs instead of the lift or parking the car a little further than your usual spot to get your steps up. Maybe focus on adding more vegetables to your diet or reducing your sugary drinks as first steps? By taking small practical steps toward your goals, it’ll make it easier to stick with them.
Seek professional advice
As always, when starting any form of physical activity, or changing your nutrition, it’s always a good idea to speak with a health professional. A dedicated health professional can speak with you about your capabilities, and help you develop a personalised program tailored to your individual needs.
Join a free program
My health for life, developed in partnership with Health and Wellbeing Queensland, is a free six-month program that gives Queenslanders who meet the eligibility criteria the chance to work with a health coach to achieve their health goals.
A range of flexible delivery options are available, including one-on-one phone coaching, local group sessions and culturally tailored, in-language programs, as well as workplace programs.
You can sign up to My health for life online in three simple steps.
1. Complete the straightforward online health check to find out how your health is tracking.
2. Your answers to the health check will determine if the program is available to you. If so, you’ll be invited to join.
3. Enrol in the program. You’ll be contacted to confirm your enrolment and discuss the coaching option that best suits you.
You can even sign up your workplace to take part. Simply download and complete the Workplace Expression of Interest form and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, visit myhealthforlife.com.au or call 13 74 75.