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Overcoming the barriers to exercise!

Currently, the Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines recommend that adults aged 18 to 64 complete a minimum of 150minutes of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity (or a combination of both) and at least 2 days of muscle strengthening exercise. However, recent research showed that only 44% of us are meeting these guidelines. But, why is this? A paper by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare identified some key barriers for why people are not meeting these guidelines. These were; poor health or injury, not enough time, cost and motivation or lack of enjoyment. So, how do we overcome these barriers?

Firstly, poor health or injury. Poor health or injury was reported as a barrier for 1 in 5 Australian adults. The first point we need to consider is exercise intensity is all relative. One persons walk, is another’s run. It is important that we safely and appropriately increase our exercise levels based on our current fitness levels. The guidelines state “if you currently do no physical activity, start by doing some, and gradually build up to the recommended amount”. So your current poor health may not allow you to achieve 150minutes now, maybe 3, 10 minute walks can be your starting point and you can build from there. But what if you’re injured? Fortunately, physical activity, like us, comes in all shapes and sizes! Lower body injury? Sit down and punch the air! Upper body injury? Sit on a bike and pedal away. Still in pain? Improve or adjust the way you move, ask an exercise professional to show you how.

But, you can’t afford to get help? Fortunately, there are also avenues we can access to overcome this. Firstly, accredited exercise physiologists are covered by private health and if you are covered you may able to get rebates for our services we conduct in gyms, pools, medical centers or even in your home. Don’t have private health? You may be eligible for bulk billed sessions covered by Medicare (see the flow chart below). This avenue can help you access one on one and group exercise services, depending on your presentation. Finally, what if I told you that investing money now could make you money later? The benefits of exercise intervention has shown to save people with type two diabetes $477 every year! In addition to having great benefits to several other chronic conditions including pre diabetes, mental illness, heart failure, back pain and arthritis.

Alright so now you think you have the tools to overcome poor health or injury and access pathways to make it more affordable. But, you have no time to exercise. Wait there’s more! As I said before, exercise comes in many different shapes and sizes. An exercise professional is able to manipulate exercise to suit not only your medical history, injury history, likes and dislikes, but also your schedule. If you are time poor we can utilise exercise formats including high intensity interval training, with bouts of as little as 6 seconds up to 4 minutes to help improve your fitness. In addition to this, to make sure you are still achieving your two muscle strengthening sessions week, we can provide you with a circuit training program of resistance exercises which has shown to be effective in increasing muscular strength and decreasing fat with no or very little rest between exercises.

So now we have conquered 3 out of 4 hurdles. But you have found yourself committing to exercise previously and losing motivation and not staying with it or you simply don’t have the motivation to start. I think a pattern is forming… But exercise physiologists are not only experts in prescribing exercise, but they are trained in motivational interviewing and behavioural change. During your first appointment we will set SMART goals, both short and long term, provide assessment tools to enable us to measure if and when we achieve these goals and give you the tools, strength and confidence to start an exercise program and eventually make it a part of your daily routine. We like to say that exercise should become like brushing your teeth, you just get up and do it, don’t even think about it (unless you don’t brush your teeth, then we have bigger fish to fry). Finally, exercise will make you feel good, after exercise our body releases endorphins, particularly after higher intensity exercise, that makes chemical changes to make us feel good.

To conclude, there is no barrier too great to make regular physical activity part of your routine. Sometimes you just need a hand and a push in the right direction. At EHA we aim to empower our clients to be their own boss, pushing you in the right direction and giving you all the tools you need to take charge of your health and go above and beyond the guidelines!

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