Get up and get out! Why Australians are getting fat and lazy

Want to hear a crazy fact? More than half of Australia’s adults aren’t moving enough. In fact, the older you are, the more likely that is.

Want to hear another absurd fact? 67% of Australian’s are overweight or obese and that number is only rising.

Is there a correlation? Almost certainly!!

Photo by Raj Rana on Unsplash

According to national health surveys, only 55.4% of people are meeting the recommended number of minutes of exercise per week. These recommendations come in the form of Australian National Physical Activity Guidelines. They recommend a minimum of 150 minute over five sessions of physical activity per day for 18-65 year olds, as well as incorporating muscle strengthening activities two times per week.

These guidelines don’t represent a training program that will get you into tip top condition in a short space of time. They merely outline how much exercise is necessary to keep your body happy and healthy, not how to get fit.

This same survey showed that only 15% of 18-65 year olds are meeting both of these guidelines. Another study run by the Australian Department of Health in 2015 showed that almost 30% of people have low levels of physical inactivity, or sedentary activity as it is also known as.

The majority of Australians are consuming more kilojoules than they burn, contributing to weight gain. It’s no surprise that the country’s obesity rates are skyrocketing year on year.

Photo by i yunmai on Unsplash

What are the benefits of moving more?

Increased sedentary activity can lead to greater risks of certain cancers, greater rates of anxiety and depression, decreased muscle mass and higher blood pressure.

Meanwhile, benefits of increased physical activity levels include improved heart and lung function, decreased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, as well as improved moods and sleeping patterns.

So what can we do about it?

There are two things that you can do to be more active and they’re way easier than you may think.

The first way incorporate physical activity into your day. No this does not mean you need to tell yourself “Today I’m going for a run”. Instead, add some extra movement to your day-to-day tasks. Try parking your car around the corner from work, getting off the tram a stop earlier than you need to, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Simple changes for basic tasks will help increase your daily amount of physical activity.

But what about right now where we’re all staying at home and we can’t get out? This is where you should decrease your sedentary activity, rather than increasing physical activity. Maybe walking around the house whilst talking on the phone, having lunch in another room or outside, moving your rubbish bin away from you so that you get up to use it. A good one I learnt recently was to download an audio book and listen to it whilst gardening

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

What about the muscle strengthening activities?

It’s true that not everyone can get hold of weights and kettle bells and gym equipment. However, everyone has got something even better. It’s called your body weight.

Strengthening exercises can involve push-ups, sit-ups, squats and lunges!

Unsure how to add them to everyday life? Try building a couple of body weight exercises into your daily routine. You could pick two days a week where you wake up and do some push-ups, then just before dinner you do some squats.

Time to get moving Australia!

It’s no secret that we want to try and do as little as possible. That’s just how humans are wired. Consume energy, store energy, don’t waste energy. Thankfully, we live in a world where food and energy is much easier to come by than ever before, so c’mon Aussies! Time to burn off a bit of that iso-belly

8 Responses to “Get up and get out! Why Australians are getting fat and lazy”

  1. Tom Davies says:

    Thanks Po 🙂 Absolutely! Diet is certainly another factor that contributes to the obesity rates in Australia. It’s one of a number of factors that make up the obesogenic environment, which is it’s own topic of conversation in itself!

  2. Ben says:

    Thank you Tom for the timely reminder. I guess I will be doing some form of exercise to keep my mind and body happy.

  3. Popo says:

    Awesome article! We all need a reminder to get off our bums every now and then and ever more so now.

    Not to mention us Aussies tie with the French in alcohol consumption! Do you think our diet also plays a part in why we rank so high in obesity?

  4. Tom Davies says:

    They’re a really great way to get the body moving, especially during extended study periods like assessment period and SWOTVAC!

  5. Tom Davies says:

    Thanks Anita!! So great to hear 😀 It’s so much easier than people think!

  6. Michelle Nguyen says:

    I really liked the home-bound exercises you talked about. They sound really accomplishable and don’t seem to take up too much time! Thanks for this Tom!

  7. Miriam says:

    Thought provoking article! Thank you for the timely reminder to get moving more

  8. Anita Chen says:

    I’m extremely guilty of avoiding outdoor (and indoor) physical activity, with or without a pandemic keeping me in! Will definitely try out some squats at my desk so my muscles don’t completely atrophy by the time lockdown is lifted. Great article, Tom!