Regular exercise may be one of the most important things you can do for your health.
We all know that physical activity helps reduce the risk of many chronic illnesses, but it also helps support healthy sleep, overall body balance, coordination, flexibility and mental health. As if that wasn’t enough, physical activity also plays an important role in study performance. Exercise has been shown to help strengthen memory, improve concentration, boost energy levels and improve your mood.
What are the recommendations?
The Australian Government's Department of Health recommend that we are active most days and over a week, do either:
- Between 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity like walking or swimming or
- Between 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous physical activity like playing soccer, netball, cycling or gym classes,
- or a combination of both.
If this sounds daunting, don’t worry. Exercise is about moving your body in ways you enjoy, that fit into your lifestyle and leave you feeling good. Some quick cautions:
- Take care when exercising to reduce the risk of injury. Always allow time for warm up, cool down stretching, and be mindful of pre-existing injuries.
- Start slow and build up to the recommended amount.
- If you have an injury, consult a health professional before starting something new
Tips and ideas for getting active
- Take the stairs
- Get off the bus a stop early and walk
- Take 5 minutes every hour to do some quick body weight exercises like push ups, lunges or squats
- Leave your computer to eat lunch and walk somewhere nice to eat it
- Try a social sports activity at uni
- Join the Fitness Hub and take a class
- Grab a take-out and walk with a coffee and friend rather than sit
- Set a movement alarm on your device
- Download and use a quick fitness app
- If you’re a parent, join in with your kids on the trampoline or soccer field
- Find an exercise youtube channel and do it with a friend, or find out what your friends are doing and join in
Below you will find three common blocks (barriers and misconceptions) that can prevent you from exercising.
I can't find time to exercise
Cold weather, rain, busy schedules, we can easily talk ourselves out of doing exercise, especially when we're feeling tired. The minimum weekly exercise requirements can appear difficult to reach or maintain on a regular basis. Pairing short bursts of exercise with activities we already do can really help. For example, walking up stairs instead of taking the lift or planning exercise as part of the journey home.
I can't keep the exercise going
Dealing with pre-existing injuries or post-exercise recovery can be demotivating. If you are trying to get back into exercise, it is useful to consult a fitness trainer or physical therapist to ensure that you do not injure yourself or aggravate pre-existing injuries. Once you get going, manage post-exercise recovery with cool down routines. Set specific rewards when you achieve a milestone (for example reaching certain weight, mastering particular skill or noticing improvement in your mental/physical fitness).
I hate going to the gym
When we think of exercise, we often think of treadmills, weights and sweaty gym towels. Although this is the kind of exercise that lots of people enjoy, it's not the only way to move your body. Walking is a very effective means of supporting your health and wellbeing. It needs no special equipment, very little planning and can really help boost concentration, creativity and focus. There are lots of beautiful spots around each campus to explore that are easy to fit into your study breaks.
Below are three things you can do to boost success.
Keep a log of your exercise
You can also use exercise/movement tracking apps to find out if you are meeting minimum requirements. If you are struggling, try to set yourself weekly goals. Small increases over time reinforces the healthy routine and leads to overall success.
Find the right space
Try to look for safe and enjoyable spaces where you can spend at least 20 to 30 minutes per day. It can be as simple as walking to the bus stop or going to get a coffee. Adelaide is a pedestrian and cycling-friendly city with lots of routes to explore. If restricted to your home environment for any reason, using household objects for resistance training and making use of your garden could be great alternatives.
Consider walking/cycling instead of motorised transport
Even if you are a long way from uni or work, you can consider getting off public transport one stop early, or parking a little further away so you can get that 10-15 min walk in, or utilise that lunch break or gap between lectures and do a short walk. During times when this might not be an option, a good alternative is to have a walk in your local neighbourhood. It all adds up, plus you get to notice your environment, observe the seasons and boost your vitamin D levels.
Need more info?
- Exercise your way to good mental health
- 15 tips to restart your exercise routine
- Head to health - being active
- Best fitness apps
Adelaide Uni Options
- Adelaide University Sports
- YouX club options
- AU Strava - Intervarsity competition between UofA, Flinders, UniSA, and Torrens. Competitions in cycling and running with the best times uploaded for the overall leader board.
- Classes at The Fitness Hub
- Check out our Mind & Body page for some mind/body practices including: yoga, dance, martial arts, Feldenkrais and getting out into nature.