The physical benefits of increasing your daily movement are well known. Whether you are walking the dog or running a marathon, every step, leap or dive you take benefits your heart, lungs, muscles and joints, reduces your risk of disease and helps to manage your weight.
With an estimated 44% of Australian adults between 16-85 experiencing a mental disorder in their lifetime, more research is being directed into the mental health benefits of increased daily movement. It has been found that adults who are active for at least 30 minutes every day have better sleep, reduced stress levels, sharper focus and better memory. There is even a lower incidence of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
So with all of these benefits, why is it that 55% of Australian adults do not get the recommended amount of movement?
Time is the most commonly given answer. We are all so time poor! Between work and family life we have very little time for ourselves, and who wants to spend the time we do have exercising when we could be socialising?
So, what if movement can become part of your socialising? With a Telstra research study showing 1 in 5 Australians are lonely, can movement also assist with social skills?
A quick search of “sports groups in my area” gave me literally hundreds of results. Everything from dancing and walking to badminton and yoga. Dragon-boating anyone? There’s a club for that! Roller-derby? Looks a bit energetic for me, but if it sounds more your speed, there’s a club for that too!
It has been found that joining a group makes you more likely to remain regularly active as it makes you become more accountable, boosts your motivation and gives you a sense of comradery.
From a practical sense it also forces you to schedule your group activity into your busy life. It is easy to see how your resolution to “have a walk everyday” can easily be lost in the blur of everything else you do. Having Tuesday 7-8pm netball training or Saturday 8-9am cycling club in your diary is a tangible commitment you’ve made to yourself and others that you will do what you have signed up for. Also knowing that your round of golf on Sunday morning or tennis match on Wednesday afternoon, will end with a smoothie with your teammates, can give you that extra little boost.
If the thought of joining a team or class after perhaps not being involved in organised sport since childhood may seem a little bit daunting to you, you are not alone. A refined search of “sports for beginners, adults” showed me lists of the best sports to try for the first time as an adult and classes designed for fitness and fun rather than competition.
One really good example of group fitness being completely free and accessible for all ages and ranges of ability is Parkrun. Started in London in 2004, Parkrun is now run at over 2,000 locations in 22 countries. Inclusivity is the focus with serious runners, joggers, pram walkers and wheelchair users taking part together, the only competition being your own previous times. Parkrun could be the perfect way to socialise and increase your movement at the same time, why not get a group together to give it a go? Your mind and body will thank you for it!