Healthy Habits: Small Steps To Staying Active

The benefits of physical activity are undeniable, yet many of us still struggle to find the time and motivation to incorporate exercise into our busy routines. Even as a nation known for its love of sports, less than a third of Australians reach the minimum recommended activity levels for maintaining physical and mental health, as well as preventing chronic diseases caused by sedentary lifestyles. Hitting the gym or joining a local sports team are perfect choices to get moving, but there’s plenty of ways to incorporate sustainable physical activity throughout the day. The list below outlines the low-hanging fruit for incremental improvement for health and happiness through movement;

Feet First
When it comes to low-effort, low-impact, low-cost activity – walking is hard to beat. There’s no better way to get the blood flowing and the heart beating than a brisk walk, and everyday is full of opportunities to up your step count. Starting in the morning – you could opt to jump off the train one stop early, or park your car a few minutes from the office to easily fit in a pre-work stroll. Taking the stairs as much as possible and putting your runners on for an active lunchtime are also simple ways of destroying desk-induced sluggishness. If you want to get even more physical bang for your buck, try out a ‘walk and talk’ meeting for your next work-related phone call – you might as well chew the fat while you’re burning it.

Burn Breaks
Long periods of stationary sitting aren’t good for your health, or part of an active lifestyle, so why not split them up with bursts of movement at regular intervals? If you don’t have access to standing desk, all you need to do is set a timer for 30-45 minutes increments as a reminder to stretch your legs and do some light activity. Some basic stretches, a walk to the water cooler, or even a few squats (without scaring your colleagues) adds a bonus calorie burn to your breaks and gives you a burst of energy for the next work session. The same rules apply for watching TV at the end of the day; ad-breaks make a perfect opportunity to jump off the couch for a quick set of push-ups, sit-ups or burpees.

Friendly Competition
There are few things more motivating than pitting yourself against others in a physical challenge. It doesn’t have to be serious, even a light-hearted competition between co-workers or friends can provide a real boost for achieving your daily activity goals with a social twist. If you have a pedometer, fitbit or health app on your phone – you can track your steps and compete with others to see who can reach the chosen step count first or who takes the most steps in a day. A little healthy competition never hurt anyone, and if the game is movement – everybody wins just by playing.

Get Creative
Once you’ve started to build in a few – or all – of these active habits into your day-to-day life, you’ll begin to see even more chances to squeeze in some extra movement. And when it comes to health and fitness, remember that small steps can lead to big benefits in the long run.

2019 Australian Sporting Participation Snapshot

Australia is a nation defined by active lifestyles and sporting endeavours, with our love for physical pursuits spanning all ages and demographics. Thankfully for brands in the sector, Sport Aus has recently released their national participation data to shed light on the most popular forms of sporting and non-sporting activities across key demographic groups. The AusPlay Report, based on a population-tracking survey conducted by the Australian Sports Commision, is the largest of its kind with over 20,000 people contributing to the research. The participation estimates compare statistics across the 2016/2017/2018 calendar years, providing insights into where Australians are spending their active time and sporting goods dollars. In order to give our members a deeper understanding of the evolving trends in physical participation, we’ve summarised the top-line takeaways of the report below.

ADULTS (15+)

As the results indicate, the top 5 physical activities participated in by Australian adults are; walking (43.7%), Gym (32.7%), swimming (14.7%), jogging (15.7%) and cycling (11.8%). Continuing the historical trend, recreational walking remains the most popular practice for maintaining fitness, with over 9.1 million Australians throwing on their runners and undertaking vigorous strolls as their primary form of exercise. There also appears to be significant growth in the attendance of adults to gyms, health clubs  and fitness classes, rising from approximately 6.5 million in 2016 to 7.1 million participants in 2018.

It’s also worth noting that all of the top 5 are primarily undertaken individually, indicating a broad preference of Australian adults for solo participation, as opposed to team sports. A slight decrease is apparent in the participation rates for Soccer (-0.9%), Netball (-0.5%) and Cricket (-0.3%) over the 3-year period, however the data also indicated an increase of around 85,000 people – aged 15 and over – taking part in Australian Rules Football (+0.4%).

CHILDREN (0-14)

According the the AusPlay Report, the most popular organised activity for children  – outside of school hours – is Swimming. Increasing by more than 4% since 2016, over one third of all Australian children are now reported to hit the pool on a regular basis (34.5%). The specific Swimming statistics (here), also included as part of the broader Ausplay research, made note that the participation rates for children’s organised out-of-school Swimming peaked between the ages of 5-8 and participation decreased significantly with those aged 12-14.

Making up the rest of the Top 5 activities for Australian children are Soccer (14.6%), Dancing (10.1%), Gymnastics (10.1%) and Australian Rules Football (8.15%). The data also highlighted the important distinction between genders with regard to activity preference, with boys more likely to play overtly team sports (Soccer, AFL, Cricket and Basketball) and girls more likely to participate in less team-oriented endeavours (Dancing and Gymnastics).

The findings of the report reflect Australia’s identity as a great sporting nation, and the continued growth in overall participation rates is a positive sign for our thriving sports industry. ASGA is proud to play a role in promoting participation in a diverse range of physical activities and their broad benefits for all active Australians, and we thank the ASC for their invaluable study of the sector.

To learn more about 2019 AusPlay Research, please follow the links below :

http://static.ausport.gov.au/ausplay/report_April_2019/