One of the single most important things we can do to keep our hearts in great shape and prevent coronary diseases that put us at risk of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is fitness. Here are some easy steps to take to help improve your fitness and heart health every day.
Health and Fitness in Australia
Despite the great weather, beautiful natural surroundings and safe communities we’re blessed with in Australia, our physical activity levels (like in many developed countries) is far below where it should be. We need a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day – and we’re falling short.
- Physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death globally regarding non-communicable diseases (heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer).
- In Australia, the results of the 2017-18 Australian Bureau of Statistics’ National Health Survey revealed that 67% of adults were overweight or obese. More concerningly, 24.9% of children aged 5-17 were overweight and 17% were obese. Lack of physical activity is a key contributor to this critical health issue.
- One third of chronic disease burden due to physical inactivity is due to coronary heart disease, followed closely my dementia, diabetes, bowel cancer and stroke.
- The Australian Burden of Disease study showed that in 2011, just 30 minutes of exercise per day would decrease the burden of disease resulting from physical inactivity by 26%. Currently, 60% of Australian adults do less than 30 minutes of exercise per day, with almost 15% doing no exercise at all.
The most important factor here, more important than the burden these diseases place on the hospitals and emergency services in our country, is that these diseases can be effectively reduced just through physical activity alone. 30 minutes a day may save your life.
Ways to Fit Fitness into a Busy Life
Let’s be honest – some days are just too busy to fit in exercise even if you enjoy doing it. This is not about perfection and reaching a point where you’re out running marathons every weekend (although there’s nothing wrong with that!), it’s about living a healthier life by making small improvements that are manageable. Here’s some suggestions.
- Steps –Max out your steps by walking through the car park and shopping centre instead of parking right outside the shop, walk to a local shop for your coffee or lunch rather than driving, or make time to walk to and around your local park each day with the kids.
- Take the stairs – If you regularly use an elevator, take the stairs instead. A few flights of stairs a day not only burns calories effectively, it also strengthens and tones muscles.
- Take breaks – Sitting for hours on end in front of a computer isn’t good for your brain or your body, and regular breaks (for about 10 minutes each hour) actually makes you more productive as well as healthier, getting your blood pumping and oxygen flowing. Simply standing up and stretching, taking a short walk and breathing in some fresh air will help.
- Clean – Cleaning your home is a real, all-round workout that raises your heart beat, gets oxygen flowing and works out your muscles. It can burn as much as 200 calories an hour.
- Turn waiting into workouts – Stuck in traffic? Focus on tensing and holding your core muscles (pelvic floor, abs, and bum muscles, as well as thighs) for 30 seconds, then releasing before repeating.
- Turn your desk into a workout space – Sitting is one of the biggest contributors to poor health, causing neck and back pain, increasing obesity risks and more. You can replace your chair with a stability ball to help make sitting more active, or replace your desk with a sit-stand desk that lets you stand while working. You can then also do calf raises or flex your glutes while working.
- Adopt a dog – To get exercise, most of us need a bit of an incentive! A dog will need lots of exercise and remind you that it’s time to play or go for a walk. You can also walk dogs at shelters if you aren’t able to adopt.
Get Active and Help Keep Your Heart Healthy, Strong and Disease-Free
At DefibsPlus, we’re all about saving lives – making small changes such as keeping yourself healthy can help you and those around you. Consider taking a break now!