Health Movement Phoenix Health Fund

With winter behind us and the days getting longer, now is the perfect time to get outdoors and get moving. If the Vitamin D boost and feel-good endorphins aren’t enough motivation, perhaps the health benefits of exercise like reduced risk of stroke, heart disease and other chronic conditions including Type 2 Diabetes might have you heading for the door.

Even gentle exercise can improve your cardiovascular fitness, bone and muscle strength, balance and help you maintain a healthy body weight. Exercising with a friend or family member can help keep you accountable and there’s plenty of ways to exercise that still allow for a social chat. Here’s four ideas for inspiration and where you can do them in Newcastle:

1. Ride a bike

Cycling can be exercise, transport or both. With more daylight hours and less chance of rain, cycling to work or your weekend brunch catch-up will add some incidental exercise into your day. It’s also a good way to maintain a healthy body weight with research suggesting cycling burns around 300 calories per hour.

Plus, with services like Swipe N Ride or Bykko available around Newcastle you don’t have to have your own bike to get started!

2. Take a walk

The Heart Foundation refers to walking as ‘the wonder drug’ and with benefits like a 30-40% less risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes coming with just 30 minutes each day it’s easy to see why.

Walking has also been shown to improve learning and memory skills and promote positive mental health and wellbeing. It can also improve self-esteem, mood and sleep quality and reduce stress, anxiety and fatigue.

National Parks are great for walking tracks and a quick Google will usually provide some local options and maps. Your local council will also often have walking tracks on their website for your local area.

3. Try stand up paddle boarding

Stand up paddle boarding (or SUP) provides a low impact, full body workout that will reduce stress levels by providing a great environment for meditation.

As you try and stabilise yourself, you will find yourself engaging your core muscles as well as using your back, shoulder and arm muscles to propel yourself forwards. Being low impact it’s great for people recovering from injury. Not to mention its great fun and an easy way to enjoy Lake Macquarie and the beaches around Newcastle.

Here’s a few places around Newcastle that you can hire a stand-up paddle board:

4. Plant a veggie garden

Depending on the size of your garden, maintaining it can be a great way to stay active at home. Spring is a great time to sow a wide range of fruits and vegetables including cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce that can be used in everyday cooking.

Gardening also offers mental health benefits and is a great way to unwind and get away from the busyness of everyday life and engage with nature.

Planting a veggie garden can provide you and your family with a healthy source of inexpensive food and teach kids about foods and its origins. Evidence even suggests that fussy eaters may be more keen to try foods that they’ve helped to grow.

For tips about what to grow when, check out the ABC’s Vegie Guide.

Play it safe

We might not be talking about extreme sports but it’s still important to take a few precautions to ensure a successful day out. Set your own pace, especially if you’re trying something new or it’s been a while since you’ve exercised, take note of the weather forecast, drink plenty of water and don’t forget the sunscreen. We also recommend consulting your health care professional before starting any new exercise regime.

Sources: everdayhealth.com, Better Health Victoria (cycling and walking), airhead.com and Queensland Health.

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