Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) is urging all Australians to actively reconnect with someone they have lost touch with in support of suicide prevention for R U OK? Day on Thursday 8th September.
The national suicide prevention campaign R U OK? Day is a reminder for all Australians to make more time for the people in their lives who matter most and in the process help create a more connected world for all of us.
Anita Hobson-Powell, Chief Executive Officer of Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA), suggests that reconnecting over physical activity could be a great excuse to catch-up with those you may have lost touch with and ask that all important question – R U OK?
'Whether it's kicking a football around or just taking a walk outside, physical activity is a great excuse to connect with friends, and could make more of a difference than you know", says Ms Hobson-Powell.
'Over the past few decades, a range of studies have demonstrated that regular physical activity is associated with better mental health and emotional wellbeing", explains Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Exercise Right spokesperson, Alex Lawrence. 'For conditions like anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, exercise has been shown to reduce symptoms and improve the mood of patients." Mr Lawrence said exercise did not necessarily need to be strenuous to provide a benefit, with something as simple as a brisk walk each day able to make a difference.
'A walk outdoors is an easy way to get together with loved ones and ask that all important question – R U OK? It's also a healthy and social activity with vast benefits, both mentally and physically" says Ms Hobson-Powell. "We hope reconnecting in an active way will reinforce the positive role that family, friends and neighbours can play in one another's wellbeing." 'We also hope that encouraging people to connect actively on R U OK? Day will ensure more people are committed to being there for one another when times get tough."
Exercise Right's top 6 ways to reconnect for R U OK? Day
1. Take a yoga & meditation class together: We live in a society where there is so much external stimulus and noise that it can be really beneficial to take some time out. Meditation is a way to allow people to focus on the present.
2. Hit the local trails for a bushwalk: Bush walking and walking in general is a low cost, and highly accessible activity that most people can engage with. It is also an activity that you are able to have a great deal of control over: you choose how hard/fast you walk, and you can easily engage in conversation while working up a slight sweat. Studies have shown that people can achieve improvements in their blood pressure walking as little as 20 minutes per day.
3. Bouncing at a trampoline park: Trampoline parks have gained popularity in recent years, and have started popping up in most major cities. Bouncing is a fun and non-traditional way to work up a sweat. In addition to improvements in cardiovascular fitness, the unpredictable nature of trampolining is great for improving co-ordination and agility.
4. Strike up a conversation at the bowling alley: One of the benefits of bowling is that the fundamental skills are easy to learn and the activity is really adaptable, meaning that almost anyone can get involved. Bowling is a great activity for building long lasting social relationships.
5. A friendly game of tennis: Depending on one's ability and goals, people can play tennis just for fun or challenge themselves with the more competitive nature of the sport. Tennis is a high impact sport, which can help promote bone health, as well as improve cardiovascular fitness and co-ordination. Just be careful to not overdo it when you're starting out, otherwise you're at an increased risk of developing an injury.
6. Take a trip down memory lane with a game of laser tag: If you and your friends are not necessarily interested in the more traditional activities, why not revisit your younger years and go for a game of laser tag? Having fun is the overall aim of the game, but with added health benefits, such as cardiovascular fitness and improve mental wellbeing.
For more information, visit ruok.org.au, or to get in touch with an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) who can create a customised exercise program for you and your family.
To find out more about exercise and mental health, please visit: www.exerciseright.com.au