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5 reasons you should get active that have nothing to do with your "bikini body"

A satirical magazine cover of
We're often told to exercise in order to look good at the beach, but there are other reasons to move your body that sometimes get neglected in the conversation.

It’s that time of year again: magazine articles, TV panels and fitspo Instagram accounts are about to start pitching you ways to perfect your “bikini body” before summer hits.

To be honest, we don't really care what you look like in a bikini – in fact, we'd rather you wear a sun shirt at the beach to protect you from harmful ultraviolet radiation.

What we do care about is helping Queenslanders become healthier and happier. Getting enough physical activity is one of the best ways you can look after your health, but stats show that over half of us are not moving enough.

So, here are some of the reasons we think you should get active this winter (and the following spring, summer and beyond) that have nothing to do with how you look in your swimmers and everything to do with how healthy your body feels.

A satirical magazine cover of "Vague" magazine with articles quoted like "have you got the dreaded elbow shadow?" and "put weight on where you want

1. Being active can prevent some cancers

You probably know that smoking is linked to lung cancer and drinking too much alcohol might cause liver cancer, but did you know that being physically inactive can raise your risk of cancers like breast and bowel cancer?

Cancer Council recommends aiming for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week for good health, a message  which is backed up by the Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines. To reduce your cancer risk, more physical activity is better.

2. Physical activity makes you happier

Elle Woods (yep, it’s a Legally Blonde reference!) said it best: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.”

Exercise has proven benefits for your mental health. There are many reasons why exercise helps, including it may improve your mood, decrease stress, and help reduce symptoms of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.

While you might be tempted to stay cuddled up on the couch this winter to avoid the chill outside, getting active will warm up your body and help ward off cases of the ‘winter blues’.

3. “Move it or lose it” is an actual thing

It was once thought that conditions that affect the muscles, bones and joints, like osteoarthritis, were an inevitable part of getting older. But, while your muscles, bones and joints will change while you age, we now know that being physically active may help manage many of these conditions by improving quality of life and physical function.

To maintain as much mobility and strength in your body as possible, you’ll want to do a variety of types of activity. Make sure you vary your weekly workouts to include muscle strengthening activities, aerobic exercise, stretching and balance activities. You can read more about physical activity and ageing on the Better Health Channel website.

4. Physical activity helps you manage your waistline and weight better

Abdominal fat can interfere with your overall health more than fat on other parts of your body, which makes your waistline measurement a good indicator of your future wellbeing.

For women, if your waist measures more than 80cm around, you have an increased risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and if it’s more than 88cm, your risk is deemed ‘greatly increased’. These numbers are a bit higher for men, at 94cm and 102cm.

Visit the Australian Department of Health’s Healthy Weight Guide for more information on getting active to reduce your waistline measurement and achieve and maintain a healthier weight.

5. Exercise makes your brain grow

The hippocampus is a small organ located inside the brain. It might be tiny, but it’s a really important part of your brain, playing a role in memory formation and spatial skills.

Early studies show that regular aerobic exercise might increase blood flow to the brain and stimulate growth in areas like the hippocampus, which may help with preventing or lessening the effects of neurodegenerative diseases like dementia.

A woman stands facing the beach wearing a long-sleeved cotton button up shirt and a large hat.

So, what are your goals?

Now that you’re feeling inspired, it’s time to set some goals for getting active. Follow this Healthier. Happier. guide to setting smart goals that will keep you moving and motivated.

And remember: if your aim is to look great in your sun shirt, hat, sunnies and sunscreen at the beach this summer, that’s great. But health and appearance are two different things, and getting active is about more than how you look. Think about setting some goals about how you want to feel and the things you want to be able to do, too.

If you haven’t done much exercise before, don’t stress. It’s never too late to start moving your body more. Remember to start slowly, and if you are new to physical activity, have a health problem or are concerned about the safety of being (more) active, speak with your doctor or health professional about the most suitable activities for you.  

More info on how to get moving

Follow the links below for resources that will help you make physical activity a regular part of your life.

Healthier. Happier. – resources to help you get moving and eat healthily

Get Healthy – a free personal health coaching service

Healthy Weight Guide – a program that allows you to plan, track and achieve your health goals

Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines – the official word on how much physical activity Australians should be aiming for

Last updated: 11 June 2019