Spring is the best time of the year -- blue skies, fresh air and sunshine inviting people outside.
Local parks and recreation areas are starting to get busy with people throwing basking in the sunshine to enjoy the beautiful days.
Everyone -- old, young, parents, children and fitness enthusiasts -- enjoying exercising at their own pace and in their own way. Walking, jogging, pushing prams and riding bikes.
So, why are there constant awareness campaigns highlighting the need for increased activity based on research showing the majority of Australians are obese and lead sedentary lifestyles?
There must be many more people who remain unseen but could be out and about doing even the mildest form of exercise to keep them fit and healthy.
But why is it such a problem when the solution would appear simple and why are women the main culprits?
It is an unfortunate statistic that more than 66 per cent of Australian females are classified as being sedentary or having low levels of physical activity.
A new major initiative launched last month by VicHealth titled ‘Changing the Game: Increasing female participation in sport’ is looking to address this issue.
The program’s key objectives are to get 25,000 females across Victoria to become physically active in some form, during the next two years.
To achieve this, VicHealth is providing $1.8 million to six sporting organisations that will work through their own targeted programs to achieve these objectives.
In launching the program, the Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy stated, ”We need to do more to encourage girls and women to play sport and these projects will provide women with fun, flexible and social opportunities to be more active.”
The brief for the selected sporting bodies is to offer women a way of becoming physically active through less onerous methods than structured competitive sports. It also aims to make it more about health and fitness to avert the possible outcomes of obesity, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and mental health issues.
Group fitness sessions drawing on AFL specific skills, beginner spin cycle classes preparing women for independent bike riding and movement classes building and establishing strength and flexibility are examples of some of the programs being offered by the six organisations.
VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter believes it’s about getting the health benefit for those women that are inactive.
“We know that they’re going to fall behind in terms of health status either in life now or later,” Rechter said.
Campaigns like this are becoming popular around the world. In the UK, the ‘This Girl Can’ phenomenon has taken off through social media as has the hashtag ‘WomenInSport’.
As Jerril Rechter points out: “There’s a whole lot of factors that lead to women stopping their participation in regular physical activity … and it’s not just one thing -- it’s a multitude of things.”
She adds that for these sports to be able to target their offerings to women, they need to: be held at a time and place that suits them; act as a unique motivator; be about health, fitness and being social -- rather than just the competitive nature of sport.