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Get active and get healthy!

There's no doubt farming is a psychologically and physically demanding role, so it's important to look after your health to ensure the viability of your business.

The benefits of an active lifestyle are well documented: reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Physical activity can also reduce blood pressure, is good for mental health by improving concentration, ability to learn and improve sleep patterns, as well as reduced feelings of depression and anxiety to the extent, in some cases, being active works as well as medication.

As we get older, it is important to do a little bit more to keep fit and maintain strength and flexibility to be able to get the job done without hurting ourselves. Even a 20-minute walk or light exercise that brings up your heart rate a few times a week is beneficial. Try wearing a personal monitor to check how many steps you take in a day. Around 10,000 steps is the recommended daily goal for a healthy adult. Walking or riding to check on stock or other chores, instead of using vehicles, can put more activity in your day too, as can thirty minutes with the children kicking a ball or playing hide and seek after dinner.

Some farming tasks such as tractor driving require sitting for 10 to 12 hours per day. Our bodies are made to move - so regular breaks to move around are important. Don't jump in too quickly however - if you are over 35, have a pre-existing illness or haven't done much physical activity for a while, it's a good idea to have a medical check-up before undertaking vigorous exercise.

If your property is not close to recreational services or activities, you can get inspiration from online programs. Some are geared towards the farming community where you can use props around the yard and do your own workout or join a group and exercise outdoors.

People who do make the extra effort to look after their fitness appreciate both the physical and mental stimulation. Here are some anecdotes from Active Farmers, a registered not for profit organisation and health promotion charity operating in rural areas:

"I really enjoy it because it's a good workout and catch up with my local mates. It's also a great excuse to leave the office and the farm and commit myself to do some exercise, which in turn strengthens my out of nick body against a few old footy injuries and gets the endorphins going for a better mental frame of mind."

"I enjoy the fitness and strength that comes with any exercise. It gives you confidence and a stronger mental attitude to cope with decision making and well-being."

"Busy times like planting and harvesting are the hardest to stay motivated. I like early morning classes because of the positive effect it has on the rest of the day."

The National Centre for Farmer Health website has short videos of exercises that can maintain strength and flexibility. The Queensland Health site also has workouts that you can follow that are under 10 minutes long and Active Farmers is at www.activefarmers.com.au