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  • Writer's pictureDr Sjaan Gomersall

Physical activity: how much is good for you and how much is enough?

We're so excited to have Dr Sjaan Gomersall help us delve into all things exercise and physical activity

When Sjaan isn’t at Inspire, she is an Associate Professor at The University of Queensland where she is a Principal Research Fellow and Associate Director of the Health and Wellbeing Centre for Research Innovation, a co-funded research centre with Health and Wellbeing Queensland (the state’s prevention and health promotion agency). Sjaan’s research expertise is in physical activity and health, trying to find new and innovative ways to get more people moving, more often. Sjaan is the incoming President of the International Society for Physical Activity and Health and a Consultant in Physical Activity for the World Health Organisation. A physiotherapist by training, Sjaan also teaches first year physiotherapy students at UQ. If you are interested in research, or becoming a physiotherapist, please come and have a chat!

 

It’s undeniable that regular physical activity is important for a healthy lifestyle. Engaging in regular physical activity can lower your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. It can also improve mental health and overall wellbeing by reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, improving sleep, and boosting cognitive function. When you find your ‘thing’ — exercise that makes you feel great and a space that feels like home - this can suddenly be a whole lot easier than it has been in the past!


But how much is enough? The World Health Organisation and the Australian Government Department of Health recommend 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity cardiovascular (or “cardio”) activity each week. This translates to about 30-60 minutes a day, five days a week. Activities such as brisk walking and cycling on flat terrain count as moderate-intensity exercises.


If you prefer more vigorous activities, like running, swimming laps, or playing singles tennis, 75-150 minutes a week is the recommended minimum. These activities increase your heart rate significantly and can provide the same health benefits in half the time. If you’re following all the cues (is anyone else hanging out for the 3, 2, 1 like me?), it’s pretty safe to say that InspireCycle and Box counts as vigorous!


In addition to cardio exercise, incorporating muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week is super important. Strength training helps maintain muscle mass, improve bone density, and boost metabolic rate. Exercises such as weight lifting, heavy climbs on the bike, resistance band workouts, or even body-weight exercises like push-ups and squats are effective. Like anything else though, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Just enough or too much look different on everyone, and it’s important to prevent overtraining, which means striking a balance between rest and recovery.


  • Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to signs of fatigue and adjust your training accordingly.

  • Incorporate Rest Days: Ensure regular rest days. I like to view think about these days as ‘relative’ rest days – rest doesn’t necessarily mean not moving at all, but light activities like stretching, yoga or a Hot Girl Walk on the river.

  • Vary Your Workouts: Mix different types of exercise to avoid repetitive strain on the same muscle groups. Remember to mix up your routine with InspireCycle Strength or Box to get in some strength training days.

  • Prioritise Nutrition: Maintain a balanced diet that supports your energy needs and promotes recovery.

  • Get Adequate Sleep: Ensure you're getting enough restorative sleep to help the body repair and regenerate.

  • Monitor Stress Levels: Manage overall stress through relaxation techniques, mindfulness and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.


Keep it simple; move your body most days, mix up the intensity and don’t forget to lift/push heavy things a couple of times a week! Most importantly, listen to your body with kindness, every day looks different and has different demands on our time and energy. Keep doing your best to balance all the things, it’s all anyone can ask – in the meantime, I’ll see you on the bike.



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