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Australians need to pedal harder to meet WHO physical activity guidelines

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released new physical activity guidelines and experts say that most Australians are falling short of the targets.

The new guidelines include an increase in the recommended amount of exercise we should undertake each week, including more strength and resistance training such as push-ups or squats (or riding a bike up hill).

WHO recommends that adults should engage in between 150-300 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week or between 70-150 minutes of higher intensity physical activity.

That works out to be roughly 30-40 minutes of exercise each day for adults with a mix of exercise that gets your heart rate up and your chest puffing.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that under the updated guidelines, 85 per cent of adults and 80 per cent of children do not meet their respective suggested targets to maintain their health and happiness.

Granted, the past year has been hard for everybody and with many Australians working from home, many may have fallen behind on their exercise routine or failed to reach their New Year exercise goals.

However, as Australia rebounds from COVID-19, it presents the perfect opportunity to create new healthy habits and one of the best ways to reach the recommended physical activity targets is by riding your bike.

At the height of lockdowns, we saw people of all ages jump on their bikes and get pedalling to ward off boredom, experience some freedom and keep active. Now’s a great time to make sure Australia’s new love affair with the bike continues.

Swapping out inactive transport modes like car travel for the bike is an easy way to get your daily dose of exercise and society gets the added benefit of less carbon emissions and traffic on the roads. 

Bicycle Network General Manager of Commercial and avid bike commuter, Glen Janetzki, says that starting slow is key to get a taste for the joy and benefits of active commuting.

“With Victorians allowed back in the office at 25 per cent capacity and many Australian’s heading back part-time, why not try riding on those one or two days a week and build it up from there,” said Mr Janetzki

“As we start to spend more days in the office, you can increase the number of days you ride to work until bike riding is integrated in your routine and you are reaching the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity is a part of everyday life.”

For some who live far from work it is not viable to ride a bike the whole way but Mr Janetzki has a solution.

“Remember that part way is ok, you can ride to the train station and lock your bike a Parkiteer cage or drive half way with your bike in the boot to a safe bike trail and ride the rest,” said Mr Janetzki.

Check out our website more tips and resources to help plan your routes, prep your bike and reach your physical activity goals.

This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.

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