The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Front Page -

Are you one of more than nine mil­lion Aus­tralians not do­ing any phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity? And of those mil­lions of in­ac­tive Aus­tralians, re­search con­ducted by Med­ibank also shows 51 per cent of those peo­ple have not ex­er­cised in the past three months.

In re­sponse, the health fund has com­mit­ted to mak­ing free so­cial ac­tiv­ity ac­ces­si­ble to 1.5 mil­lion Aus­tralians by 2022.

Health guru Michelle Bridges, who has signed on as am­bas­sador for the Free and Ac­tive project, said she was sad­dened by the re­search’s find­ings.

“In a way I am shocked,” the 46-year-old said. “It makes me sad. “I see the other side of it. I see peo­ple get a bit of ac­tiv­ity in their life and sud­denly their view of life changes.

“I watch it all the time, men and women are changing their life through ex­er­cise.”

Bridges be­gan her ca­reer in fit­ness train­ing as an 18-year-old and has cre­ated a health em­pire in fit­ness cloth­ing, train­ing pro­grams, books and reg­u­lar me­dia ap­pear­ances.

She also jug­gles a hec­tic home life with Steve ‘The Com­mando’ Wil­lis.

The cou­ple met on the set of tele­vi­sion show where they were both train­ers.

Bridges’ son, Axel, with Wil­lis, is one year old, and Wil­lis also has three chil­dren from a prior mar­riage.

The fit­ness trainer said she un­der­stood how busy mums were, and for­ward plan­ning was key to start­ing and con­tin­u­ing an ex­er­cise reg­i­men.

“You’re ac­tu­ally look­ing af­ter your­self (by ex­er­cis­ing),” she said.

“Ev­ery­one is get­ting the best ver­sion of you.

“You’re look­ing af­ter your­self, the ben­e­fits are in­cred­i­ble and the men­tal ben­e­fits of it are amaz­ing.”

She said the first part of the Med­ibank health project will roll out 40 more parkruns across the coun­try, start­ing in Vic­to­ria.

The first Queens­land parkrun of the project will start in Bris­bane.

Parkruns are fam­ily-friendly and free 5km timed cour­ses done at the same time weekly. Par­tic­i­pants can run, walk or push a pram around the cour­ses.

The health fund’s re­search also found that two in ev­ery three Aus­tralians now ex­pe­ri­ence so­cial iso­la­tion, and Bridges said the reg­u­lar­ity of the parkruns meant it was eas­ier to make con­nec­tions and friend­ships in the com­mu­nity.

“Same bat time, same bat chan­nel is an­other im­por­tant as­pect,” she said.

“It en­cour­ages peo­ple into a habit or groove.

“You can meet like-minded peo­ple, it en­cour­ages you in a pos­i­tive way … it re­ally reaches out to our com­mu­ni­ties.”

The project will also of­fer a num­ber of men­tal health pro­grams, along with ex­er­cise.

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