Get exercising or ready to get sick 

IF you cannot make time for exercise, you better make time for getting sick.

That is the message from Hunter exercise experts who want people to focus less on weight loss and more on their fitness.

University of Newcastle researchers have said there is a fitness crisis in the region, with too few residents doing an adequate amount of exercise.

Dr Ben Ewald from the School of Medicine and Public Health said people with good fitness not only reduced their risk of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease but also protected themselves against colds, flus, infections and mental illness.

Under national guidelines people should do at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day.

Dr Ewald and his team are expanding a trial looking at the impact of medical exercise specialists on fitness.

As part of the trial, participants who do insufficient exercise will be coached by exercise physiologists – medical professionals who specialise in exercise – following a referral from their general practitioner.

Participants’ physical activity levels will then be tracked using pedometers and other  equipment both before and after seeing an exercise physiologist.

‘‘We think if we can show a big benefit of seeing an exercise physiologist, that’s a strong argument for expanding the Medicare funding of this service,’’ Dr Ewald said.

Newcastle exercise physiologist Zeon Bagnall has been part of the trial.

He said the biggest reason clients gave for not exercising was insufficient time.

‘‘If you haven’t got time to move then you better have time to be ill,’’ he said.

‘‘We get people in who are pre-diabetic – they just don’t take diabetes seriously.’’

The trial has been running this year through a total of 27 Newcastle general practices, with 150 patients taking part, and is open for more practices to join.

The project is free and accessible through participating surgeries.

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