Creating healthy habits is all in Carol's stride
CAROL Archer has never been a slouch when it comes to health and fitness, with a background in pilates and exercise for women.
But at 60, and having retired about 18 months ago, she became determined not to become inactive, in fact, to become more active than ever. That's where Toowoomba Council's free four-week Healthy Habits program came in.
Part of the Change Project, and run in partnership with Willows Heath and Lifestyle, it offers residents online challenges and easy tips to improve their health and well-being. Figures show that almost half of Australian adults do not participate in sufficient physical activity.
The project began on November 14, and after just one week Carol had already begun integrating aspects of the program into her daily life.
Over the past year, she had begun doing more dance, tennis, tried croquet and discovered the joys of walking, which led to adventures including her first wilderness hike in Tasmania.
However, Healthy Habits starts by asking participants what health and well-being means to them as an individual and goes on from that point. There is information which makes you aware of your habits and tips and ideas on how you can change.
Ideally, she says, the program allows you to change one small thing at a time so that you don't become overwhelmed.
"I think there's something in Healthy Habits for everyone," Carol said. For instance, she was already walking a short distance, but has now added some vigorous walking to that - not too hard with Toowoomba's hills! Her 10-minute walk has turned into an hour and she now walks to the shop instead of driving. She's also realised it's important to add in relaxation and stretching sessions.
"I love being active, but I need to give my body time to recover as well, so I'm choosing to take time out every day just to breathe, out in a beautiful spot, or to put on some music at home and stop and breathe. It's about awareness."
Carol has also found that using a step monitor and the program's tracking system has made her more mindful of her activities, so that she now chooses to go for a walk in a beautiful place rather than sitting on the couch.
She has also altered her sleep patterns, choosing to turn off the computer screen at 7.30pm and going to bed at 9-10pm after reading a book to relax.
In the past, she admits she could be on the computer until midnight and her brain still buzzing at 3am.
"I find I sleep really well and wake energised and looking forward to what I'm doing that day," Carol said.
"That's what is wonderful about the Healthy Habits program, that it helps create lifelong habits.
"The key thing is it isn't about fitness or going to a gym or exercise classes; it's about moving more and recognising movement is exercise and doing it your own way."
After her second week, Carol did another review of the program, finding she was sticking with the changes she had made to her habits and was feeling better for it, both mentally and physically. She is now craving her afternoon walks, finds she returns with a clear mind and a smile, and that it is easier to be active throughout the entire day.
"If we address our health and move in ways appropriate for our bodies, we can be healthy and active for life, no matter what part of life we are in," Carol said.
If you'd like to follow Carol's journey, you can find her Wise Women page, celebrating women being healthy and active for life, through and beyond menopause at https://www.facebook.com/carol.archer.393.
For information on the next Healthy Habits program, call 131 872.