Fit, healthy and keeping up with 40-year-olds

When 78-year-old Stuart Kennedy doubled his activity levels over a decade ago, he quickly reaped the rewards.

As well as losing 25 kilograms off his 120 kilogram frame, the Fairy Meadow man was eventually able to come off medication for high blood pressure while his previously high cholesterol levels also normalised.

Today the great-grandfather reckons he can keep up with those half his age, thanks to his regular training sessions with Wollongong fitness trainer Max Lemme.

‘‘I feel fantastic – I’m fit and healthy and can keep up with 40-year-olds,’’ Mr Kennedy said. ‘‘It wasn’t always that way – I started training with Max 14 years ago and can now do things I couldn’t have ever dreamed of doing at 78.’’

Those behind new physical activity recommendations out this month are now urging all Australians to double their efforts.

Sports Medicine Australia has increased the recommended amount of activity adults should be completing per week from 150 minutes to between 150 and 300 minutes.

The new upper recommendation of 300 minutes is double the previous Australian and current international guideline recommendation of at least 150 minutes of activity per week.

Lead author of the new guidelines, Sports Medicine Australia board member Professor Wendy Brown, said the guidelines were a wake-up call for Australians.

‘‘We want all Australian adults to be aware of the updated guidelines and assess how much moderate physical activity they do on average in a week,’’ Professor Brown said.

‘‘...In Australia, obesity is now contributing more than any other factor to the burden of disease.

‘‘If we’re going to be serious about fighting obesity Australian adults need to aim for that upper recommendation.’’

Professor Brown said those meeting the previous guideline of 150 minutes per week, should be looking at increasing that to up to 300 minutes per week. Those not meeting 150 minutes, should take note of the new guidelines and try and gradually increase their activity levels.

Wollongong fitness trainer Max Lemme supports the call for Australians to move more, something he encourages his clients to do daily at The Warehouse in Atchison Street.

‘‘Twenty minutes a day is not enough – I require my clients to move for one hour a day, six to seven days a week,’’ he said.

‘‘That might include working out at the gym or with a personal trainer but it also might be just going for a walk after dinner or riding your bike home from work.

‘‘We try and encourage people to do things that they enjoy – whether that’s a gym session or bushwalking or a swim at the beach or taking the kids for a bike ride.

‘‘It’s just about getting yourself moving,’’ Mr Lemme said.

He said while getting the recommended amount of activity could be hard for some – especially those tied to their desk for several hours a day – but it should be a priority.

‘‘You can split that 45 or 60 minutes of activity a day into smaller sessions – it doesn’t have to be done all in one go,’’ he said.

‘‘Go for a walk on your lunch break and make sure you stand up at least every 20 minutes and stretch or go get a glass of water.’’

Mr Lemme recommended people mix cardiovascular work with strength training to boost their physical – and mental – health.

As for Mr Kennedy, well, he’s enjoying a new lease on life. 

‘‘I’m now able to enjoy all the things I love while I still can without any health issues holding me back.’’

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