A stroll a day keeps the doctor away

Everyone extols the virtues of exercise and physical activity. The World Health Organisation recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigourous physical activity, for adults aged 18 to 64 years. But what are the real benefits of all that physical activity?

As it turns out, a number of studies report mental health benefits from workplace exercise intervention. Job performance and mood was better on days when employees exercised than on days when they did not, in a study of 201 office workers (Coulson & McKenna, 2008) published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management.

Significant improvements in stress levels, depression and anxiety scores, and physical health were observed for 73 employees who completed a brief 24-week workplace intervention involving both aerobic and weight-training exercise, compared to a waitlist control group (Atlantis, Chow, Kirby, & Singh, 2004).

Improved mood and physical health, greater job satisfaction, and fewer days of absence from work were observed for workers with corporate health and fitness club membership, compared to non-member workers from the same worksite (Daley & Parfitt, 2011).

A recent meta-analysis of 15 studies by Parks and Steelman (2008) has also demonstrated fewer days of absenteeism and better job satisfaction for employees with a corporate workplace wellness programme compared to control groups. Although comprehensive programmes comprising fitness and education about nutrition and/or stress management were implemented in 5 of the 15 studies, benefits were experienced across both comprehensive and fitness- or education-only programmes.

Exercise has also been shown to help individuals with depression. As Craft and Perner (2004) report, a meta-analysis of 80 empirical studies revealed significant improvement in depression scores for those recruited into an exercise intervention compared to controls (North, McCullagh, & Tran, 1990), even when depression was the primary not secondary medical condition (Craft & Landers, 1998) and when only randomized controlled studies were examined (Lawlor & Hopker, 2001).

So now that you’re convinced that exercise improves your quality of life and mental wellbeing, here are a few ideas…

Walking & Nature Trails:

Outdoor activities:

Indoor activities:

Social Dance:

Dance Fitness:

Martial Arts:



Finding a gym:




Kayaking, canoeing & dragonboating:




Climbing & Bouldering:

And if you’re bored with the white-capped munias, pacific swallows, the families of long-tailed macaque monkeys, wild mushrooms and fungi, archduke butterflies and squirrels you get from strolls the Lower Peirce and Macritchie reservoir, you can try this kind of stroll!

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