READ - Sustainability – what is the solution?

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Your advice today is coming from Michael Goldman. Michael Goldman is Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Diabetes Victoria. You can follow him on Twitter @MGoldman. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog are his own.

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What happens at the end of an 8 week boot camp? You’ve been getting up at 6am every day for your morning session, eating well, avoiding temptation and haven’t had an alcoholic drink in weeks. You have been working hard and it’s paying off. But as boot camp draws to a close, can you sustain the results?

This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. Last year, Michelle Bridges’ 12 week body transformation program saw hundreds of thousands of Australians pass through it – a staggering 40,000 every 12 weeks. Since the program began in 2011 she has helped Australians lose over 2 million kilos in total. Don’t get me wrong – this is no mean feat; she has helped thousands of people become health conscious – to eat well and to exercise regularly. My major concern is, what happens after the program has finished? Is the ‘boot camp’ mentality effective in the long-run?

With this in mind I conducted some research, I looked to see what offerings are available to help people maintain their fitness/healthy lifestyle at the conclusion of ‘short burst’ programs (both fitness and post-boot camp programs). The results were, as I expected, dire. There are plenty of short-term intense fitness programs, but very few designed to help people sustain long term healthy changes.

My research also looked at the increasing popularity of ‘Fitbits‘ – activity trackers such as wristbands that allow you to monitor exercise, eating, sleep and general health habits. Fitbit technology empowers users to be accountable for their exercise output – in the same way a boot camp instructor might be.

My friends and colleagues who own a Fitbit have become engrossed in their own statistics, have they walked enough steps for the day? Did they get enough sleep last night? When the answer is ‘no’, many feel and overwhelming sense of disappointment and seek to make up for it the next day – fantastic! Instilling this kind of thought process around exercise helps to maintain motivation and set realistic targets. Sustainable, for them – absolutely. For the ‘health unaware’, I’m not so sure.

As my research concluded, the most interesting ‘long term health solution’ I unearthed came directly from Diabetes Australia Ambassador, Guy Leech, and his ‘First Step’ program. The program is designed to change habits and behaviours, for good. Guy’s 8 week program is complimented by Dr Andrew Rochford’s (another Diabetes Australia Ambassador) new, yet to be released, e-health initiative. The combination shows amazing promise and in my opinion could be the first, real long-term solution for sustainable healthy lifestyle change.

I’d love to know what you think about sustainable fitness and how you keep fit & healthy, please share your feedback with me in the comments below.

Bryce FinckComment