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Health & Wellbeing

10 exercises to improve your body and mind

Whether you’re after the physical or mental health benefits of exercise - or both, there's an activity for everyone. Weight loss coach Andrew Cate gives us his 10 picks of the best exercises for body and mind. 

1. Bushwalking

Body - Firms and tones the major muscle groups in your thighs, calves and buttocks. The hills and uneven terrain adds intensity which accelerates kilojoule and fat burning. 

Mind - Spending time in bushlands and national parks with trees, water, sunshine and bird life can all have a calming effect, helping to ease stress.

2. Stand up Paddling

Body - The paddling motion strengthens the upper body muscles, and is especially good at targeting the abdominal core.

Mind - The regular swapping of paddling sides reduces the physical intensity, but makes it a more relaxing workout. Whether you are on a lake or the ocean, take in the scenery and feel your worries melt away.

3. Swimming

Body - Improves cardiovascular fitness and all-over muscle tone without impact on the joints. Include fast laps and intervals to maximise fat burning.

Mind - The rhythmic movement and focus on breathing can be quite hypnotic, helping to drown out stressful thoughts. Exercising in water can also trigger a unique feeling of refreshment and vitality afterwards.

4. Gardening

Body - A light form of activity that develops muscular strength and cardiovascular fitness. Perform each gardening tasks vigorously to maximise fat and kilojoule burning.

Mind - Gardening has a calming effect which helps to relieve tension and distract your mind of other worries. The exposure to fresh air and natural sunlight can also elevate mood. You can almost think of it as "ecotherapy".

5. Cycling

Body - A gentle on your joints activity that tones your thighs, calf and buttocks while burning fat and kilojoules. Duration and intensity can be adjusted to suit all ages and fitness levels.

Mind - The rhythmic movement can distract your mind from cares or worries, while you take in more sights and scenery than virtually any other type of exercise.

6. Tennis

Body - A fun and social activity that offers a good, whole body workout. The unique lateral movements target the inner and out thigh more than most other activities. 

Mind - A good stress reliever. Smashing that little green ball all around the court offers a good outlet for any pent up anger and frustration.

7. Yoga

Body - A diverse series of movements and poses designed to stretch and strengthen the whole body. Look for the types of yoga that focus more on stretching to boost flexibility.

Mind - The movements in yoga are slow, calm and controlled. It is the ultimate mind body exercise, with the focus on breathing and posture giving it meditative-style qualities. 

8. Tai chi

Body - Martial arts actions performed in slow motion, gently working the body through its full range of motion. Good for strength, flexibility and circulation.

Mind - The inner focus on deep breathing, balance, form and movement control makes Tai Chi world renowned for its calming influence on the mind.

9. Running

Body - An intense activity for lower body toning, cardiovascular endurance and significant fat burning. The impact is also good for bone density and strength.

Mind - Extended training runs can trigger feelings of pleasantness, stress reduction, mood elevation and inner harmony that is sometimes referred to the runners high.

10. Resistance training

Body - Using various forms of resistance such as body weight or dumbbells, this is the best way to develop muscular strength, power and tone. It’s also great for flexibility and fat burning.

Mind - A stronger body and improved energy levels may help to improve general self-esteem and physical self-worth.

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