Fitness program helps farmers tackle their health

Community stories: 1 August 2018

Glen Innes is a small town in the Northern Tablelands of NSW, similar to many other rural farming communities enduring the unrelenting drought. GLENRAC, a local not for profit Landcare network, understands that the farming lifestyle often means that farming families do not have the time to engage in social activities as much as people who live and work in town. On top this, the impact of the drought means that this lack of time is exacerbated hugely, with farmers busy feeding their stock most days, and trying to maintain the rest of their farm in the remaining time.

The flow on effect of this is that often farmers in these communities neglect their own physical and mental wellbeing.

“We know that regardless of how well you run your stock, operate your property and manage your business, if your health is compromised, you aren’t able to work to your full ability,” GLENRAC Project Manager Pamela Benton, told the Glen Innes Examiner.

With support from the Tackling Tough Time Together (TTTT) program, GLENRAC partnered with Rural Fit to deliver the Friends with Health Benefits program to Glen Innes farmers, helping to improve their fitness and overall health. The $9,826 grant meant that GLENRAC were able to offer free access to an online group fitness forum and phone calls to Rural Fit for 15 participants over four months.

The program focused on providing:

  • Weight loss support;
  • Strength training;
  • Improving cardiovascular fitness;
  • Management and prevention of metabolic conditions – diabetes, cholesterol, and hypertension;
  • Management of mental health conditions;
  • Stress management;
  • Flexibility or joint stability;
  • How to reduce injury risk;
  • Improving sleep and reducing fatigue;
  • Pain / injury management.

The program was officially launched at GLENRAC’s Fit Farmers event in September 2016, which was also R U OK Day. An evaluation at the completion of the program saw that the participating farmers felt better about themselves, were keen to continue to improve their physical fitness, and had developed a new interest in nutrition and made new friends.