Farmer fitness

Farming is still a physically demanding way of life, but it is not as active as it was in the past.  Machinery and other vehicles now assist with a lot of the physical work and farmers spend a lot more time sitting down than walking.

Like the rest of the population, many farmers are not as fit as they could be and many are becoming overweight. Being overweight and inactive increases your risk of many serious health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, mental health problems and musculoskeletal aches and pains. It is important to be fit in three areas – cardiovascular fitness, strength and suppleness (flexibility/mobility). Therefore, to stay healthy it is important to find ways to be active and take part some form in daily exercise.

This can be done by building exercise into your daily routine, for example, you might choose to walk for short trips and leave the quad bike behind; take a break and do some stretches or lifts.

Looking after yourself is part of looking after your farm

  • Walk down to check the stock and leave the quad bike in the shed.
  • Do some stretches before you start work and throughout the day, wherever you happen to be, the shed, the house, or out in the paddock.
  • Do some gardening – why not dig over the vegie plot?
  • Do structured recreational activity like playing golf, water skiing,  strength work outs, bushwalking
  • 10,000 steps is the recommended daily step goal for a healthy adult
  • Safety tips
  • Medical checks– if you are over 35, have a pre-existing illness or haven’t done much physical activity for a while, have a medical check-up first.
  • Exercise with care– be mindful of traffic and farm equipment when you are exercising.
  • Sun– wear hats, sunscreen and clothing that best protects you from the sun.

tractor and header exercises

Click here for a downloadable PDF for you to print and put in your tractor/header.

Fast facts:

  • Farmers don’t do as much physical activity as they used to, and need to include daily exercise to be more active to stay healthy.
  • Build exercise into your daily routine, walk for short trips and leave the quad bike behind; take a break and do some stretches or lifts.
  • There are 1440 minutes in every day – use 30 of them for physical activity.

References used for this topic

More information:

Australian Government
Weight and body mass index

Better Health Channel
Physical activity – men

Department of Health (Aust)
Physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines

Research & reviews:

American Journal of Preventive Medicine
Occupational sitting time and overweight and obesity in Australian Workers

Centers for Disease Control (US)
Physical activity and health

Cochrane Collaboration
Interventions for promoting physical activity

Current Cardiovascular Risk Report
Too little exercise and too much sitting

Journal of Rural Health
Rural-urban differences in physical activity, physical fitness, and overweight prevalence of children