Food and fitness advice for a healthier Brisbane winter

The days might be getting shorter and the morning air is fresh, but now is the perfect time to resist the call of the couch, comfort food, and the snooze button, and instead focus on your efforts to stay fit, active and healthy through the cooler months.

To give you some extra motivation, we've enlisted the help of a personal trainer (PT), Jen Kirby, and nutritionist, Penny Benjamin from Brisbane City Council's Active and Healthy program, to share their top tips for staying fit and active over winter.

In other exciting news, our free outdoor gyms in parks are back in action, as well as a range of popular outdoor active and healthy events to help keep you moving. Have a look at what's on, book your spot and find out how we'll be operating to stay safe.

Now, ready for those tips? Let's do it!

Just keep movin'

A home gym doesn't have to be full of fancy gym equipment to be effective. In fact, staying active is just as easily achieved with common pantry items and a brisk walk around the block.

Jen Kirby, owner and PT at Jen's Outdoor Gym, is one of our Active and Healthy program providers, who'll be restarting sessions soon to help you have more free fitness fun. As we spend more time indoors during winter, Jen says exercise is vital to help boost our energy and mood.

'Something is better than nothing, and I'd encourage people to start working at their own pace within their own ability," she said.

"Make sure you warm up before any exercise, which can be as simple as a walk around your neighbourhood, before doing any weights, and stretch afterward to prevent any stiffness. And don't forget the incidental exercise throughout your day. Movement from walking up and down stairs, dancing, and even cleaning all counts!"

Jen's top 5 tips for staying fit and active

  1. Plan daily activity
    If it helps, write it out into a weekly timetable and stick it on the fridge or in another spot where you'll see it regularly.
  2. Choose activities you enjoy
    Dance in front of music videos from YouTube, walk, ride your bike, or enjoy an afternoon gardening.
  3. Make sure you get up and move around every hour
    It might be to get a glass of water, fold the laundry, or walk to the mailbox. It all counts!
  4. Add incidental exercise into your day
    One way to do this is to take the stairs (if you can) instead of the lift, or walk to the shops instead of driving.
  5. Don't use the excuse of no gym equipment to not exercise
    Household items like tins of food as hand weights or dining chairs for sit-down squats are just as effective as fancy equipment.

Foods to keep your health tip-top

Author, Michael Pollan, was onto something when he spoke about not eating anything your grandmother wouldn't recognise as food. It should come as no surprise, that what we eat is almost as important (if not more) than how and when we move each day.

We asked Brisbane nutritionist, Penny Benjamin, for her thoughts on keeping well through diet and she recommended we aim to eat 'real food' most of the time. With Penny's help, Council has offered free nutrition classes as part of our Active and Healthy program.

"Look for whole foods that are easier for our body to digest and absorb nutrients, and the more colour on your plate, the better," Penny said.

If you want to find yummy and nutritious recipes, log on to our library catalogue where you can borrow inspiring cookbooks. We also have heaps of healthy and eco-friendly Love Food Hate Waste recipes, as well as DIY Love Food Hate Waste cooking videos.

Penny's three perfect portion tips

Here's Penny's top tips for serve or portion sizes for meals:

  1. Any portion guides should be just that - a guide! Portions depend heavily on our gender, age, activity levels, and height, just to name a few.
  2. Generally, a portion of a complex carbohydrate is one third to half a cup (cooked rice, lentils, pasta, potatoes, oats) per meal.
  3. A portion of protein is typically the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand.

Let's get to it!

Feeling ready to make a move towards a more active, healthier you? Keep an eye on our digital neighbourhood page for the latest in staying active and healthy, foodie fun and more. We'll have more free group sessions, workshops and events being scheduled as restricitons ease, offering something to suit Brisbane residents of all ages and abilities.

Related links 

Date posted:
Last updated: 21 May 2020
Topics: things to do