The Inverell Times - Mental health talk promotes farm fitness

Taking a break from a busy day at the Inverell Regional Livestock Exchange, farmers were treated to a karate demonstration and fitness talk on Tuesday, September 19.

A joint effort by More Than Awareness founder Meg Perceval and martial arts instructor Nick King, the event was planned to help tackle mental illness in the bush. 

Ms Perceval said over 50 per cent of farmers and rural professionals across the region have had someone close to them either die by or attempt suicide. 

The research came from several mental health CARE workshops across the New England North West.

“That means unfortunately most of us have been touched quite closely by suicide, or at least in some way,” she said.

Fighting these statistics, More Than Awareness promotes social connectedness and exercise as important factors for improving physical, mental and social wellbeing.

“There is a definite relationship between exercise and mental health,” Ms Perceval said.

Farm fitness: Martial artists Greg Smith and Nick King, Tom Oakes from CL Squires and Co and Meg Perceval from More Than Awareness.

Farm fitness: Martial artists Greg Smith and Nick King, Tom Oakes from CL Squires and Co and Meg Perceval from More Than Awareness.


“Exercise can contribute towards preventing mental illness, help to reduce the symptoms of common mental illnesses like depression and anxiety and can even be useful in the treatment and recovery of people with more severe mental illness who may have been affected by suicide through ideation, behaviours or bereavement.”

Mr King gave a demonstration of his karate techniques with Greg Smith holding the pads.

Onlookers were reminded that between 30-56 per cent of Australians are not meeting the National Activity guidelines on exercise, which recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day. Rural Australians exercise less than their city counterparts and have higher rates of obesity.

Ms Perceval emphasised how cheap exercise can be, and recommended going on a five minute walk with your dog, wife or kids. 

The pair recognised that farmers are always busy, but encouraged them to make time for themselves to do some form of exercise - even in ten minute increments, most if not all days.

They demonstrated exercises that can be done between chores, such as air squats and pushups. They showed how a piece of farm equipment, such as a crowbar can be used to aid certain exercises. One included using it as a “thruster” to perform a front squat to full hip extension while pushing the bar overhead.

The saleyards manager, Steve O'Brien was supportive and keen to work with More Than Awareness in the future to upskill livestock agents and farmers even further on how they can look after themselves and their mates.

Source: The Inverell Times