This fitness expert wants Australians to exercise as often as they brush their teeth

Andrew Simmons/ FacebookAndrew Simmons running sand dunes (with some added weight on his back)

If you ask someone if they’ve cleaned their teeth today, chances are the answer you’ll get is “yes, of course.”

If you ask if they did yesterday as well, you can probably expect the same response.

Teeth and gum health is important, so spending a few minutes a day in front of the bathroom sink to keep your mouth clean doesn’t seem like a big deal.

But how many people exercise every day? Isn’t your overall health just as important?

Andrew Simmons, the founder of Vision Personal Training, wants people to start thinking about exercise more as a daily habit, and not a burden.

“I’d like exercise to go onto everyone’s toothbrush list,” Simmons told Business Insider.

“If you’re prepared to spend a few minutes every day to look after your mouth, why are you not prepared to spend a few minutes every day to look after the health of your brain, your heart and your body?”

It’s a fair point, and something many Australians are avoiding.

Data from the Department of Health shows nearly 30% of Australian adults (aged 18-64) engage in low levels of regular physical activity (150 minutes in the last week) and almost 15% were completely inactive.

Physical inactivity, and the health impacts of it, are a huge burden on the national health system due to the increased risk for chronic disease.

The Department of Health (DOH) recommends adults undertake 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per day, but it doesn’t even need to be that much to have significant health benefits – both for the people and the system.

According to the DOH, “if all Australians did an extra 15 minutes of brisk walking for at least five days each week, this would reduce disease burden due to physical inactivity in the population by approximately 13%.

“By increasing this to 30 minutes, the burden of disease attributed to physical inactivity could be reduced by 26%.”

When looking at specific illnesses, research has attributed 6.4% of cancers to physical inactivity, which is preceded only by tobacco, high body mass and “dietary risk factors” — which you could argue is all about fitness too.

Simmons said that often one of the greatest barriers for people who need to improve their health is knowing how to get started, and having the courage to ask for help.

The founder built Vision Personal Training on the simple premise that walking into a gym shouldn’t be intimidating, and support systems should be as robust as possible for people at any fitness level.

“In the early part of my career I tried to turn this training into rocket science, and in order to fuel your ego you try to make things too complicated, to show that your way is the best way,” Simmons said.

“But at the end of the day, I realised that the genius is turning the complicated into the simple.”

“Ultimately with most people in our society now, if all they do is eat better and move more they’ll get results.”

A group training session at Vision Hunter Street. Photo credit: Emma Jackson.

Simmons thinks the fitness industry also needs to better accommodate for underconditioned, injured or less able people.

“We’re very good as an industry at catering for the fit, all of the new trends and brands popping up tend to only appeal to avid exercisers,” he said.

“For [Vision], our target market is the unconditioned individuals that can come into a small, friendly studio where everyone knows your name.”

He added that all it takes is that first step, and after that every small success counts.

“It takes the average person years and years of bad eating and no exercise to put on that belly, so they can’t expect to see wholesale changes overnight.

“They need to be fair on themselves, have patience and not expect quick results.”

Ultimately, Simmons would like to see an Australia where exercising is just part of the many daily habits we have to stay healthy — even if it’s 20 minutes a day.

“Unfortunately, we have so many silly old analogies like ‘go hard or go home’, but too many people go home because they think that they need to do a heap of exercise to make it count.

“Make small changes so that they become habits.”

*This journalist was invited to do the Vision 9 Week Transformation Program compliments of Vision.

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