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Health challenge launched to help rural and regional women improve their mental health

There has been an explosion of mental health issues after a tough few years of drought, fires, floods, COVID and rising costs, and those in rural and regional areas have been particularly affected by the onslaught of bad news.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, one in five (4.2 million people) had a 12-month mental disorder and almost two in five people aged 16-24 had a 12-month mental disorder with anxiety the most common concern with females experiencing higher rates of anxiety (24.6%) compared to males (18%).

And thanks to the tyranny of distance, women who live in rural and regional areas are particularly impacted as the services that can help them are not readily accessible.

Fitness expert Kate Ivey is on a mission to help these women by providing a solution that uses exercise to tackle their mental health. Starting from August 15, she is encouraging rural and regional women to join her eight-week online challenge called Workout For Mental Health.

Run through DediKate, an online health and fitness community for busy women, the challenge is focussed on how exercise makes them feel. There’s a range of short and effective workouts to choose from including HIIT, at home weights, boxing, cardio, yoga, pilates, pregnancy and postpartum.

The exercise routines are led by Kate and her team of Australian trainers who help to keep participants motivated and on track.

“It’s not about losing weight, it’s about improving your mood and alleviating your blues by getting your body moving,” says Ivey. “We want to raise awareness and provide a down to earth approach to tackling the issue with practical tips and hints of how to improve women’s mental health.”

Workout For Mental Health is about giving a voice to the struggle of rural and regional Aussie women. Those who sign up will be asked to source sponsors with the money raised given to The Blue Tree Project, a unique charity that paints trees blue to encourage people to speak up when battling mental health concerns and to help break down the stigma around mental health.

“With mental health touching the lives of so many Australians, we have made it our mission to shine a light on this problem and to give rural and regional women the tools to help themselves,” she says.

Ivey, who lives on a farm near Mount Cook in the South Island of New Zealand with her husband and three children – aged 12, 10 and seven, speaks from experience, as she has suffered from mental health problems herself. After her third child, she had gained 30kgs, became unfit, felt horrible and didn’t like herself. She developed an unhealthy mindset and was obsessed with the scales.

Despite having a career in the health and fitness industry, her weight yo-yoed, so she decided to throw out the scales and develop a range of short and effective workouts that could be fitted in around family life. She realised so many other women were experiencing the same thing, and those that lived in rural and regional areas like her, didn’t have ready access to facilities that could help them, so she created Kate Ivey Fitness and DediKate.

“Regular exercise is a proven mood enhancer, and we know that women everywhere are under pressure and struggling to juggle the expectations of motherhood,” she says. “Mothers often put themselves last, but it’s a bit like the analogy of putting your oxygen mask on first in case of emergency on a plane. You have to look after yourself first, otherwise everything falls down around you.”

Anyone interested in reinvigorating their mojo and helping to raise funds for The Blue Tree Project, is welcome to join the Workout For Mental Health challenge starting from August 15.

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