The One Foot Forward Challenge Outcome!

In case you missed our post earlier this month (One foot forward for mental health!), I decided that throughout October I would participate in the one foot forward challenge. It is run by the Black Dog Institute with the aim of raising awareness for mental health and to fundraise for mental health research.

For this challenge, I set myself the goal of walking 100km. To do this, I would record the total distance that I walk throughout each day and keep a tally to track my progress. I started off really well and ended up increasing this goal to 150km, as I ended up completing just over 75km in the first two weeks!

In this post, we will discuss the outcome of this challenge and some key lessons that we can take away from it. If you would like to read about mental health, the impact it has on modern society and how exercise can help, I would recommend checking out our previous posts – It’s not just our body that we need to look after, but our mind as well! and One foot forward for mental health!

Did I reach my target?

I am pleased to report that I have smashed my goal out of the park so to speak. With another 3 days left in the month, I have managed to walk 170.7km, 20km over my adjusted goal! And yes, I was definitely surprised to see that number. To think that I was able to travel that far within a month is mind boggling!

But the question is, how did I do it? I always like to look for lessons (and solutions) to take away from my experiences, and this is no different. From this challenge, there were two key lessons.

What We Can Take Away From This

Incorporate Exercise Into Your Routine!

Sounds simple enough, but what exactly does this mean? Let’s look at an example from the challenge.

When I drive into work, there are plenty of options to park – we have some spaces out the front, and a couple of nearby streets with no parking limit. Instead of parking as close to the building as I can, I often go into a neighbouring street and park at the opposite end. By doing this, I am able to add some extra walking as I go to and from work. Just by doing that, I’ve completed 5 to 10 minutes of exercise. And when we consider that 30 minutes each day is the national guideline, I’m already a third of the way there just by going to work!

Of course, this is dependant on your individual circumstances, but there is always a way to modify your daily routine slightly to fit in more exercise. Here are some other examples that have worked well for people that I have trained:

      • Completing an exercise (such as calf raises) while brushing their teeth or watching TV
      • Standing while completing household tasks (like folding the clean washing)
      • Taking their pet for more frequent walks
      • Parking slightly further away at the shops
      • Taking the stairs instead of an elevator

The key lesson: you don’t need to drastically change your daily routine to add in exercise. All you need to do is be creative and modify your routine to create an exercise opportunity!

Every Step Matters

When we think of exercising, or walking in this particular situation, we automatically think of bigger workouts. For example, we might think of walking a few kilometres, having a full gym workout or another form of exercise that lasts for at least 30-minutes.

But who says that we need to complete all of our daily exercise at once? What matters is what you have done before the end of the day, not when you have done it. For me, I more frequently did smaller bouts of walking throughout the day instead of one big long walk. By completing multiple 5 to 10 minute walks (or less) throughout the day, I would still accrue at least 30 minutes of walking before the end of the day. This made it easier to complete, as I didn’t need to find one big block of time to fit in my walk. Instead, I could go for small walks in by breaks and small gaps during my day.

This strategy worked wonders for me during this challenge, but it applies to all forms of exercise as well. Let’s say you are completing a home exercise program that involves resistance training. Instead of needing to find time to complete all 30 minutes at once, we could break it up into 3 blocks of 10 minutes. By the end of the day, we have still done the same amount of exercise and will still get the same benefits from it.

In short, don’t feel like you need to complete all your daily exercise at the same time. Completing multiple shorter efforts throughout a day is just as effective!

Need Some Help?

Are you fighting your own mental health battle? Do you want to become a healthier version of yourself? Need some help finding ways to fit exercise into your daily routine? No matter what the goal is, our Exercise Physiologists can help! Contact us to organise an appointment to see one of our Exercise Physiologists and kick-start your health journey!

Check out some of our other posts!

Here are some related posts that may interest you:

Keep your eyes open for more posts coming in the near future – there will be a new post every Thursday! In particular, we are working on a brand new series “How I live strong and prosper”. In this series, we’ll be chatting with Simply Stronger clients and finding out what they do to live strong and prosper!

Please leave a comment below if you have any topic ideas that you would like us to discuss!

Follow us on Social Media!

References

One Foot Forward image provided by the Black Dog Institute

Photos provided by Bruno Nacsimento and Jusfilm via Unsplash.com

One foot forward for mental health!

Mental health – it’s an important issue that affects many people around the world. In Australia alone, one in five people are affected by mental health conditions every year, and 45% of us will have a mental health condition at some stage in our life.

In the past, those struggling with their mental health have remained silent. But in the current day, there are many individuals that have had the courage to speak up about their experiences and raise awareness on the importance of looking after our mental health. And hopefully these conversations continue to happen, as the more we speak about it, the less taboo these conversations become and the greater our understanding as a society becomes.

We have previously discussed the topic of mental health and exercise. If you would like to know more, check out “It’s not just our body that we need to look after, but our mind as well!” But today, let’s talk about a great initiative being used to raise awareness for those affected by mental health conditions.

The One Foot Forward Challenge

This October, as a part of mental health month, the Black Dog Institute aims to shine the light on mental health with the One Foot Forward challenge. Overall, the challenge is designed to raise awareness and fundraise for mental health research. It is fairly straight forward – all you need to do is to walk (run, ride or swim) 20km, 40km or 60km throughout the month (or set your own personal goal).

I'm putting one foot forward!

In order to help raise awareness for those living with mental health conditions, I will be participating in this challenge, along with the rest of the Simply Stronger team. Our goal is to raise awareness and have a positive impact on our own mental health, so we won’t be asking for any donations. We understand that everyone is going through tough times during this pandemic and may not be able to donate. We simply want to raise awareness, and what I better way to do that than by exercising!

I have set the personal goal of walking 100km. I know, it’s a big task – in order to achieve this, I will need to walk 3.3km every day! To do this, I’ll be tracking all of my walking throughout the day and I’ll be going out (within my 5km zone!) to specifically walk. It is important to set realistic goals and I do believe that this goal is realistic for my individual circumstances.

And it’s been a great start so far. Throughout the first 6 days, I have managed to travel 42.9km! How have I gone so far already? Well, most of that distance was from my time working at our BRAND NEW CLINIC! I spent three days last week on site assisting with the renovations, and may or may not have parked my car approximately 1km from the site, which added a lovely walk to and from my car to the total. It’s a very simple and easy way to get some extra exercise into your day – just park a bit further away from your destination and you get an extra two workouts from it!

How can you get involved?

As our team at Simply stronger leads the charge we would love for you to get involved! Not only can we raise awareness for mental health, but together we can be healthy and active. It’s a win-win!

If you are interested, you can sign up online and join in the fun! Alternatively, you can simply keep track of your own progress offline. Either way, the important thing is to raise awareness and be active in the process – how you do that is up to you!

Please let us know in the comments below if you are joining us in completing this challenge, and let us know how you are progressing! Keep an eye out in the posts over the next few weeks, as I’ll make sure to keep you posted on how my challenge is going!

Can an Exercise Physiologist help you?

Maybe you are fighting your own mental health battle? Or maybe you want to become a healthier version of yourself? No matter what the goal is, our Exercise Physiologists can help! Contact us to organise an appointment to see one of our Exercise Physiologists and kick-start your health journey!

Check out some of our other posts!

Keep your eyes open for more posts coming in the near future – there will be a new post every Wednesday!

Here are some related posts that may interest you:

Keep your eyes open for more posts coming in the near future – there will be a new post every Wednesday! In particular, we are working on a brand new series “How I live strong and prosper”. In this series, we’ll be chatting with Simply Stronger clients and finding out what they do to live strong and prosper!

Please leave a comment below if you have any topic ideas that you would like us to discuss!

Follow us on Social Media!

References

One Foot Forward image provided by the Black Dog Institute

Photos provided by Frank Busch and Natasha Connell via Unsplash.com

Don’t underestimate the importance of good balance!

Welcome to Healthy Bones Action Week!

A week dedicated to encouraging people of all walks of life to invest in building and maintaining healthy bones. With this in mind we thought it would be a great time to discuss how exercise can impact the health of your bones.

As you may expect, bone strength is a crucial part of bone health. Our previous post “How strong are your bones?” explores this topic. We discuss the importance of building and maintaining bone strength, as well as identifying some exercise strategies to help achieve this.

But today, we thought we would explore a different aspect to maintaining bone health. If you think that keeping our bones strong is the only way to take care of them, you would be part of the majority.

When we think of bone health, strength is what first comes to mind. And although this is the primary indicator for bone health, it is also important to think about preventing the mechanism for bone fractures and breaks. In other words, if we can reduce our risk of falling over we also reduce our risk of damaging our bones. This is where balance joins the party!

The importance of balance

Having good balance is important for everyone, no matter the circumstances. For instance, high performance athletes need good balance to perform at the highest level of their sport. On the other hand, us average joe’s need good balance to perform various work responsibilities and daily tasks. 

When we think about it, our balance comes into play with our most common movements and activities. Walking (particularly on uneven surfaces like gravel), stair climbing, carrying groceries, washing the dishes, reaching the top shelf, and getting on and off a chair all require us to stay balanced. 

Even seated activities such as moving objects, folding the washing and working at a desk require us to maintain a good posture, and  stay balanced.

Often it is not until our balance starts to decline that we even realise how much we rely on good balance. Without it, we’d be falling on the ground creating the opportunity for a fracture or break.

Prevention is the best form of treatment.

How does our balance system work?

In summary, balance is our ability to maintain our body’s centre of mass over our base of support (the area between our feet). An optimally functioning balance system will allow us to:

      • Remain stable during various movements and activities
      • See clearly while moving
      • Identify orientation in respect to gravity
      • Determine direction and speed of movement
      • Maintain and make postural adjustments

This is achieved by a complex sensorimotor control system (utilising the sensory and motor systems). It involves an input of sensory information from our sight, proprioception (touch) and our vestibular system (inner ear). All of this information gets sent up into our brain to get processed and turns into a response. This response, which is typically muscular or movement based, will aim to either maintain our balance or make adjustments to regain our balance. 

Similar to how strength training uses resistance exercises, we need to complete balance specific exercises to develop and improve our balance.

Activities that help improve balance!

I hope you weren’t thinking that one size fits all in regards to balance training! There are three different ways to train our balance, which all work on different components. Let’s start with the two more common components: static and dynamic balance.

Static Balance

Static balance refers to our ability to balance when we are not moving around. Any activity that we complete while standing or sitting in one spot requires static balance.

Here are some great activities to help you start improving your static balance: Remember to alway practice in a safe space, away from items you could fall on. I like to practice at the kitchen bench, it is good height to help you recover if you need it.

      • Standing balance in different stances:
          • Feet together
          • Tandem stance (on foot in front of the other)
          • Semi-Tandem stance
          • Single leg stance.
      • Balancing on an uneven or unstable surface.

What’s amazing about these exercises is that they can all be done from the comfort of your own home! You can change your stance while standing at a bench watching TV, checking your emails, washing the dishes, folding some washing or while reading our “Tips for maintaining your health during a pandemic” post.

Just remember, we are challenging our balance and we may feel unstable. It is important to have something nearby, like a bench, table or chair that we can grab onto if we feel like we are going to fall. 

If you are feeling uncertain and would like some more guidance on what balance exercise is not only best for you, but is safe for you to do, contact us to speak with one of our Exercise Physiologists. 

We can organise a Telehealth appointment where we can create a balance program to match your specific needs. Once stage 4 restrictions have eased, we can also have face-to-face appointments or come to you for home visits.

Dynamic Balance

This is where we can get more creative with our training! Dynamic balance is the opposite to static balance – it refers to our ability to balance when we are moving. It doesn’t matter whether it is linear, lateral or rotational movement, all of it uses dynamic balance.

There is a wide variety of ways that we can train our dynamic balance. We can change out stance (as shown above), as well as stand or sit on an unstable surface while completing resistance exercises. You could also be more creative and use an activity like the ‘clock drill’ shown in the picture below. 

It is important to keep in mind that this type of training becomes very specific to your ability level, circumstances and goals. The most effective form of training is the one that is designed for you. And we are here to help! I know I have already mentioned this, but our Exercise Physiologists are specifically trained to provide you with the best exercises for you. Contact us if you are interested in organising an appointment.

The clock drill: a great example of dynamic balance training

Don't underestimate the
vestibular system!

One important part of our balance system that we need to train independently is our vestibular system. It is responsible for providing information about our motion and spatial orientation, as well as playing a crucial role in maintaining an equilibrium. What this means is it is responsible for keeping your ears level in relation to the ground.

Our natural tendency is to use our vision (looking at the horizon) and touch (foot on the ground) as feedback to help us stay balanced. As such, our vestibular system is often underused and undervalued. To compensate for this, we need to train it as independently as possible.

Training your vestibular system

One of the best ways to do this is to close our eyes, therefore removing all visual stimulus. By completing the static balance activities that we have previously spoken about with our eyes closed, we remove our visual feedback and rely more heavily on our vestibular system.

It is important to note, again, that this form of training is very dependant on your current ability and circumstances. Especially when it comes to using the eyes closed approach, the activities need to be tailored for you! It is important to ensure you are practicing in a safe place and to build up and gradually progress towards this type of exercise. 

Our Exercise Physiologists specialise in this type of gradual progression and will be able to prescribe the best exercises for you. I’m hoping that the third time is the charm and that you do decide to contact us. I know it is repetitive, but I can’t stress enough the importance of seeking professional advice to make sure you exercise safely while getting the most out of your training. We look forward to hearing from you to start your journey!

Check out our previous posts!

Keep your eyes open for more posts coming in the near future – there will be a new post every Wednesday!

In the meantime, here are some related posts that may interest you:

And here is a little sneak peek into some posts that will be coming your way over the next few weeks:

      • Exercise for mental health 
      • Exercise and Asthma
      • How to exercise when you don’t have time 

Also, keep an eye out for our brand new series “How I live strong and prosper”. In this series we’ll be chatting with Simply Stronger clients and finding out what they do to live strong and prosper!

Please leave a comment below if you have any topic ideas that you would like us to discuss!

We are here to help!

Exercise Physiologists specialise in helping people identify the type of exercise that will help them achieve their goals – not just in a gym with weights, but to include in your everyday life! If you would like some assistance in determining the best type fo exercise for you to help you achieve your goals, contact us to organise an appointment to see one of our Exercise Physiologists.

Follow us on social media!

References and useful resources

Vestibular Disorder Association et al. (2016), “The Human Balance System”,  viewed 18/08/2020, https://vestibular.org/article/what-is-vestibular/the-human-balance-system/the-human-balance-system/

Photos provided by Jeremy Thomas and Jon Flobrant via Unsplash.com

Tips for maintaining your health during a pandemic

Yes, today we are going to talk about the ‘P’ word – Pandemic. I think we can say that we are well and truly into uncharted territory when it comes to Covid-19. 

When I think back to the start of 2020, a pandemic wasn’t even considered a possibility. But here we are months later and our lives have been completely changed by it. Covid-19 has had a tremendous impact on our lives and it appears as though this will continue for some time. We are all having to make adjustments to what could be the new normal, at least for a while.

In a lot of situations, these changes are resulting in more physical inactivity, and declines in overall physical health. Thinking about this makes me very concerned. We currently live in a society where video games, iPhones, computers and televisions dominate our attention and already cause significant health complications.

In 2017-18, according to the Australian Institute of health and Wellness, 1 in 4 children and 2 in 3 adults were classed as obese. Physical inactivity throughout the pandemic could see this already high number increase even further.

It is essential, that as a wider community, we do everything we can to at least maintain our physical health while restrictions are in place. So, let’s have a chat about how we can stay physically active during the pandemic and avoid the potential health consequences.

#1 – Break up sitting time

The first thing I want to stress is that sitting is not bad! We all sit every day, and some of us spend more time sitting than we do standing. The issue with sitting is when we remain in the same seated position for prolonged period of time. Our body is designed to move, not remaining stationary in the same sitting position.

Previously, we posted “Sitting – is it really that bad?” and discussed the idea of breaking up prolonged periods of sitting. We also used a lovely water analogy to help explain the problem around this. If you would like to read the explanation, check out the post!

But I would like to spend this time today to focus on what we can do to break up our sitting time and move more. Some options include:

      • Walking while talking on the phone, even inside your house
      • Standing at a bench to work instead of sitting at a desk
      • Leave the remote next to the TV so you need to stand up to change the channel
      • Fold the clean clothes while standing
      • Walk or stand while you read
      • Sweep the floor, rather than always reaching for the vacuum
      • Rake your leaves rather than blowing them into the street 

If you have any other ideas on how to move more and break up sitting time, let us know in the comments below!

#2 – Game based exercise

There are many ways to be active while having fun and playing games. You could play a game like Twister, Hyperdash, Charades, Hide-and-Seek, building a blanket fort or even Duck Duck Goose! All of these can be played within your own home and, let’s be honest, us adults would still enjoy playing these games we loved as kids!

Alternatively, depending on how large your backyard is, you can take the games outdoors. A great option is sports – cricket, basketball, soccer, footy, the list is endless! If you have the equipment, then why not head on out and use it? I know for me personally I enjoy playing downball with my sister, and all it takes is a $2 high bounce ball (or even a tennis ball). Even riding a bike, jumping on a trampoline or pogo stick, or building your own obstacle course are all great options! Your only limitation is your imagination.

If you need some inspiration, check out this obstacle course video. Here you’ll find 10 stations that we created using items you can find in your home, any of which could be used to create your own homemade obstacle course.

#3 – Visit the home gym

Everyone’s home gym will be different. Some of us will have been able to get to the shops before all of the home exercise equipment was sold out, some of us weren’t so lucky. But there is no advantage or disadvantage to this. Just as there are many ways to exercise with equipment, there are just as many options without it.

In our previous post “No gym? No problem! Effective ways to exercise outside the gym!“, we discussed various ways that you can exercise outside of the gym. This includes activities that can be done at home with no equipment. Check it out if you need some ideas for home exercise!

Alternatively, if you would like some equipment to use at home, you can hire or buy equipment from Simply Stronger. Check out our website or contact us for more information.

#4 – Enjoy the great outdoors

The great outdoors – I’m sure we think of rainforests, a lake or a nice walking path when we think of this. But, we have our own version of the great outdoors at home – our backyard! 

You don’t even need to do anything too strenuous. Yes, walking around, playing a game or doing some exercise would be the most beneficial thing to do. But, just getting outside into the fresh air is great for our mental health, especially when we are at home all day.

#5 – Step away from the screens

I’m sure we are all aware of how prolonged time using electronic screens can impact us. Many of us spend hours upon hours staring at electronic screens. It has become an integral part of our society and many people rely on this technology.

Although our iPhones, computers and televisions are a great way to access information, stay in touch with friends a family and play games – and I can’t forget it’s importance in working from home and online learning – too much time in front of screens has a negative impact on not only our physical health, but our mental health too.

Thankfully, any of the methods discussed in this post can be used as effective ways to break up screen time. You can stand up and move around, play a game (away from the screen), complete a puzzle, or go outside and enjoy the fresh air.

Now I understand this may be difficult for those who are addicted to their screens (yes kids, I’m talking to you!), but it is essential that we don’t spend hours on end staring at a screen. 

#6 – Exercise your mind

Just as important as it is to take care of our body by being active, it is also important to look after our mind. Mental health has been coming to the forefront over the last few years and it has become clear that it is a problem within our society. From depression to anxiety and even stress, mental health cannot be ignored.

Yes, being active and getting outside is great for our mental health. Even reducing screen time is helpful with this. But keeping our mind sharp and in tip top condition is just as important. 

A great way to do this is by doing some puzzles. This could be a jig-saw puzzle, crossword, word search, sudoko or riddles. Anything that challenges your mind and makes you think is going to be good for you, especially if the alternative is watching more TV and letting your mind go to sleep!

#7 – Be social

Although we can’t go out and meet up with friends, it is important o remain social. We crave human interaction! Thankfully, we are in the golden era for social media. There are so many ways to stay in touch with our friends and family. Even if social media isn’t your forte, why not pick up the phone and give them a call? I know the younger generation love texting and social media, but that isn’t for everyone. And hearing someone’s voice over the phone is just as valuable as seeing them on Zoom or keeping touch on social media.

Want to know more?

Keep your eyes open for more posts coming in the near future – there will be a new post every Wednesday!

In the meantime, here are some related posts that may interest you:

And here is a little sneak peek into some posts that will be coming your way over the next few weeks:

      • Hey kids, did you know exercise can be fun?
      • Exercise for mental health 
      • Strategies to overcome obstacles
      • Strengthening your bones

Please leave a comment below if you have any topic ideas that you would like us to discuss!

We are here to help!

Exercise Physiologists specialise in helping people identify the type of exercise that will help them achieve their goals – not just in a gym with weights, but to include in your everyday life! If you would like some assistance in determining the best type fo exercise for you to help you achieve your goals, contact us to organise an appointment to see one of our Exercise Physiologists.

Follow us on Social Media!


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References

Australian Institute of Health and Wellness, 2019, Overweight and Obesity, Australian Institute of Health and Wellness, retrieved 20/07/2020, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports-data/behaviours-risk-factors/overweight-obesity/about 

Photos provided by free to use sounds, Joseph Pearson, Ross Sneddon and Zuza Galczynska via Unsplash.com

No gym? No problem! Effective ways to exercise outside the gym!

In our previous post Exercise is medicine – the importance of including exercise in your daily routine, we mentioned some of the barriers that can prevent people from incorporating exercise into their daily routine. Today you will take your first step to overcoming these barriers in the journey towards a healthier lifestyle.

One major obstacle that needs overcoming is not having access to equipment or the inconvenience of going to a gym. It can even be as simple as not being able to afford the monthly gym membership fee. Or maybe you are living through a pandemic and can’t go to a gym! But not to fear, we are here to show you that there are many ways to complete your daily exercise outside of the gym and with limited or no equipment. Let’s get started!

Bodyweight Exercises

The best thing about gym exercises is that they can also be done by anyone without any weights – bodyweight exercises. Here are some specific exercise examples:

How can I do these exercises at home?

Not only can these exercises be done without weights, but they can all be completed in the comfort of your own home!! 

If Squats are a bit too challenging, try Sit to Stands! They are a great alternative that can be completed on any seat. Although, we do recommend a seat where your knees are equal to or higher than your hips when sitting. If the seat is too low, you can place something underneath you to add some extra height!

There are alternatives to the standard Push Up if you find them too difficult. You could try them on your knees, or you can do Elevated Push Ups from your kitchen bench.

Step Ups can be completed on a step (or steps) of any height. If you don’t have any steps at home, we can create our own step. For example, we could use a small stack of  books placed against a wall for stability.

Calf Raises can be done anywhere, anytime. If they are not challenging enough, we can always do them on one leg instead! If you are having trouble balancing, try resting your hands on a bench  to give you some extra stability.

All you need is a soft surface to complete the Plank. And you can easily adjust the difficulty by increasing or reducing the time you hold it for.

As for the Lunges, there are a couple of different versions you can try. You can either complete them standing in the same spot or by taking a step forward after each lunge. If you need some assistance with balancing, rest your hands on a bench and grab onto it when needed. 

Resistance Band Exercises

Resistance bands are amazing when it comes to exercise! They are very easy to use at home, come in a variety of resistances, can be found almost anywhere and are relatively cheap compared to other forms of gym equipment. In fact, you can purchase your own resistance band from Simply Stronger. We can post to you anywhere in Australia at $5/m plus postage (contact us for more information). Here are some great exercises that you can do with a resistance band.

Did Someone Say Cardio?

When it comes to exercise, cardio is a great option. We are able to get our heart rates up, get ourselves moving and work off that big work lunch! Whether it is going for a walk or run, climbing some stairs, going for a bike ride, going for a swim, doing some boxing or even some star jumps, cardio is a very easy way to get you daily exercise dose.

In our Exercise is medicine – the importance of including exercise in your daily routine, we mentioned that it is important to accumulate approximately 150 minutes of exercise every week. Have you been able to do your 150 minutes? And if so, what do you do to exercise and how much of it is cardio? Let us know how you do your cardio in the comments below!

Incidental Exercise

The best thing about exercise is that it doesn’t have to be deliberate. Many of our daily activities are considered towards our daily exercise total. This can include hanging out the washing, doing the dishes, vacuuming the house, emptying the bins, walking to school or work, and even cooking dinner! However, it is important that we remain on our feet for these activities – it would be cheating if we counted sitting down as exercise!

How do we take this to the next level?

Although these activities are great for incidental exercise, doing the same thing everyday will result in minimal change. To create the change we want to see and achieve our personal goals, we need to push the boundaries. We can do this by modifying our activities to make them more challenging. For example, when hanging the washing you could place the basket further away from the clothesline so that you do more walking. When driving to work, the shops or to pick up the kids from school, you could park the car 500m further away to increase your daily walking. While at the shops, you could walk up or down the escalator instead of standing and being carried up or down.

There are so many different ways to adapt our incidental exercise to maximise the health benefits. Let us know in the comments below how you adapt your activities. Also, keep an eye out for a future post where we will dive into the waters of incidental exercise even further and break down more ways to get the most out of your daily activities.

Exploring Nature

Ask anyone who reguarly goes out into the wild and they will tell you how amazing it is, especially as an enjoyable way to exercise. We have already mentioned walking and bike riding as two great options for cardio, but the added benefit of these is getting outside. This is especially true if you are able to go to a local park, bike track, beach or forest. For example, I often use the Blind Creek Trail for my walks and bike rides and make my way towards Jells Park. I’ve also used the 1000 steps at Mount Dandenong and have gone for walks/hikes through the parkland of Mount Dandenong. Not only am I able to be active at locations like these, but I’m able to get out and enjoy what nature has to offer.

Of course, the locations I have mentioned are not the only great spots to exercise and enjoy nature, so let us know in the comment section below where you like to go for your dose of nature!

Community Sport

Community and recreational sport are fantastic ways of being active with your friends, as well as satisfying your competitive side! It doesn’t matter what sport you enjoy – Basketball, Footy, Golf, Badminton, Bowling, Rock Climbing, Skiing, Lawn Bowls, Swimming, the list goes on! There will always be a local sporting club or team that will be able to give you regular sporting competition. So grab some friends, get involved and have a blast playing the sport that you love!

Pets Love To Be Active!

I think it is about time that I introduce you all to Daisy! Daisy joined my family 5 years ago and we couldn’t imagine life without her now.

One thing about Daisy is that she is full of energy – she could run around all day if we had enough energy to keep up with her! Whether it is running around after a tennis ball or toy, running laps of the family room when someone arrives at the house, going for “walkies”, or playing chase with one of us, she is always full of energy and is ready to be active! But realistically, this is the same for a lot of pets (especially dogs!). Being active with your pet is not only so much fun, but is really challenging too – and it doesn’t matter what your current physical capacity is. And better yet, your pet will also receive the benefits of being active too!

All this talk of playing with pets is making me want to go run around with Daisy. I think I might go and play with her once I’ve finished typing this, and get in my daily exercise while I’m at it. Maybe it is a good opportunity for you to play with your pet too?

Family Time!

Who doesn’t love spending time with their family? I’m really hoping no one put their hand up for that question! Anyway, I’m a massive fan of having some fun with my family, especially after a long day at work or coaching.

As tempting as it may be to sit around the family room and watch TV together, this is a good opportunity to be active with each other. Even better, all of your family members will be able to get the benefits of exercise instead of just yourself – they do say sharing is caring! There are plenty of options! You could go into the backyard and play a game, like some cricket? Or you would play a fun and active board game like Twister? Maybe you could all take the family pet for a walk? Or maybe you could come up with a brand new game! In the end, it doesn’t matter what you decide to do, it’s just about being active together.

If you’re not quite sure on what to do, here are some ideas that we prepared earlier. Although it specifically talks about games for two people, they can all be modified to be played by the whole family!

Video Games - That's Right, Video Games!

Traditionally, video games are played by sitting in a chair and using a hand held controller. While the majority of games still use this method, there are a large portion of games that require you to be active. The perfect example of this is the Nintendo Wii. This console requires users to hold onto a controller with one hand and complete certain movements to play the game. For example, in oder to play a tennis game, the player would need to swing the controller like a tennis racquet to hit the ball. These types of games are a great way for anyone, but particularly kids that enjoy video games, to be active while doing what they enjoy.

Additionally, there are various board games that require movement. In particular, my sister and I played a lot of HyperDash when we were younger. In summary, it was a race to go around the house and press on ‘buttons’ the fastest. Along with the active video games, these types of board games provide a fun way to be active with friends and family – it’s a win win scenario!

Want to know more?

Keep your eyes open for more posts coming in the near future – there will be a new post every Wednesday!

In the meantime, here are some related posts that may interest you:

And here is a little sneak peek into some posts that will be coming your way over the next few weeks:

      • 5 ways to squeeze in exercise when you don’t have time!
      • Exercising for the mind
      • Living strong with stronger bones!
      • Hey kids, did you know exercise can be fun?

Please leave a comment below if you have any topic ideas that you would like us to discuss!

We are here to help!

Exercise Physiologists specialise in helping people identify the type of exercise that will help them achieve their goals – not just in a gym with weights, but to include in your everyday life! If you would like some assistance in determining the best type fo exercise for you to help you achieve your goals, contact us to organise an appointment to see one of our Exercise Physiologists.

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References

Photos provided by Antonella Brugnola, Courtney Cook, Jude Beck and Lee Hans via Unsplash.com

Up, up and away

Tips and stretched for traveling – be prepared for your next holiday or work trip.

I love to travel and up, up and away here I go again with new places, new people and so many amazing adventures to experience. I have been very fortunate with some of the amazing places I have travelled to and believe me the list of where to go next is even longer!

As I prepare for my forthcoming adventure to New Zealand and Fiji, it got me thinking about all the little things I do before and during my travel to help my body survive. So, I thought I would share some of my insights.

You have all seen the reminders to move your ankles up and down when sitting on an aeroplane and you may be wondering what this little ankle movement is actually doing?

The first thing you need to understand is that, thanks to gravity, when we sit or stand, blood will pool in our feet and ankles. It is the job of your veins to help return this blood from our feet to our heart to be recirculated.

Unfortunately, our veins are not very good at this and need some help from the surrounding muscles.  By moving your ankle up and down, you are stimulating what is known as the muscle pump. The muscles within your calf and shin are contracting and relaxing over the top of the veins pumping the blood back towards your heart. When we are sitting still this can’t happen and the blood then pools in our ankles and feet, causing them to swell and potentially allowing clots to form.

When flying for more than a couple of hours, you are bound to find me walking around the cabin, doing laps of the aisles and stretching regularly wherever I can find some space –  usually towards the back of the plane.

Below are some of my favourite stretches to be used on a plane, and all are able to be completed standing with minimal space.

Plane suitable stretches

They are great to use for the rest of the trip too, keeping you feeling supple despite all the sitting you are bound to do, in cars, airports, planes, restaurants, etc.

We really do sit a lot when traveling!

Back on land, I like to use my wonderfully versatile spikey balls on my back, glutes and feet in the hotel room.

Great for rolling your feet, to release your plants fascia especially after a long day sight seeing.
Rolling your knee side to side once you've found a good knot is a great way to release the tension from a day on your feet.
If you need a little more pressure try sitting on the ball and moving yourself around until you find a good spot. Then relax and lower your weight on to the ball.
Alternatively use the ball on the wall. Lean your body weight on the ball and move your arm to massage over the top of the ball.

Want to know more about physically preparing yourself for your next holiday?

Then have a listen to this podcast, I recorded for Luxury Travel with Allen Suss of Travel Managers.

You can also get in touch with us at Simply Stronger. We can give you tips and exercises that will help you prepare to survive that next long-haul flight.

Sitting – is it really that bad?

We all do it … some for eight hours a day at work and then get into the car or on public transport to continue the trend for the commute back home.

So, what is it about this practice that is so problematic?

Despite the trend towards remaining stationary, we are actually built to move maybe not continuously but certainly regularly throughout the day. When we sit, we stay there for extended periods of time, generally looking at the same thing for most of that time. Whether this is working at a desk, driving (or another form of commuting), reading, watching TV, going to the cinema, the theatre or even watching sport – we sit still.

Our bodies are built to move, they want to move, and we train them to become good at remaining stationary.

I like to use the analogy of water 💧 .

 Picture a body of water, big or small – it doesn’t matter. The beautiful natural images that come to mind are those that flow and move constantly, rivers, oceans and lakes. However, when you picture puddles and still bodies of water – they are stagnant and unhealthy places where mosquitoes come to breed. Nearly 60% of our body is made up of water which presumably wants to move given that this is its natural state. Continuing with the analogy, by remaining still, the water in our bodies is stagnating. Obviously, this isonly an analogy with no basis in fact, but it does conjure up a strong image, don’t you think?

 

What can we do to improve our situation? No one is asking you to change jobs, move closer to your workplace and walk or ride a bike.

These are often very impractical solutions but there are ways of getting more movement into your day. Let us start by thinking about some of the ways in which we have developed technology to increase productivity and let’s be honest here – increases in productivity have been great advancements, yes, but they have also led to a much more sedentary lifestyle.

 

From construction equipment to computers, from sewing machines to (my personal pet peeve) leaf blowers, they have all made our lives much easier and have allowed us to advance in often incredible ways, yet they now also allow us to move so much less.

Now I’m not saying we need to build our homes by hand or sew our own clothes instead of shopping for them but what I am saying is look at the technological advancements in your life and see if you can take a step back.

Here are some simple ways to move a little more:

  • Walk and have a conversation instead of always calling or sending an email.
  • Take the stairs, not the lift.
  • Walk up the escalator rather than standing still, waiting to be carried.
  • If you must drive to work or the train station, try to park 500m away or more to ensure you do a little extra walking at the start and end of your day.
  • Sweep the floor, rather than always reaching for the vacuum.
  • Rake your leaves rather than blowing them into the street. Seriously I hate this invention but if you must use one then blow them into a pile and pick them up.

There are so many ways in which we can add a little bit more activity into our day!

We just need to stop and think a little.

Let us know some of your ideas in the comments below and help others to move their bodies a little more often.

To find out more about a personalised plan to increase your daily exercise contact Simply Stronger.