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

Exercise: enhancing the lives of osteoarthritis patients!

A large portion of our population are affected by musculoskeletal conditions at some stage during their lifetime. One of the more prominent musculoskeletal conditions is arthritis, with 1 in 7 Australians being diagnosed with a form of arthritis. That’s around 15% of the population (or 3.6 million), with 50% of these people reporting physical limitations due to moderate or severe joint pain. In addition to this, 3 in 4 Australians over the age of 45 with arthritis report having at least one other chronic medical condition. This means that not only is the impact of arthritis is widespread, but it affects more than just our joints. Hence the importance in reducing our likelihood of developing arthritis. In today’s post, we’ll have a look at how exercise can help with this endeavour. But first, let’s have a brief chat about arthritis and exactly what it is!

What is Arthritis?

In simple terms, arthritis is a joint disease that encompasses a range of conditions affecting the bones and muscles around our joints. It describes permanent joint changes that can cause pain. In some cases, these changes are visible but most of the time the damages can only be seen on an X-ray.

There are over 100 different types of arthritis that are split into 4 main categories: 

      • Degenerative arthritis (e.g. osteoarthritis)
      • Inflammatory arthritis (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis)
      • Infectious arthritis
      • Metabolic arthritis

The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis affecting 2.2 million Australians (9.3%) and rheumatoid arthritis affecting 456,000 Australians (1.9%). So, instead of trying to talk about all of the different types and making this post ridiculously long, let’s just focus on osteoarthritis!

What is Osteoarthritis?

As I mentioned previously, osteoarthritis is a type of degenerative arthritis and is the most commonly diagnosed form of arthritis. 

Osteoarthritis occurs when the soft cushioning between the bones, also known as cartilage, breaks down. This can cause the joint to become painful, swollen and hard to move. It most commonly occurs in the hands, knees, hips, lower back and neck.

Causes and Risk Factors

The popular belief is that osteoarthritis is caused by the joints wear and tear. But significant research has revealed that the following factors all contribute to the development of osteoarthritis:

      • Age (particularly over the age of 50)
      • Previous joint injury
      • Overuse
      • Obesity (or being overweight)
      • Weak muscles
      • Genetics and family history
      • Gender (more common in women)

Symptoms

Osteoarthritis affects people in many ways, including:

      • Joint pain during:
          • Physical activity
          • After a long bout of exercise
          • At the end of a busy day
      • Joint stiffness
      • Reduced range of motion
      • Joint clicking or cracking
      • Swelling
      • Muscle weakness around the joint
      • Joint instability or buckling

How can exercise help?

Exercise has been proven to provide many benefits for individuals with osteoarthritis. In particular, exercise does an effective job in lowering our arthritis risk and reducing associated symptoms (see the risk factors and symptoms above).

Individuals with osteoarthritis are less likely to participate in physical activity due to their pain or the fear of aggravating their pain. Due to this, many osteoarthritis patients will have reduced muscular strength and endurance, aerobic capacity, flexibility and overall ability to complete daily tasks. Regular exercise can negate this and help osteoarthritis patients improve their physical capabilities (including muscular strength, endurance and range of motion). 

As the statistics indicate, osteoarthritis patients have an increased risk of developing a secondary medical condition. Exercise training, along with an increase in physical activity levels, will assist in reducing the likelihood of developing additional medical conditions.

As mentioned above, exercise will also help osteoarthritis patients minimise the impact of arthritis symptoms, particularly improving their:

      • Joint stiffness and pain
      • Energy expenditure, which helps with:
          • Weight loss
          • Body composition
      • Stress and anxiety
      • Self-esteem and quality of life
      • Overall mental health (i.e. risk of depression)

How much exercise should I do?

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) suggests that to reduce the risk of developing or reducing the impact of osteoarthritis, individuals should complete a combination of resistance, aerobic and flexibility training. In summary, in order to maximise the benefits of exercise, you should complete:

      • Resistance Training: 2 to 3 days/week of moderate or vigorous intensity exercises. For each exercise, you should complete 2 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
      • Aerobic Training: it is ideal to complete the equivalent of 150-minutes of moderate or 75-minutes of vigorous intensity exercise across 3 to 5 days each week. Optimal activities include cycling, walking or swimming (low joint stress)
      • Flexibility Training: daily training that involves moving through your range of motion until you get the feeling of tightness/ stretching without pain. A 10 to 30 second stretch is ideal, using a combination of static and dynamic stretches.

Where should I start?

There are many ways to exercise, but as the ACSM suggest, it is best to use a mixture of strength, aerobic and flexibility training. This will ensure that we are maximising the benefits for our joints. Having some variety can also be a great way to keep things interesting and fresh – as they say, variety is the spice of life!

If you would like some suggestions on some various exercises that you could use, check out No gym? No problem! Effective ways to exercise outside the gym! It has some great suggestions of strength exercises and cardiovascular activities (such as walking, running or cycling) that you can complete, as well as providing an insight on how to complete them safely. 

Here is a sneak peek of some general bodyweight and resistance band exercises that are discussed in this post:

Bodyweight exercises

Resistance band exercises

As for flexibility training, the 5 strategies to avoid that post-exercise muscle soreness! has some great sections about stretching and self-massage techniques that help improve range of motion. To help get you started, here are some great stretches for different parts of the body:

Stretches

It is important to consider that the optimal exercises are dependant on which joint is affected by osteoarthritis – this is different for each person. For example, we have a wonderful video (shown below) that demonstrates some exercises that are perfect for hand osteoarthritis. Although the title specifically mentions rheumatoid arthritis, they are perfect for anyone with any form of arthritis.

Keeping your exercise safe

As it is with any form of exercise, it is important to consult an exercise professional before getting started. This is especially important when you are experiencing any limitations or joint pain due to osteoarthritis. Exercise professionals, such as Exercise Physiologists, will be able to help you identify the most effective and safest exercises for your particular situation to ensure that you are maximising the benefits without any additional risk.

One Foot Forward Update!

As I mentioned in the One foot forward for mental health! and The benefits of exercise on breast cancer! posts, I am embarking on the journey to complete 150km of walking to help raise awareness for mental health. Here is a quick update on my progress:

So far, I have managed to walk 127.6km! I am on track to achieve my goal of 150km by the end of the month. To do this, I’ll need to walk 2.26km each day. But lets up the ante a little bit – I’m going to aim to reach 150km before next weeks post. This means I have 7 days to go and I’ll instead need to walk 3.2km each day! Thankfully, we are now back to face-face appointments, which means I’ll be on my feet a lot more throughout the day, so I’m confident about achieving this goal. I’m on the home stretch now and the finish line is in sight!

Stay tuned for next weeks post as I will let you know how I go during the final week of the challenge! Make sure to let us know in the comments section how you are going with your One Foot Forward challenge!

Need Some Help?

Whether it is osteoarthritis or another health condition, exercise can provide tremendous benefits! Exercise Physiologist’s specialise in helping those with various medical conditions with exercise-based treatment. So, if you would like some assistance with this or in achieving your health or performance goals, contact us to organise an appointment with one of our Exercise Physiologists.

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 and Useful Resources

Arthritis Foundation, 2020, Osteoarthritis, viewed 21/10/2020, https://www.arthritis.org/diseases/osteoarthritis

Arthritis Foundation, 2020, What is Arthritis?, viewed 21/10/2020, https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/about-arthritis/understanding-arthritis/what-is-arthritis 

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2020, Arthritis, last viewed, 21/10/2020. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-musculoskeletal-conditions/arthritis/contents/arthritis

Photos provided by Aan Nizal, Luis Quintero, Marcel Strauss, Mathew Schwartz and Sriyoga Ashram via Unsplash.com

Riebe, D 2016, ACSM’s guidelines for exercise testing and prescription, Philadelphia Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Health, 2014. 10th ed.

The benefits of exercise on breast cancer!

A large portion of our population is affected by breast cancer, particularly women. This makes breast cancer a prominent issue in modern society. 

Firstly, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women. Additionally, it is the second most common cancer overall, accounting for 14% of all cancer diagnosis!

Secondly, in Australia alone 19,974 are estimated to be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020 (19,807 of which are in women). That’s 55 new cases every day! In addition to this, 1 in 7 women and 1 in 675 men will be diagnosed within their lifetime. 

Thirdly, breast cancer will result in approximately 3,301 deaths in Australia this year, 2,997 being women – that’s 8 deaths every day! The mortality rate for breast cancer is the 5th highest among cancers, accounting for 6.4% of all cancer related deaths!

October happens to be Breast Cancer Awareness Month! So it’s a great opportunity discuss this important topic. In today’s post, we will dive into the world of breast cancer. We will start our journey with a quick explanation of what breast cancer is and how it affects us before discussing how exercise can help! Without further ado, let’s get started!

What is Breast Cancer?

To put it simply, breast cancer is the abnormal growth of cancerous cells in the breast lobules or ducts. These cells grow uncontrollably and have the potential to spread to different parts of the body.

Risk Factors (and Causes)

Certain factors can increase the risk of breast cancer. Some of these factors are uncontrollable and cannot be changed. These unmodifiable risk factors include:

      • Increasing age
      • Family history
      • Genetics (inheritance of mutations)
      • Increased oestrogen and progesterone exposure
      • Previous breast cancer diagnosis
      • History of non-cancerous breast conditions.

Conversely, controllable lifestyle factors can also increase the risk of breast cancer. By positively adjusting the following factors we are able to actively reduce our likelihood of a diagnosis:

      • Increased body weight (overweight or obesity)
      • Sedentary lifestyle (decreased physical activity)
      • Excess alcohol consumption.

Diagnosis

Before a breast cancer diagnosis is given, there are a variety of tests that may be administered. These can include a physical examination, Mammogram, Ultrasound or Biopsy. 

This is a manual examination that aims to find any lumps that are within the breast. If there are lumps, further investigating will be completed.

An X-Ray is used to look for changes (or lumps) in the breast tissues that may be too small to be felt during a physical examination. There are two types of Mammogram:

      1. Screening Mammogram: checks for breast cancer when no signs or symptoms are present
      2. Diagnostic Mammogram: checks for breast cancer after a lump (or other sign or symptom) has been found. 

An ultrasound is used to gather further information if the mammogram has picked up tissue changes. It is a painless scan that uses sound-waves to create a picture of the breast.

A biopsy is completed after an ultrasound. It involves removing part of the affected breast tissue for further examination under a microscope.

If cancer is detected, additional scans (such as a CT or MRI scan) help determine the grade and stage of the cancer. They also determine if the cancer is centralised to the breast or if it has spread to other parts of the body.

Treatments

Treatment of breast cancer depends on its stage and severity. The various treatment methods that may be used include: Staging, Surgery, Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy and Hormone Therapy.

This is an assessment that determines the size of the breast cancer and whether or not it has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm. To do this, CT scans of the chest and liver, as well as a bone scan, are completed to check the sites to which it most commonly spreads to.

For localised cancer, surgery may be completed to remove the breast and lymph nodes under the arms. There are two types of surgery that may be performed:

    1. Lumpectomy (or breast conserving surgery): the removal of only part of the breast 
    2. Mastectomy: the removal of the whole breast. This may be followed with reconstructive surgery.

Chemotherapy helps shrink the cancer prior to surgery, as well as reducing the risk of the cancer returning after surgery. It can also be administered after surgery if the cancer returns. It can also be given in conjunction with other treatments such as radiotherapy.

Radiotherapy (or radiation therapy) is used to destroy any cancer cells. This can be applied in isolation or as an adjacent treatment with surgery or chemotherapy.

This method uses drugs to reduce the levels of oestrogen and progesterone within the body. It aims to stop or slow the growth of hormone receptor positive cancer cells. which require these hormones to survive and spread.  

The Side Effects of Treatment

While breast cancer treatment can be quite effective at treating the cancerous cells, it also has many potential side effects. These side effects include, but are not limited to:

      • Fatigue
      • Musculoskeletal dysfunction or atrophy
      • Reduced bone mineral density
      • Lymphedema
      • Changes in body composition
      • Peripheral neuropathy or other nerve problems
      • Arthralgia / Myalgia
      • Cardiovascular toxicity
      • Increased stress and anxiety
      • Changes in mood
      • Decreased concentration and focus
      • Functional decline
      • Compromised immune system

Thankfully, exercise helps reduce the impact of many of these side effects. Speaking of which, let’s now have a look at the role of exercise in helping breast cancer patients and survivors!

Exercise for Breast Cancer

Physical activity is an effective intervention for breast cancer patients. Research concludes that exercise is helpful for patients both during and after cancer treatment.

Goals of Exercise

Exercise goals vary depending on the stage of cancer treatment, the treatments prescribed and the resultant symptoms experienced by an individual.

As I mentioned earlier, exercise prior to a cancer diagnosis can have a positive impact on some lifestyle factors known to be linked with cancer development. This makes exercise a great option in helping reduce the risk of cancer development in the first place – as they say, prevention is the best form of treatment!

Once diagnosed, exercise can provide many benefits throughout treatment. During this stage, it aims to reduce the associated symptoms, in addition to maintaining physical capabilities and function along with maintaining your quality of life.

In addition, exercise also provides many post-treatment benefits for survivors. After treatment, exercise aims to help the survivor return to their pre-treatment physical function, in addition to reducing the risk of cancer reoccurrence. 

Benefits of Exercise for Breast Cancer

No matter the stage of treatment, the benefits remain the same – the only difference is the goal!

Overall, an effective exercise intervention can allow patients and survivors to:

      • Improve their:
        • Physical function (ability to complete daily activities)
        • Physical fitness, including:
          • Cardiorespiratory fitness
          • Muscular strength and endurance
          • Muscle mass
        • Self-esteem and quality of life
        • Energy levels (or reducing fatigue)
        • Body composition
        • Tolerance of treatment and completion rate (or efficacy)
        • Cancer survival rate
      • Reduce their:
        • Risk of reoccurrence
        • Stress and anxiety
        • Risk of depression

So how much exercise should I do?

Exercise and Sport Science Australia (ESSA) suggests that breast cancer patients and survivors should follow the national physical activity guidelines and complete a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity (cardiovascular training) each week. In addition, it is recommended to complete at least 2 strength training sessions each week. That’s equivalent to 30 minutes of moderate exercise or 15 minutes of vigorous exercise 5 days a week. 

Of course, it is important to consider that everyone has different physical capabilities. Although this level of exercise may be realistic for some people, for others it won’t be. Hence, it is important to start at a level that is realistic for you to complete and gradually build up until you reach these recommendations. And at the end of the day, something is always better than nothing! 

If you are not sure how you can fit 30 minutes of exercise into your daily schedule, you could complete your exercise in intervals throughout the day. For example, you could complete 15 minutes in the morning and another 15 minutes in the evening. That would still be 30 minutes for the day – it doesn’t have to be completed all at once!

I want to start, but I'm not sure how to...

There are many ways to exercise, but it is recommended that we use a mixture of strength and cardiovascular training. This will ensure that we are maximising the benefits for both our muscles (regarding strength, endurance and mass) and our lungs (cardiovascular fitness). Having some variety can also be a great way to keep things interesting and fresh – as they say, variety is the spice of life!

If you would like some suggestions on some various exercises that you could use, check out our No gym? No problem! Effective ways to exercise outside the gym! post. It has some great suggestions of strength exercises and cardiovascular activities that you can complete at home, as well as providing an insight on how to complete them. Here is a sneak peek of the bodyweight and resistance band exercises that are discussed in this post:

Bodyweight exercises

Resistance band exercises

Keep in mind that you can purchase your own resistance band from Simply Stronger. We are able to post it to you anywhere in Australia at $5/m plus postage – contact us for more information.

Preventing muscle soreness

Anyone that exercises frequently can tell you about the muscle soreness that you can get after a good workout! It happens to everyone. In particular if you are starting to exercise more frequently – any increase in overall load can result in this soreness, which can potentially hold you back.

There are many ways to help manage our load to help prevent this. Some of these strategies include gradually building up your load, self-massage and stretching. Our 5 strategies to avoid that post-exercise muscle soreness! post addresses this topic in depth and can help you avoid that soreness and maximise the exercise benefits.

Keeping your exercise safe

As it is with any form of exercise, it is important to consult an exercise professional before getting started. This is especially important if you are currently going through cancer treatment. 

Although exercise provides many health benefits, it is important to make sure that you are completing the right exercises for your situation. Exercise professionals, such as Exercise Physiologists are able to help with identifying the most effective and safest exercises for your particular situation to ensure that you are maximising the benefits without any additional risk.

One Foot Forward Update!

As I mentioned in last weeks One foot forward for mental health! post, I am embarking on the journey to complete 100km of walking to help raise awareness for mental health. As promised, I’ve got a quick update ready for you.

So far, I have managed to walk 78.9km! Thats right, I’ve somehow managed to surpass 75% of my goal even though we are only half way through the month. For those who are wondering, I’ve been focussing on staying on my feet throughout the day and allocating time each day to go out for walks around my neighbourhood.

However, I never expected to go this far so quickly – maybe I underestimated my capabilities? So, I’ve decided that I’ll increase my goal to 150km. This is still realistic to achieve, as I will only need to maintain what I am already doing to achieve it. At the end of the day, the goal needs to be challenging and realistic at the same time, and I think this adjustment will help with that.

Stay tuned for next weeks post as I will provide you with another update! Make sure to let us know in the comments section how you are going with your One Foot Forward challenge!

Need Some Help?

Whether it is Breast Cancer or another health condition, exercise can provide tremendous benefits! Exercise Physiologist’s specialise in helping those with various medical conditions with exercise-based treatment. So, if you would like some assistance with this or in achieving your health or performance goals, contact us to organise an appointment with one of our Exercise Physiologists.

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 and Useful Resources

Australian Government – Cancer Australia, 2020. Breast Cancer in Australia Statistics, viewed 11/10/2020. https://www.canceraustralia.gov.au/affected-cancer/cancer-types/breast-cancer/statistics

Bernstein, L., Henderson, B.E., Hanisch, R., Sullivan-Halley, J. and Ross, R.K., 1994. Physical exercise and reduced risk of breast cancer in young womenJNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute86(18), pp.1403-1408.

Cancer Council, 2020. Breast Cancer, viewed 11/10/2020. https://www.cancer.org.au/cancer-information/types-of-cancer/breast-cancer 

Courneya, K.S., Mackey, J.R., Bell, G.J., Jones, L.W., Field, C.J. and Fairey, A.S., 2003. Randomized controlled trial of exercise training in postmenopausal breast cancer survivors: cardiopulmonary and quality of life outcomesJournal of clinical oncology21(9), pp.1660-1668.

Hayes, S.C., Newton, R.U., Spence, R.R. and Galvão, D.A., 2019. The Exercise and Sports Science Australia position statement: Exercise medicine in cancer management. Journal of science and medicine in sport22(11), pp.1175-1199.

McNeely, M.L., Campbell, K.L., Rowe, B.H., Klassen, T.P., Mackey, J.R. and Courneya, K.S., 2006. Effects of exercise on breast cancer patients and survivors: a systematic review and meta-analysisCmaj175(1), pp.34-41.

Mock V, Dow KH, Meares CJ, et al. Effects of exercise on fatigue, physical functioning, and emotional distress during radiation therapy for breast cancer. Oncology Nursing Forum. 1997 Jul;24(6):991-1000.

National Breast Cancer Foundation, 2020. Breast Cancer Stats, viewed 11/10/2020. https://nbcf.org.au/about-breast-cancer/breast-cancer-stats/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwt4X8BRCPARIsABmcnOp6W6x_mQUpRxDTLRNn-pWEhwDYRpPii1GVH8IQRK1ihKQS6X1h5hYaApt1EALw_wcB

Photos provided by Angiola Harry, Jenny Hill, Jon Tyson, Marcelo Leal and Peter Boccia via Unsplash.com

Schwartz, A.L., Mori, M.O.T.O.M.I., Gao, R.E.N.L.U., NAIL, L.M. and KING, M.E., 2001. Exercise reduces daily fatigue in women with breast cancer receiving chemotherapyMedicine & Science in Sports & Exercise33(5), pp.718-723.

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

5 strategies to avoid that post-exercise muscle soreness!

The soreness that affects us all!

At the beginning of our first Covid-19 lockdown, I became quite inactive and sedentary compared to my regular lifestyle. This eased a little as restrictions did, but then became particularly noticeable during the second lockdown –  it’s amazing how you can feel when you haven’t been as active as usual! I decided that I needed to get back to my usual activity levels and utilise my 1-hour of ‘out of the house’ exercise each day (thankfully it’s now 2-hours!) My sister joined me on this quest, although our reasons for being active are very different – I’m being active for general health reasons, whereas she is being active to improve her athleticism and lower her injury risk for Basketball related goals.  However, we both utilised outdoor running/walking and strength training in our small home gym.

After a week, we both started to feel the same soreness and fatigue. The soreness was particularly bad in our calves and glutes. In general, we felt stiff, we weren’t able to move around as freely and we felt more fatigue than normal. 

Why? Where did this soreness and fatigue come from? 

Poor load management, in other words we had done too much exercise too quickly compared to what our bodies we able to deal with. We all have the best intentions when it comes to exercise, but if we don’t manage our workload correctly, there can be consequences. These consequences can potentially undo much of the positive steps we have taken by being active. Managing our load is a crucial component to maximising the health benefits of exercise and increasing our chances of achieving our goals!

Today’s post looks at load management, starting our journey with why it is important before looking at how we can monitor our load and effective strategies we can all implement to effectively manage our work load and aid in recovery.

Why is Load Management important?

You may have heard of the term load management in the sports setting, particularly in the modern AFL. Basically, load management is a strategy used to try and avoid over- or under-training, and therefore reducing injury risk while maximising the positive outcomes.

When we exercise and train, our body goes through a regeneration process that results in our improved strength and fitness. Let’s break this idea down and try and keep this as simple as possible. When exercising at the right intensity, our muscles fibres get fatigued and as a result get ‘damaged’. Our body then aims to repair these fibres, undergoing the regeneration process. As part of this, the fibres are repaired and adapted to be larger in order to provide stronger contractions. This in hand improves our overall strength and fitness.

When we don’t manage our load correctly, we can either end up over-training or under-training. To figure this out, we use an ‘Acute to Chronic Workload Ratio (ACWR)” – here is an example graph that I put together to help demonstrate this concept (please note that the data used for this graph is made up, but helps explain all of this):

There is a lot going on in this graph, but here are the key points:

      • Green zone: our optimal training zone
      • Red zone: represents over-training
      • Blue lines: our daily exercise workload
      • White line: the ratio we use to compare how our daily workload compares to previous days (like an average)

To put it as simply as possible, we want the white line to stay within the green zone – this is where we are able to maximise our health and performance benefits without the side effects of over- or under-training.

If we move into the red, we are over-training. This can result in increased injury risk (or niggling injuries lasting for prolonged periods), fatigue, soreness (also known as DOMS) and stiffness, as well as reduced energy, motivation, performance and ability to make improvements. Other common side effects of over-training include changes to mood, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite and increased stress. This is where my sister and I were – we were experiencing the soreness, stiffness and fatigue associated with over-training. Thankfully, we picked up on it early and were able to start managing this better before we got injured!

The opposite to over-training in under-training, and this occurs if we train below the green zone. This means we aren’t really doing enough exercise to achieve the health or performance benefits that we are aiming for.

Hang on, what is DOMS?

Now that’s a great question loyal reader! It stands for Delayed Onset Muscles Soreness. Do you remember a time in which you had a big day of exercise or physical activity and you woke up the next day feeling sore? Maybe you spent a day at the zoo with your family and walked way more than normal, and then you got out of bed the next morning and had really sore legs? That’s DOMS! It’s the soreness we feel between 24 and 48 hours after a tough workout or busy day, and it is a sign that we have pushed things a little too far. Keep in mind, a little bit of soreness is okay, but it shouldn’t be so bad that it limits us during our daily activities!

An interesting fact about DOMS is that it is most likely to occur after physical activity that involves eccentric muscle contractions. This is a complicated concept, so let’s try to make it as simple as possible. An eccentric muscle contraction is when your muscles work to try and slow down a movement. This could include walking or running (especially down some stairs or a hill), landing after a jump, catching an object before it hits the ground, or catching yourself after tripping or falling. If you find that you complete these kinds of activities frequently throughout a day, I would recommend using one of the following strategies. This will help reduce the effect of any DOMS that you might experience in the following 48 hours.

Load Management Strategies

There are many ways to effectively manage your workload and to help reduce the side effects of over-training. But let’s focus on the some simpler ones that anyone can do!

Gradually Build Up

The most effective way of avoiding over-training – not doing too much. Sounds pretty simple right? If only it was that simple! This is specific to you, as what may seem like too much for you could be the right amount for someone else.

The best way to think about this is to look back at what you have done over the last week. Then, think about how you felt in the 48 hours following these activities. No issues? Perfect, make it a little bit harder or go for 5 – 10 minutes longer next time. If you felt a little bit of soreness, do exactly the same thing and allow your body to undergo the natural adaptations that lead to improvement. But, if you felt a lot of soreness, it would be a good idea to take a step back and either reduce the intensity or total amount that you are doing.

Speaking of which, a good way to measure intensity is by using the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE). We previously introduced this scale in our Look after your lungs with the help of exercise! post. It is a tool frequently used by exercise professionals to measure an individual’s effort, exertion, breathlessness and fatigue. It provides a measure of how hard it feels to complete a certain activity (the intensity). You can use physical sensations such as heart rate, sweating, breathlessness and muscle fatigue to estimate how hard they are working.

The original scale that is frequently used by many exercise professionals uses a 6-20 scale. However, the CR10 scale referred to as as a modified Borg scale is simpler to use (see the image below). Aiming for a 5 or 6 is a great place to start!

Warm Up and Cool Down

The warm-up and cool-down are two of the most important parts of any training session, and is quite often underestimated and undervalued.

The warm-up provides us with an opportunity to prepare our body for what is to come. It’s like you are cooking – you wouldn’t just put your food straight into the oven and expect it to cook, would you? You need to switch it on and allow it to warm-up first. It is the same for our muscles. We use the warm-up to activate them and allow them to warm-up, reducing our overall injury risk. An effective warm-up also helps us reduce any stiffness and soreness we experience during recovery, as well as improving our athletic performance during exercise.

The cool-down is just as important as the warm-up, as we need to allow our bodies to switch off after a session. Whether we go for a walk, do some stretching or some self-massage, we need to provide our muscles with an opportunity to remove the by-products from energy production, as well as reducing any tension that has built up. This helps reduce the impact of any potential over-training side effects and gives us a quicker turn around time before our bodies are ready to exercise again.

Self-Massage (Myofascial Release)

This is my personal favourite! Myofascial release is a form of self-massage that aims to relax and remove tension from your muscles. This can be done in multiple ways, including using a foam roller, spikey ball or your own thumb! Whether you use this as a part of your warm-up, cool-down or as a stand along exercise sessions, myofascial release can help you improve your flexibility and manage over-training side effects such as injury risk, soreness and stiffness. 

If you would like some more information on stretching and myofascial release, check out our previous post “Up, up and away. Alternatively, you can have a look at the images below which provide some examples of ways to use a foam roller or spikey ball on different muscles. Please keep in mind that technique is important here, so seek the guidance of an expert before trying these for yourself!

Stretching

Surely you expected stretching to be on this list! Stretching acts in a similar way to foam rolling – it helps us remove tension from the muscles, improve overall flexibility and potentially reduce soreness and stiffness experienced from over-training. 

Unlike foam rolling, stretching is most effective as part of a cool-down or as a stand alone session. If you think back to our warm-ups, we are aiming to activate and switch on our muscles prior to exercise. Static stretching (which is when you get into a position and hold it for 20-30 seconds) has the opposite affect and can switch off your muscles, so to speak. This is great for a cool-down, but not ideal in a warm-up.

Dynamic stretching (stretching when continuing to move, like leg swings) is a good way to warm-up. However, make sure you seek the guidance of an expert before trying dynamic stretching, as good technique is very important!

Check out these images for some examples of how you can stretch the different parts of your body! I’d recommend trying out the hip flexor stretch – it can sometimes be tricky to initially get the stretch, but once you get it, it’s a fantastic stretch!

Light movements and exercise

The key word here is LIGHT. In general, moving is a great way to reduce the impact of over-training side effects. But for this to work it needs to be movements that involve large muscle groups and multiple joints completed at a light intensity.

Going for a light walk or bike ride is a great way to achieve this – these rhythmic movements use many large muscle groups and joints and can be completed at a light intensity. For me, I really enjoy going for a walk around the neighbourhood and using this as a form of recovery. Alternatively, you can also use various exercises for this purpose, like the ones in the images below. Again, just make sure it is at a light intensity – more specifically, aim for a 1 or 2 on the RPE scale above. You will be able to achieve the desired outcome by completing these exercises with no additional resistance, just your own body weight.

Need Some Help?

Instead of figuring all of this out for yourself, maybe it is just easier to get an expert to do it?  One of the specialties of an Exercise Physiologist is load management and, more importantly, implementing strategies to help avoid over-training and manage any side-effects caused by overtraining. If you would like some assistance with this or in achieving your health or performance goals, contact us to organise an appointment to see one of our Exercise Physiologists.

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

Photos provided by Karl Shea and Kiki Vega via Unsplash.com

Williams, N 2017, ‘The Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale’, Occupational Medicine, vol. 67, no. 5, pp. 404-405.

It’s not just our body that we need to look after, but our mind as well!

Here at Live Strong and Prosper, we often present information that stresses the importance of taking care of our body. But it is also important to take care of our mind as well.

With R U Ok? Day approaching, we thought it would be a good time to have a chat about mental health. Specifically, let’s discuss how we can maintain our own mental health and support those around us. 

What do we mean by Mental Health?

Mental health is defined by the World Health Organisation as: “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”.

Mental Health conditions affect 20% of Australian’s every year, with 45% of people experiencing a mental health condition at some stage during their lifetime. These mental health conditions include (but are not limited to) depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse disorders and personality disorders. Each mental health condition affects people in different ways, but nonetheless they all have a significant impact on an individual’s overall wellbeing and quality of life.

Even people who are considered mentally ‘healthy’ can go through prolonged periods of sadness, stress or anxiety that can have major implications on their daily life. This is especially true in a society where we are all locked up at home all day while we try and fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many people are impacted by mental health conditions and everyone is susceptible to it. Hence, it is important that we are able to not only understand how to take care of our own mental health, but how to help those around us as well. 

If you would like more information regarding mental health, there are several great organisations with lots of detailed information. Here are three great websites that we would recommend starting with: Headspace (services for young people), Beyond Blue and Black Dog Institute

'R U Ok?' Day

‘R U Ok? day’ is a national day dedicated to reminding us to ask someone who might be struggling with life’s ups and downs if they are okay.

This year, it is being held on Thursday September 10, and on this day we encourage everyone to ask at least one person about how they are doing. This is especially important now as we are all locked up at home as we battle our way through this pandemic!

"I'm just one person, what can I do?"

There are many ways that you can help those around you. Even by yourself, you are able to change the world for one person. Just remember that you do not need to be an expert to help someone, just a great friend!

I could go on for a while about the different ways in which you can help someone who you think might be struggling. The simplest way is to get in touch with them and ask “are you okay?” These three words can be very powerful. Most of us don’t express our feelings naturally because either we are too embarrassed to mention it or just don’t know how to start the conversation. Asking the question provides someone with the invitation to open up and express the feelings that they have buried deep inside. And I’m sure we all know the amazing feeling of that weight lifting off your shoulders when you talk to someone about problem. 

If you are unsure of the best way to ask someone if they are okay, check our the R U OK? website. 

Don't just worry about everyone else!

As important as it is to check in with others and to make sure they are okay, it is just as important to take care of yourself! Maybe you are having some difficulties at home or are struggling with work?  You could be stressed about an upcoming event, missing loved ones or are just generally run down and tired. The reasons will vary for everyone and some ways might not be as important as they way you respond to them. That is why it is so important that you take some time to look after your own mental health.

Like many things, it is easier said than done. But there are many strategies that can help you improve or manage your mental health:

      • Getting some fresh air
      • Yoga or meditation
      • Mindfulness
      • “Me time”
      • Having a conversation with a friend or family member
      • Physical activity and exercise

If things feel overwhelming, keep in mind that your GP is a vital link to professional supports such as a Psychologist.

The power of physical activity

Exercise is often considered as a neglected intervention for mental health conditions. Although there is no consensus in regard to how exercise assists in mental health management, as there are many mechanisms that contribute. However, the link between exercise and positive impacts on mental health is solid and well researched.  Both general aerobic exercises, such as walking, cycling, swimming, gardening and dancing, and resistance training, done from a gym or home setting, have been shown to provide these benefits.

Regular exercise results in mental health improvements by reducing the symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. It also helps improve self-esteem, cognitive function, mood, overall quality of life and the symptoms associated with social withdrawal. Further effects of exercise such as improved sleep, energy levels, weight and fatigue management, and cardiovascular fitness have also been particularly helpful for those with mental health conditions.

Where do I start?

As we have mentioned, any form of aerobic or resistance training exercise can help provide these benefits. If you are a bit unsure of what options there are, check out our No gym? No problem! Effective ways to exercise outside the gym! post. Looking for something a bit more fun to get the family involved? Try Your guide to making exercise fun for kids! – it has some great options for families of any size!

If doing it alone seems too daunting then simply drop us an email and we’ll make an appointment with you to talk you through the best approach for you. You do not have to do this alone – we are here to help.

Enjoying this Blog?
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!

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

Keep an eye out in the future 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

Beyond Blue, What is mental health?, viewed 04/09/2020, https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/what-is-mental-health

Black Dog Institute, Facts and Figures about mental health, viewed 04/09/2020, https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/1-facts_figures.pdf

Callaghan, P., (2004). Exercise: a neglected intervention in mental health care?. Journal of psychiatric and mental health nursing, 11(4), pp.476-483.

Photos provided by arek Adeoye, Fernando Cferdo, Josh Riemer, Mor Shani and Sincerely Media via Unsplash.com

R U Ok? Day – https://www.ruok.org.au/join-r-u-ok-day

Sharma, A., Madaan, V., & Petty, F. D. (2006). Exercise for mental health. Primary care companion to the Journal of clinical psychiatry, 8(2), 106.

Look after your lungs with the help of exercise!

Welcome to National Asthma Week!

As the name suggests, National Asthma Week (1st to 7th September) is a week dedicated to raising awareness of Asthma.

Around 2.7 million Australians are living with Asthma – thats 1 in 9 people!

Asthma doesn’t discriminate either, affecting both children and adults of both genders. It also occurs twice as often within Aboriginal and Torres Straight Island communities, as well as being more common in socioeconomically disadvantaged, regional and remote areas.

To put it simply, Asthma affects a wide variety of people. But what exactly is Asthma? And how can exercise help? Let’s dive in and find out!

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic medical condition that affects our airways – the breathing tubes that transport air in and out of our lungs. Asthma causes these airways to become narrower, making it harder to breathe by:

      • Tightening up – the muscles within the airways constrict and narrow the airways
      • Thickening up – the lining of the airways become inflamed and swollen, leaving less room for the air to pass through
      • Filling up – the inside of the airways get filled with mucous

The exact causes of Asthma are unknown, but it is believed that their is a genetic component to the condition. There is also an understanding that allergens (such as pollens), air pollution, smoking and air temperature can contribute and cause Asthma symptoms to appear.

To continue learning more about Asthma symptoms and treatments head to National Asthma Council Australia or Asthma Australia websites.  

How does exercise help?

Exercise is a fantastic tool to help manage Asthma and overall improve lung function. Regular exercise training improves: 

      • Ventilatory Threshold – the point at which our breathing increases at a faster rate than our oxygen supply
      • Maximal Oxygen Uptake – the maximum rate in which we can breathe in and use oxygen
      • Ventilation Efficiency – how well our respiratory system (lungs) are able to supply our body with oxygen.
      • Myocardial Oxygen Cost – the amount of oxygen used to create the energy we need to exercise

Alongside these improvements, Asthma symptoms can not only reduce in severity, but also begin to occur at a higher exercise intensity. This, for example, allows for an asthmatic to run faster, walk for longer or climb more stairs at a faster speed before the onset of symptoms.

Exercise Guidelines

To achieve the most beneficial outcomes, it is important to complete the right type of exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that individuals with Asthma should complete both aerobic and resistance training. 

      • Aerobic training:
        • 3 – 5 days/week.
        • Activities that involve large muscle groups (such as walking, running or swimming)
        • Gradually build up to 30 – 40 minutes.
        • This can be completed in either:
            • High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – short, but fast bouts of exercise with rest periods in between.
            • One continuous bout at a moderate speed.
        • Some great examples of aerobic activities are:
            • Walking/Running
            • Hiking
            • Cycling
            • Stair climbing
            • Rowing
            • Cross-trainer
      • Resistance training:
        • 2 – 3 days/week
        • 2 – 4 sets of 8 – 12 repetitions of each exercise
        • Exercises (using free weights, machines or even just your own bodyweight) utilising large muscle groups. This could include exercises like:
            • Squats
            • Push Ups
            • Chest Press
            • Lat Pull Down
            • Step Ups
            • Shoulder Press
            • Seated Row
            • Lunges

If you would like some more great suggestions on different ways to exercise, check out our previous post No gym? No problem! Effective ways to exercise outside the gym!

Important considerations!

These exercise guidelines were designed for someone living with Asthma, however they will be beneficial for anyones respiratory health. Additionally, it is important to consider that the prescription may be slightly different for people with other chronic respiratory conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Cystic Fibrosis. If that is you, it is always advisable to seek the advice of a professional, like an Exercise Physiologist, before starting an exercise program.

We also know that exercise has the potential to induce Asthma symptoms. Hence, it is important to have your Asthma medication with you while exercising, just in case you need it!

It is also important to understand how exercising and the environment impact your Asthma symptoms. For example, exercising on a cold winters morning when the air is dry, or outside in the spring with lots of pollen and grass clippings around can be potential triggers for many asthmatics. You also need to know the intensity of exercise at which Asthma symptoms start to occur for you.

This can be challenging, and sometimes a little scary, to figure out, so seeking the assistance of an exercise professional is an important step to take. To ensure you are maximising the benefits while remaining safe, contact us to organise and appointment with on of our Exercise Physiologists!

How do I know if I'm getting the most out of my exercise?

A great way to monitor our work load is by using the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE). It is a tool frequently used by exercise professionals to measure an individual’s effort, exertion, breathlessness and fatigue. To put it simply, it provides a measure of how hard it feels to complete a certain activity. The individual completing a task will use physical sensations such as heart rate, sweating, breathlessness and muscle fatigue to estimate how hard they are working.

The original scale disigned by Borg and often used by many exercise professionals uses a 6-20 scale. However, the CR10 (0-10) scale referred to as as a modified Borg scale is simpler to use, so we’ll use it here.

Specifically referring to the recommendations above, you should aim for aerobic training to be completed between a 4 and 6 initially, building up to a 6 to 7. As for resistance training, beginners should start at a 6 to 7 and those with more experience in weight training at an 8.

Although this is a good guide to your starting point, the ideal training intensity does vary for each individual’s circumstances. Hence, it is advisable that you seek the advice of an expert before beginning your exercise journey. For some assistance, contact us to organise an appointment with one of our Exercise Physiologists. 

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:

Keep an eye out in the future 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

Asthma Australia (2020), What is Asthma?, viewed 01/09/2020, https://asthma.org.au/about-asthma/understanding-asthma/asthma/ 

Durstine, JL, Moore, GE & Painter, PL 2016, ACSM’s exercise management for persons with chronic diseases and disabilities, Champaign, IL Human Kinetics, [2016]. Fourth edition.

National Asthma Council Australia (2019), What is Asthma?, viewed 01/09/2020, https://www.nationalasthma.org.au/understanding-asthma/what-is-asthma 

Photos provided by Fitsum Admasu, Paul Green and Robina Weermeijer via Unsplash.com

Riebe, D 2016, ACSM’s guidelines for exercise testing and prescription, Philadelphia Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Health, 2014. 10th ed.

Williams, N 2017, ‘The Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale’, Occupational Medicine, vol. 67, no. 5, pp. 404-405.

The first step is always the hardest – tips on starting a successful behaviour change journey!

“Habits are formed by repetition of particular acts. They are strengthened by an increase in the number of repeated acts. Habits are also weakened or broken, and contrary habits are formed by the repetition of contrary acts”

                                                                                                        – Mortimer J Adler.

This quote really hits the nail on the head! When it comes to habits, whether they are good or bad, they become stronger by continually repeating the same action. As they strengthen, they become more difficult to change. And this is where a lot of people get unstuck when it comes to changing their behaviour. In a lot of scenarios, people try to make a change to become a better version of themselves, but they fall back into habits that have formed over the course of many years! 

Change is hard!

To put it simply, behaviour change is hard! I remember back to my time at university. One of my units was all about health behaviour, and to help us understand the behaviour change process, we needed to make a health related change for ourselves. I chose to try and cut down on how much soft drink I was drinking – it was an issue I knew I had but I had never gotten around to changing it. So why not now? I failed to achieve my goal during that unit, but even though I had finished the class and didn’t need to anymore, I wanted to make this change for myself. So I kept trying. And I failed again, and again, and again. Each time it was for a different reason, but each time the outcome was the same – I fell back into my old habits.

And that is the inspiration for this post. I understand first hand how hard change can be, no matter how much we want to make that change and I want to help you achieve your goal. So, have a think about something that you want to change. Maybe it is health related, maybe it’s not. In the end, it doesn’t matter what it is, all that matters is that it is important enough for you to want to change. Thought of something? Great! Then let’s get started.

Are you ready for change?

This is the most important question – are you ready to make a change? Because at the end of the day, if you aren’t ready, it is less likely to work. Before we dive any deeper into this, first we need to briefly mention the stages of change.

The stages of change

People in this phase have no intention of changing. Maybe you have tried before and given up, maybe you are unaware of any problems. Either way, you aren’t considering any changes right now.

In this phase, people recognise that they have a problem and are considering changing. This is the stage we can be stuck in for the longest – “I know I need to change, but….”.  Most people believe that they don’t have the motivation, time or energy to make the change and therefore don’t do anything about it.

Here, we are close to taking action. We have thought about what we might do and have possibly come up with a plan, but just haven’t put it in place yet.

Now we know we need to change, we’ve decided to do it and we have a plan. It’s time to put our plan into action and work to make our change!

In this stage, we continue to implement our plan. We continue to work towards turning our change into a permanent habit. But, this is where we also encounter obstacles and may relapse. So, it’s important that we build strategies to work through these problems.

This is the finish line! Our action plan has worked, we’ve navigated past our obstacles and our new behaviour is ingrained into our daily life. 

So what stage are you in?

To figure out which stage you are currently in and if you are ready for change, it is important to ask yourself a few questions:

        • What do you want? What is your ultimate goal?
        • Do you want to change your behaviour?
        • Why is it important for you to change?
        • What change is the greatest priority at this time?
        • Does this change help you move closer to your ultimate goal?

If you are unsure about any of these questions, it means we are in the precontemplation stage. In other words, you aren’t sure about what it is you want or need to change.

If you know what your ultimate goal is, you do want to change, you know why it is important, if it is a priority to you, and if it does help you move closer to your goal, then you are in the contemplation stage. Now that we know we are here, let’s move towards taking action.

Time to take action!

Before we can meaningfully take action we need to have a plan. This will give yourselves the best chance of success! To prepare for change, we must set ourselves goals. Most unsuccessful goals are vague and open-ended, like “get into shape by exercising more.” The best type of goal is a SMART goal.

SMART Goals

A goal that contains specific details rather than general statements.

“Attend the gym (or complete my home program) each Tuesday and Thursday for 60-minutes, in addition to an Exercise Physiology appointment at Simply Stronger each Saturday”

A goal that has a measurable outcome to determine success.

“Reduce my soft drink intake to one glass each day for the next three weeks”

A goal that focusses on the specific action that needs to be completed

“Go for a run on Saturday mornings.”

A goal that is realistic to achieve.

“Increase my daily walk from 15 to 20 minutes”

A goal that has a time to achieve it within.

“Attend the gym three times per week for eight consecutive weeks, then reassess.”

If your goals meet these criteria, then you have laid a great foundation to make your change from. Alternatively, if you are uncertain about your goals or want some guidance on building effective goals, let us know in the comments below or contact us! We can help you develop effective SMART goals that will enhance your change of successful change!

Now that we have our goals in place, we can take action and put our plan into place. Sounds easy right? Well, don’t forget what we said at the start about this being hard – this is where it can get tricky.

Here comes the hard part

I mentioned earlier that my attempts at reducing my soft drink intake failed over and over again and my old habits kicked in. This is the stage in which this happened – I would make the change initially, but then a couple of weeks in is when my old habits came back. Even now, a few years down the track, I encounter bumps in the road and occasionally slip back into old habits. It is an ongoing challenge that requires long-term maintenance in order to turn our action plan into a habit.

This is where the maintenance phase comes into place, and why it is so important to develop strategies for overcoming the obstacles that you face. Maybe your barrier is related to time, motivation, energy, temptations, work load, stress, fatigue, having overambitious goals, negative mindset or lack of support or even a lack of good guidance? There are many things that can go wrong, but there are many solutions out there!

Now I would love to sit here and give you every solution for every situation. But if I did that, I would never finish this post. It is very specific to you and your goal, the barrier you are experiencing and your circumstances. So, let us know in the comments below what your barrier is and we will respond with some helpful strategies. You never know, maybe someone else reading this post is having the same problem as you! Alternatively, you can contact us and we can help you develop strategies and overcome your obstacles with a face to face, Telehealth or over the phone appointment!

There will be ups and downs!
Be persistent, and don't give up!

We are here to help!

It is never easy to go through the behaviour change process by yourself. As I have mentioned above, you need a good support system around you and may even need some help with developing goals or strategies to overcome barriers. This is something we can help with, as Exercise Physiologists are trained to assist people with their behaviour change journey. We are able to help identify and set SMART goals, identify barriers, set plans to get around these obstacles and provide expert advice on the best way to achieve your goal – especially when it is related to exercise or your physical health! If you would like some assistance, contact us to organise an appointment and start your journey with one of our Exercise Physiologists.

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 
      • Breathe easier with exercise. The benefits of exercise for Asthma!
      • A healthy heart needs to exercise!

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!

Follow us on social media!

References and useful resources

Broadbent, J (2012), HBS110: Health Behaviour, Pearson Australia

Habits for wellbeing, 20 quotes to inspire you to change habits, viewed on 25 August 2020, https://www.habitsforwellbeing.com/20-quotes-to-inspire-you-to-change-habits/ 

Photos provided by Braden Collum, Clem Onojeghuo, Jakob Owens and Hello I’m Nik 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

Your guide to making exercise fun for kids!

We all know how important it is for kids to be active, I don’t think I need to convince you all of that. It is essential for kids to not only grow and develop the skills they need, but also to reduce the risk life style based diseases such as; obesity, diabetes and heart conditions, while improving their mental health.

But we live in a time where kids would often prefer to sit indoors and play video games instead of being active. So, how do we get kids to get up off the couch and participate in exercise?

The key to this – they have to want to do it!

Kids will play video games because it is what the enjoy doing, or at least they enjoy it more than exercise. For us to get our kids to be more active, we need to make it fun. We need to make them want to go out and be active. That’s the idea behind today’s post – here is your guide to making exercise fun for kids!

Fire up their imagination

Sometimes you don’t need equipment, all you need is your imagination. Kids have the best imaginations and have a knack of making something out of nothing. So let their imagination run wild!

Keep in mind that kids are more likely to participate in and enjoy something that they have come up with. It’s one of the first lessons I learned at university regarding behaviour change. For it to work, the idea or decision has to come from within. This lesson applies directly to this situation. Kids will be more likely to do something they decide to do compared to being told to do it. So let them use their imagination and give them control to choose (with guidance as needed). This will make them more engaged and more likely to participate frequently.

If your kid is a bit stuck for ideas, kick start their imagination with our video. From our Simply Kids series. “Move like an animal” is a great example of how you can get kids imagination firing while getting them moving at the same time. Let us know which animals your kids like to move like in the comments below!

Kids love competition

There is only one thing that kids love more than competition (aside from sugar!), and that’s winning. If we are being honest, everyone loves to win! At the end of the day, kids become more engaged and invested in physical activity if they are competing. Even if they lose, it’s a great way to teach them resilience, persistence and how to respond to not being successful.

There are endless ways of making something competitive. I’ve found that the best ways are to:

      • Have a race
      • See who can last the longest
      • Keep score
      • Try to beat a score/time from last time.

I do understand that there are some kids that don’t like competition. If that is the case, then we have plenty more strategies that you can use!

Sports are a good starting point

Sports can be a great way to get kids active. It doesn’t matter what the sport is, all that matters is that they enjoy it and want to participate. They don’t even have to play at a high level! It’s a great way for them to be social and have fun while exercising and that’s what matters.

For me, Basketball has always been my sport. I first got introduced to it at Primary School when I was 7. Once I started playing, I fell in love with it! It was so much fun and I was inspired by watching those that played at the highest level. It played a massive role in the development of my physical health and capabilities. And there is no reason why a sport can’t do that for your child too. Let them try it out, see if they enjoy it and let them be inspired by those at the highest level. After that, it’s very easy to get them involved.

But, if competitive sport isn’t appealing for your child, maybe casual sport is. Kicking the footy around, shooting some hoops, going for a bike ride or playing around with a soccer ball are great ways to exercise and have fun without having to be in a competitive environment. It also enables you to adjust the sport to fit your circumstances (space, equipment, etc.). You could even come up with your own brand new sport. Every sport is made up anyway!

Active video games!

Funnily enough, there is such a thing as an active video game! Why not use a kid’s enjoyment of video games to help them be more active? Platforms like the Nintendo Wii and X-Box Kinect provide gaming options that require the participant to move around to play. There are many options out there, so it is worth looking into, especially if you can find an option for a console you already have!

Alternatively, you could also be creative to find a way to incorporate physical activity into their favourite video game. It’s important to remember that what works for one game won’t necessarily work for others. As an example, for a sports game, maybe when you score a goal you need to complete a certain activity before being allowed to pick the controller back up and continuing the game? or could be based around competition – the losing player needs to do ten star jumps or push ups.  Let us know in the comments below if you have any ideas on ways to incorporate exercise into your child’s favourite video game!

Build an obstacle course

This is a great way to utilise your kids imagination, and another fantastic way to be active. You can use anything for any role and turn it into a full course! A tunnel made of chairs, a balance beam made of a resistance band or tape, jumping over objects, climbing onto play sets, using a skipping rope, climbing stairs, or lifting and carrying ‘heavy’ objects. The options are endless! Your course can consist of many obstacles and variations that challenge many physical components such as movement mechanics, strength, endurance and balance.

The other thing to consider is what are you trying to achieve by beating the course? Is it a race? Maybe you need to get to the end and throw a ball at a target for points. Another great option I have had success with is a memory challenge. Set up a pattern of coloured balls (or another object) hidden at the end of the course. Once you get through the course, have a look at the pattern before making your way back through the course to re-create the pattern back at the start. If you get it wrong, back through the course you go to get another look. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what it is, but the best courses have an end goal that the kids can focus on achieving.

In the video below, we show you some examples of what your obstacle course could include. Check it out and give your kids some ideas of what items they can include in their course. Let us know in the comments below what your course is made up of and what equipment you use. You never know, maybe your idea will feature in a future post!

Exercise based games

There are some really great options out there for games that require exercise. One that I use all the time is Hyperdash, and kids love it! You have a hand held controller and 5 different coloured domes. Start by placing the controller on any dome, then the music starts and it names coloured domes. You race to the colour and place the controller on the dome as quickly as you can before moving onto the next colour. The fastest time wins, or you can try to beat your personal best. It works particularly well when the domes are really spread out. For example, when I play with my sister, we have domes in different rooms in the house. We end up running all over the place and get a great cardio workout!  This is such an easy one to replicate at home, you could use different coloured cups or even paper with different markers like letters. We love a game that challenges their minds as well!

Another great option is Twister, which is more challenging for strength, flexibility and balance. Or you could go for something like Charades that doesn’t need equipment.

You could also take the opportunity to design your own active game with what you have around the house. As part of our Simply Kids series, we created a video with some games that can be played with two (or more) people using household items. Check it out below, give the games a try or use these ideas as inspiration to create your own game! Let us know what games your kids like to play in the comments below!

Adapt their favourite board game

Just like the video games, it can be a great option to adapt a board game to include an active component. Let’s use Monopoly as an example. An option would be that every time a player goes to Jail, they need to run a lap of the house. There could be a requirement to complete ten star jumps every time you buy a property. Or exercise could be used as a way to make trading more interesting. If they want to make a trade, they need to successfully complete a task within a time limit.

This strategy also involves plenty of imagination and creativity, so let us know in the comments below what exercise-based additions you have incorporated into your family game night!

Want to know more?

 Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA) recently published their new e-book “Exercise for Kids“. It is a great resource that provides a lot of information around the importance of exercise for kids, the benefits it can provide them, and how exercise can help kids with various medical conditions.

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

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 members 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

Photos provided by Allen Taylor, National Cancer Institute, NeONBRAND and Rafaela Biazi via Unsplash.com