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

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

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

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

Bodyweight Exercises

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

How can I do these exercises at home?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resistance Band Exercises

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

Did Someone Say Cardio?

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

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

Incidental Exercise

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

How do we take this to the next level?

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

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

Exploring Nature

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

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

Community Sport

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

Pets Love To Be Active!

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

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

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

Family Time!

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

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

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

Video Games - That's Right, Video Games!

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

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

Want to know more?

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

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

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

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

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

We are here to help!

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

Follow us on Social Media!

References

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

Exercise is medicine – the importance of including exercise in your daily routine.

Exercise can be a wonderful way to start the day!

“If exercise could be packaged in a pill, it would be the single most widely prescribed and beneficial medicine in the nation.”                                                                                                                                     – Robert H. Butler

Exercise is medicine! It can be used by anyone to help achieve any health or performance related goals, but by no means does exercise solve every problem alone! Exercise provides a wide variety of health benefits, and these are maximised when combined with a healthy diet and good work-life balance. Hence, it is essential that exercise is a part of our daily routine.

In this post, we will be discussing the benefits that regular exercise provides. In addition, we’ll provide details on how much exercise we need to complete and potential barriers that could hold us back.

The benefits of exercise

The number of health benefits that regular exercise provides is tremendous. Anyone can reap the rewards of exercise, no matter the circumstances or goals. These benefits include, but are not limited to:

      • Improving:
        • Cardiovascular health and function
        • Musculoskeletal and bone health and function
        • Lung health and function
        • Digestive system health and function
        • Mental health and mood
        • Athletic performance
        • Overall function and quality of life
      • Reducing the risk of:
        • Cancer
        • Increased stress and anxiety
        • Injuries
        • Chronic health conditions
        • All-cause mortality
      • Assisting with:
        • Weight loss
        • Rehabilitation from an injury
Exercise can come in many forms, like going for a jog on a beautiful day!

How much should I exercise?

The Australian Physical Activity Guidelines provide recommendations as to how much and the type of exercise an individual should complete throughout a week. In summary, these guidelines suggest that adults should:

      • Be physically active on most, preferably all, days each week
      • Accumulate:
          • 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity every week (20 to 40 minutes every day)
          • 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity every week (10 to 20 minutes each day)
          • Or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous intensity physical activity
      • Complete muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days every week

It is also important to make sure that we minimise the amount of time spent in prolonged sitting, breaking up long periods of sitting as often as possible.

Although these guidelines are a great starting point, the ideal amount and intensity of exercise is dependant on individuals circumstances and goals. It is important to remember that no matter the circumstances, something is always better than nothing! It will always be more valuable to find 5-10 minutes each day to exercise than to do none at all.

You don't need a gym to complete some strength exercises!

What if I can't exercise?

There are many barriers and obstacles that can prevent people from incorporating exercise into their daily routine. In a lot of cases, it seems impossible to be able to work around these obstacles. Common barriers that are encountered include:

      • Not enough time
      • Inconvenience
      • Not having access to equipment
      • Fear of failing/safety
      • Injury, pain or discomfort
      • Perceived Capability
      • Lack of motivation or feelings of depression
      • Inertia
      • Lack of social support
      • Weather
      • Age
      • Don’t know what to do or where to start

Over the coming weeks, we will be creating posts that will provide you with strategies to overcome various barriers and obstacles. Comment down below if you are facing any barriers and we will make sure to talk about it in a future post!

As difficult as it may seem, it is always possible to climb over any barrier!

We are here to help!

Exercise Physiologists specialise in assisting individuals use exercise as a form of medicine to achieve health and performance goals. If you would like some assistance or advice on how you can use exercise to enhance your quality of life, overall function and achieve your goals, contact us to organise an appointment to see 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!

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

      • No gym, no problem!
      • Hang on, exercise can be fun?
      • 5 ways to squeeze in exercise when you don’t have time!
      • Returning to health after COVID-19

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

Follow us on Social Media!

References

Department of Health, 2019, Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines and the Australian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines, Department of Health, retrieved June 2020, https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines 

Lees, F.D., Clark, P.G., Nigg, C.R. and Newman, P., 2005. Barriers to exercise behavior among older adults: a focus-group study. Journal of aging and physical activity, 13(1), pp.23-33.

Riebe, D., 2016, ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, Philadelphia Wolters Klumer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Health, 10th ed.

Photos provided by Annie Spratt, Jenny Hill, Jorge Ibanez and Kike Vega via Unsplash.com