Health and Lifestyle tips from The Absolute Balance Team

Heart Rate


It is important that you maintain an adequate level of aerobic fitness to look after your heart. Regular structured exercise will also help maintain a healthy weight and control other risk factors for heart disease.  Components of exercise prescription constitute the exercise dose or quantity needed to improve health. Exercising in the correct framework can help you get the most out of your physical activity and maximise your workout. Exercise prescription relies heavily on the parameters comprised in the FITT principle which is used as the building blocks for the foundation of a programme.

The FITT principle, outlined below, should be used when considering or evaluating your aerobic exercise program needs.

Frequency – The first thing to set up is how often you will exercise. You should aim for exercising at least three times per week and aim for most days of the week.

Intensity – You should try to exercise at a target heart rate of 60-85% of the maximum for your age, depending on your fitness level. The exercise undertaken depends on your goals.                

Time – Your exercising sessions should last between 20-45 minutes, counting only the time in which you are actually working at your target heart rate.  There isn’t one set rule and will typically depend on your fitness level and type of workout you are undertaking.  Note: time taken for warm-up should not be included.

Type – You need to do aerobic exercise to improve your cardiovascular fitness. Aerobic exercise is continuous exercise that sufficiently increases your heart rate and can include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, rowing, riding, and most aerobic classes. Having more than one go-to aerobic activity is important as your body needs variability.



Resting Heart Rate

Your resting heart rate should ideally be in the range of 50-80 beats per minute.

How to Calculate Resting Heart Rate:

  1. Locate you pulse
  2. Count the number of beats in 15 seconds
  3. Multiply your score by four will give you heart rate in beats per minute

Your Resting Heart Rate =                                   bpm

RHR is an excellent predictor of your current fitness levels. The lower your RHR, the better.



Your Target Heart Rate is the optimum heart rate at which you should train in order to get the most effective workout. Target heart rate is generally expressed as a percentage of your maximum safe heart rate. To calculate your target heart rate, you will first need to know your maximum heart rate (MHR).

Maximal Heart Rate

This is theoretically the highest rate a person can attain during heavy exercise.

How to calculate Estimated Maximum Heart Rate:

MHR = 220 bpm – age (in years) =                                   bpm


Target Heart Rate

To determine whether exercise intensity is high enough to increase fitness levels we measure HR whilst exercising. Research has shown that noticeable gains in fitness occur when the HR during exercise is raised to approximately 60-85% of Maximum HR.

Poor Fitness:                                    60% of Maximum HR

Average Fitness:                             70% of Maximum HR

Excellent Fitness:                            75%+ of Maximum HR


How to calculate Target Heart Rate:

THR = MHR x % intensity

Example: Jane is 20 years old with relatively poor fitness levels.

THR        = (220-20) x 60% = 120 bpm


Now that you know your THR, you can monitor your heart rate to ensure it stays around the most effective value.


Leigh Ashmore  (BSc Sports Science, PGradDip Exercise Rehab)

Exercise Rehabilitation Team Leader – Workers Compensation Specialist






Fuminori Katsukawa (2016). FITT principle of exercise in the management of lifestyle-related diseases. Clinical Calcium, 26 (3), 447-451.

Sandra A. Billinger & Pierce Boyne & Eileen Coughenour & Kari Dunning & Anna Mattlage (2014). Does Aerobic Exercise and the FITT Principle Fit into Stroke Recovery? Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep (2015).

Cardio vs Resistance

Cardio Vs Resistance Training: Which is better?

There are many different forms of physical activity that provide benefits to our overall health. These activities can be in the form of running in the park, lifting weights in the gym, or even doing circuit training through bootcamp sessions just to name a few. For some people, the question remains, “What is the best form of exercise?”

Physical activity has been proven to have many benefits such as improvements in cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength, muscular endurance and develop overall physical and mental well-being. As mentioned earlier, there may be instances where some individuals are more inclined towards aerobic exercises such as running and cycling, whereas others prefer the muscular strength aspects achieved through resistance training.

These activities are two common forms of exercise and they have their fair share of benefits towards our overall health, but which one is better? As beneficial as they both are, we also have to understand that it is not a ‘one size fits all’ for everyone when it comes to performing physical activity.

Benefits of Cardio

  • Improves cardiovascular health by helping to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Reduces risk of falls through improvements in balance and agility.
  • Release of endorphins that significantly relieves stress and acts as a natural energy booster.
  • Strengthens immunity levels by increasing antibodies known as “immunoglobulins” produced naturally by the immune system to help combat infections and diseases.
  • Achieves weight loss as you burn hundreds of calories in a single session.

Benefits of Resistance Training

  • Improves muscular strength and muscle mass.
  • Protects bone health by improving bone density, structure, strength and overall functional performance.
  • Improves mood and boosts energy levels through the elevation of endorphins.
  • Increases resting metabolism. While cardio aids in burning the number of calories in a session, resistance training helps keep your metabolism active for much longer and continues to burn calories even after a workout.

A study was conducted over a 12-week period comparing the effects of the different exercise modalities and it concluded that performing a combination of both aerobic and resistance training gave greater benefits in terms of weight loss, fat loss and cardio-respiratory fitness as compared to the respective exercise modalities on its own. This just proves that one mode of exercise is not necessarily superior to the other but having a combination of the two would achieve better results. At the end of the day, everyone is aware that any form of physical activity is beneficial for you. We just have to remember that most people may have difficulty finding the time to exercise so it is important to understand which exercise modality is most effective and suited to work around the individual’s circumstances.

Haseef Salim

Haseef Salim

Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP, AES) (ESSAM)



Department of Health | Physical Activity. (2021). Retrieved 12 February 2021, from


Ho, S., Dhaliwal, S., Hills, A., & Pal, S. (2012). The effect of 12 weeks of aerobic, resistance or combination exercise training on cardiovascular risk factors in the overweight and obese in a randomized trial. BMC Public Health12(1). doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-12-704



Motivational Tips to get back into that exercise routine

Struggling to get back into your exercise routine? We know finding the time and motivation to get moving can be difficult.

Oxford Dictionary defines MOTIVATION as the feeling of wanting to do something, especially something that involves hard work and effort.

Here are some tips which I hope offer you a healthy boost of inspiration and encouragement to get active again.

  • Set a time that works for you

We as humans are creatures of habit. We evolve our daily lives through routine so a great idea is to figure out the best time of day that suits you to get active and make it a standing appointment. It’ll be tough at first but a routine becomes habit very quickly. The body then switches to autopilot and it becomes second nature.

  • Adopt the right mindset

Look at what the exercise gives you and how it makes you feel once you smash those goals you’ve been aiming for. Focus on the benefits of exercise, and what is going on within your own body. You have circulation flowing, building new tissue, clearing the mind and to function at a higher metabolic rate during the day. This right mindset can be incorporated into your daily routine just like brushing your teeth or going to work.

  • Create a fun leisure activity for the weekend

Figure out what works for you, it could be going to the park and walking the dog, heading to the beach with the family or going out for a walk and having breakfast with some close friends. These are fun, engaging and eventful activities which have no time constraints and it gets you moving.

  • Unlock your passion

Find an exercise that you will thoroughly enjoy and the bonus is, you will be improving your physique along the way. Whether that is going to a group fitness class because you love the team environment and energy or pulling weights because you want a challenge or you’re a lover of running and enjoy the wind in your hair choose something that you are passionate about and embrace it. Remember, exercise doesn’t have to be boring, and you’re more likely to stick with a fitness program if you’re having fun.

So, get back out there understand the reasoning you are exercising. Whether it be physiological, psychological or social you are the one that knows best for yourself. Now that you’ve regained your enthusiasm, get moving! Set your goals, make it fun and pat yourself on the back from time to time.


Jessica Peters

Exercise Scientist 


Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries. Motivation.

Finding Your Motivation for Exercise. American College of Sports Medicine.

New Years Resolution?

Do you have a new years resolution for your health and exercise in 2021? It may be obvious to most that creating personal change is something that directly ties into growth and self-improvement.  The same principle is necessary when it comes to exercise habits, and therefore your fitness. Recent evidence-based psychological studies suggest that individuals who feel the need to rely on external prompts as a motivational influencer are far less likely to adhere to the goals they set. This blog will discuss how to create exercise–based change, the effect these changes may have, and why you shouldn’t wait until the new year to get fitter!

Bringing more exercise into your life doesn’t have to be drastic to begin with. Start small, log your progress with a note pad and pen, or in your iPhone notes, and build on it gradually week by week. This is essentially known as the progressive overload principle. Smart progressive overloading will make you fitter and bring you closer to your fitness goals, without the risk of overtraining and losing morale.

When you start exercising more often or bring about exercise-based change, the following physiological and psychological changes may come along with it:

  • Greater productivity at work or in the office; being physically disciplined can have a carry-over effect into all facets of life, particularly with regards to discipline.
  • Hormone balance; hunger hormones such as ghrelin and leptin stabilise which can help to suppress snacking temptations.
  • Greater daily energy expenditure; leaner muscle mass, as a result of being fitter, directly ties into a quicker metabolism. When this occurs, you may also feel sharper throughout the day, concentrate for longer periods, and be less dependent on caffeine to do so.
  • Mood; there is a direct link between exercise and mood change. Exercise can induce feelings of immediate happiness and focus, by releasing neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine.

Get in touch with our team of experienced Exercise Consultants today if you’re interested in finding out more about how to create a healthier, balanced exercise lifestyle. After all, the most important conversations are those that we have with ourselves – so if you’re genuinely unhappy with how you look in the mirror each morning, NOW is the time to do something about it. Not on the first of January.

Jeremy Boyle 

Exercise Scientist 



Jones, F., Harris, P., Waller, H., & Coggins, A. (2005). Adherence to an exercise prescription scheme: the role of expectations, self-efficacy, stage of change and psychological well-being. British journal of health psychology10(Pt 3), 359–378.

Kavanaugh, A. (2007). The Role of Progressive Overload in Sports Conditioning. Conditioning Foundamentals. NSCA’s Performance Training Journal6(1).

Klok, M. D., Jakobsdottir, S., & Drent, M. L. (2007). The role of leptin and ghrelin in the regulation of food intake and body weight in humans: a review. Obesity reviews8(1), 21-34.

Turn your walk into a workout!

With summer upon us, many people (myself included) will be spending a lot more time outdoors enjoying the hot sun and clear skies. There is already a noticeable increase in people going for a walk or run early in the mornings and in the evenings. Walking with purpose is a great way to improve or maintain your overall health. While improving or maintaining cardiovascular fitness, walking can reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and mental health disorders. While many of us are guilty of spending too much time on our bums and on our backs, spending more time on our feet performing weight-bearing activities with moderate to high intensity helps to slow down bone loss and aging.

The key, however, is walking with purpose. Walking at a slow leisurely pace, although still beneficial, will not see you gain the most out of your time in the sun. Unless sickness or injury inhibits you should aim to walk at a brisk pace, faster than you would if you were walking around the house or going shopping – although I have seen some impressive power-walkers at the local Westfield. Walking with intensity gets your heart working harder and will lead to greater changes in your aerobic fitness and cardiovascular health.

If you’re already a pro at walking with purpose, you can take this one step further and introduce some bodyweight exercises along your walk. Depending on how far or how long you walk you can set yourself some stops or stations along the way. An easy way to do this is set a timer for your walk. Set a timer for 3-5 minutes depending on how long you intend to walk for. Every 3-5 minutes stop and perform high repetitions of an exercise/exercises before continuing. This will be sure to increase your heart rate and build strength and endurance in your muscles.

Example Walk Plan

Walk Duration: 20 Minutes

Every 4 minutes stop and perform:

  • 12 Squats
  • 12 Lunges
  • 12 Star Jumps

Aim to perform each repetition with quality and complete exercises one after another with little to no rest. Your walk will then become your “active recovery” period. Suddenly you have yourself a cardio workout plan built around your morning/evening walk. The same program can be adjusted if you decided to go for a run. Throwing in some body weight exercises during your walk can help you maximise the short time you have to walk the dog or clear your head. So, the next time you go for a walk, why not turn it into a workout!

If you have been limited to walking because of sickness or injury, please make sure you seek clearance from your GP and relevant health professionals before attempting to increase your activity levels. If that happens to be the case, our team of qualified Exercise Physiologists at Absolute Balance are well equipped to prescribe effective, outcome-based exercise programmes to assist in your rehabilitation and ensure safe exercise progression. You can contact us at


Bastien Auna

Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AES, AEP) (ESSAM)



Lee, I. (2007). Dose-Response Relation Between Physical Activity and Fitness. JAMA297(19), 2137. doi: 10.1001/jama.297.19.2137

Murtagh, E., Murphy, M., & Boone-Heinonen, J. (2010). Walking: the first steps in cardiovascular disease prevention. Current Opinion in Cardiology22(5), 490-496. doi: 10.1097/hco.0b013e32833ce972

Murphy, M., Nevill, A., Neville, C., Biddle, S., & Hardmann, A. (2002). Accumulating brisk walking for fitness, cardiovascular risk, and psychological health. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise34(9), 1468-1474. doi: 10.1097/00005768-200209000-00011

To take a break or adapt your training style – the holiday season dilemma

It’s safe to say 2020 has been a year full of adapting. Fitness-wise with the shutdowns and restrictions as a result of COVID-19 we are all well practiced in how to keep a fitness routine alive while gyms are closed – show of hands for using household items in place of weights! So the question is should you take a break or adapt your training style over the holiday season?

If you are looking to keep some consistency to your training regime but won’t have access to a gym or any gym equipment during the festive season try changing up the tempo of bodyweight exercises to make them more challenging by using the Time Under Tension principle. This is an easy and effective way to manipulate the amount of stress on your muscles when you aren’t able to add extra load through weights (or canned goods hello COVID-19 closures). For example, in a squat or push up try lowering for 5 seconds, holding at the bottom for 5 seconds then coming back up in 1. The idea being that by lengthening different phases of a movement will increase the volume of your training and force the muscle to work harder.

If you’d rather scale back your training and give your body a bit of a break that’s great too! Remember winding down or taking it easy doesn’t have to mean doing nothing at all. It doesn’t have to be strenuous but try to incorporate some type of physical activity into most days, we are lucky that for us the holiday season falls when the weather is beautiful making it easy to get outside and keep active. Remember anything is better than nothing so walk, run, swim, play, whatever it is just keep moving!

That being said, allow yourself to enjoy the festive season and if you decide you want to take a few days off completely then do it and don’t feel guilty about it. At the end of the day if you are usually consistent with your training a few days off isn’t going to ruin the hard work you’ve put in over the rest of the year.

We will all find ourselves somewhat overindulging this time of year, but it is important not to be tempted to overcompensate by hitting the gym twice as hard when you go back. We need to move away from the idea of using exercise as a punishment for eating more than we should have or not training for a few days, using guilt as an incentive to get into the gym is not a sustainable mindset. Instead, own the decision you made to take a few days off, eat the food you ate or the drinks you consumed and get back on track with a healthy sustainable goal.

Whether you decide to adjust your training or to take a break from your usual fitness routine we at Absolute Balance hope you have a restful and enjoyable festive season and look forward to working with you again in the new year.

Katie McGrath

Exercise Scientist



Gentil, P., Oliveira, E., & Bottaro, M. (2006). Time under Tension and Blood Lactate Response during Four Different Resistance Training Methods. Journal of Physiological Anthropology, 25: 339–344.




HDL Cholesterol and LDL Cholesterol Explained: Made Easy to Understand

Cholesterol frequently gets a bum rap, but it’s necessary for your body to function properly.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance a bit like fat. It moves around your body via your bloodstream, in packages called lipoproteins. These packages are made of fat on the outside (lipo) and protein on the inside (protein).

Sometimes, these lipoproteins leave cholesterol in your arteries, which contributes to the build-up of plaque and increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Rather than two different kinds of cholesterol that are ‘good’ and ‘bad’, there are two different types of lipoproteins that cholesterol travels in. Having some of both types of lipoproteins is essential for good health.

High-density lipoproteins (HDL cholesterol) the ‘good’. They remove cholesterol from your arteries and take it back to your liver to process and eliminate.

Low-density lipoproteins (LDL cholesterol) the ‘bad’ cholesterol. They leave cholesterol in your arteries.

While you need some LDL and HDL cholesterol for your body to work properly, too much cholesterol in total can lead to health problems, as the extra LDL cholesterol builds up in your arteries.

Below are a few lifestyle habits to follow to lower cholesterol.

  • Following a balanced diet
  • Lower intake of saturated fats
  • Remaining physically active and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle
  • Manage your blood pressure
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Quit smoking

If your cholesterol is high, your Doctor might prescribe medication that can help lower cholesterol too.



Liu, J., Sempos, C., Donahue, R., Dorn, J., Trevisan, M. and Grundy, S., 2020. Joint Distribution Of Non-HDL And LDL Cholesterol And Coronary Heart Disease Risk Prediction Among Individuals With And Without Diabetes.

Van Lenten, B., Hama, S., de Beer, F., Stafforini, D., McIntyre, T., Prescott, S., La Du, B., Fogelman, A. and Navab, M., 2020. Anti-Inflammatory HDL Becomes Pro-Inflammatory During The Acute Phase Response. Loss Of Protective Effect Of HDL Against LDL Oxidation In Aortic Wall Cell Cocultures.








The PAWfect exercise buddy

Do you own a dog? We all love our four legged friends and guess what they make the PAWfect exercise buddy – they could be the main reason that many people participate in physical activity.

Here are 4 Reasons how your doggo is good for your health:


It can be pretty hard to find the motivation to get out of the house and go for a walk/run, but when you look over and see those literal puppy dog eyes, it makes it extremely hard to say no.

Having a dog is a great excuse to engage in outdoor activities, especially walking and running which carry huge health benefits.


Research suggests that exercising outdoors can contribute to a reduction in stress and improved mood. Fresh air as mentioned in a previous blog is extremely beneficial. The dose of Vitamin D from sun exposure helps fight mental conditions such as anxiety and depression and is also great for bone health. Fresh air also releases serotonin, the “feel good brain chemical”, making you feel perkier than you may have done when inside.


There is research to suggest that the company of your pet can have effects on reducing stress and anxiety, in turn reducing blood pressure. They are your most trusted confidant, and non-judgemental friend.


Although your dog may cost you a small fortune in food, treats, vet bills and maybe outfits, taking him for a walk/run is completely free and absolutely priceless in terms of the benefits to your health.

So maybe……A dog is the answer to a healthy lifestyle?

Line Malan

Exercise Scientist 



Knight, S. and Edwards, V., 2020. In The Company Of Wolves. 2020. Power Of Pets: Exploring Psychological Effects Of Adding A Dog To The Family – Orange County Register



Muscles aren’t male or female so why does there seem to be an idea that men and women should train differently?

Physiologically speaking all muscles, connective tissues, bones etc look and function the same way regardless of whose body they belong to. So, in that sense alone there is no sensible reason that a resistance training program for a woman should differ to that of a man. Studies have shown that when compared to their individual pretraining baselines, men and women respond to strength training in very similar ways and in fact when compared unit for unit, the muscle tissue of a female is similar in force output to that of a male.

In terms of muscle mass difference, women have roughly two thirds the muscle mass of men, so while generally absolute strength is greater in men due to their greater body mass and fat free mass there is no evidence to suggest that women should train differently than men.

With that being said, fitness is not and should not be a one-size-fits all approach, it’s not quite that simple. There are also some differences between men and women when it comes to a hormonal standpoint that can greatly impact the overall response (muscle adaptation) and ease of body composition changes. However, the idea behind programming resistance training for all genders is the same and when tailored to the individual in terms of loading, everyone is able to incorporate the same main lifts (i.e squats, deadlifts, lunges etc).

Strength and strength training is important and this preconceived idea that women should not be strength training or should be training differently to men leaves many women confused about what type of training they should be doing and worrying that lifting weights will cause them to ‘bulk up’, when on the contrary it is perfectly safe and recommended/encouraged for women to follow a strength training program just as men (provided programmes are relative to the individual in terms of loading). Ladies, you will not, I repeat will not ‘bulk up’. Not only will you become functionally strong and decrease the risk of injury, strength training also assists in building and preserving bone mass, lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease and much more, with benefits like these why wouldn’t you want to start a strength program?

Katie McGrath

Exercise Scientist 



Hollowy, B.J., & Baechle, T.R. (1990). Strength Training for Female Athletes. Sports Medecine 9, 216-228

Ivey, F.M., et al. (2000).  Effects of Strength Training and Detraining on Muscle Quality: Age and Gender Comparisons. Journal of Gerontology 55(3), 152-157

Kell, R.T. (2011). The Influence of Periodized Resistance Training on Strength Changes on Men and Women. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 25(3), 735-744




National Nutrition Week – Tryfor5

Run during National Nutrition Week, Tryfor5 is Nutrition Australia’s annual campaign to encourage Australians to increase their vegetable consumption to the recommended 5 serves per day. Packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, we all know veggies are good for us yet only 4% of Australians currently eat enough vegetables each day with the average person eating only half as much as the recommended 5 serves.

So, we know we should be aiming for 5 serves of veggies per day but how much is a serve? According to Australian Healthy Eating Guidelines one serve of vegetables is equivalent to approximately 75g or:

  • ½ cup cooked green or orange vegetables (for example, broccoli, spinach, carrots or pumpkin)
  • ½ cup cooked dried or canned beans, peas or lentils (preferably with no added salt)
  • 1 cup green leafy or raw salad vegetables
  • ½ cup sweet corn
  • ½ medium potato or other starchy vegetables (sweet potato, taro or cassava)
  • 1 medium tomato

Eating a healthy balanced diet can help reduce the risk of many chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers as well as assist to lower cholesterol, blood pressure and the risk of stroke.

Some easy ways to increase your intake of veggies include:

  1. Smoothies – adding greens to your favourite fruit smoothie recipe is an easy way to sneak more veggies into your day. Try adding some kale, or spinach or make a veggie only smoothie using, spinach, cucumber, carrot and ginger for an extra kick!
  2. Snacks – chop up some veggie sticks from carrots, celery, capsicum or cucumber and pair them with your favourite dip or hummus!
  3. Savoury Muffins – try dicing up some veggies and adding them to a savoury muffin mix for a healthy snack.

So, get sneaky and get creative and Tryfor5 today!


Katie McGrath

Exercise Scientist