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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 

 

References:

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. https://doi.org/10.1348/135910704X24798

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 info@absolutebalance.com.au

 

Bastien Auna

Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AES, AEP) (ESSAM)

 

References

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

 

References:

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.

 

 

 

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:

1 – THEY KEEP YOU ACTIVE:

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.

2 – THEY GET YOU OUTSIDE

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.

3 – THEY REDUCE STRESS AND ANXIETY

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.

4 – ITS FREE

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 

 

References:

Knight, S. and Edwards, V., 2020. In The Company Of Wolves.

Ocregister.com. 2020. Power Of Pets: Exploring Psychological Effects Of Adding A Dog To The Family – Orange County Register

 

Fit & Healthy Over Fifty

More than ever before, people of all demographics particularly those over fifty, are getting into the habit of staying in shape and maintaining decent levels of physical fitness. Studies have shown that exercise is something we can all do for ourselves to help us live longer and enjoy healthier lives, no matter the age.

It is always important to stay consistent and committed when beginning an exercise programme and the results will eventually pay off. As they say, you get what you put in.

Exercise is great for both the body and the mind and can help a great deal with stress-management and levels of alertness, which is highly beneficial in this fast-paced society we continue to live in. It has been known to improve quality of sleep so that we fall asleep quicker and wake up less frequently throughout the night to truly get the rest we need.

It’s no secret that it’s hard to find time to dedicate to exercise when our lives can be so busy and demanding, yet it plays such a crucial role in keeping us all stronger and healthier for longer.

For those who may feel like they’re constantly against the clock, a home workout could be just what the doctor ordered, beginning with as little as 10 minutes a day, two or three times a week and slowly increasing the duration as you become more comfortable with infusing it into your weekly routine.

You don’t necessarily need a big, fancy gym or resistance machines in order to have a great workout. There are countless exercises that require nothing more than our own bodyweight and a little bit of creativity. Resistance bands or “therabands” are great and simple fitness tools which can effectively strengthen the entire body and you can pick them up in most sports stores. The way they work is through constant tension supplied by your own muscles to provide resistance, unlike free-weights which rely on gravity.

Here are a few exercises you can try at home.

Try performing 2 sets of 10 repetitions to begin with.

 Sit-To-Stand

This one is simple but effective. Simply sit in a chair with your feet about shoulder-width apart and stand up without using your hands. Focus on pushing your weight evenly through the heels and contract your glutes as you come up. This exercise is excellent for improving lower limb functional strength and we can increase the difficulty by holding weights in each hand or even performing the exercise with one leg (for those looking for an advanced challenge). If dumbells aren’t readily available, you can be creative and use things found around the house such as water bottles or unopened cans.

Push-up

Tried-and-true, we’ve all done this exercise at some stage in our lives and the benefits are tremendous when it comes to increasing our functional strength through full-body activation. As you perform this movement, all the major muscle groups (biceps, triceps, anterior deltoids, core, lower body muscles) are activated and therefore can be considered a full-body workout alone. We can modify this exercise by performing the movement on the knees or against a wall if upper limb strength has been compromised by injury or general de-conditioning.

Standing Row With A Resistance Band

For this exercise, tie a resistance band to something stable like the leg of a table or a pole. Grab both ends of the resistance band and pull back keeping your forearms parallel to the ground and your thumbs facing up. Be sure to keep your shoulders back and down and try to open-up the chest as you pull.

This exercise is great for strengthening the muscles that draw the shoulder blades back and is beneficial for those with lower back pain. It is beneficial for those who have a job-role that requires spending a lot of time sitting in front of a computer and as a result have a compromised posture and possible muscular imbalances. This exercise may also be performed in a seated position on a chair or a swiss ball to enable more engagement of the core.

Single-Leg Balance

Not only is it simple to do but the benefits that come from practicing are significant and will give you an idea about how good your balance is. The benefits of unilateral exercises such as this one includes isolating and correcting muscle imbalances, utilizing the core muscles and injury and falls prevention.

Exercises with a focus on balance are great for improving proprioception, which is described as the ability to sense one’s body position in space. Start off with trying to balance on one leg for 20 seconds and increase duration as you get more comfortable.

Home workouts are a great way for time-poor individuals to stay in shape and provides positive benefits including being able to do it in whatever setting you desire, whether that’s in the living room in front of the TV, outside in the sun or in the comfort of your bedroom. It’s also affordable and requires little to no equipment to provide both physical and psychological boosts to your body.

 

Chris Chen (BSc – Exercise Physiology)

Senior Accredited Exercise Physiologist

 

References:

Anatomy of Exercise for 50+: A Trainer’s Guide to Staying Fit Over Fifty (Book by Hollis Liebman)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4889622/

https://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/Fulltext/2010/04000/Bodyweight_Training__A_Return_To_Basics.5.aspx

https://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/Fulltext/2013/05000/STRESS_RELIEF__The_Role_of_Exercise_in_Stress.6.aspx

https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Abstract/2010/01001/Effect_Of_Elastic_Band_Resistance_Training_During.29.aspx

The importance of still getting some fresh air

During the Covid-19 lockdown, it was pretty evident how busy the parks/beaches and walking trails were and it was quite encouraging seeing people riding their bikes and going on Sunday strolls with their peers and families. Gyms are open and it is absolutely great, but we must not forget how important fresh air is!

 Four benefits of fresh air:

  1. Fresh air gives you more energy and a sharper mind: You may have noticed that after spending some time outdoors, you come back indoors feeling fresh, brighter and perhaps ready to get back to work. More oxygen results in greater brain functioning, improvement in concentration skills and a big energy provider.
  2. Fresh air is good for your digestive system: It increases the flow of oxygen helping you digest food more effectively so this will particularly help if you are trying to lose weight.
  3. Fresh air strengthens and boosts your immune system: It supplies your immune system with oxygen which helps our white blood cells function properly by decimating and slaughtering microbes, infections, and germs.
  4. Fresh air makes you happier: The more fresh air you get, the more oxygen you will breathe which will increase the amount of serotonin (the happy hormone) you inhale, consequently making you happier.

Therefore, if you are back at the gym, GREAT, but it is encouraged to combine this with a brisk walk/jog outside to get some fresh air and enjoy all the benefits of the outdoors!

 

Line Malan 

Biokineticist

References:

Whitney Christian, M., 2020. Get Sunshine And Fresh Air While Sheltering In Place.

 

Occatholic.com. 2020. FRESH AIR AND SUNSHINE | OC Catholic.