As Exercise Physiologists we help people to manage a range of different health conditions, including overweight and obesity. We help people to set realistic goals and expectations, and provide them with strategies and solutions to assist them to improve their lifestyle, health and well-being. Over the years we have identified a number of common mistakes that people make when commencing a weight loss program. Here we list the top 3 mistakes.
Too much exercise too quickly/unrealistic expectations
When commencing any lifestyle change program it is important to set realistic goals, and this is especially important when setting exercise goals. It is crucial to set SMART goals, which you are pretty confident that you can achieve, initially with short time frames (1-2 weeks), checking in with yourself and ticking off your adherence to these goals frequently.
A common mistake that people make are being too ambitious with their exercise goal, setting the bar very high, and then finding their proposed goal/exercise program very difficult to stick to or achieve, and hence then “fall off the wagon”.
An example is someone who is currently not exercising at all, setting an initial exercise goal to walk for 60 minutes each day. Walking 60 minutes a day is a huge jump from not exercising at all, and could be setting the person up for failure. A stepped approach of commencing with 2-3 days a week of a much shorter walking time, and then increasing this by 10-20% each week is a more realistic goal, increasing chances of success.
It is also very important to physically write your goals down and refer to them often. This has been shown in studies to improve your chance of success.
Not planning or scheduling your proposed exercise
Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
Therefore, once you have set an exercise goal for the coming week, it is very important to plan when you will complete this goal. We often hear from our clients that they are “too busy”, or that “something came up”, or they just “didn’t get around to it.”
We need to schedule our exercise into our week, just as we book in and schedule our appointments with our doctor, our hairdresser or for servicing the car.
At the start of the week, sit down and review your calendar or diary for the coming week, and write your planned exercise into your diary at set days and times. This again relates back to writing your goals down, and helps to increase adherence to your program and your chance of success.
Measuring success only by the number on the scales
It’s very common to feel like you are not losing weight, particularly in the initial stages of your program, despite feeling that you are doing all the right things. But there are a number of factors which can affect the number on the scales for any given day and this should not be the only way that you measure your success.
The benefits of your program can be monitored in a number of ways, and improvements can be seen in your:
Improvements in any of the above factors show that your program is having a positive difference and can help keep you motivated to keep going. Don’t make the mistake of using body mass as your only measure of success.
Looking for more information to help you exercise for weight loss? See our articles here or book in with one of our Exercise Physiologists for a personalised program and individual support.
Accredited Exercise Physiologist & Credentialed Diabetes Educator
Are you finding it hard to lose weight? We understand that weight gain is a lot easier than weight loss for many, and that weight gain is a common problem over the Christmas season. Exercise Physiologists help many people just like you, to improve their weight and health choices so that a healthy lifestyle becomes a way of life, not a quick fix.
Here we discuss 5 top tips that you can start implementing today, to set you on the right path to success.
1. Set realistic goals and expectations
Don’t be too ambitious! Setting yourself up for success and not failure is important. You don’t want to feel discouraged in week one because you have not reached your first goal.
Set a SMART Goal, and then review your confidence and importance levels.
I want to walk 4 times for 30 minutes within the next 7 days.
Now rate your importance of achieving this, and also your confidence level in achieving this both out of 10, with 1 being “there is no way I can achieve this”, and 10 being “I am going to smash this out of the park!”
Are they above 6 out of 10? If yes, go for it, if no, then you may want to modify your goal to something a little bit more achievable, as chances are it may be too ambitious!
2. Create new habits
It’s a new year, so why not practice new healthy habits and/or try something different. You might find something new and exciting that works better for you.
Again, try not to be too ambitious and change everything at once. Choose one habit and then practice it until it becomes a new habit and part of your everyday lifestyle.
Example, I will pack a piece of fruit everyday to have for morning tea to have with my coffee, rather than having biscuits at work. It’s a small, but effective change to a healthier lifestyle.
3. Be NEAT
When it comes to weight loss, there are a few angles that we can target when trying to increase the amount of energy expended each day. We know planned exercise is important, but our Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, that is, the energy that we burn from undertaking all non exercise, sleeping or eating related activities is also very important, and often overlooked.
As you can appreciate, people who work on their feet, and are active in their jobs have a higher NEAT than those in office jobs. But, you can influence your NEAT by practicing small changes. This might include taking the stairs rather than the lift, standing, rather than sitting, walking around whilst talking on your mobile phone, walking meetings with colleagues, cleaning the house, walking to the shops. Be active as much as you can!
4. Phone a friend
Have you noticed that time flies when you’re having fun!! This can be the same with exercise. Rather than undertaking exercise alone, ask a friend to go with you, or pop in your headphones and talk on the phone to them whilst exercising. If a friend is unavailable, music, podcasts or even netflix whilst on the treadmill are all great ways to keep your mind busy whilst moving!
5. Practice mindfulness
You really can’t out run/out train/out smart a poor diet. If your goal is weight loss, we also need to be mindful of what energy we are consuming through food and drink. Sometimes we eat or drink without thinking, eat on the go, or simply eat because we’re bored, or “it’s there”. Keeping a food and exercise diary can help you to consider your food choices and make informed decisions about any changes that could be made to improve your overall nutrition. Eating Healthy for Adults is a great place to start, comparing your current eating habits to those recommended in the Australian guidelines.
Would you like further and individualised help?
If you’re struggling to set goals or need some help with developing strategies to improve your lifestyle, speak to an Accredited Exercise Physiologist today. They can help you with motivation, setting realistic goals and finding a place to start.
Find more information here
Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Wellness Coach and Credentialed Diabetes Educator.
We often hear 10,000 steps as the golden number to strive for in a day. Why is it 10,000 steps and is it accurate for everyone??
The 10,000 steps concept was initially formulated in Japan in the lead-up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. However, there was no real research to support the target, instead it was a marketing strategy to sell pedometers.
Australian physical activity guidelines recommended a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each day. When we convert 30 minutes of activity to steps, it equals approximately 3,000 to 4,000 dedicated steps at a moderate pace depending on the person.
In Australia, the average adult accumulates about 7,400 steps a day of incidental activity. Therefore, an additional 3,000 to 4,000 steps undertaken through dedicated walking will help you to reach the 10,000-step goal. Therefore for the average person, aiming for 10,000 steps a day means that we have had to undertake planned and dedicated exercise, and this is the most important part as this is where we get health benefits, therefore the 10,000 steps may be an accurate goal for the average person.
Are pedometers or activity watches that track our steps a good tool to use to help us increase our physical activity?
Yes they are. Anything that can help motivate you to exercise, provide accountability and track your progress is worthwhile trying. Studies that have looked at the use of activity watches for people specifically trying to improve their health has shown that they have helped to reduce weight and blood pressure when used to help people reach their goal.
Should the 10,000 steps be the goal for everyone, or are there variations for different people?
It definitely needs to be individual. Some people, for instance older people, people with chronic conditions and office workers will accumulate less incidental activity steps throughout the day and would not meet the average 7,400 steps, and others for example kids, athletes and people who are working on their feet all day will accumulate many more incidental activity steps throughout the day without undertaking any planned exercise.
What is important, is attempting to add 3-4,000 steps to your day through dedicated exercise. This could be in 1,000 step or 10 minute exercise chunks. Research tells us that physical fitness is a better indicator of health, than just being active alone. This is why the dedicated exercise component of your step goal is really important.
Alternatively, you may also get your 30 minutes of planned exercise in an alternative way that does not involve stepping such as swimming or cycling, so you will still receive the health benefits of exercise and fitness without increasing your step count. If this is you, your step goal might simply be to increase your incidental step count up to around 6-7,000/day.
Initially back in the 60s when pedometers were first developed there was no research regarding the magic 10,000 steps. Is there research now?
Yes, research recently has shown that people taking 10,000-steps or more a day have a 46% lower risk of early death. Other studies have also shown that people who took more than 5,000 steps a day had a much lower risk of heart disease and stroke than those who took less than 5,000 steps. And, each 1,000-step increase per day reduced the risk of dying prematurely of any cause by 6%.
Accredited Exercise Physiologist & Credentialed Diabetes Educator
1. Be a morning person
As they say the early bird catches the worm, and with everything being so busy in and around Christmas with Christmas shopping, food preparation for the big day, and the 5pm drinks or end of year celebration dinners, these can all get in the way of you exercising. With the massive to do list, the day just gets away from us. So, the best thing to do is to get up, get it done, and then get on with the rest of your day, knowing that you have ticked exercise off of your daily list.
2. Shop with your feet
Some partners might not be keen on this, but a full day of shopping can accumulate some serious steps, and as we know walking is good for our health. So ditch the online shopping, although it’s probably too late for that anyway, and get out there and research on your feet for those last minute gifts.
3. Reduce prolonged sitting at work
Many people are trying to wrap up end of year work, or cramming in extra work before heading off for their Christmas break, but this can mean a lot of sitting time. Some tips to try and reduce this sitting time are to park further away from your work, take the stairs where possible, take a walk at lunchtime or even squeeze in a mini-desk-workout. It’s surprising what a few squats every hour can do for your health and your quads!
4. Get more bang for your buck and up the intensity
Again, your time is precious at this time of year with so much to do, so aim to get more bang from your buck with your workouts by undertaking high intensity training. You can get away with doing almost half as much exercise time, if you are exercising in the high intensity zone of about 85-95% of your maximum heart rate during training. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) also triggers Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption which is an after exercise calorie burn. For this reason it’s much more effective at burning calories than your steady state or regular moderate intensity aerobic exercise.
5. Phone a friend
Do you have family staying with you, or have friends on holidays at the same time as you? Rather than only catching up over a drink or two, set a date for the morning to get exercising. It might be a hit of tennis, golf or just a long walk. But what an excellent way to be active and catch up on everything from the past year at the same time. Try and make it a holiday routine by undertaking it daily. And by having the accountability of a friend, you are more likely to stick to this routine, and it can be more fun when exercising with others.
Accredited Exercise Physiologist & Credentialed Diabetes Educator
Do you still have presents to buy this Christmas for your family and friends and unsure what to get them? Why not get them something that inspires them to move and improve their health in 2021. We also have gift vouchers available at Optimum Exercise Physiology that your loved one could use for individual or group sessions, or to buy exercise equipment.
Christmas Present ideas:
Water Bottle - how cool, 'literally’ are the water bottles these days. You can buy glass, stainless steel, or BPA free water bottles, in a range of colours, designs, and sizes. Some will even stay cold for up to 24 hours! Use them to take to work to keep your fluids up, or to the gym, tennis court or walking trail.
Headphones - who doesn’t like a bit of music, podcast or book to keep you going through your workout or walk. You can get in ear, on ear and even wireless headphones for as little as $19, or go all out and find the apple airpods on sale for under $200! Great for keeping you motivated, or passing the time quickly (whichever you prefer 😉 )
Bluetooth speaker - keeping on the music theme, get your speakers pumping when working out, indoors or outdoors.
Activity Tracker - these guys can also cost as little, or as much as you want, and can do as little or as much as you want! A top of the range Garmin watch has GPS, oxygen saturation level and heart rate monitoring on your wrist, altitude, and special ops functions that can set you back over $1500! But you can also buy something that will track your steps for as little as $150, and if you check out ebay or Gumtree, pick up one second hand for much less! Activity trackers have been shown by the research to help keep you accountable,and can assist in providing motivation to move more.
Exercise Mat – these are not just for the yoga and pilates enthusiasts. They’re great for home workouts too.
Gym Bag – Have this baby packed and ready to go in the morning or after work, so that there is no excuse not to hit the gym, pool or park.
Gym Towel - One of the essential items in your gym bag. Much better than using your t-shirt to wipe the sweat off during a big workout. Look for a microfibre towel as they are very absorbent, light and dry quickly.
Socks - this may seem strange to some, but exercising in crusty old socks is not fun 😋. And what a great stocking filler! Help your loved one start off their new year's resolutions in nice soft, comfy (matching) socks. If you’re new to socks yourself, check out sports stores for specific sports and running socks if that is what your loved one is in to, but even Bonds socks from Woolies are a great start.
Sports apparel - looking good, can make you feel good and help motivate you to get out there. Our local sports store, target and a couple of our local boutiques all stock exercise apparel. If you're not sure of your loved ones size, purchase a voucher to help support our local businesses.
Smartphone strap/holder - need to go mobile with your music, or need to be contactable by phone. Lots of versions available from arm bands to waist bags. Much better than a sweaty phone down your sports bra! Or, there are now many versions of tights that have a phone pocket in them.
Foam Roller - Lower cost versions available from department stores, or grab them from your sports store or Exercise Physiologist. Great for recovery to massage the muscles, but also useful for performing exercises and stretching.
Bath Salts – Say thanks to your muscles for all the hard work they do and relax them in a nice bath of salts.
Scented Candle – What goes better with a bath than a nice scented candle to also help you relax. Ahhhhhh.
Happy shopping and Merry Christmas from the team at Optimum Exercise Physiology. 🎄
Senior Exercise Physiologist & Diabetes Educator.
10 Top Tips for Exercising as you get older
Exercise and Physical activity is not just for the young, but important for any age.
1. Consult with your doctor first
Before starting an exercise program or increasing the intensity of your exercise program it is important to visit your GP and have a check of your blood pressure, cholesterol and heart health to ensure you are in a healthy condition to embark on a new exercise program. They can also refer you to the best possible person to support you – an Exercise Physiologist.
2. Reduce Alcohol
As we age our body can react differently to alcohol. By reducing your alcohol you are able to reduce the risk of long term health issues such as cancer and heart issues, and it can also help to reduce your overall energy intake, helping you to lose weight.
3. Find what motivates you
Find something that resonates with how exercise will help you, such as improving your golf game, being able to run around with and after the grandkids, or maybe it might be helping you to get down a little bit better to release that winning bowl. Whatever it is, use that as motivation, and in the process you will be improving your overall health and living longer!
4. Weight Training is not just for the young!
Weight training as an essential exercise for every age and you don’t need any equipment as you can use your bodyweight for exercises like squats, push-ups, or step ups. These will all help to increase muscle tone, maintain strength and help to maintain a healthy body weight. Weight training can also help to reduce the risk of injury, falls and fatigue.
5. Get Social!
Exercising with friends can be fun! Not only will you feel better from exercising, but you are more likely to keep it going. Even exercising with a buddy can help keep you accountable ensuring you both get your body moving and heart pumping.
6. Hit the water!
Hydrotherapy is a type of exercise therapy done in a heated pool. You can undertake it by yourself by doing a walking or resistance program, or join an aquafit class. The benefit of heated pools is that gentle, controlled movements in warm water allows people to steadily progress their range of movement, and the buoyancy means that your weight is partly supported so great for people with lower limb and back conditions..
7. Balance is a key component!:
As part of your overall exercise program it is important to challenge your balance. This helps to enhance your overall awareness, coordination, maintain muscle activity and tone, and help to prevent falls which can result in injuries, and unfortunately are very common as we age.
8. Try new things
There is no one size fits all exercise for everyone. There’s a wide selection of exercise or physical activity you can undertake from swimming, line dancing, bowls, walking soccer, walking the dog, the list goes on! The trick is finding something you enjoy and that you will stick to.
9. Monitor your intensity
Exercise is a great way to keep your heart happy and healthy and it’s a good idea to pay attention to your heart rate during exercise, but there are some cardiac medications which alter our heart rate response to exercise, so another way to monitor our intensity is just by how we feel and the talk test. If you can sing, it’s light intensity, if you can’t sing, but can talk constantly, it's moderate intensity, if you’re puffing and struggling to talk, it's high intensity. Work at the intensity that’s right for you.
10. Recovery is important
People find that their body does not recover quite as quickly as it once did so it’s important to take it easy and to allow yourself some recovery time. When we exercise, our body undergoes change to adapt to the stress that we place on it. This can result in some muscle soreness (known as delayed onset muscle soreness), fatigue and reduced muscle strength and power, so allowing your body to rest and recovery, including getting adequate sleep and hydrating is very important.
Accredited Exercise Physiologist
Have you ever been told that you’ve had a rotator cuff injury or perhaps had a tightness or pain in the shoulder? We are going to break down exactly what the rotator cuff is and what role it plays in keeping our shoulder functional and pain free.
What is the Rotator Cuff?
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that help keep your upper arm bone (the Humerus) secure within the shoulder socket. There are 4 muscles that do this job for us and each play its own important role, Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Subscapularis and Teres Minor.
Why are injuries common to the rotator cuff?
As we use our shoulder so frequently during day to day movements it can often suffer from some wear and tear. This wear and tear is increased if you have a job that requires frequent movement of the arm in a repetitive motion, play sports that require a high degree of shoulder strength or are constantly lifting heavy loads or working overhead for long periods of time.
As the shoulder can move through such a large range of movement (forward, backwards, side to side and overhead) these 4 muscles have a large role to play in the stability of the shoulder joint. When one of these muscles becomes injured or fatigued it can place higher stress on one of the remaining three, increasing the likelihood of developing further injuries.
Most common injuries
By Aleisha Michael
Accredited Exercise Physiologist
It’s no secret that exercise has significant benefits on your cardiovascular system and circulation. It has the ability to strengthen your heart muscle, lower your resting heart rate and prevent the build-up of plaques in your arteries, potentially causing a heart attack or stroke.
What is the Cardiovascular and circulatory system?
Our Cardiovascular system is made up of;
When we eat food, the breakdown of molecules through oxygen into energy occurs and is called cellular respiration. This process allows all movement in the body to occur. Our cardiovascular system transports the oxygen in our blood, through the body to enable this process. It also assists in removing waste like toxins and carbon dioxide that are a by-product of cellular respiration, to be transported out of the body. When our cardiovascular and circulatory system are healthy, they can perform these tasks with ease but when they have been neglected for extended periods of time, they have a reduced capacity to complete these tasks. Our exercise capacity and tolerance also suffer as a result, as we are not able to transport oxygenated blood to our working muscles as efficiently.
Why inactivity has an impact?
A neglected cardiovascular and circulatory system can often lead to the arteries becoming blocked or constricted. This is usually caused by the build-up of plaques, which are referred to as atherosclerosis. When this build-up begins to harden, the arteries are narrowed and it causes a spike in blood pressure and a reduction in circulation. This decreased the system’s ability to transport oxygen around the body and to remove unwanted waste and toxins. When this narrowing becomes so severe that blood is unable to reach the heart muscles, a condition called coronary heart disease can develop.
How can exercise help?
The good news is regular moderate intensity exercise can improve circulation. A study by the Harvard School of Public Health reported that 150 minutes of moderate cardiovascular based exercise, provides significant benefits to the cardiovascular system. This includes reducing the build-up of plaque in the arteries, allowing the heart to pump blood freely throughout the circulatory system. As we exercise more frequently our heart muscle becomes stronger meaning it does not have to work as hard to pump blood around the body. This ultimately lowers our resting heart rate and decreases our risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
By, Aleisha Michael
Accredited Exercise Physiologist
What is Dementia?
Dementia is not one specific disease but rather the term used to describe a collection of symptoms that are the result of disorders affecting the brain. It impacts thinking, behaviour and the ability to complete daily tasks. It generally affects older populations and is most common in those over the age of 65, but people in their 40’s and 50’s can also develop dementia symptoms.
Some of the early signs of Dementia can initially be very slight and not easily recognisable. Some common symptoms can include;
Types of Dementia
There are many forms of Dementia and they each present differently and have their own respective causes, below are some of the more common types;
How can exercise help prevent Dementia?
Several studies have researched the effect of aerobic exercise that increases heart rate, on improving thinking, memory and decreasing the rate of dementia in later-life. They found that engaging in regular physical activity decreases the risk of developing Dementia by 30% and for Alzheimer’s disease specifically it reduces it by 45%!
One study in particular that tracked over 2,000 males for 35 years, focused on five key behaviours (regular exercise, not smoking, moderate alcohol intake, healthy body weight and healthy diet) and their effect on reducing the risk of dementia. Of these behaviours, exercise was found to have the greatest effect in decreasing Dementia risk, but participants who followed 4 or 5 of the above behaviours had a 60% decreased risk of Dementia.
Exercise is beneficial in preventing or slowing the rate of decline in those with Dementia. Physical activity promotes good blood flow, particularly to the brain which then encourages new brain cell growth and survival. It also stimulates nerve cell growth and decreases cardiovascular risk factors along with reducing co-morbidity development such as Type 2 Diabetes, Obesity and high blood pressure which are all risk factors of Dementia.
What type of exercise is best?
So, what type of exercise should we be doing to prevent Dementia symptoms? There are three types of exercise that we should be focusing on;
Exercise benefits for people with Dementia
It is encouraged for exercise to be continued for as long as is safe and feasible for those living with Dementia. There are a number of benefits for those engaging in regular physical activity, including;
If you would like to learn more about Dementia or the benefits associated with exercise, head to the Dementia Australia Website at www.dementia.org.au
By Aleisha Michael
Accredited Exercise Physiologist
What is strength training and why would we want to start a strength training program?
Strength is the ability to produce force, or very plainly the ability to lift, push, pull a resistive force.
Strength training is recommended and is important for everyone from endurance runners, professional footballers and netballers to help improve performance, to improving the health of an individual with diabetes or osteoporosis. It helps us to improve our muscle mass, improve bone strength along with other biochemical measures such as our blood glucose levels. Everyone should include strength training as part of their regular exercise program.
How do I start strength training, what equipment do I need?
Beginners can commence a strength training program without any equipment at all, using only body weight to undertake a range of different exercises for most major muscle groups.
Alternatively a home strength training program could use resistance bands (priced under $10) dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells which are equipment that you can pick up quite cheaply from department stores or sports stores.
Or if you have a gym membership, there are numerous resistance machines, cable machines and other options to take advantage of.
Top 5 tips for getting started?
1. Warm up - it is important to warm up our body and muscles prior to lifting weights. Ensure you start with a light cardiovascular workout of walking, bike, rower etc for a good 10 minutes to increase blood flow to the muscles and prime them for your workout.
2. Start with a lighter weight than you can manage well. Commence with a weight that you can lift 10-15 times, for 2-3 sets. Ensure you have good technique with this weight before adjusting the weight or volume of repetitions and sets.
3. Ensure you are loading your muscles enough to get the desired effect. Once you are familiar with your program, and you have been checked for good form, you need to ensure that you are stressing your muscles enough to get the increase in size and strength that you are aiming for. If you are performing an exercise and aiming for 3 sets of 8 repetitions, by the 6th repetition of the last set, your muscle should be feeling fatigued enough that you can only just complete the last 2 repetitions with good form. If the last couple of repetitions are not challenging, then the weight is too easy and should be increased.
4. Ensure you rest between sets. When exercising the same muscle group with the same exercise for a number of sets, you need to provide adequate rest between sets, usually around 60-120 seconds.
5. Take rest days - When you strength train, you are causing microscopic damage to the tissue that will be repaired—this is how muscle builds. However, we need to allow our body time to repair and rebuild stronger, so always allow at least 1 rest day between training muscle groups. If you would like to strength train every day, you can rotate between upper and lower body muscle groups on alternate days.
And finally, undertake a final stretch of the muscles that you have used in your workout, as part of your cooldown routine.
Accredited Exercise Physiologist.