Each and every birth is different which also means each Mother’s return to exercise and postnatal recovery will be different too. It is important to check in with your health professional before returning to exercise, ideally this would be a women’s health physio.
How long should I wait?
There is no one rule that fits all in this circumstance but the general guidelines will differ significantly depending on what type of birth you have. It also depends on what your exercise levels were before giving birth.
Vaginal Birth: It is safe to start doing very gentle pelvic floor exercises and slow walks a few days after birth, although more vigorous based exercise should be avoided until after your 6 week check up. Once cleared to resume exercise you should not be exercising at full, pre-birth intensities until around 16 weeks postpartum.
Caesarean Birth: As a Caesarean is a major operation it will take at least 6 weeks for tissues to heal. Gentle pelvic floor exercises can be done a few days after birth but gentle low impact aerobic exercise should be done 6-8 weeks postpartum. High impact exercise and heavy weights should be avoided until 3-4 months postpartum once scar tissue has fully healed.
Why is exercise beneficial for new Mum’s?
Whilst everyone benefits from regular exercise there are some additional benefits for new Mum’s, which include but are not limited too;
What pregnancy changes might affect my ability to exercise postpartum?
The female body is amazing and goes through many changes over the course of pregnancy, birth and postpartum.
During pregnancy and labour our hormone levels are at an all time high and this can affect your joints and ligaments for up to 6 months afterwards. This highlights why it is important to ease back into exercise even if you are feeling great.
During your pregnancy your abdominal muscles may have separated causing Diastus Recti. This can have long term effects if not treated correctly in its early stages and will determine what types of exercises are safe to be doing.
The Pelvic Floor is made up of muscles and ligaments that support the bladder, uterus and bowel. This can be weakened during labour, particularly if you had a vaginal birth. Regular pelvic floor exercise can help to strengthen the area and prevent prolapse and leaky bladder in the future.
What type of exercise should I be doing?
Low impact exercise will be the best place to start postpartum. In the first few days after birth, focusing on resting and caring for your newborn baby is most important. Some gentle pelvic floor exercises can be done. Think about Squeezing and lifting the muscles around your Vagina as you are trying to hold in a wee, try holding this for 5-8 seconds and then fully relax. Other low-impact exercises that maye suitable include;
Try starting small by incorporating short bouts of exercise into your day. For example walk with the pram down to the shops, think about doing your pelvic floor exercises whilst feeding your baby, etc. Before returning to any exercise postpartum it is important to consult your health professional first and go at your own pace.
Accredited Exercise Physiologist.
So, you work in a physically demanding job and feel that this gets you enough physical activity throughout your day that you don’t need to do any extra, right?... WRONG. Whilst all this extra incidental activity throughout your day is giving you additional health benefits, it doesn’t give you the same BENEFITS as structured physical activity.
What is the difference between incidental and structured physical activity?
Incidental activity is defined as NON-PLANNED, UNSTRUCTURED ACTIVITY that accumulates in small portions over the course of a day. It can take many different forms including;
Whereas structured physical activity is PLANNED ACTIVITY that is completed in a continuous bout. This includes a planned walk, run or bike ride, gym sessions or classes or any other planned exercise session done individually or with others.
Can I just do incidental activity?
Whilst incidental activity provides many positive benefits it does not provide the same degree of benefit as structured physical activity. This is due to structured activity being completed in a continuous bout enabling our heart rate to increase, improving our cardiovascular and respiratory health. Completing specific strength training in planned exercise sessions also promotes a further increase in muscular strength and endurance when compared to incidental activity. Research has also shown that when activity is completed at a moderate intensity it assists in the prevention of a number of chronic conditions, including but not limited too;
What are the benefits of incidental activity?
By keeping your daily routine as active as possible there are a number of benefits that occur as well, such as;
So, what type of activity should I focus on?
At the end of the day all movement counts and should be encouraged, whether it is a planned workout or sneaking a few extra steps in around the office! If you feel that you have been lacking with your structured physical activity recently, try adding in a few extra steps to your day by parking the car further away, taking the stairs instead of the lift or getting up from your chair once every hour!
If you would like some more guidance about how to fit structured or incidental activity into your day try visiting an Accredited Exercise Physiologist!
By, Aleisha Michael
Accredited Exercise Physiologist.
We all know that drinking water is good for us and often get told that we should be drinking more of it. But do we actually know why it is so important for us to increase our water intake and ensure that we are well hydrated?
It is very common for individuals to not drink enough water day to day, but it becomes more frequent as we become older due to a decreased sense of thirst. This can lead to additional problems for those who are taking anti-diuretic medications that cause additional fluid loss.
What are the benefits of drinking water?
When we don’t drink enough water, you can become at risk of dehydration. This can have negative side effects such as dizziness, weakness, low blood pressure, confusion, headaches and discolored urine.
How much water should I drink per day?
So how much water should we actually be consuming? The aim is to consume two to three cups per hour for healthy individuals, although this amount will vary if you are sweating through exercise, if temperatures are warmer or even just variation in our individual needs.
There is also the possibility of consuming too much water particularly if you have certain health conditions such as thyroid disease, kidney, liver or heart complications. It is also possible if you are taking particular medications that may cause you to retain water, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, opiate pain medications and some antidepressants. If you believe that you may be affected by one of these conditions or medications, please discuss your water intake with your GP.
Tips to increase water intake.
By Aleisha Michael,
Accredited Exercise Physiologist
Are you looking to lose weight and wondering “will a vibration machine help me to lose weight?” This is a very common question that we get asked by clients, especially those who may find it difficult to undertake other forms of exercise or who are looking for different ways to have a positive impact on weight loss.
What is a vibration machine/ whole body vibration training?
A vibration machine is a lightweight platform that a person stands on, which provides light resistance exercise from repeated oscillations of the platform. It was developed in Germany, mainly for older people, to improve bone mineral density, balance and quality of life. The machine can be programmed to varying levels of oscillation/intensity.
What effects can a vibration machine have on my body?
Vibration machines have been shown to be effective in increasing leg blood flow, muscle strength and balance in the elderly population compared with control groups undertaking no other forms of habitual exercise. The effects on bone mineral density are inconclusive, with different study designs offering different outcomes. Vibration therapy has been used in some rehabilitation settings in conjunction with other forms of exercise to improve overall function, particularly in the elderly population.
Can a vibration machine be used to assist weight loss?
Although there are isolated studies that have shown improvements in body composition in patients with type 2 diabetes and middle aged females after 12 weeks and 9 months respectively in conjunction with caloric restriction; systematic reviews of a large number of published studies from reputable sources undertaken in 2018 and 2019 have not shown vibration training to be consistently effective in helping people to lose weight.
The most recent systematic review in 2019 examined 7 studies that included 280 subjects who used three different types of vibration machine devices. The authors concluded that there were only insignificant effects on body fat percentage in these studies which were less than 6 months long. They concluded that further research with larger population numbers and duration were needed to further evaluate the effectiveness of vibration training.
Need help with an individualised exercise program for your ability and goals?
If you’d like to get some professional advice specific to your ability and goals, Book an appointment with one of our Exercise Physiologists today.
Accredited Exercise Physiologist & Credentialled Diabetes Educator.
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.
If you’ve ever tried to start a new exercise program you will know that there are many different types of physical activity out there. So how do you know which one will suit you best and bring the most benefit and enjoyment.
To break it down simply (and let you in on our best kept secret), the best type of physical activity is, the only you’re actually going to engage in regularly! If you are trying to complete an activity that you hate doing on a regular basis, the likelihood that you will continue this long term is very slim. Alternatively, if you have a form of physical activity that you are passionate and excited about that brings you joy, we are much more likely to keep participating long term.
But how do you find which activity gets you pumped to jump out of bed in the morning? There can be a few different things to take into consideration, for example; do you prefer indoor or outdoor activities? To spend time by yourself or with other people in social situations? What time frame do you have available to complete physical activity? Having a think about each of these things can help form a picture about what type of physical activity may suit you best!
Finding your style
When first starting out it can be a good idea to think about what types of physical activity you have enjoyed most in the past and what type of personality traits you possess.
Some things to consider include;
When trying to find which type of activity is going to suit best it is important to think about your health, fitness and wellness goals and why you are wanting to start a regular physical activity program. This will help in both, learning which types of physical activity are going to best help you achieve your goals and reminding you throughout your program why it is important for you to continue. A few examples to help you get started are;
By Aleisha Michael
Accredited Exercise Physiologist