Fit healthy middle age man swimming in an outdoor pool in Brisbane

What Are The Most Common Types Of Exercise?

Depending on your workout or the type of physical activity you do, you can gain muscle strength, cardiovascular and aerobic endurance, improve your flexibility and joint health, or help maintain other components of good physical function like balance and coordination. The most common components of exercise programs are resistance training, cardio or aerobic exercise, and flexibility. Since they all provide different benefits, it’s essential to include a balance of these different types:

Resistance training (also known as strength training or weight training): Resistance exercises are those that train your body to produce force against some sort of resistance, whether that is your own body weight, resistance bands, traditional dumbbells and barbells, or a multitude of other training equipment.

Moving against resistance stimulates your muscles to develop size, optimal length and muscle tone, and contraction ability, as well as the coordination to be able to complete daily tasks with ease. These characteristics can promote good posture, reducing the risk of injury and poor health, improve body composition (the ratio of body fat to lean body tissue), enhance movement abilities, and generally boost self-confidence and self-esteem.

Resistance training can be further broken down into training programs that are focused on developing maximal muscular strength and power, muscle size, or muscle endurance. For most people with non-athletic goals, development of muscle size will provide the greatest all-around benefit for lifelong muscle health. It’s important to consider that the training benefits are directly related to the amount of work you put in – regardless of the training focus, if you aren’t training with enough effort, no benefit will be seen.

Cardiovascular training (also known as aerobic training or endurance training): This is exercise or activity that is made up of repeated, often rhythmic movements that use the large muscle groups of the arms and legs. These types of exercise usually don’t require much or any special training or practice, and are often done for an extended period of time – though “extended” is all relative. (If you’re just starting out with aerobic exercise, extended might only mean five minutes.) Some of the most common examples include walking and running, cycling, and swimming, though many other activities also fall into this category.

Cardio exercise helps your heart to beat more efficiently, in turn using less energy to move oxygen and nutrients, and keeps the blood vessels healthy and able to respond to the demands that movement can place on your body. This decreases wear and tear on the heart and the blood vessels, lowering the risk of heart disease and cardiovascular conditions, as well as the risk of sudden conditions like a heart attack.

Flexibility or Stretching and Joint Mobility Training:  These exercises have two specific but closely related training goals. Flexibility exercises are designed to promote optimal length in the soft tissues surrounding a joint or a series of joint, which will allow the joint to move freely within its available range of motion. Flexibility training targets the muscles and connective tissues around the joint. Joint mobility refers to the ability of the joint itself to move freely. Joints can become stiff with lack of movement, which can stiffen the connective tissues within the joint, or can lose movement ability when the flexibility of surrounding muscles and connective tissues decrease. In order for a joint to be mobile, the soft tissues surrounding it must be flexible, and in order for the soft tissues to develop or maintain flexibility, the joint must be able to move freely. Both of these components are important in maintaining good posture and movement ability – key components to an active, pain-free lifestyle with low injury risk.

Flexibility can be developed by traditional static stretching exercises, which involves moving to the point of moderate stretch and holding that stretch for at least 30 seconds (the minimal amount of time required to create a lasting change in flexibility). Dynamic stretching is a better option for joint mobility training, as it’s performed by moving into a stretching position, holding it for a few seconds, and then backing off. By combining this stretch with a greater degree of joint movement, you can develop and maintain optimal joint mobility. Spending time on both static and dynamic stretching will give you the best results.

Resistance training, cardiovascular exercise, and flexibility are the three most commonly discussed components of a balanced exercise program. But there is another component that is often overlooked, yet is perhaps the most important component of exercise and activity, especially when it comes to maintaining good functional movement throughout your entire life. Be sure to check out our upcoming post on Neuromuscular training at the end of the week!

 

Looking for the best in-home personal training and exercise physiology program? Look no further. HealthFit coaching provides exercise programs that are real-life ready – flexible enough to work with your lifestyle without sacrificing your health and fitness goals. Take the first step to lifelong health and fitness – Contact HealthFit Now.


Middle age man sitting in a relaxed position

Deep Breathing For Better Energy

How often do you feel exhausted, sluggish, weary or worn out?

People frequently feel like they don’t have enough energy for the things they have to do, let alone for the things that they want to do! In fact, about 20% of the population reports feeling fatigue that lasts for a month or more.

It’s probably no surprise that there are strong associations between high levels of fatigue, low levels of energy, and a number of physical and mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, heart disease, and diabetes. Even if you are otherwise healthy, low energy levels and high fatigue can be a huge drain on your quality of life. We’d all like to get home from work and still have the energy to connect with family, walk the dog, or spend some time on hobbies.

Numerous activities can increase or decrease energy levels. Think of how you feel after a poor night’s sleep or hours of work on a presentation, or the effect of a short walk or powernap. Hundreds of scientific studies have found that mind-body interventions, including yoga practices, are effective in treating stress-related mental and physical disorders. The calming effects are attributed, in part, to the emphasis on controlled breathing, which can lead to neurological, and biochemical changes that impact our feelings of stress and energy.

Admittedly, working to create calm might not seem like a great way to create energy. But science has shown that the relationship between breath and emotions is a two-way street. Stress levels can change your breathing patterns, but the way you breathe will actually significantly influence your stress levels. Deliberate deep breathing creates a physical effect that is the opposite of the famous “fight or flight” response. It can decrease heart rate and blood pressure, enhance immune function, and increase stress tolerance. The combined physical effects of deep breathing and attention on the breath can lead to sharpened focus and clearer thinking. After even just a minute or two of deep breathing, many people report feeling both calmer and more energized.

Here’s how to do it: Find somewhere where you can sit comfortably and not be disturbed for at least a couple of minutes. Focus on taking slow, deep breaths, expanding your rib cage from top to bottom and side to side as you breathe in. Aim to slowly inhale for five seconds, and slowly exhale for five seconds, or as close to that as you comfortably can. Continue this breathing pattern for up to five minutes – though even a few breaths like this can be helpful.

 

Are you looking for more practical, easy to apply advice like this? HealthFit Coaching provides in-home health, fitness, and nutrition coaching all across Brisbane. Contact us for a free, no-obligation call and find out how we can help you.


Fit and healthy middle age woman doing a snatch barbell exercise for stretch and power training

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Strength Training Workout

We’ve previously written about the physical benefits of strength training. Make sure you get the most from your strength training program and every single workout by following these guidelines:

Warm Up Right – While five minutes on a treadmill and some stretching is better than no warm-up, using a dynamic mobility warmup is a much better use of your time. Dynamic mobility, or dynamic stretching, combines easy movement to warm the tissues with greater ranges of motion, better preparing the muscles and joints for the movements that are included in your training program.

Choose the right resistance – Pick a weight or resistance level that allows you to do your target number of reps with good technique, and that’s challenging enough that you think you could have done maybe one or two more

Give your body a solid foundation to work from – Your body can create movement, or it can create movement well. To get the most out of every exercise, you want your joints and big muscles to have the support of your small stabilizer muscles. Keep yourself at your strongest by:

  • Keep your core tight: Brace your tummy and lower abdominals – that is, squeeze them tight without pulling them in. One way to automatically create this activation is by pretending someone is going to punch you in the stomach. Your reaction will automatically tighten the right muscles.
  • Keep your pelvic floor on: Ever needed to pee, with no restroom nearby? That squeeze is activating your pelvic floor, and is exactly what you want to be doing throughout all movements, though you shouldn’t need to keep it 100% “on”. A gentle squeeze is enough to provide support. Note that it can be difficult to maintain this activation throughout movements, so if you find that you lose the squeeze, reset and turn it back on when you get to a comfortable stopping point in the movement.
  • Keep your shoulder blades squeezed: This doesn’t mean pulling your shoulder blades together as hard as you can. A gentle squeeze towards the spine and slightly down is all you need.
  • Keep your chin tucked: The idea of this movement is to help maintain a neutral spine from top to bottom. Many people jut their chins forward when they are working hard, which creates misalignment throughout the spine and torso. Keep your chin tucked slightly by drawing your head back, like you are trying to touch the back of it towards a wall behind you. This should also be gentle. If you feel tension through the front of your neck, you’re trying too hard.

Stay controlled – Keep your movements slow enough to maintain control, especially if using external resistance (anything other than your bodyweight). This will keep you safe, and will allow all the right muscles to activate at the right times, maximizing the benefit

Pay attention to your body – One of the best ways to maximize progress is to think about the muscles that are working while you do an exercise. Paying attention to how they feel as you complete the movement can create stronger muscle contractions, and can also help keep you safe, as you’ll more likely be aware of something that might not be working or feeling great.

Follow the number one rule: No pain. If something hurts – and not the muscular burn of 1000 reps – stop doing it and take the steps to figure out why. It might be as simple as adjusting your positioning or resistance, or you may need to refine your exercise technique in order to create less stress on your body. If you find a specific exercise or type of movement consistently causes pain, it should be checked out by a physiotherapist/physical therapist, or an orthopedic doctor. Your GP or primary care doc is unlike to have as much insight into what might be causing the problem, though you may need to start with them if you need a referral.

HealthFit Coaching offers health coaching, nutrition advice, and in-home personal training and exercise physiology in Brisbane, Australia. Ready to take the first step towards feeling great? Contact us now!

Fit and healthy middle age woman standing on beach at sunset with chest up and arms back

Stop Stressing and Get Healthy

The best way to prevent health care hassle is to minimise your need for it in the first place.

It’s not uncommon for our health challenges to get away from us. Anyone who has had a long-standing challenge to their health and fitness can tell you, getting answers can be the pits. There’s nothing worse than spending a ton of time, money, and energy on fixing a problem, and still not actually getting anywhere!

Our bodies are complex, and while medical and health care training has come a long way from the days before antibiotics, there is still a lot that we don’t know. Complicating matters, most doctors and other health care professionals spend a lot of time getting really good at one area or treatment approach. This is good, because when you need specialised care, you want someone who knows that they are doing! But what happens when you aren’t really sure which professional to see for which body problem?

Sometimes solving a health problem is straightforward – when you have had a heart attack, you see a cardiologist so that it doesn’t happen again. But it’s surprisingly common to not feel particularly well, but to be unsure about who to see for the best treatment. This is totally understandable. There is a lot of overlap among different health care professions, and many that will provide care for a problem that they are vaguely familiar with, rather than sending a patient on to someone with greater expertise. I’d bet money that rather than running from appointment to appointment in an attempt to get some symptom relief, you’d like a simple, straightforward plan for getting healthy and staying that way.

Health and fitness coaching is about providing that plan.

Your health and fitness coach will provide you with the best exercise programming and nutrition guidance that you can get, and will help you build on your strengths to provide you with a plan that will keep you in good shape for years to come. But we know our boundaries too, and when you have a challenge that we can’t help with, we’ll connect you with the person who can. With HealthFit acting as your health care hub, you wont have to worry about running from appointment to appointment and not getting solutions. Instead, you’ll have only the appointments that you need. No unnecessary treatment, and no dead ends, just feeling better.

Just imagine what you could do with all the time and money you’re spending on not getting results?

Take the first step to your best health and fitness. Contact HealthFit Coaching now to schedule your obligation-free consult call and find out what we can do for you.


Very happy woman giving thumbs up after health coaching

Get Motivated With An Awesome List

I read a piece from the Smarter Living section of the New York Times earlier this week discussing reader tips for outsmarting procrastination. While one reader had gotten his do-it-now mantra tattooed on his arm, it was another reader that submitted the tip that really struck me as spot-on:

Make your list.

Not the list you might be thinking of though – decidedly NOT a To Do list and not quite a wish list, either. The reader in question titled her list “I Will Feel Great About Today If I…” and noted that this particular list is all about giving yourself the reward of feeling awesome every day. This “reward” can be directly linked to the release of dopamine – the feel-good neurotransmitter – and the pleasure centers of the brain.

Why is this important?

Procrastination can be defined as the absence of progress, or the voluntary delay of an important task, despite knowing that you’ll suffer as a result. Avoiding a task or activity that you know is good for you, or that you need to do, often will lead to guilt, anxiety, or shame, and then to further avoidance of the task. Even thinking about those feelings is not fun! In the long run this can have a negative impact on both physical and mental health.

Back to the list!

I’m calling it The Awesome List. As a concept, recognizing that you can help yourself feel awesome is perfectly aligned with the Be Nice To Yourself bedrock of HealthFit Coaching. As a practical tool, this concept is simple and easily applied (though it may not make the actual tasks any more fun). I love this so much that it’s immediately gone into the coaching processes.

The biggest benefits of making and sticking with your own Awesome List:

  1. It will help you prioritize. Keep your daily Awesome List short, with no more than three tasks. Remember that this isn’t a To Do list and will not encompass all you’ll get done in a day. Rather, this is about decreasing the dread that comes with the To Do list. Think of which task(s) you’ll be the most relieved to get done, or are the most challenged by. Start with one task a day.
  1. You get to Recognize the Suck! Many tasks we put off doing are challenging, outside our comfort zone, or things that we just plain don’t want to do. It’s not uncommon to think of the task, think “ugh, not looking forward to that” and then immediately think “But I should be better at it/should enjoy doing this/should be more motivated/etc. etc. etc.” You may recognize some of these thought patterns! Like ripping a band-aid off, admitting that you don’t want to do it can actually make it easier to get the task started and get it done!
  1. You’ll get a mental boost. This is the crux of The Awesome List! Anytime you do or get something that you wanted, your brain releases dopamine. Checking items off your Awesome List will lead to dopamine increases, and you’ll also get to bask in your accomplishment! Yay for you! And yay, because it will make it so much easier to do it again tomorrow.
  1. Reinforces your competence and ability to get things done! We often hold ourselves back because doing new or unusual things can be intimidating. Hopelessness at starting a new task and fear of failure can loom large. But as the saying goes, done is better than perfect, even if you feel challenged by the process. No longer will you feel hopeless. You did it!

Woman in sunglasses is surprised by supportive health coach

What You WON’T Get With HealthFit

Every single day thousands of people decide they are going to make a lifestyle change for the better, and they are EXCITED.  They seek help with the process from personal trainers, exercise physiologists, nutritionist and dietitians, doctors, and even family and friends. It’s all too common to see the excitement and motivation fade after a couple of months though, and this often stems from well-intentioned but demoralizing comments from the exact people they need support from!

This is an especially common experience among many HealthFit clients. Though it’s rare that they’ve been told specifically “not to bother”, often casual comments like “I’d thought you’d have done that by now” or “Why don’t you just X, it’s easy” leave them feeling pretty hopeless. The end result is the same: “I can’t do it, I give up…”

HealthFit coaches have heard these stories and we’ve built our coaching process to be everything they aren’t. We’re so grateful to our clients for sharing their past experiences with us, and helping us become something beyond the scope of your average health and fitness advice. By blazing that trail, our clients have helped us decide what we WON’T do for you:

We won’t judge by appearance. Healthy comes in many shapes, sizes, and forms. If you’re happy, we’re happy. If you aren’t, we’ll support you through the process of getting there by building on your strong points. Physical, mental, and emotional health all get as much support as you need.

We won’t judge by ability. One of the biggest problems in the fitness industry and media today is the idea that everything has to be done at 1000% speed, perfection, and effort, or it’s not worth doing. The plain fact is that no one starts anything as a master. Our coaching focuses on teaching you the right skills at the right time, so that progress is smooth and steady and enjoyable!

We won’t guilt-trip you. We get that life happens. (Really. We know what it’s like to eat a whole tub of ice cream in a sitting. More than we’d like to admit.) When you take the occasional step backwards, we’ll be right there with you to help you reframe, refocus, and move forward without worrying about the past.

We won’t make you feel embarrassed. In fact, all we want to do is make you feel great. We keep focused on the positives. When challenges arise, we focus on your strengths to create a plan to get around them without you feeling uncomfortable or overwhelmed. Comfortable, confident, and a little bit challenged is the name of the game.

We won’t tell you to do something you don’t want to do. You are the expert in your life, your abilities, and your body. Sometimes we might give you a little push in one direction or another, but you always have the final say in every decision. Our goal is to help you figure out how healthy is made easy for you. 

By listening to what doesn’t work, we’ve learned what does. We’d be thrilled to give you the support and tools you need, and keep you excited about the process of making progress! If you think HealthFit health and fitness coaching sessions sound right for you, we can meet you face to face around Brisbane,  or online anywhere, anytime. Contact HealthFit here to set up an obligation-free consult call and take the first step towards feeling great!

 


wooden stairs that are good for running or walking for fitness

Healthy Made Easy: Avoiding Effort Overload

I’ve been in the health and fitness industry for over 10 years, and in that time I’ve seen a lot of people come and go. I’ve had the opportunity to chat with a lot of these people. Most start off excited and enthusiastic – this is their third time starting, and this time they’re really gonna do it! They tell me about going to the gym and going on a diet. And a large number of them end up going nowhere with it. It’s heartbreaking, since they’re all up against the same challenge.

I call it Effort Overload.

It’s the wide-spread idea that healthy living is all water bottles, gym time, and meals in Tupperware, with no nights off or pizza with a glass of wine in sight.  This sort of “healthy” lifestyle isn’t so (mentally) healthy for most of us, since it usually means a LOT of change in a short period of time. Coupled with a lot of “I don’t really know what I’m doing…” and “Is my body supposed to be this sore or am I injured?” and “No thanks, I’m just going to have this lettuce for lunch”, healthy living all of a sudden seems hard and unappealing. It’s totally understandable that people decide that they’ll take the long-term health risks in order to put an end to their Effort Overload. It’s just too stressful.

In truth, taking much smaller steps towards a healthy lifestyle actually has a much greater rate of long term success. This is way easier on our brains, and in the HealthFit Coaching process, is actually designed to be NOT stressful. We help you break healthy choices down into steps so small that you might feel almost silly not taking them. Not to make you feel silly, but to help you feel like you’re actually getting somewhere!

Since there are many potential changes most of us could make to improve our health and fitness, we work to have a deep understanding of what will suit you best. Some of the questions we ask to help determine your steps:

  • What kind of things do you like to do in your spare time?
  • What are the healthiest choices you are making for yourself, right now?
  • What might you need to do to prepare to take the next step towards better health and fitness?
  • What are your biggest challenges in making healthy choices for yourself and your family?
  • Who are your strongest supporters in making healthy choices?

It’s always easier to keep moving forward when you have some momentum behind you, so we make sure to look at what’s already going well for you and build on that. Effort Overload is avoided by keeping the focus on one step at a time – the easiest step you can make, until that step has been mastered and it’s time for the next. Enough small steps, after all, lead to great progress.


Healthy Made Easy: The Power of Habit

Isn’t living a healthy lifestyle supposed to be a lot of work? At best, it’s a boring life full of Tupperware lunches and hours at the gym, right? We say “nah”…


Healthy living does NOT have to be like that. Trust me. Over the last decade, I’ve helped hundreds of people discover that “healthy” can come in many forms, and that healthy choices can be flexible enough to meet your needs and still be enjoyed.

One of the ways we make healthy easy at HealthFit Coaching is through harnessing the power of habit.

Almost half of our daily actions and activities are done out of habit. Essentially, we live much of our lives on autopilot. When I think about my days – how much I absentmindedly click over to Facebook when I’m at the computer, or have a snack as soon as I get home from work whether I’m hungry or not – I can readily believe that I’m this driven by subconscious habit.

Habits are created when you do something repeatedly, especially when they are linked to a specific event, situation, time of day, or other trigger (like getting home from work, in the example above). When you do something repeatedly, your subconscious “learns” the trigger and the action to take. This means your conscious mind doesn’t actually have to expend any energy on deciding what happens next, freeing your brain up to focus on other things.

Our goal is to help you create new healthy habits that will take the place of old, less healthy ones. You and your coach will identify the habits you don’t like, and what aspects of your daily life trigger you to take those actions. You’ll figure out exactly what you want to do instead (it’s all about the details!) and then with the help of your coach, you’ll develop a plan to turn your preferred habit into reality.

Putting your plan into action is the bulk of the work. While it’s commonly accepted that it take about three weeks to establish a new habit, in reality this process can take anywhere from a few days to several months. The good news: We’ve identified the steps you can take to make sure your habit-development timeframe is on the short end of that scale. These steps form the basis of our process, and you’ll have the support of your coach and the HealthFit community the whole way.

In the end, we want to help you make your healthy choices automatically. When you make them without even realizing it, that’s the easiest thing of all.


Woman tying running shoes before starting to run

Getting Started With Exercise: An Interview

Our Principal Exercise Physiologist and company founder, Erin Haske, chatted to our friends at Just Knead It Sports and Remedial Massage about getting up and going as you kick start an exercise program.

Pop on over to their blog to find out what she has to say about strategies to get up, keep moving, and even enjoy it!

Just Knead It is a remedial massage clinic based in Woolloongabba on the south side of Brisbane. HealthFit Coaching strongly supports the role of remedial massage in short and long-term health maintenance and prevention, whether you are an athlete or not. And you always feel amazing at the end of it!


What Is Functional Fitness?

“Functional” has been a buzzword in the fitness industry for years, but many people – including many in the health and fitness industries – struggle to define it. To some, the word may conjure up images of exercise standing on one leg with your eyes closed, or even on a huge exercise ball. Good news: You can save those circus tricks for, well, the circus!

Functional fitness means being physically able to meet your daily demands of work, sport or exercise, and leisure activities. Functional training refers to exercises that give you the strength, coordination, and endurance (or cardiorespiratory fitness) to do so. The muscles of the upper body, lower body, and core must be strong, with good neuromuscular coordination to tie it all together effortlessly. Increasingly, functional fitness also means being physically able to counteract the poor postures and physical stresses we encounter in daily life. 

Many people are facing the same physical, functional needs, ranging from weakness in foundational-level stabilizing muscles to imbalances in muscle tension, length, or strength. Creating functional fitness in these circumstances means building up weak points and decreasing stress on overused areas. This can be done by teaching your muscles to activate better, loosening or lengthening muscles and connective tissues, or using a targeted exercise program to build strength and balance out poor posture.

Some of the most common scenarios we see:

  • Too much sitting: Your desk job, meeting, car/bus/train commute – all of these things create excessive tension and shortness at the front of the hips and thighs, which can be a major (eventual) contributor to lower back pain. Stretch out the hip flexors and quads to regain that length and take pressure off the lower back.
  • Too much computer: Any screen time falls into this category, including tablets and smartphones. The forward postures that go along with this shortens the front of the shoulders and over-stretches the muscles of the upper back, leading to the neck and shoulder tension you are likely way too familiar with. As with the hips, stretching through the front of the chest and shoulders is a good start. I’d also recommend doubling up with a deep tissue massage (aka remedial massage) through the entire upper body, as this will help the tissues stretch much more easily and (added bonus) will actually get you feeling better fast!
  • Not enough movement in general: Many, many people have swapped physical stress for mental and emotional stress. We work too much, our leisure activities often involve the TV or computer, and there’s little actual need for movement. But even just 10 minutes of low-intensity movement (going for a walk or playing with the dog, or even doing household chores) can help decrease stress and counterintuitively, can give you a great energy boost!

Not sure what your functional fitness needs might be? Ask one of our expert coaches below to have your answer featured on a future post!