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Increased Retirement Age – Will you carry your strength into retirement?

Increased Retirement Age – Will you carry your strength into retirement?

Retiring at 70 frustrated man

Only a bloke who’s worked in an office his whole life would think you can work until you are 70!

Seeing this image appear on my Facebook feed made me really think about the implications highlighted by the pictured gentleman. There is no question that we need to think about the national (and global!) financial sustainability of an ageing population and associated pension costs. But surely this can’t just be a financial discussion right?! Do we know what the physical demands and impact of raising the retirement age will be? are we strong enough to cope? Will you carry your strength into retirement?

What we know about strength into retirement age:

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Can we really create sustainable change?

Diet-and-fitnessThere would be very few people in the western world who would not want to change one aspect of their health. From reducing weight to moving well, we want to change and most importantly, make that change “stick”.

Take activity as an example. We roughly know the drill; move more, sit less.  However in 2012, nearly 70% of Australian adults (i.e. almost 12 million people) were either sedentary or had low levels of physical activity. 70%!  So even though we know we should move, we don’t. Why? Everyday we hear people explain that they have tried on many occasions to exercise more but they tend to slowly fall off the bandwagon.

Why is change so hard?
As we discussed in our “Creating Change” blog, to create a change, you must first be unhappy / disillusioned with your current behaviour or the consequences from it. If it is not important to you personally, then you will not have the internal motivation needed to create the change you would like to see.

Secondly, it is important to recognize that change is a process rather than a single event and we will often have little setbacks when times become tough (perhaps due to time pressures, motivation levels, fatigue etc). This is inevitable. However success comes about from the ability to recognize these setbacks and best determine how to work around the obstacles. This is an extremely challenging process because habits are deeply ingrained. Unless earnestly focused upon these behaviour’s tend to go unnoticed and we slowly slip back to our starting point.

What can help you create sustainable change?
There are many tools, when used in conjunction with each other that can help regulate the behaviors you want to change and help monitor the progress. These can include:

Adherence tools:

  • Self regulation through monitoring/charting progressions and regressions
  • Rewarding your good behaviours (with healthy/fun rewards)
  • Goal setting – allows specific focus
  • Objective assessment to determine if improvements are made
  • Use of prompts to initiate healthy behavior

Support tools:

  • Social support from close friends and family to influence change, including joining in with the good behaviours, motivation or positive reinforcement.
  • Support from an unbiased outsider (trainer, allied health professional) to aid in motivation and constructive feedback and positive reinforcement.

Education tools:

  • Provision of relevant up to date health information to empowered individuals to make effective behavioural change i.e: the kilojoule content of alcohol and the health benefits of different type of alcohol beverages
  • Problem based learning – identifying personal issues and education around solving them ie: time management techniques

At iNform we have seen a range of individuals change their health behaviours and reap the rewards of a happy and healthy life. We have noticed that the successful clients had all compiled these three facets in some way. This has inspired us to create iNform LIFE, a holistic lifestyle program aimed at improving individual’s health and wellness. We place the focus on helping clients adhere to their individual goals whilst educating them in current research in the areas of food, exercise, sleep and stress

The iNform life program gives you access to:

  • Individualised online training programs with detailed descriptions and images.
  • Weekly educational material based on client’s needs and wants, to help drive self management
  • Support and contact time to talk directly with your Exercise Physiologist
  • Weekly reports of your food, exercise, sleep and stress choices
  • Goal setting and tracking support
  • Fitness and strength testing to help track progressions
  • Interesting and informative health and fitness blogs

If you would like to know more about this 8 week program please call iNform on 84312111 or email us on info@informhealth.com

People watching: do you have enough strength??

People watching: do you have enough strength??

6 Strength levelI love people watching. My ‘creative expression’ is understanding human movement, and helping others move better so that they can get more from life. This is what I do, every day, and I love it. In fact, this is not a job, but somehow, a part of who I am. As such, I would struggle to be in a public setting, and not look at how others move, at their physical strength, and wonder how I could impact their life through some simple tweaks (yes, if we have shared a physical space, I have probably been checking you out!!).

I recently participated in a great community event that had people walking, running, cycling, pushing prams and riding scooters to raise funds for some great welfare projects. And as I watched those around me, I was conflicted. On one hand, I was so happy to see so many people out being physically active, enjoying the outdoors and each others’ company and support. But on the other hand, I was concerned by the lack of physical strength that I saw. Now, to clarify, I wasn’t expecting to see a whole bunch of body builders or rugby forwards walking around! But what I tend to look for, what catches my attention, is the capacity for humans to keep good posture, good joint alignment when moving. I saw a lot of knees that simply buckled inwards with every step, shoulders and ribcages that collapsed with fatigue, and this during not much more than a 6km walk. Please understand, I’m not being critical – it was great to see all those people out there – but my concern is that all those signs of physical weakness tell me that there is a greater chance that they may develop aches and pains; and that they would simply struggle more than they should doing general activities of daily living… such as walking!

So the issue is not that I saw ‘unfit’ people, but people without enough muscular strength to keep their bones and joints in optimal alignment and function. While as many as 60% of Australians don’t do enough physical activity (to get a health benefit), a 2012 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) report states that a whopping 80% (!!) don’t do any muscle strengthening activities!

So while general aerobic fitness is important, weight training has greater benefits for bone/joint health, general mobility, and those common activities of daily living such as getting into and out of chairs, bathing, dressing, opening jars, and picking up your shopping!

My strong (pardon the pun!) belief is that we should build strength first, and then focus on overall fitness. This way you will have those activities of daily living covered, and then prepare your body for the greater demands (such as ground impact and repetitive movements) that will come with greater fitness activities.

The current Australian Guidelines (2014) recommend an adult “do muscle strengthening activities on at least two days each week”. So why does such a small part of the population (only 20%) adhere to these guidelines? There are observed socio-economic trends, which may be driven by education, but primarily access opportunities to gym equipment. This may also be a reason for the population as whole… it is simpler to go for a walk or jog, but strength based moves typically require a little more knowledge and equipment.

Do yourself a favour: get stronger! Your life will thank you! We are here to help!

Creating change: Do you need to be unhappy before you can make long lasting behavioral change

Creating change: Do you need to be unhappy before you can make long lasting behavioral change

There is no doubt, we have all tried to change something in our life. Whether it was losing weight, sleeping better, eating healthier or moving more. Did it work? Has it lasted or have you slipped back into old habits?

Angry-Cat-Meme-No-14A well-respected lecturer in the area of behavioural change and well being has explained that for long lasting change to occur there are four criteria that need to be met:

1) Discontent
2) Vision/Dreams/Goals
3) Education
4) Continuous deliberate action

Discontent
It is very important to realize that changing a behavior (such as inactivity) will not just happen because you know you should. It definitely will not happen just because a fitness professional tells you to or if your partner mentioned that you are putting on weight. Even though we all wish it were easy, it’s not that simple.

Change needs discontentment. You need to be unhappy about the behavior or the consequences of it. Why? Because it means that you deem it to be truly important. If deep down you don’t think it is as important as everything else that is going on in your world, then the change will not last. You may be able to start but all the other important aspects may slowly start taking over again.

Take this common example: You have been warned by your GP that your blood glucose levels are rising and you are at risk of developing diabetes if you don’t do something. They advise that you should look to exercise more and eat less. Whilst this scares you into healthy behaviours for a little while, it isn’t that tangible and while it may make you unhappy at the time, it is not in the forefront of your mind.

Wind this forward 3 years and your doctor informs you that you are now diabetic. You have to start taking medication and pricking your finger to measure your blood glucose levels 1-2 per day. This makes you unhappy and every day (maybe every few hours) you think about it. It is this importance that can truly allow long term change.

Now what happens if you don’t want to get to that stage before you are in pain or diagnosed with a disease? Well, think about what it is that makes you unhappy and why you may really want to change. Really think WHY! It has to be internally driven. You need the other three criteria, but if it is not intrinsically important to you, then the change in behaviour may not last.

Next week we will discuss how you need a vision to change, in order to make your life better.

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