Our four Star journalists share their initial thoughts and reservations, as they prepare to undertake our exercise trial!
A fitness test marked the beginning of a four week commitment. It was something we sort of got roped into a few months ago. Considering how fast this year is going, it’s no wonder it crept up on us so fast. I packed my gym gear up, because you have to look the part too, and I made sure I stuck it beside my front door so I wouldn’t forget it. It was almost like a block of chocolate. If it’s left on the table unopened it is so inviting to open it and eat. I was hoping for the same thing but to want to take my gym gear to work. But, it didn’t really happen. I thought I would be sneaky and nibble on a couple of chocolate biscuits before the fitness test. It wasn’t the smartest or healthiest move. And I will not be doing that again. I was rearing to go until we reached the PE School and I started to feel exhausted just thinking about it. It was all a bit daunting to begin with. There were machines everywhere, oxygen masks lined the bench, there was a bike with an uncomfortable looking seat, which I wasn’t too keen on. And we were surrounded by fit people.
The test, which comprised of a strength test, a VO2 max test, body mass, fat and muscle, blood glucose and blood pressure, was interesting. My legs felt like jelly at the end of it but surprisingly I could still walk and I was alive. A good sign I thought. If anything, it brought out the determination in me to keep improving my score level. I was pooped but I kept going. And I wanted to until my legs decided they were not going to meet me halfway in the VO2 max test. My breathing was fine and I pedalled until I couldn’t pedal any longer. The most uncomfortable thing about that test was the seat. But I’ll leave it there. My thigh cramped up when I did the strength test and that is one of the things that I really want to make an improvement on when I am re-tested. The test as a whole definitely put us through our paces. We even decided to walk back to the office and take the stairs – to the third floor. That was an improvement in itself. The lift is just so tempting sometimes.
We were all bouncing ideas off each other about how we could improve our fitness on our walk back by doing circuit training, spin classes, taking the stairs more and walking. The most important and crucial thing for me is to start making time to do exercise outside of work. Over the next four weeks this is what I want to do. I’m a bit of a sweet tooth so a block of chocolate always finds itself rolling along the conveyor belt at the supermarket every week. Sometimes twice – depending on how I feel. Naughty, I know. I also tend to be a bit lazy with cooking, especially after a long day at the office so takeaways, which are not always the healthiest, are just an easy and accessible option. Cutting down on the amount of chocolate and takeaways I eat is another aim. And then there’s the odd glass of savvy. I am a bit of a wineo so I would like to cut down on that intake as best I can too.
If I can stick to these goals, my fitness will improve, I will be a bit healthier and I will want to continue with this for the rest of the year. Bring it on.
When my former boss Stu “volunteered” me for the MoveMe trial I had mixed emotions. On the one hand,getting involved in some kind of scheduled exercise programme would surely help with my weight loss aims. On the other hand, I was to be poked and prodded in the name of science, which given my irrational fear of needles, I wasn’t looking forward to. And so two weeks ago I found myself at the School of Physical Education with my colleagues, Dan, Laura, and Samantha. The needles came out almost immediately for our glucose tests, which weren’t as bad as I had feared. Then we had to scull a can of coke, and sit and wait for a hour for more tests while one of the PHD students talked about the programme and gave us the spiel about how exercise is good for you. Out of all the facts and figures, the thing that stuck with me is that apparently someone in the ivory towers of academia has worked out that every hour spent seated takes 22 minutes off your lifespan.
After the tests, it turned out I had a pretty normal glucose response. We had to wait another week to do out base line fitness tests. These involved being strapped into a machine that measured how hard we could kick, getting weighed on a special scale that measured BMI, getting our blood pressure measured, doing a cognition test, and pedalling on a cycle until we couldn’t pedal any more. I’ll be interested to see what my results show.
For the most part, the tests weren’t as bad as I had feared, although the we had to wear on the exercise bike made me feel like I was suffocation towards the end of the ride. Now it is up to me to exercise for at least 30min, five days a week for the next four weeks. We’ve been given some passes to the pool and gym at the Moana Pool, and my workmates and I are planning to exercise together to keep each others motivation up. There has been talk about spin classes and yoga. Jacob’s ladder has been mentioned with baited breath.
So watch this space to see if we can put words into action and become a leaner, meaner, and keener team. We’ll see what happens.
Making time for exercise has not always been my top priority. It usually comes somewhere on my to-do list after kids, work, doing washing, sitting on the couch and pretty much everything else. For the Move Me exercise trial, I’m in the high intensity group, which means I need to do short bursts of high-intensity training (HIT) three times a week, rather than longer, more frequent moderate exercise. The idea is that the positive results from HIT last longer, and that it suits people like me who find it easy to not find time. I have to admit, I’m a bit skeptical that short bursts of exercise three times a week for four weeks will do all that much but Ruth (from Move Me) and Monique (from the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences) say positive results can be measured after only two weeks so I’m keeping an open mind.
This week our baseline measurements were recorded to work out our body fat percentages, oxygen intake, strength, blood pressure, cognitive function and glucose levels. According to Monique, just one exercise session can improve glucose control, which is an important step in preventing diabetes. And high intensity training not only lowers glucose levels but it keeps them lower for longer than more moderate exercise does. These tests will be repeated at the end of the trial and the results will be compared. As intense as some of the initial testing was – picture riding an Exercycle in a gas mask – I’m looking forward to seeing if my numbers and fitness improve.
I’ve recently started playing sport again but it’s a slow process. On a fitness scale from sloth to gym bunny I sit pretty comfortably at wombat. My memories of playing hockey as a teenager are wonderful. Running, tackling, wielding a stick with enthusiastic abandon. It’s different now. Now, it’s like playing Head Shoulders Knees and Toes but the 30-something version, which I like to call hips, elbows, knees and ankles. And somehow I still seem to be playing teenagers. I’ve also started playing Futsal, which is a variation of football. I don’t know how to play Futsal but I can now spell it and most of the time I don’t call it Fussball so that’s all progress. I originally thought that my current forms of exercise would count for the fitness trial because sports like hockey and football do meet the requirements of high intensity. That’s when Ruth burst my complacent, lazy bubble. The trial exercise needs to be on top of my normal exercise for there to be a result, she says. It makes a horrible sense.
Therefore, in the upcoming weeks I’ll be trying activities such as spin classes, circuit training, swimming, and basically anything else that burns. And I’ll also focus on things I can do at home in those precious moments of nothing urgent to do. It might just be time to dust off the Zumba.
This moderate exercise thing has caught me slightly off guard this week. Until now, I have been firmly in the `no-pain-no-gain’ category – embarking on running, weight lifting, hill climbing frenzies that usually end with injury or waning enthusiasm. That has traditionally been followed by prolonged periods of inactivity which is not great when combined with my usual desire to eat and drink like a Roman emperor. The last bout of punishment (running this time) ended just a few months ago – with a sprained ankle.
My average working day resembles that of a household cat – curling up in front of the computer for long periods of time and occasionally slinking out of the office to take photographs and do interviews. Exercise during the week comes mainly from walking to and from my car, which is parked far enough out of the CBD to avoid parking charges, and taking the stairs to the third floor. On the weekend I tackle the usual handyman activities – lawn mowing, wood chopping and lifting heavy jugs of home brewed cider. I have been reliably informed that sport watching is not considered a sport, so I will not include that.
My instructions are to add 150 minutes a week of “moderate” exercise to this “regime”, which is defined as “feels like you can maintain activity for hours, breathing heavily but can carry on a conversation”. (Don’t do this over the phone by the way!). To achieve this I have taken to roaming the the hillside streets of Kew and St Clair on darkened evenings – I am still practising a friendly grin that doesn’t frighten the other walkers. Strolling around is actually a very simple and enjoyable thing to do and despite not being in constant pain, I actually feel like it is doing some good. I feel more alert at work, the usual aches and pains in my back have subsided and, best of all, I have no exercise-related niggles.
This week, I will carry on with the walks but will add a few other moderate activities to the mix and take advantage of the free passes to Moana Pools and Gym. I feel slightly “cheated” that I can not indulge in a more punishing exercise schedule but, in all honesty, this is probably far better for me in the long runIt should also give me a better base of fitness in case the urge to exercise more intensively comes over me in the future and perhaps help me avoid injuries.