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Case study: What a dose of daily physical activity can do for you?

The advice and information on how to lose weight seems never ending and most of the time conflicting. I’d like to share a small insight into the success of one my patients at our current indigenous health clinics based in the remote central Queensland town of Woorabinda.

Mrs X, a 69 year old female, lives outside of this township on a small farm, she came to the allied health clinic wanting some advice on how she could maintain her health as she is approaching 70 this year.

Mrs X reported her general day to day activities included general household cleaning, assisting her husband with farming duties and walking the dogs.

Mrs X initial testing results were:

  • Reported Physical Activity (moderate intensity): Nil
  • Blood Pressure: 137/87 (high-normal)
  • Resting Pulse: 75 (normal)
  • BMI: 25 (overweight)
  • Waist Circumference: 101cm (high)
  • Lower limb endurance (chair raise test): 10 repetitions (below average for age/gender)
  • Upper limb strength (grip strength): 57kgs (average for age/gender)
  • Flexibility (modified sit and reach): -10cm (below average for age/gender)

After completing the initial assessment with Mrs X, we discussed goals and realistic expectations.

It was agreed that due to the remoteness of her location and the fact that Mrs X was looking for an intervention that could be conducted at her home, we decided to make use of what physical activities were already taking place in her day.

The following plan was developed:

  • Increase the walking pace (talk, but not whistle was used as a guide) when taking the dogs on the morning walk
  • Complete 1-2 sets of the sit to stand exercise (chair squat) immediately upon returning from the morning walk.
  • Complete 2-3 repeats of 10-20 seconds of the modified sit and reach stretch after finishing the sit to stand exercise
  • Increase the effort when undertaking household cleaning, i.e clean with a little more vigour, the RPE scale was used to educate Mrs X, aiming for a 5-6 out 10.

Every 2-3 weeks follow up phone calls were made to check her progress. Mrs X agreed to return to the clinic exactly 12 weeks from the initial testing date for a re-assessment.

Here are the results:

  • Reported Physical Activity: 300 minutes a week (this included a 20 minute walk of the dogs with effort 7/7 days + at least 40 minutes of moderate effort cleaning and farming activities and completion of the sit to stand exercises and stretching.
  • Blood Pressure: 106/63 (29% reduction in Systolic BP & 38% reduction in Diastolic BP)
  • Resting Pulse: 68 (10% reduction in resting pulse)
  • Weight: 2kg reduction in body weight (BMI unchanged)
  • Waist Circumference: 94cm (7% reduction in waist circumference)
  • Lower limb endurance (chair raise test): 20 repetitions (45% improvement in lower limb endurance – Mrs X is now in the above average category for age/gender)
  • Upper limb strength (grip strength): 59 kgs (3% increase in upper limb strength)
  • Flexibility (modified sit and reach): +1cm (11cm improvement, Mrs X is now in the above average category for age/gender)

In summary, Mrs X has increased her physical activity levels, decreased her blood pressure, resting pulse, weight and waist circumference and improved lower and upper body strength and endurance and is now more flexible, all without any additional exercise equipment!

Mrs X reports she is extremely confident she can maintain these simple changes to her daily activities. In conclusion, what these results also show is how sustainable weight loss can be achieved through simple adjustments in your daily activities. A message that seems to have been lost in today’s media.

Luke Delvecchio

  • Accredited Sport Scientist
  • Accredited Exercise Physiologist
  • MSc. (Exercise Science)
  • Post Grad. Dip (Exercise Rehabilitation)
  • Post Grad. Cert (Diabetes Education & Management)
  • BSc. (Exercise Science & Nutrition)
  • Associate Nutritionist

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