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Exercise Physiology

How Exercise Can Assist During Cancer Treatment

exercise physiology gym new farm

The number of cancer survivors worldwide is growing each year. Cancer survivors face unique challenges and changes to their health as a result of the cancer itself as well as side effects from treatment. Cancer survivors often experience declines in quality of life and physical functioning as well as an increased risk of cancer recurrence. In 2009, Exercise & Sports Science Australia published the first-ever position statement on exercise guidelines in the world for people with cancer. Since then, there has been exponential growth in research evaluating the role of exercise during cancer treatment.

What is cancer?

Cancer is a disease of the basic building blocks of the human body, the cells. Cells are constantly regenerating in order to heal injuries, grow and replace. Cancer occurs when this process goes awry, and the cells become abnormal. As this process continues and the cells divide further, a lump forms which is called a tumour. Cancerous tumours spread to nearby tissue and can travel to distant parts of the body where new tumours form. There are more than 100 types of cancer, and they are generally named after the organ or tissue from which it originated.

How is cancer treated?

The combination, or pathway, of treatment a patient chooses depends on the type and stage of cancer. The most common types of treatment are: surgery to remove cancerous cells; chemotherapy using chemicals to attack the cancer; and radiation therapy, where radiation is targeted to reduce or kill a tumour.

How exercise can assist during cancer treatment the body refinery exercise physiology rehabilitation new farm

How does exercise help?

Research shows that exercise benefits most patients before, during and after cancer treatment. Specifically for cancer patients, exercise may:

  • Improve the body’s response to treatment.
  • Reduce the risk and severity of side effects of cancer treatment.
  • Reduce surgery complications and time spent in the hospital.
  • Help maintain a healthy weight.
  • Improve recovery from treatment by: increasing energy levels; reducing treatment-related muscle loss; stringing bones and improving mobility and balance.
  • Improve sleep
  • Reduce fatigue
  • relive Relieve stress, anxiety and depression.
  • Reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis and Type 2 diabetes.
  • Reduce the risk of certain cancers returning, including breast, prostate, and bowel cancers.
  • Boost mood and self-esteem.

How much exercise is appropriate?

Exercise goals for anyone, including those undergoing or recovering from cancer treatment, should be based on being as physically active as their abilities allow. Exercise for cancer patients will look different for everyone, depending on the type of cancer, stage, and side effects. The Clinical Oncology Society of Australia states that people with cancer who are relatively healthy and have been assessed as low risk, should include 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic/cardio exercise or 1.5 hours of vigorous aerobic/cardio exercise per week. As well as this, 2-3 strength resistance sessions per week should be undertaken to build muscle strength. If it has been a while since someone has been active, or their fitness level is low, it’s important to begin slowly and build up gradually.

Where to from here?

If you are undergoing treatment for cancer or recovering from cancer and would like more information or an exercise program that is tailored to your personal needs and circumstances, speak to an accredited Exercise Physiologist about how much and what type of exercise is best for you.

We are lucky to have very qualified and talented Exercise Physiologists here at The Body Refinery, in New Farm. Book your appointment today.


Article written by Jess Crawford, Exercise Physiologist.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is the number one killer for Australians, yet most of these deaths are preventable. Cardiovascular disease accounts for 27% of deaths in Australia. Around 1.2 million Australians have 1 or more heart or vascular conditions. CVD is an umbrella term for conditions that effect the heart and blood vessels.

Atherosclerosis is the main contributor to CVD. It is characterised by a chronic inflammatory response within tissues resulting in plaque forming on the intima layer of the arteries. Consequently, resulting in thicker vessel walls and a reduced lumen area. This is an underlying contributor to CVD because less blood can flow through the vessels and more strain is put on the heart.

The most common forms of CVD are;

Heart attack –Acute myocardial infarction, also known as a heart attack, is a life-threatening condition that occurs when blood flow to the heart muscle is abruptly cut off, causing tissue damage. This is usually the result of occlusion in one or more of the coronary arteries. A blockage can develop due to a build-up of plaque, a substance mostly made of fat, cholesterol, and cellular waste products or due to a sudden blood clot that forms on the blockage.

Stroke – The most common type of stroke is ischemic stroke. This happens when plaque or a blood clot blocks blood flow to an artery in or on the brain. Haemorrhagic stroke is less common. This happens when a blood vessel breaks open and leaks blood into the brain. A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is similar to an ischemic stroke, but the blood clot breaks up after a short time, usually before there is long-term damage.

High blood pressure> – Consistently high BP in arteries that increases the development of atherosclerotic plaque due to the increases demand on lumen walls. Hypertension = 140/90, risk factor for cardiovascular disease due to the increased myocardial demand.

Chronic heart failure: heart is unable to pump blood at a rate that is adequate for the metabolising tissue. Low stroke volume = low ejection fracture and consequently less oxygen getting to the muscles. Guidelines for the prevention, detection and management of chronic heart failure in Australia include “Participating in regular physical activity” as the number one priority for management and prevention.

Atrial Fibrillation: disorganised atrial electrical activity – rapid and irregular ventricular depolarisations. Often associated with heart failure.

Cardiovascular Disease

Risk factors – non-modifiable and modifiable 

There are risk factors that can’t be changed (sex, age, and family history), but most risk factors of CVD are modifiable. These include high cholesterol (>5.5mmol/L), obesity (<24.9 BMI), smoking, high blood pressure, alcohol use (over 2 standard drinks p/d), sedentary lifestyle (>150m p/w), stress and depression.

Exercise Benefits

Exercise has a favourable effect on many of the established risk factors of CVD, such as weight reduction, cholesterol reduction, increase mental health and decrease blood pressure.

Exercise Sports Science Australia (ESSA) the governing body of Exercise Physiology says that people need 150 minutes of moderate activity per week to decrease blood pressure and maintain healthy cardiac function.

Exercise benefits for cardiac and circulation – exercise increases stroke volume, increases diastolic, decreases Hr, increase myocardial perfusion (more oxygen for the muscles), lower resting levels of catecholamine, potential increases in ejection fraction, increased peripheral vasodilation. In layman’s terms – it improved exercise tolerance, vo2 peak and peripheral blood flow.

Exercise benefits for skeletal muscle – increase mitochondrial number and density, increases capillary, increases muscle fibre size and bulk, increases type 1 muscle fibres, increases oxidative enzymes, and delays anaerobic metabolism. Layman’s terms – Improved oxygen extraction, muscle strength and endurance.

Exercise benefits ventilation and others – reduced shortness of breath and perceived exertion scores, decreased oxygen demands at submaximal workloads, improved quality of life, sleep quality, mental health, and increase/maintain bone density.

Exercise Prescription

Aerobic – 11-13 RPE. Requires supervision and monitoring of HR and BP (but using RPE). 8-10 minute warm-up to reduce adverse cardiovascular effects including ST segment depression, arrhythmias, and transient LV function, increase blood flow & skeletal muscle perfusion, reduce muscle viscosity, and reduce injury risk. 8-10 minute cool down to reduce venous pooling, dizziness and post-exercise hypotension. 5 days per week.

Resistance – requires supervision, avoid Valsalva manoeuvre (as it raises blood pressure), 12-20 reps at low intensity, including 8-10 exercises. Progress intensity and reduce reps to 8-12 after 6-8 weeks of training.  Heavy weightlifting of intensive and isometric nature should be avoided as it causes further increase in blood pressure. Often this can be an advertisement as most people with these conditions will be overweight and would like to hear that it would be “easy” to start off with.

Bottom line is to get exercising!!

We have a range of options here at The Body Refinery, talk to our friendly front desk.

Exercise Right Week

Exercise Right Week Exercise Physiotherapy The Body Refinery New Farm

MONDAY – Move your Mood (Mental health)

You may have heard at some point that exercise increases levels of serotonin and endorphins! This is absolutely true, and only just the start of how exercise is beneficial for the management of anxiety and depression. Particularly since COVID, there has been a substantial decrease in social isolation, lack of opportunity to exercise and general uneasiness and uncertainty of the future. In fact, 1 in 6 Australians are currently experiencing depression or anxiety—or both (Beyond Blue, 2022).

Postnatal depression is experienced by 1 in 7 Australian women and for around 40% of this population, their symptoms will begin during pregnancy (Black Dog Institute, 2020).

Exercise positively influences hippocampal neurogenesis in the brain! In layman’s terms, the brain begins to desensitise itself to stressors and prioritises endorphins, serotonin and endothelial growth factor- all pathophysiologic mechanisms that negate anxiety and depressive disorders (Duman et al., 2001).

The pathophysiological basis of these mental states is a combination of environmental factors and genetic predisposition- stressful events in life can also trigger transient or acute episodes. Imbalances in neurotransmitters in the brain manage the way the brain ‘thinks’ and ‘perceives’. The neurotransmitters of endorphins (prerequisite to dopamine), dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine— to name a few— are utilised in pharmaceutical interventions to mitigate adverse mental states. When you participate in exercise as an adjunct to medication, exercise further improves symptoms compared to medication alone! Particularly with anxiety disorders, comorbidity risks increase the chance of cardiovascular disease and immunosuppression. Exercise is an effective and evidence-based method to decrease the risk of these subsequent developments. Exercise-induced increases in blood circulation to the brain influence of physiological reactivity to stress, which in turn increases mood states, motivation and a more efficient memory (Guszkowska et al., 2004.)

Co-morbidities and lifestyle factors that may be perpetuated by depression and anxiety (Sharma et al., 2006):

  • Sedentary behaviour
  • Poor nutrition
  • Alcohol/substance abuse/smoking
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes

30 minutes a day of either strength-based or aerobic-based exercise is recommended 3-5 days a week to improve mental health!

Health benefits of regular exercise (Sharma et al., 2006):

  • Reduction in anxiety
  • Reduction in depression
  • Increased mood states
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Improved cognitive function
  • Increased energy and stamina
  • Increased effectiveness of medication
  • Increased mental alertness and energy levels
  • Weight reduction
  • Reduced cholesterol and improved cardiovascular fitness


At The Body Refinery, you can choose from a myriad of classes that suit your interests and fitness levels to kickstart your mental self-care! We offer everything from stretch and relax classes to high-intensity strength and conditioning to get that heart rate up! Power Pregnancy, Strong Mums and Pregnancy reformer classes are also on offer for new or second-time mums to find that support and motivation through working out with other mummies!

Watch the video here:

Exercise Right Week Exercise Physiotherapy The Body Refinery New Farm

TUESDAY – Heal your Heart (Cardiovascular health)

The organ that works overtime! The heart can cope with a substantial amount of stress over a lifetime, so it is important we give it the love that it needs! Prolonged sitting, poor diet, lack of exercise and aches and pains can be barriers to moving your body and increasing your heart rate. Our 21st-century lifestyle habits have more negative effects than positive when it comes to heart and vascular health— 1 in 3 people over the age of 18 have high blood pressure, affecting men and women at an equal rate (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2022).

Prolonged high blood pressure can lead to serious health issues, such as (ABS, 2022):

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Kidney disease
  • Valve diseases

The heart pumps blood around the body consisting of oxygen, nutrients and hormones to vital organs and muscles, as well as carrying waste products out of the lungs, kidneys and digestive system. The heart sometimes does not pump blood as efficiently as it is intended to. The cardiovascular system is made up of not only the heart but all the vessels that transport the blood around the body. The heart and vessels require mechanical stress, in the form of deliberate heart rate elevation, to adapt and become stronger. If these structures are not exercised often or efficiently, they can start to become lazy. Vessels will stiffen and/or calcify, become blocked by plaques and the chambers in the heart start to pump less efficiently, potentially not ejecting enough blood or leaving some behind, leading to lower cardiac output. Studies have demonstrated that low levels of physical activity are associated with a higher prevalence of most CVD (cardiovascular disease) risk factors, including hypertension, obesity, dyslipidaemia, metabolic syndrome, depression and type 2 diabetes (Rennie et al., 2003).

Exercise Physiologists are trained in the chronic conditions listed above and prescribe the appropriate heart rate values based on age and pre-existing medical conditions. Their skillsets are catered to ensuring that you are working at your individualised values, ideal for mitigating the risk of heart conditions. Cardiorespiratory fitness in general is crucial in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases. Physical inactivity and poor diet are the highest contributors to CVD (cardiovascular disease). Repetitive bouts of exercise lead to significant improvements in physiological function, such as prevention of oxidative stress, chronic inflammation and endothelial function (Lavie et al., 2015). The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a minimum of 30 minutes, 5 days a week of moderate intensity activity, with two sessions being geared towards major muscle group training (ASCM, 2022).

Besides chronic conditions. Exercise Physiologists are clinically trained to assess and prescribe exercise to train specific energy systems of the body, utilising intensities, load and exercise modality to best benefit each individual client. Getting your heart rate up and muscles working is one of the most beneficial ways to mitigate the risk of cardiovascular diseases throughout the ageing process!

At The Body Refinery, we offer many classes to get the blood pumping and heart rate elevated! If you have a pre-existing cardiac condition, speak with your GP for clearance prior to attending fitness classes, or come see one of our Exercise Physiologists for a 1:1 initial assessment to review risks, goals and plan your fitness journey!

Watch the video here:

WEDNESDAY – Brace your Body (Musculoskeletal health)

Joint pain? Osteoarthritis? Osteoporosis/osteopenia? Overweight? Looking to stay overall fit and healthy? Resistance training is for you.

Inactive adults experience a 3%-8% loss of muscle mass per decade, coupled with a decreased resting metabolic rate and increased fat accumulation (Westcott, W.L., 2012). The process of age-related loss of muscle mass is referred to as sarcopenia. Increasing or simply maintaining muscle mass plays a crucial role in mitigating not only age-related decline in physical performance but also decreases the likelihood of balance-related bone fractures, movement control, walking speed, cognitive abilities and independence. Resistance training is a commonly overlooked exercise modality that aids in cardiovascular conditioning as well as targeting general muscular strength. Bodyweight exercises, pin-loaded machines or the use of free weights have all been proven to enhance insulin sensitivity, decrease low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) and triglycerides, while simultaneously increasing total high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (the ‘good’ cholesterol) (Marini et al., 2008). Exercising your muscles has effects on all parts of the body, even organs! The pancreas produces insulin, which essentially uptakes glucose into our cells for energy use. Around 80% of glucose is deposited into skeletal muscle to be used for energy. If it’s not being used via mechanical contractions of the muscle, insulin sensitivity occurs, leaving more glucose circulating in the body than it is being used for energy (McGlory et al., 2018). This long-term pattern can lead to metabolic dysfunction (cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity).

Resistance training under the supervision of a trained Exercise Physiologist can promote bone development in patients presenting with osteoporosis and osteopenia. Bone development is signalled by the brain when mechanical stress is applied to muscles which pull on the bone to move the joints. Studies have shown a 1% to 3% increase in bone mineral density with structured resistance training prescription (ACSM, 2020).

Exercise Physiologists are trained to apply the appropriate volume, intensity, modality and specificity in prescription to individualise programs tailored to their client’s needs. The method in which the load is applied to the muscles will even act to isolate the loss of bone density in the areas affected (hips, spine etc) (ACSM, 2009).

Not only does RT (resistance training) benefit bone density, it acts as a protective mechanism for:

  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Tendon and ligament strength
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Cancers
  • Obesity
  • Hypertension
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic inflammation (autoimmune disorders)
  • Metabolic disorders

Regular performance of resistance training following a cancer diagnosis serves as a protective effect on cancer-specific mortality, cancer recurrence and all-cause mortality. Muscle mass and strength are inversely associated with cancer mortality (Bennie et al., 2016). RT also serves to alleviate some of the unwanted side effects associated with therapeutic approaches to cancer treatment, such as gastrointestinal irritation, fatigue, sarcopenia and peripheral neuropathy from chemotherapy treatments.

Resistance training doesn’t always mean lifting heavy weights repetitively. At the Body Refinery, working with an Exercise Physiologist one-on-one can provide a clear objective – specific to your needs – to enhance your muscle mass in a healthy and functional way. For those over 50, join our Better Bones class, a circuit-based resistance-training class catered to healthy bones and musculature. For those who want a faster, higher intensity workout, join our Strength and Conditioning classes – all run and programmed by our on-site Exercise Physiologists.

Watch the video here:

Exercise Right Week Exercise Physiotherapy The Body Refinery New Farm

THURSDAY – Boost your Brain (Neurological health)

Brain health can come in many forms- neurological health, mental health and neuromuscular health. Despite the categories it can be broken into, total brain health is the capacity to perform any task at hand with adequacy, whether that be motor control or verbalisation. Diseases of the brain can be congenital (from birth), progressive disorders, physical or viral damage, or age-related decline. Neurodegenerative and cognitive dysfunction/decline are resultants of both environmental and genetic components- as neurons in the brain cannot regenerate, brain dysfunction is irreversible, however, can be slowed in its progression (Wang et al., 2020). Preventing cognitive impairment and brain dysfunction can be mitigated by preventing the vascular risk factors, such as physical activity, appropriate body mass index, blood pressure, total cholesterol and blood glucose to maintain optimal brain health. All of which can be modified through exercise!

The 6 Pillars of Brain Health (American Heart Association, 2017) :

  • Physical activity
  • Mental exercise
  • Healthy diet and nutrition
  • Social interaction
  • Sleep and relaxation
  • Avoidance of vascular stressors (inflammatory markers)

Physical activity plays an important role in preventing degeneration of the body and mind. Exercise stimulates the nervous system and causes hypertrophy (growth) of the neuromuscular junction (communicates the motor nerve to its muscle fibre), and lack of exercise inversely causes degeneration (Nishimune et al., 2014). Studies have proven that exercise acts as a ‘dose’ for gene expression within muscle tissue and even the spinal cord! This provides many beneficial potential therapeutic targets for motor neurone diseases, neuromuscular junction diseases, musculoskeletal diseases and age-related cognitive and physical degeneration (Perreau et al., 2005).

Neuromuscular conditions that affect motor output and sensory information such as Parkinson’s, spinal cord injuries, stroke, MS, and cerebral palsy are conditions whereby exercise is a crucial rehabilitation tool. Exercise decreases the likelihood of comorbidity acquisition as well, decreasing inflammatory markers in the body, reduction in cholesterol, blood pressure and increased cardiovascular fitness. Mitigating comorbidities through exercise can assist in delaying the rate of progression or severity of symptoms. Exercise for the brain isn’t solely beneficial if presenting with neurological challenges, it is a proactive mitigator of lifestyle and genetic risk factors. Exercise assists in cognitive function, depression and anxiety, protection against oxidative stress and dopamine production (Svensson & Deierborg, 2015).

Motor control difficulties in Parkinson’s patients is a prime area of focus for exercise physiologists. No two patients are the same in terms of characteristics such as freezing, depth perception, gait, posture and autonomic nervous system functions such as thermoregulation, blood pressure and altered heart rate. Moderate to vigorous exercise interventions have been shown to decrease the risk of developing PD (Parkinson’s Disease) and modify the progression of the disease (Crotty & Schwarzschild, 2020). As Parkinson’s is neurodegenerative, the benefits of engaging in exercise include reduced inflammation, reduce mitochondrial dysfunction and increase neurotrophic growth factor expression, which maintain and proliferates neuronal function (Liu et al., 2018). Exercise physiologists focus on mitigating motor control decline with amplitude-focused resistance training, balance and fall prevention and postural training. The complexity of the Parkinson’s itself requires the therapist to juggle multiple aspects of the presenting symptoms, medications and progression, which requires a high level of training and skill in exercise management (Moore, Dustin & Painter, 2016).

At the Body Refinery, we offer classes ranging from Parkinson’s-specific group exercise, strength and conditioning, group and 1:1 pilates sessions with our skilled physiotherapists and exercise physiologists to keep your neuromuscular system sharp and challenged!

Watch the video here:

FRIDAY – Gather your Group (Social health)

It is undisputed that regular physical activity can promote good health, improve cognitive function and prevent acute and chronic disease (Bartolomeo & Papa, 2017). Exercise physiology’s integration of ‘exercise as medicine’ spreads across the disciplines of cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, metabolic, neurological and mental health— but how does exercise itself influence our prosocial behaviours?

The subsequent positive “non-physical health” effects of participating in physical activity improve life satisfaction, happiness, subjective wellbeing, mental health and interpersonal relations (Gothe et al., 2013).

Positive experiences associated with physical activity can provoke feelings of accomplishment, and when experienced in the context of interdependent social connection, creates social bonding and belonging.

Have you ever participated in a group exercise class that was kicking your butt? And at some point in time, the entire room collectively groans at the instructor prompting the class to ‘finish strong, this is your last set!’ I know I have. And I’ve bonded with those around me sharing in the experience.

When there is support around you experiencing the same environment, there is an increase in social support and reward. The “I’m not stopping if they’re not stopping” competitive self-talk creates the motivation, but also the atmosphere of “we’re all in this together” collectively connects the group. Social support in the form of group physical activity positively enhances motivation, adherence, engagement and a sense of achievement. It has also been shown to buffer or reduce the sometimes unpleasant exercise-induced effects such as fatigue and muscular pain (Davis, Taylor & Cohen, 2015).

The World Health Organisation’s definition of health incorporates three domains: physical, mental and social (2022). Social support is measured through the four modes of leisure time, all positively affecting social health via the mental health pathway! The four modes outlined by Eime et al., (2013) are team sport, individual sport, organised but non-competitive physical activity and non-organised physical activity. Due to the social nature of most sport, it is associated with greater psychosocial health benefits than other forms of physical activity. But if you’re like me, and have experienced injury preventing you from continuing to participate in team or individual sport, it can be confronting to lose this ‘identity’. Finding the modality of exercise or physical activity you enjoy is a highly subjective and individualised decision. At The Body Refinery, we offer all sorts of classes, intensities, and number of participants for you to feel comfortable, guided and have some fun! Our clients are like our family, and we love seeing you excited to move your body and catch up with one another throughout the week!

Watch the video here:

SATURDAY – Spoil Yourself (Self-care)

Hippocrates said, “eating alone will not keep a [person] well; [they] must also take exercise”.

It’s a slippery slope using exercise as punishment for overindulging on the weekend or sitting at a desk all day. Sure, we all want to look good in that dress or feel confident in our bathers. That doesn’t mean we should use what is meant to be fun and enjoyable and rewarding as a negative!

Exercise is for your heart. Exercise is for your mind. Exercise is for your muscles. Exercise is for yourself.

Self-care is widely applied across healthcare utilising collaborating care plans between patients and healthcare professionals with the duty of exploring barriers, providing advice and education as well as manual and non-manual therapies to assist in general well-being (Button et al., 2015).

Medical practitioners have a wide range of techniques to create trust and adherence to the self-care aspect to treatment plans. We may see you for 1-2 hours a week, but what you do for the remaining hours outside of our care is what will truly make the difference. Particularly for chronic conditions, such as arthritis, cancers, hypertension, neurological disorders and cardiovascular pathologies, it is crucial to have a self-care plan to follow to maintain the effects of manual or cognitive therapies administered by your healthcare practitioner.

The Transtheoretical Model (5 Stages of Change) categorises mindsets and lifestyle behaviours (Raihan & Cogburn, 2022):

  1. Pre-contemplation— not yet aware of the need to change
  2. Contemplation— aware of the need to change and actively pondering it
  3. Preparation— getting emotionally ready and gathering mechanisms to support change
  4. Action— actively involved in trying to change behaviours
  5. Maintenance— having established a new behaviour, working to maintain it in the long-term

Physiotherapists and Exercise Physiologists see clients at all of these stages, with the goal of getting the client to stage 5, maintenance of new behaviour. Self-care is ultimately a physical and psychological self-actualisation process, ensuring complete autonomy and responsibility for one’s actions and habits. Exercise doesn’t need to be a chore, it should fit with your lifestyle, your goals and your healthy habits. Just like choosing a more nutrient-dense meal instead of fast food, choosing to take the stairs instead of the lift, little by little these choices become habits, and habits become a lifestyle!

As we have seen throughout Exercise Right Week 2022, moving your body comes with a myriad of positive benefits – it is NOT selfish to prioritise your health by taking the time to exercise!

Self-care can also come in the form of a remedial massage or an infrared sauna! Spoil yourself at The Body Refinery and give your body a little extra love!

Watch the video here:

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Guszkowska M.. Effects of exercise on anxiety, depression and mood. Psychiatr Pol. 2004;38:611–620.

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Bennie, J. A., Pedisic, Z., van Uffelen, J. G., Gale, J., Banting, L. K., Vergeer, I., et al. (2016). The descriptive epidemiology of total physical activity, muscle-strengthening exercises and sedentary behaviour among Australian adults—results from the National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey. BMC Public Health 16:73. doi: 10.1186/s12889-016-2736-3


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Moore, G. E., Dustin, L. J., & Painter, P. L. (2018). ACSM’s Exercise Management for Persons with Chronic Diseases and Disabilities. Fourth Edition. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

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What is Endometriosis? How can we help you?


What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a chronic inflammatory condition, affecting every 1 in 10 women.

When uterine tissue starts to grow in other areas outside the uterus along the abdominal wall, attaching to the fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder and bowels.

This atypical growth of uterine cells causes scarring and plaque formation. When these tissues thicken and bleed as they would normally behave in the uterus, they can cause excessive pain and bleeding.

Symptoms can vary from;

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Pelvic pain
  • Bladder and bowel dysfunction (diarrhoea, constipation, frequency of urination)

Some women never experience pain with endometriosis. However, around 50% of diagnosed individuals have chronic pelvic pain and 70% of women will experience pain only during menstruation. Heavy periods and pain to follow are not always ‘normal’ responses to a menstrual cycle.

If you feel like your symptoms are atypical, listen to your body and speak to your GP or OBGYN about your symptoms.

Risk factors:

  • Increasing age
  • Alcohol use
  • Early menarche
  • Family history of endometriosis
  • Infertility
  • Low body weight
  • Prolonged menstrual cycle
  • Short menstrual cycle (Peterson et al., 2013

The average time frame for a diagnosis of endometriosis is  8.6 years (Bontempo & Mikesell, 2020). The longer endometriosis goes diagnosed, the longer accumulation of inflammation occurs and the potential severity of symptoms as the body attempts to manage the condition. The scarring of tissue can further perpetuate symptoms of infertility in patients diagnosed with endometriosis.

The alleviation symptoms (typically coinciding with a menstrual cycle) through exercise have been shown to drastically reduce the incidence of pain and heavy bleeding.


Endometriosis is triggered by excessive inflammation in the body at a cellular level. A sedentary lifestyle places pressure on the vascular system of the body, reducing the body’s ability to circulate the blood effectively with the nutrients it needs to stimulate healing processes via endorphin release. Exercise actively decreases the number of inflammatory markers in the body by the reduction of adipose tissue.

Pain and discomfort are positively reinforced by the brain when muscles contract in an attempt to “guard” the area causing pain sensations. With the help of a trained exercise professional, we work to rewire the body systems to relax overactive muscle groups to interrupt the pain signals sent to the brain via muscle guarding.

Pelvic floor dysfunction is a common result of pain stemming from endometriosis. When the body is in pain around the pelvis, the musculature surrounding the tissue can become overactive or spasm. This further perpetuates chronic pelvic pain or pain during a menstrual cycle. Exercise has been proven to significantly decrease maladaptive postures stemming from endometriosis pain response, as well as significantly decrease the intensity of endometriosis pain after following a structured and consistent exercise program (Awad et al., 2017).

Exercise is one of the most effective courses of treatment to reduce symptomatic endometriosis, while increasing energy levels, boosting mood and building a stronger, more resilient body. 

At the Body Refinery, our women’s health Exercise Physiologist, Tori, will assist you in managing your diagnosis and symptoms of endometriosis.

Tori is available every Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning at our New Farm location.

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Awad, E., Ahmed, H., Yousef, A., & Abbas, R. (2017). Efficacy of exercise on pelvic pain and posture associated with endometriosis: within subject design. Journal of physical therapy science, 29(12), 2112–2115.

Bontempo, A. C., & Mikesell, L. (2020). Patient perceptions of misdiagnosis of endometriosis: results from an online national survey. Diagnosis (Berlin, Germany), 7(2), 97–106.

Peterson, C. M., Johnstone, E. B., Hammoud, A. O., Stanford, J. B., Varner, M. W., Kennedy, A., Chen, Z., Sun, L., Fujimoto, V. Y., Hediger, M. L., Buck Louis, G. M., & ENDO Study Working Group (2013). Risk factors associated with endometriosis: importance of study population for characterizing disease in the ENDO Study. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology, 208(6), 451.e1–451.e4511.

NDIS and Exercise Physiology

Exercise Physiology is a growing profession within the health field and depending on your NDIS plan and goals, it can have an important role in assisting in your NDIS journey. Exercise Physiology treatment is individualised and targeted and often consists of an exercise program that is often combined with advice around lifestyle change. Their contribution to a person’s overall health, wellbeing and independence is often overlooked and this is combined with a lack of knowledge around the role of Exercise Physiology within the general public. Due to this, it is important to highlight the role of Exercise Physiology as well as its importance within the NDIS framework.

How Exercise Physiology Can Help

>Exercise Physiologists are specialised in designing and delivering individualised, targeted and safe exercise-based treatment for a range of health conditions, whether they be acute, subacute or chronic. This can range across many things such as injury rehabilitation, the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions or the management of ongoing or long term health conditions.

Some of the reasons you might want to see an Exercise Physiologist under NDIS include:

  • Your condition or disability affects your health or wellbeing
  • Your plan has goals that relate to improving or maintaining your fitness, mobility, strength or physical independence
  • You would benefit from supervised, individualised or targeted exercise-based treatment
  • You want to participate in community-based sports or activities

This can take the form of home-based exercise programs, in-clinic exercise programs (both individual and group) or even independent gym-based programs. Your Exercise Physiologist will guide you to the most suitable options. Each session is tailored to your specific needs and circumstances to ensure the best outcome.

It’s important to note that Exercise Physiologists are also trained to take a holistic approach to treatment and will often look beyond your initial goal to also assess and provide treatment or advice on other relevant factors, such as your ability to complete day to day tasks, secondary health concerns, or even your mental wellbeing.

Categories Under Which You Can Access Funding

Exercise Physiology can be accessed under the Improved Health and Wellbeing category and as of 2019 also the Improved Daily Living Skills category under your Capacity Building Supports Budget. At The Body Refinery, these supports can be accessed by clients who are either self-managed or plan-managed.

What We Can Offer At The Body Refinery

Here at The Body Refinery not only do we offer Exercise Physiology but also Physiotherapy in both individual and group settings, as well as Massage Therapy. Our clinic is also well equipped with private consultation rooms, a fully equipped clinical gym and a clinical exercise studio. This combination of high-quality services and high-quality facilities allow us to make a positive impact on many people under NDIS at The Body Refinery already. So during your next plan review make sure to discuss the relevance of Exercise Physiology in the treatment of your disability under the NDIS.

More information on our NDIS page: here.

If you have further questions do not hesitate to contact us on 07 3358 3915 or email us at

Exercise & Ageing

The Importance of Advice and Education

The importance of exercise as we age is often underestimated. There is plenty of research that explains the amazing benefits of exercise. The saying that “if exercise was a pill, it would be the most prescribed remedy in the world” is very true, and the benefits exercise offers becomes even more so as we age. The hard part is knowing what to do and how to do it, in order to get the greatest benefits for your own circumstances. This is where people such as your GP or an Exercise Physiologist here at The Body Refinery are well equipped to get you moving safely and effectively.

Whether you’ve been meaning to increase your exercise levels for a while and are ready to take the next step, or if you have older friends/family who you think could improve their quality of life through exercise, this is definitely worth a read!

Current Statistics:

Did you know that only 15% of adults (18-64) meet the recommended Physical Activity Guidelines? While 55% complete one of the recommendations of completing 150-300 minutes of physical activity per week, 40% of those adults don’t complete the recommended muscle-strengthening exercises twice a week, which is needed to fully meet the guidelines.

In older adults (64+) the guidelines state that at least 30 minutes of accumulated activity should be reached on most days. Only 26% of those over 64 years achieve this, even though health experts believe this to be one of the most important times for people to remain physically active!

Why Exercise is Important:

Exercise is critically important because of the range of benefits it provides to people of any age. Some of the greatest benefits of exercising regularly for older people are:

  • Improves mood
  • Improves independence
  • Reduces risk of health issues
  • Provides social opportunities
  • Improves cognitive function
  • Assists in the management of many health conditions

Conversely, a lack of exercise can cause or exacerbate a range of physical and other issues.

exercise physiology new farm The Body Refinery

Getting Started & Available Exercise Options:

Though the guidelines broadly state the amounts of exercise you should aim for, the type of exercise is up to you. It’s important to find something that works for you, so it’s important to consider: the type of activities you enjoy and can commit to regularly; any existing medical conditions; what time of day you prefer to exercise; and whether you’d prefer to exercise alone or as part of a team or social group.

Common options include walking, running or gym-based exercise, but you may want to consider:

  • Tennis
  • Pilates
  • Hiking
  • Kicking a ball in the park with friends or grandchildren
  • Yoga
  • Golf
  • Croquet
  • Social sport

Incidental exercise is also an important part of staying fit and healthy. Try:

  • Walking to work/shops/cafes, instead of driving.
  • Catching public transport, instead of a door-to-door Uber/Taxi.
  • Taking the stairs rather than the escalator.

It’s important to start at an achievable level and work your way toward higher goals, and do something you enjoy!

Role of Exercise Physiology:

Exercise Physiologists are university-trained to prescribe exercise and provide advice to each person’s specific needs, which makes them an ideal first point of contact when you are starting to exercise, or if you would like to take your current level of exercise to the next level.  Whether you are looking to manage health conditions such as a heart condition or diabetes or simply looking to stay mobile, strong and independent into the future, Exercise Physiologists have the knowledge and tools to help you achieve this safely and at a pace that suit you.

Further information:

If you’d like any additional information, have questions, or just want to get started exercising again in a safe and fun way, call The Body Refinery on 07 3358 3915 or email us at to book an initial consultation with one of our Exercise Physiologists. They will take into account your health status, goals, level of fitness and work with you to reach your goals and keep you moving well into the future.

Exercise Physiologist or Physiotherapist? What is best for me?

exercise physiologist physiotherapy The Body Refinery New Farm

Seeking help for the management of any condition, diagnosis or ailment can be a tricky path to navigate. In addition to a range of health and well-being services, The Body Refinery has a number of experienced Exercise Physiologists (EP) and Physiotherapists who can get you onto the road to recovery.

The question is…

Should I see an EP or a Physiotherapist for my condition?

The answer…

It depends!

To best answer this question, we’ll first outline the difference between an and a Physiotherapist.

Neurological conditions fall prevention

Let’s start with the similarities.

  • Both professions are considered Allied Health Practitioners. This means their credentials and skill-set utilise evidence-based research and uphold practices that are held to the highest standards.
  • Both professions are supervised by governing bodies that are frequently audited for a standard of practice and effective management of disease or disability.

Physiotherapists fall under the umbrella of the AHPA (Australian Health Practitioner Association), while EPs are overseen by ESSA (Exercise and Sports Science Australia). Membership to either of these bodies requires annual professional development of skill-sets and upstanding service by the certified practitioner.

Exercise Physiologists (also known as Accredited Exercise Physiologists or Clinical Exercise Physiologists) and a Physiotherapist each hold, at a minimum, a 4-year undergraduate degree, specialising in anatomy, physiology and biomechanics.

EPs further specialise in chronic disease management and exercise as the main adjunct to therapy, whereas Physiotherapists accumulate specialised skill-sets which allow them to provide manual therapy techniques as the main management for musculoskeletal conditions.

Physiotherapists train to provide adjuncts to healing, using manual therapies. Not all patients will require manual therapy, just as not all patients will require exercise for their treatment plan. Depending on the severity of the condition and the personal preferences of the client, a patient may benefit from both types of therapy!

Osteopathy The Body Refinery New Farm

I have a pain/condition/issue that hasn’t been diagnosed. Who can help?

A Physiotherapist can diagnose musculoskeletal injuries. They can assess the severity through manual testing and, if necessary, will send a patient for scans such as an MRI or an ultrasound to further investigate the root cause of the condition. Physios will typically work with clients who are in ‘acute’ stages of pain or require consistent management over the short or medium term.

An EP specialises in the management of long-term chronic musculoskeletal conditions (acquired through an injury or lifestyle situation like pregnancy or recovery from surgery) and certain diseases (excluding communicable diseases).

EPs work closely with other conditions that fall outside of musculoskeletal ailments – they are trained in managing exercise for cancer, cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic, neurological, pregnancy/postpartum and mental health conditions. EPs specialise in getting people back to feeling normal after a diagnosis has been made regarding their health status.

Exercise training under the supervision of an EP is the safest, most effective form of increasing fitness and ability to perform all activities of daily living without pain or discomfort.

EPs are also trained in strength and conditioning – if your goal is to become fitter, faster and stronger (whether or not you are experiencing pain or have an injury) – EPs are highly educated in performance training for athletes and non-athletes alike!

Exercise Physiology exercises and sports conditioning

The main difference between an EP and a Physiotherapist is…

EPs specialise in exercise.

The Body Refinery’s Physiotherapists and EPs work closely with one another to provide the highest quality of care to their clients. We understand that what works for one person may not always work for another, so we are constantly collaborating and sharing knowledge and expertise to ensure each client’s treatment plan is tailored to them to provide the best outcome. This includes making sure that clients are working with the correct type of practitioner to best manage the outcome of their condition.

The Physiotherapy-specialised classes offered at The Body Refinery:

  • The Refined Runner
  • Kneehab
  • Mum and Me Conditioning
  • Pregnancy Conditioning
  • Balance and Falls

The Exercise Physiology-specialised classes offered at The Body Refinery:

  • Better Bones
  • Age-ility
  • PD Warrior
  • Strong Mums
  • Power Pregnancy
  • Strength and Conditioning

If you are unsure what kind of practitioner you should see, call our friendly admin team today on 3358 3915. They will help guide you to the correct practitioner for your condition or physical goals.


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blog written by Exercise Physiologist Tori

Exercise, PD Warrior and Parkinson’s Disease

Exercise can have a positive impact on people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and their quality of life.  Research supporting the use of exercise in treating people with PD has been gaining momentum over the last 10-20 years, specifically, the positive effect exercise can have on the condition itself, as well as the quality of life of those who live with PD. The Body Refinery offers tailored exercise options for people with Parkinson’s through our PD Warrior classes our individualised session.


What You Should Do

But what exercise should you do? What works best? What exercise is safe to do?
Research shows that those with Parkinson’s disease should look to include in some form the following:

  • Aerobic Exercise
  • Flexibility 
  • Strength or Resistance Based Exercise

It’s important to note that everyone has different symptoms and different movements or activities that they find difficult due to Parkinson’s disease. So what types of exercise are best for you may not be the best for another person, though a key theme for everyone is that it is important to stay active and exercise regularly.

PD Warrior - Parkinson's disease The Body Refinery

What is PD Warrior?

The Body Refinery offers a program called PD Warrior that is specifically designed for people with Parkinson’s. Started in 2011 by Specialist Neurological Physiotherapist, Melissa McConaghy, it is based on the concepts of Neuroprotection, Neuroplasticity and Neurorestoration and their relation to Parkinson’s disease. These concepts have been broken down into the 7 core principles of PD Warrior, which have been used to create a fun, motivating and effective program aimed at helping to manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease:

  1. Fun
  2. Specificity 
  3. High Effort
  4. Frequency 
  5. Powerful
  6. Complex
  7. Meaningful 

PD Warrior is an evidence-based, highly specialised Parkinson’s disease-focused program that works to identify the specific needs and symptoms of a person, then focus on improvement through high effort exercise. PD Warrior takes the latest research, showing that significant benefits can be achieved with high effort exercise, and incorporates it in an easily accessible program that includes elements of behaviour change, social interaction and helps provide a support network for those with Parkinson’s disease.


How We Can Help

In addition to Pilates and Fitness focused classes, The Body Refinery offer’s PD Warrior in two forms: a group session where participants motivate and drive each other to be the best they can be; and individual sessions where a more personalised approach can be taken to work towards specific goals. The group setting is a great way to meet other people with Parkinson’s disease, create a strong support network and social connections, with many participants meeting for coffee after their class. Individual sessions, on the other hand, allow for a more tailored approach to be provided, where specific exercises can be prescribed to assist with symptoms or to help with day to day tasks that you might find difficult.

PD Warrior classes at The Body Refinery are becoming more and more popular as people discover the benefits of the program, and we hope that you will too!  If you are interested in finding out more about PD Warrior and its benefits please contact us on 3358 3915 or


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written by Exercise Physiologist Thomas Uhlmann