Exercise is Medicine for any Condition, and Kay is living proof of this!

For the first time in 18 months I’m planning a few short breaks away to holiday, so looking forward to that a lot.
— Kay

We asked Kay a few questions about her health and where she is at now. Read below for more insight into how Active Ability and Exercise Physiology has helped Kay.

How I found Active Ability:
I found Active Ability via the NDIS Service Provider listings. They provide exercise services at my home.

Background of my conditions:
I have complex co-morbidities - hypopituitarism, severe osteo-arthritis and severe hearing loss. The biggest issues for me are a lack of sustainable stamina and variable energy (from hypopituitarism) and joint pain issues/ lack of mobility (from arthritis).

How exercise has exercise helped me?
It was a struggle in the beginning (June 2017). I found it so hard to even complete the exercises both during the session with my EP and at other times. The exercises Emma provided me with were highly tailored specifically for my health issues. 

I had a real setback in September 2017 when I found out that I had severe arthritis in my right hip. I was using a walking stick for a while. But the hip pain made me more determined to improve my exercise practice. A cortisone injection and acupuncture really reduced the hip pain and this helped me to focus on exercising.

I started gradually improving the frequency of my exercises. It slowly became easier to complete a full set of exercises.

Now in 2018 I do my exercises most days (all at home in my bedroom) - 15 minutes of interval cycling, circuit and other exercises. This takes approximately 40-45 minutes. The best thing about doing the exercises is that I feel so much better afterwards. Even when I felt really tired, doing the exercises improves how I felt. My joints are more mobile and I have more energy overall.  My hip pain is only occasional and not severe.

I really notice if I miss  a day or two. It’s  harder when I re-start! But overall I am much healthier. I weigh nearly 10kg less than I was in June 2017 and feel much improved. Hypnotherapy also helped me with weight loss. 

Thank you heaps to Active Ability! 

Our new resident Dietitian!

Me and a 13kg vegetable fondly known as a "hairy melon"! Always love learning about new foods and different cultures!

Me and a 13kg vegetable fondly known as a "hairy melon"! Always love learning about new foods and different cultures!

My housemates dog and I (although I think she likes me better)

My housemates dog and I (although I think she likes me better)


Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science (University of Sydney)
Master of Nutrition and Dietetics (University of Sydney)
Accredited Practising Dietitian

Hello! Hi! My name is Bec, I am Active Ability’s new dietitian. I absolutely love food, so it is no surprise that this is where my studies led me. The more I learnt, the more I realised how amazing our bodies are and how important it is that we nourish it with the right foods. A healthy diet is one that makes you feel good both physically and mentally. I am a firm believer that food is medicine and as a dietitian I help translate scientific nutritional information and research into practical advice. I have experience in both clinical and community settings as a dietitian, and have a background in disability support work. My job is a rewarding one and I love equipping people with the knowledge and skills to build a healthy lifestyle, rather than just short-term fixes. On the weekend, you might find me cooking in the kitchen, drinking coffee or heading down the south coast for a swim, hike or to cuddle my family dog! 

Diabetes: Don’t Sugar Coat It

National Diabetes Week runs from 8 July to 14 July. This years’ campaign; “It’s About Time” aims to raise awareness about the importance of early detection and early treatment for all types of diabetes. Too many Australians are being diagnosed with diabetes too late. This is true for both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. The delay in diagnosis is putting many people at risk of major life-threatening health problems.

“It’s About Time” we detected all types of diabetes earlier and save lives.

Click on the image above to access the Diabetes Australia website

Click on the image above to access the Diabetes Australia website

Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is a group of metabolic diseases characterised by an elevated blood glucose concentration (hyperglycaemia) as a result of defects in insulin secretion and/or inability to use insulin. Put simply:

Type 1 Diabetes is when a lack of insulin production by the pancreas because cells that are required to produce insulin (Beta cells) are destroyed by the immune system.

Type 2 Diabetes is a chronic disease marked by high levels of blood sugar (hyperglycaemia). It occurs when the body does not stimulate insulin for glucose (blood sugar) uptake (insulin resistance).

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus refers to any degree of glucose intolerance during pregnancy.


In accordance with this years’ theme; ‘It’s About Time’, early detection of blood glucose levels is vital, in order for you know if you are at risk. Some risk factors for diabetes include:

-       Age

-       Family history

-       Smoking and Alcohol patterns

-       Excessive or poor dietary intake

-       Physical inactivity levels

-       Overweight and obesity

-       Blood glucose test results/Hba1c level

The GP will assess all factors and complete tests before a formal diagnosis is made. They must be the first point of contact.

Exercise has long been recognised as a vital component of diabetes care and is also now recognised and considered as an important component in the prevention, even delay of type II diabetes.


The Benefits of exercise on glucose control include:


-       Reduces blood glucose concentration as more glucose is being taken into cells rather than remaining in the blood

-       Improvements in body composition and cardiorespiratory fitness

-       Reduction in cardiovascular risk event

Exercise Precautions help establish safe parameters for the session. Precautions include but are not limited to the following:

-       The best time to exercise is approximately one hour after a meal.

-       Peripheral neuropathy reduces sensations in the limbs of people with type two diabetes, exposing people with this condition to a reduced awareness of painful sores that can result in ulcerations. Appropriate footwear regular foot checks and low impact activity are highly advised to minimise exacerbations due to peripheral neuropathy.

-       The occurrence of hypoglycaemia is relatively low. But the risk is greater for those with poorly controlled diabetes and those with longer history of diabetes. Prevention of hypoglycaemia centres around self-monitoring of blood glucose levels and consultation of your GP.

-       Before and after any exercise session, blood glucose levels should be monitored to determine whether the individual is safely able to commence exercise. An exercise physiologist is best able to consider the length and intensity of the session based on blood glucose results on the day. From this they can determine whether carbohydrate intake is necessary before commencing exercise or a ‘top up’ in carbohydrates is required after a session.



Before commencing any exercise program, an Accredited Exercise Physiologist is well equipped to tailor your interests, goals, type of diabetes, medications use, as well as presentation and severity of diabetes complications into an individualised exercise program. We establish a safe and specific intervention; whether the focus is on cardiovascular/ aerobic exercise and/or strength/ resistance training.

Written by Active Ability EP Nadia Levenets


Benefits of a balanced diet on glucose control

 When it comes to your diet, healthy eating for diabetes is no different from everyone else! Enjoying a balanced diet is an essential part of diabetes management and it can help control your blood sugar levels, achieve a healthy body weight, prevent or slow the development of complications as well as promote general good health. Be sure to;

-       Eat regular balanced meals, spread evenly throughout the day


-       Include a wide-variety of foods from all five food groups (you don’t need to eliminate carbs or sugar from your diet!)

-       Choose quality sources of carbohydrates that are high in fibre such as wholegrain bread and cereals, beans & lentils. You may also need to consider the timing and amount if you are using insulin

-       Limit foods high in saturated fats, added sugars and salt (think fried food and pastries) 

While research has shown that some dietary patterns, such as low GI or Mediterranean diet, may assist in the management of your diabetes, it is important to remember not one size fits all! For personal advice, ensure you get support from an Accredited Practising Dietitian.

Written by Active Ability Dietitian Bec Lancaster


Improving Health One Step at a Time

My favourite exercise is the sit to stand!

My favourite exercise is the sit to stand!

 Check out of one of our amazing clients, Amanda. Amanda is currently seeing one of our Exercise Physiologists to manage her hyperlipidaemia (cholesterol) and her weight. We have been working with Amanda and her staff to complete a regular exercise program, so that she can complete from home! Apart from enjoying exercise, Amanda loves going to work 4 days a week. It keeps her busy and gives her the opportunity to keep in touch with friends.

I love exercising because it makes me feel good and I have more energy
Going for a walk!

Going for a walk!

My name is Amanda, but you can call me ‘Mandy.’ I live in a group home and need help staying active.

The staff at my home are great! They help me complete the exercises and the best thing is they complete it with me! They are also getting fitter with me. My exercise program uses my whole body. We even manage to do a walk around the block as a warm up! This was something I didn’t know I could do because of my weight and conditions.


What does the evidence suggest?

Why is exercise important in people living with mild intellectual disability?

A STS 1.jpg

Overall, physical activity amongst people with intellectual disabilities are very low. This may be attributed to a lack of access, low confidence and low self-esteem to engage in the community. Exercise can help increase confidence, self-esteem and knowledge about exercise so that positive behaviours are adopted, and these individuals are able to make healthier and active choices in life. (Rimmer et al., 1993)






Key Benefits:

- Promotes positive wellbeing and social integration

- Improvement in working memory

- Exercise is essential in brain development, particularly in the prefrontal and cortical areas

- Exercise enhances the production of hormones and forms neuronal connections to enhance brain function

(Alesi, M et al., 2014)


References used:

Alesi, M., Battaglia, G., Roccella, M., Testa, D., Palma, A., & Pepi, A. (2014). Improvement of gross motor and cognitive abilities by an exercise training program: three case reports. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 10, 479–485. http://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S58455

Rimmer JH, Braddock D & Fujijura G. 1993 Prevalence of obesity in adults with mental retardation: Implications for health promotion and disease prevention. Mental Retardation, 31, 105-110.


If like Mandy, you too would like to see an Exercise Physiologist in your own home, please give us a call today or click here.

The Active Ability Team xx

Exercise Right Week 2018 - Motivation to Move

Exercise Right Week is an initiative held every year aiming to bring to the forefront the importance exercise plays in maintaining good health. Exercising right is not just about being active, but about doing the right kind of exercise for your health and level of fitness.

This year's theme; Motivation to Move focused on raising awareness of the importance of exercise for all Australians, especially those living with or managing a chronic condition or health issue.

One of our clients, Antonia, featured on the Exercise Right website this year and told us how she is Motivated to Move. To access the Exercise Right Week website, click on Antonia's banner above.

Antonia shares with us her exercise journey...

How did you come to work with an Accredited Exercise Physiologist?

My support co-ordinator at the MS society got me in touch with Active Ability Exercise Physiology when I was given funding for Exercise Physiology (EP) under the NDIS. The best thing is that they are a mobile company and they come to my home.

What condition or health issue do you work with your Accredited Exercise Physiologist to manage?

I have Multiple Sclerosis. I work with my EP to stretch the lower half of my body because I get a lot of stiffness which is associated with my MS. I also have balance, co ordination and walking troubles, so I work through strength exercises with my EP to keep me moving.

Antonia completing a single leg balance exercise

Antonia completing a single leg balance exercise

Nadia Levenets, Antonia’s exercise physiologist adds: Due to Antonia's MS, she presents with a lot of lower limb and lower back stiffness so I work on releasing her tight muscles before we exercise. This optimises length in the muscles and allows us to work with more during the session. Our strength exercises are all completed in the home, I bring all the portable equipment to use and we focus on the leg strength, gait training and balance.

Have you always been active or were you prescribed exercise as part of your treatment management?

I have always engaged in some exercise and physical activity. I used to enjoy swimming and going to the group classes at the MS society in Lidcombe, NSW for exercise. I was excited to begin with my EP Nadia as this program she was giving me was individually tailored.

Antonia completing a mini squat by the kitchen bench

Antonia completing a mini squat by the kitchen bench

How did you feel when you started to exercise, what differences did you start to notice for both your physical and mental health?

At first I was tried and sore. I felt my body changing with the weeks that followed. But I can see that the exercise has and is helping me manage my MS. I can see my body adapting to better cope with my MS symptoms (pending on weather, I am heat sensitive). My mental health is also starting to change and I am thinking more positively.

My MS is managed much better. The biggest change I have seen is that I can now walk better up the stairs and carry the shopping with my husband. I couldn’t do this before.

What would you say to other people who may have been advised to exercise, who are apprehensive?

Exercise can help anyone with any condition. The biggest thing for me was to trust my EP. I now know they can look and see what muscles need to be exercised. They listen and get to know our bodies in order to improve our lives.

Do you think you’ll continue to maintain an active lifestyle?

Yes, definitely. Apart from seeing Nadia my EP twice a week, I have a stationary bike at home which I use daily for cardio exercise. I also complete the exercises I do with Nadia on my own the other days of the week.


"I am blessed with my EP Nadia, she has given me confidence. She listens and knows where attention is needed with exercise. Nadia listens and gives results. Thank you."


If you too are Motivated to Move and would like help getting started, please contact us here

The Active Ability Team xx