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Your health matters. The services that we offer target a variety of conditions from musculoskeletal disorders to cancer, neurological disorders and more. Here at our ‘Health Matters’ health blog, you’ll find a wealth of information including articles, case studies and health podcasts on a range of such conditions.

Preparing for surgery can be a daunting and overwhelming experience. Whether you are facing a minor procedure or a major operation, it is natural to feel a range of emotions as you navigate the journey ahead. In this blog, we will explore strategies for preparing for surgery, as well as tips for managing the recovery process. 

How can I prepare for surgery? 

Regardless of the type of surgery you are about to undergo, the best course of action in the lead up is to follow the instructions provided by your doctor. This will outline when to stop eating and drinking before the procedure, and any medications to avoid.  

In addition to this, you may like to consider implementing a proactive exercise program that can help improve the rate and success of recovery post-surgery. This process is referred to as ‘prehabilitation’ or ‘prehab’.  

Studies have shown that by optimising a patient’s condition before surgery, prehabilitation can help reduce the risk of complications after surgery, reduce the recovery window, and improve overall quality of life. Prehab allows the patient’s muscles and joints to reach the best shape possible before surgery, kickstarting the rehabilitation process, speeding up recovery and stabilising pain.  Prehabilitation programs can vary depending on the client’s needs and the type of surgery they are having. Generally clients will be prescribed a tailored exercise program to improve their strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness. This can help them better tolerate the stress of surgery and recover more quickly afterward. 

What will surgery involve? 

This question is tricky to answer. The procedure will vary significantly, depending on the type of surgery being performed, the part of the body involved, and the patient’s overall health. The duration of a surgical procedure can also vary depending on the complexity of the operation and the patient’s overall health. Some surgeries are relatively short and can be completed in a few hours – such as appendectomy, knee reconstruction, and a mastectomy. Other more complex surgeries can take several hours or even days to complete. 

Recovering from surgery 

It’s important to recognise that everyone responds differently to surgery. Two people who undergo the exact same procedure may have vastly different recovery processes out the other side.

This can be influenced by a variety of factors, including: 

Type of surgery: This is possibly the biggest determinant of the recovery window. Some surgeries may only require a few days of recovery, while others may require several weeks or even months. 

Age: Younger people tend to recover faster from surgery than older adults. This is because younger people tend to have stronger immune systems, better circulation, and fewer chronic health conditions. 

Overall health: Similar to the above, people who are in good overall health tend to recover more quickly from surgery than those who have underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or cancer. 

Lifestyle factors: Factors such as smoking, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise can slow down the recovery process. 

Quality of post-operative care: The quality of care that a patient receives after surgery can also affect their recovery window. Patients who receive appropriate pain management, wound care, and exercise therapy tend to recover more quickly than those who do not. 

Complications: The occurrence of complications such as infections, bleeding, or other medical issues can also prolong the recovery window. 

Mental health: The mental health of the patient can also play a role in the recovery window. Patients who are anxious, depressed, or stressed may take longer to recover than those who are in a positive and relaxed state of mind. 

Post-surgical rehabilitation 

At Atkins Health, we regularly work with clients in the lead up to, and following, a surgical procedure. Implementing a tailored prehabilitation and rehabilitation plan gives the body the absolute best chance at bouncing back.  

Our rehabilitation exercise plans incorporate a blend of movements tailored to address the area impacted by the surgery.  This will typically include a variation of the following exercise types.  

Range-of-motion exercises 

  • Designed to improve flexibility and reduce stiffness. 
  • Example: knee bends and leg extensions may be prescribed to improve range of motion following knee surgery.  

Strengthening exercises 

  • Targetted to improve muscle strength and help patients regain functional abilities. 
  • Example: after shoulder surgery, exercises such as shoulder presses and bicep curls may be prescribed to strengthen the muscles around the shoulder joint. 

Balance exercises 

  • Commonly introduced to reduce the risk of falls by improving stability.  
  • Example: after hip surgery, the patient may be prescribed exercises such as standing on one leg and heel raises to improve their balance. 

Cardiovascular exercises 

  • These exercises can help improve cardiovascular health and endurance.  
  • Example: after heart surgery, the patient may be prescribed exercises such as walking, cycling, or swimming to improve their cardiovascular fitness. 

Working with an experienced exercise physiologist can provide education and guidance on proper exercise form and technique. We also monitor your progress and adjust your program as needed to ensure that you are making steady progress towards your goals. 

If you have an upcoming surgery, why not reach out to one of our exercise experts. We can guide you through a personalised exercise program to help you bounce back in your best shape possible.  


Have you considered adding strength training to your program? Strength training works against resistance to improve the body’s ability to cope with everyday demands. It’s highly beneficial for clients of all ages and abilities – not just athletes! Here we explain why strength training is so popular among our exercise physiologists, and how it could benefit you.  

What is strength training? 

Strength training uses specific exercises that require the muscle to exert force against a form of resistance. This resistance can be anything from gravity to a barbell or resistance band. For this reason, strength training is often referred to as resistance training.  

These exercises are designed to increase the strength, endurance and size of the targeted muscles. As the muscles work to overcome the resistance applied to them, they are progressively strengthened.  

Strength training exercises are most effective when performed 2-3 times per week. We often incorporate various forms of strength training as part of our client’s holistic exercise plan.  

Using resistance to strengthen the body

Strength training comes in many different forms and doesn’t always involve lifting the heaviest weights possible. Body weight alone can actually offer sufficient resistance to strengthen the body.  

The right format of training will depend on the ability of the client and any underlying conditions or injuries we are working with. Common types of strength training include: 

Body Weight  

If you’ve ever attempted a pull up, you would be aware of the resistance your body weight provides when working against gravity. Body weight exercises are commonly used in strength training for their convenience and ability to target several muscle groups at once. Squats, push ups, chin ups and lunges are all common examples of body weight strength exercises.  

Resistance Bands 

We often use resistance bands in our physical therapy programs, but they’re also a great tool for strength training. Resistance bands make it easier to isolate and target specific muscles, compared to working with weights. They’re also easy to transport, so you can train anywhere, anytime.  

Weights (Free Weights/Machines) 

Weightlifting is most commonly associated with exercises for strength training. At Atkins, we work with a mix of free weights (dumbbells) and weight machines.


Many of our clients are surprised to learn that pilates is a highly effective form of strength training. Although low impact, the practice of pilates requires precise, controlled movements that effectively strengthen smaller muscles that are often overlooked. Pilates is particularly effective in strengthening the deep muscles of the back, abdomen and pelvic floor – known as the core muscles. Core strength is foundational to overall body health and well-being.

Increasing strength for improved lifestyle 

Strength training isn’t just about beefing up those muscles. As exercise physiologists, we’re big believers in the benefits of strength training programs that go beyond the surface. We’re talking about long term lifestyle enhancement that can transform an individual’s quality of life.  

Benefits of strength training include: 

  • Improved balance and coordination 
  • Improved performance of everyday tasks 
  • Improved confidence and self esteem 
  • Improved cognitive function 
  • Improved independence 
  • Reduces symptoms of anxiety and depressions 
  • Helps prevent chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and osteoporosis  
  • Decreased risk of injury 

Building strength helps when managing injury 

Strength training can be intimidating to newcomers. It’s a common misconception that resistance exercises are only for athletes or those working towards strict performance goals.  At Atkins, we prescribe strength training exercises for clients from 15 years old through to 90+!  

Improved strength helps make everyday activities easier, which may seem simple, but can make a huge difference for those managing injury or chronic health conditions.  Whether your goal is to pick up your grandkids, walk your daughter down the aisle, or gain more independence in daily life – strength training can help.  

Strength training is beneficial for: 

  • Cancer patients 
  • Surgery prehabilitation and rehabilitation 
  • Athletes 
  • Clients with chronic health conditions (Parkinson’s Disease, Arthritis, Osteoporosis) 

Exercise physiologists work in cancer clinics to allow people going into treatment to leave in the same condition, if not better, as when they entered treatment. We do so by using strength training to maintain or improve physical capacity so clients may leave the program better for it. 

Wondering if strength training is right for you? Why not arrange a personal consultation with one of our expert EPs to discuss how you can incorporate strength training into your lifestyle? 


Sport is a great way for young children to stay active, healthy, and entertained, but did you know that sport has also been linked to improving engagement and performance at school? Physical activity has been shown to improve brain activity, which plays a pivotal role in a child’s development.  

Not only is sport a fun and cost-effective way for children to develop physical, social, and emotional skills – but it can also help students build confidence, develop leadership skills, and improve their academic performance.  We explore how sport is linked to childhood development, and how it could benefit your child to reach their full potential.   

Developing skills for success in school and life 

Executive functioning skills are a set of cognitive abilities that inform our behaviour and thought processes. They begin to develop gradually from childhood and continue right through to adulthood. Executive functioning skills allow us to focus attention, plan and prioritise tasks, remember instructions and follow through on them, regulate emotions, and inhibit impulses.  These skills are essential for academic and personal success, and research has shown that regular exercise can enhance executive functioning skills. 

The link between sport and executive functioning skills 

We know that sport is great for physical development, but understanding its role in mental development is a little more complex.  At a top level, exercise has been proven to improve brain function and enhance the growth of brain cells. When we exercise, the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, including dopamine and serotonin, increase. These chemicals play a critical role in executive functioning skills, helping to regulate attention, motivation, and mood. 

Regular exercise has also been linked to improved cognitive skills such as memory, attention, and decision-making. This helps children plan and organise their activities, prioritise tasks, and manage time effectively. Sport is a great way to get children involved in exercise while simultaneously fuelling their brain with everything it needs to develop and thrive. 

When is the best time to get involved? 

Executive functioning skills develop from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood, with the most rapid rate of development occurring in childhood and adolescence. These skills begin in children without the development of foundational executive functioning skills such as impulse control, attention, and working memory.  The rate of development is influenced by genetic and environmental factors, such as exposure to stress, nutrition, and sleep.  

Exercise programs introduced between the ages of 5 – 14 years have shown to be particularly beneficial for developing key executive functioning skills. Specialised programs can help create a supportive and structured environment for children to practise, while modelling positive behaviours through exercise. 

Atkins’ My Strong Kids Program 

My Strong Kids is Atkins Heath’s specialised exercise program. It uses play and games that kids love to help improve executive functioning skills. Tailored to suit children up to Years 7 & 8, the program is ideal for all kids, including those with learning and physical difficulties.  

Our team of expert exercise physiologists is experienced in working with children with: 

  • ASD – Autism Spectrum Disorder 
  • ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder 
  • Spina Bifida 
  • Cerebral Palsy 

Our programs are designed to offer a fun, exciting environment for kids to develop key life skills. Each session will typically begin with a warm-up before moving into a strength program specifically designed to help develop:

  • Impulse control 
  • Emotion control 
  • Organisation 
  • Working memory 
  • Task initiation 
  • Flexible thinking 
  • Self-monitoring  
  • Planning 

We conduct regular comprehensive assessments of special tests related to youth development. This helps us understand individual needs and monitor each student’s unique progress. 

Get in touch to find out how exercise can help unlock your child’s full potential.


Exercise plans are our bread and butter at Atkins Health. We know the ins and outs of movement like no one else. Over time we have built up an arsenal of techniques that help our clients achieve the best outcome possible. Every exercise and fitness plan we implement is different, but there are a few staples that we lean on to build out an effective program. Full body exercises are an efficient, comprehensive approach to training the body. They can be applied to a range of goals – from improving mobility, to maintaining strength, or remedying injury.  The following provides a summary of full body exercises – including what they are, why they work, and how to incorporate them into your training.  

What are full body exercises? 

Full body exercises, also known as compound movements, target several muscle groups in the body at once. While most movements will engage more than one muscle at a time, the best full body exercises will engage various body parts at once. For example, a bicep curl will engage both the front and back of the upper arm, but little more. A squat, however, engages the legs, core and back, all at once.  

Popular full-body resistance exercises include: 

  • Pushups  
  • Lunges 
  • Squats 
  • Dips  
  • Step-ups 
  • Deadlift 
  • Bench press 

These movements will typically be more fatiguing than isolated exercises, which makes them highly beneficial for several reasons.  

Full bodyweight exercises aren’t just used in strength training. At Atkins, we’re big believers in the benefits of full body mobility exercises. Mobility training is a helpful tool for preventing injury, rehabilitating injuries and increasing the efficiency of training. A mobility routine may often be used in place of full body warm-up exercises

Benefits of these exercises in training 

Full-body exercises are a highly efficient way of training the body, however, they’re not appropriate for everyone. If they are not executed with the proper technique, they can result in injury. Furthermore, they can often exacerbate underlying muscle imbalances or weakness.

However, when performed correctly, full-body exercises have proven to be hugely beneficial.

This training technique is particularly popular among athletes due to how closely the exercises can replicate natural movements executed in sport.

Here are a few reasons why we love prescribing full-body exercises for our clients:

  • Workout more efficiently, activating more muscles in a short space of time
  • Helps improve coordination and balance
  • Helps improve joint mobility and stability
  • Simultaneously trains the cardiovascular system by increasing heart rate during movement
  • Exercise the same muscle group for longer periods with lower levels of fatigue
  • Can lift heavier weights and build strength quicker

Your exercise physiologist (EP) will be able to determine how you can benefit most from incorporating full-body exercises.

How to introduce exercises safely and effectively 

Because these movements activate so many muscles at once, it’s important to ensure they are performed correctly. An EP can help identify appropriate exercises for your goals and demonstrate how to perform them safely and effectively.  

It’s also important to avoid overusing full body exercises in your program. Although they’re a great way to improve strength and cardiovascular fitness, over reliance on such taxing movements can be damaging to the body. Your EP can also help devise an appropriate way to incorporate full body exercises as part of a broader exercise plan.  

At Atkins Health, we love to incorporate a blend of full body movements into our classes. Devised by our leading team of experts, our group classes blend individual programming that is specific to  your goals, with the joy and energy of a social environmen

If you’re ready to take the plunge into full-body exercising, we can’t wait to take you on the journey. Our team of talented EP’s can kickstart your exercise program, no matter what level of ability, fitness or confidence you are at. Get in touch today to find out more.   

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