Nutrition: Make Breakfast Great Again

We partially wake up, get ready, stop to get a cup of dark unleaded to completely wake up then try to beat the morning rush. In a go-go-go lifestyle, we often neglect any form of breakfast because there is a perceived time crunch or breakfast is for kids. The pre-diabetic starter packs we call cereal is heavily marketed towards kids, but there are options on the shelves and even better ones by combining items from the produce and cereal aisles. Most of us are not excited until that rush of caffeine hits our system and we feel mentally alert to start the day. It is time to make breakfast great again, get excited about waking up and preparing the fuel to start your day.

Breakfast is an important of your daily nutrition. Skipping breakfast is associated with other health compromising habits, such as smoking and infrequent exercise[1]. Start by changing the one lifestyle habit at the beginning of your day and stick with it before changing others.

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Benefits of Stretching before and after exercise

Stretching, in general, is very important for flexibility, range of motion and injury prevention. Incorporating stretching into Susie-Stretch-2your daily routine is just as important to health and body functioning as regular exercise. It relaxes your muscles and increases blood flow and nutrients to your cartilage and muscles.  There are debates as to whether or not it is best to stretch before or after exercise.  There are also conflicts regarding the best way to stretch and how long an individual should hold their stretches.

Use these tips to help you with your stretching routine:

  • Do dynamic stretches before your workout or activity. The short definition of dynamic stretching is “stretching as you are moving”.  Dynamic stretching can mimic the exercises that you will perform during your workout to help your body get used to the movements.  Dynamic stretching is important to increase core temperature, range of motion and nervous system activity.
  • Static stretches can be done every day and are especially important after a workout. Be sure to stretch out the muscles you used in your workout.  Static stretches require no movement and should be held for approximately 30 seconds.
  • Stretching should not be painful. If you are feeling pain then loosen the stretch slightly.
  • Stretching the muscles of the lower back, chest and shoulders can help keep the spine in better alignment and improve overall posture.
  • Stretching exercises have powerful stress-busting abilities. Stretching loosens tight muscles which helps your muscles both relax and increase blood flow. It also encourages the release of endorphins, providing a sense of tranquility.
  • Don’t bounce throughout your stretch. Bouncing the stretch will produce tiny tears within the muscle.
  • Always remember to breathe when you are stretching.

If you’re feeling tired or you feel like your day is dragging, it might be time to get up out of your chair and do a few good stretches.  Muscles tighten when we get tired and stretching will help increase blood flow to our muscles and keep us more alert.

by Cindy Hunt

Cindy Hunt is certified with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiologists as a Certified Personal Trainer.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree and graduated with Honours from the NAIT Personal Fitness Training Program.  She holds numerous group fitness certifications.  Her passion lies in motivating others to get active and pursue a healthy lifestyle.  She has worked with athletes, dancers, aquafit participants, pre and post-natal woman, older populations and anyone who is looking to reach their fitness goals.

Exercise- The Proper Plank

Want a core exercise that will target the entire core and require no equipment?  The plank is an excellent isometric core strengthening exercise. plank-400Chances are you’ve done it before, but have you been doing it the right way? Find out below.

Target Muscle Group:

The primary muscles involved in the plank are: erector spinae, rectus abdominis, and transverse abdominis.

The secondary muscles include: synergists/segmental stabilizers, trapezius, rhomboids, rotator cuff, all three deltoid muscles, pectorals, serratus anterior, gluteus maximus, quadriceps and gastrocnemius.

Performance Points:

  • Begin lying on your stomach on an exercise mat with your elbows directly under your shoulders palms and forearms flat to the floor.
  • Lift your hips up off the floor by engaging your abdominal muscles and keep your body in a straight line from your shoulders to your heels. Avoid hiking your hips into the air.
  • Make the plank active by engaging your glutes, locking in your lats at the shoulder, and actively pushing through the floor to keep your shoulder blades separated and flat to your back.
  • As you hold the plank, ensure you keep space between head and shoulders as you gaze at the floor.
  • Attempt to hold the plank in intervals of 20s.

Modifications:

  • Level 1: The plank can be performed on the forearms (elbows directly below the shoulders) and the knees
  • Level 2: Extending the legs and tucking the toes will make your plank more challenging.  You can also come up into high plank (extend the arms, wrists and elbows directly under the shoulders)
  • Level 3: Increase the duration of the plank or try lifting and extending opposite arm to leg or taking your plank onto a BOSU or a stability ball

Visit our website for our personal trainer bios and information on fitness program designs and individual and group personal training.

by Cindy Hunt

Cindy Hunt is certified with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiologists as a Certified Personal Trainer.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree and graduated with Honours from the NAIT Personal Fitness Training Program.  She holds numerous group fitness certifications.  Her passion lies in motivating others to get active and pursue a healthy lifestyle.  She has worked with athletes, dancers, aquafit participants, pre and post-natal woman, older populations and anyone who is looking to reach their fitness goals.

Getting the Rest You Need

Sleep is an important part of your wellness that often gets forgotten! Nearly 59% of Canadians aren’t getting enough sleepsleep. Our bodies need sleep to help improve the efficiency and productivity. The average adults spends almost the equivalent of 24 years sleeping, so it must be an important part of your day. During sleep the body repairs and regrows tissue, builds bone and muscle and strengthens the immune system. How much sleep do you need? Research has shown that body and brain function start to decrease with anything below 7-8 hours of sleep a night and people who sleep less than 6 hours a night are 30% more likely to become obese than someone who sleeps 8-9 hours. So use these tips to get a good night’s sleep:

  • Limit the amount of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol you consume during the day. All three substances are natural sleep disruptors.
  • Find a quiet, dark and cool environment to sleep in. Keep computers, TVs and work material out of the bedroom. Your body associates the blue-ish light with daytime, keeping you alert and awake.
  • Establish and stick to a pre-sleep routine every night, easing the transition from wakefulness to relaxation time. Find something that works for you like taking a bath, reading or practicing muscle relaxation.
  • Make sure that you are truly tired when trying to fall asleep and turn the clock face away from you so you are not watching the clock all night.
  • Use your body’s natural internal clock by seeking out natural light, especially during the day and keep a consistent sleep schedule each day to time your body’s need for rest.
  • Exercise! Those men and women who exercise 150 minutes a week at a moderate to vigorous intensity improved their sleep quality by 65%. Just be sure to work out at least 3 hours before bed so your body has ample time to relax before bed.

Getting a good night’s sleep means you can be awake, alert and productive during the day. With school, work, friends, family and all the other activities we jam into our days, it’s important to get the rest we need.

by Erin Wright

Erin Wright is Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Master of Health Promotion graduate and is certified with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiologists as a Certified Exercise Physiologist. She specializes in motivating others to get active and pursue a healthy lifestyle. She’s worked with high performance athletes and any individual looking to reach their goals in health.

Nutrition Trends for 2017

New Year Resolutions are done and it’s that time of year to kick the tires again on a fresh start. Fads, restriction, and hunger may all cross your mind at some point, but where to start? There will be 100 new tips on every magazine cover, your coworker will tell you they are on this new trend for 2017 or you may consider restricting yourself for better or worse. My suggestion is to start in your own home. Look through your pantry and fridge and pick one thing in there that is not healthy. Remove it entirely or replace it with a healthier option that is sustainable. Prepare yourself to be bombarded with an assortment of new information and new trends for a healthier you.

A quick search on nutrition trends of 2017 turns up the following:

Meat free foods – A movement towards meat alternatives using plant based proteins to emulate the properties of popular meat based food items. An expert in the article used the word “flexitarian” which is a fad word for omnivore. Whatever your choice is finding the right balance of macronutrients is optimal. Being an omnivore, one who eats plant and animal based foods, strikes the greatest balance. Moderation and balance is key.

Functional foods – Stop overpaying for marketing ploys on such “superfoods”. A movement towards foods that have solid evidence based benefits such as turmeric, apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, bone broth and manuka honey will all become newsworthy again.

Clean eating and not cleansing – moving away from detox diets based off of juicing is hurting more than it’s helping. Your liver and kidneys do an excellent job detoxifying the body. By juicing you are stripping the fruits and vegetables of the fibrous skin you would normally eat. You not only get the vitamins and minerals from your fruits and vegetables but you also load up on a lot of fructose (sugar) by doing so. ‘Detoxing’ and clean eating spurts should not be something you consider after a bad weekend, week or month of eating. A balanced approach should be consistent and enjoying any nutritional vice should be done in moderation. Take yourself off the rollercoaster ride of good, bad then back to good choices and make healthy eating and exercise a consistent habit.

Make a sustainable change and try not to get caught in up trends or fads that seem poorly supported by evidence. If you can set a goal to maintain your new habits to a goal date, you will have a stronger chance of continuing with your lifestyle change throughout the year and beyond.

8 Ways to Stay Motivated this Winter

It’s not always easy to stay motivated and be physically active during the long, dark winter months in Edmonton. The short days and cold weather might make your cozy bed and delicious comfort food sound more appealing than a healthy meal and some physical activity. But with nearly six months of snow, it’s important to find some motivation to stay active.

  1. Start your workout inside by doing your warm up before venturing into the cold. Cold and stiff muscles can be prone to injuries, so get that blood pumping before you bundle up and go outside.
  2. Find a motivation in a workout buddy. Especially during the winter, having a workout buddy and goal helps ensure accountability. Set a weekly schedule with your workout buddy when you will meet to get active and offer each other lots of encouragement.
  3. Try a new something new. If your workout routine seems to be getting stale, a new exciting workout class or routine can kick start your motivation and hold your interest longer.
  4. We know spring is coming, look forward to it! Set a goal for the spring, like entering a fun run or a marathon. With a goal or event to work toward you’ll be less likely to push winter workouts to the end of the to-do list.
  5. Make sure you have the appropriate training gear for outdoor activities in the winter. Being too cold or too hot is no fun, so layers are key.
  6. Make it a point to get outside during the day while the sun is shining. The sunshine and daylight will provide a boost in energy and remind your body when it’s daytime and nighttime. You will sleep better at night and have more energy during the day.
  7. Take advantage of activities that can only be done in winter, like cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, skating and downhill skiing. Even building a snowman or playing sports like soccer and touch football in the snow are great exercise and a fun way to truly enjoy the winter season.
  8. Program your thermostat to start heating up the house a few degrees before you wake up in the morning. It’s too tempting to stay in bed where it’s warm and cozy and miss your workout when the house is cold.

by Erin Wright

Erin Wright is Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Master of Health Promotion graduate and is certified with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiologists as a Certified Exercise Physiologist. She specializes in motivating others to get active and pursue a healthy lifestyle. She’s worked with high performance athletes and any individual looking to reach their goals in health.

Exercise: Shoulder Abductions and Adductions

Target Muscle Groups: Shoulders, Lats

Equipment Needed: Water BarbellsBecky-Sholder2-300

Performance Points:

  • Start with your feet shoulder-width apart on the bottom of the pool, holding the dumbells in your hands and arms extended out to the side.
  • Push the barbells under water and bring the barbells toward your hips while keeping your elbows straight.
  • Slowly, raise your arms back up toward the sides.
  • Complete three sets of 10-12.

Modifications:

  • Use two dumbbells together instead of one to create more resistance.

by Becky Smith

Becky Smith is a Bachelor of Kinesiology graduate and certified with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology as a Certified Exercise Physiologist. She specializes in water rehabilitation and enjoys using the pool as a way to challenge her clients. She works with a variety of clientele both in the water and in the Fitness Centre. 

Rocky Mountains, Wet Socks, and a Birthday with Strangers- Fall Road Trip

Beginnings

I’m an indoors person by nature. I don’t go camping or hiking. I don’t pine for “the great outdoors” or crave adrenaline rushes. That’s just not who I am. But this year, on the weekend of my 22nd birthday, I got out of my comfort zone. I signed up for the MacEwan Fall Road Trip.

The trip’s highlights, as advertised, included going white water rafting and horseback riding in Kananaskis. Originally I decided to go on the trip to have a subject to write about for my Literary Journalism class. I figured that I’d meet interesting people, get to try new things, and have a birthday experience worth remembering. Not only was I fortunate enough to be right, but I got to experience much, much more.

Onesies and the Open Road

On the first day, I was skeptical. I was still in writer mode, and I didn’t know anyone on the trip. Sitting in my bus seat, trying to take notes without looking (too much) like a weirdo, I couldn’t help wondering if I should have found myself a onesie. It was the trip uniform after all. Wasn’t I supposed to go into full emersion? Judge if you must, but I did not. Those who did were truly impressive though. In their colorful outfits, they had an air of carefree happiness in every move they made. They were setting the bar high for the rest of us. We had to rise to the occasion

I soon managed to get comfortable, and, before I knew it, I was watching The Mask and cracking jokes with my seatmates. I, shamefully, hadn’t paid too much attention to the schedule for that day. There was just too much to think about. What would my room be like? What countries did each of the numerous international students come from? How hard is horseback riding really? I had so many questions.

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Fit Tip: Exercise Effect on Mental Health

January 25, is Bell’s Let’s Talk Day, a day to raise money and awareness of mental health issues and initiatives.

Approximately seven million Canadians or 20% of us live with poor mental health, mental illness or addiction. Mental health affects us
all and mental illness can affect individuals of all ages, cultural backgrounds, educational and income levels. Exercise has proven benefits and protective effects for mental and physical health. The great news is, you don’t need a lot of exercise to see the advantages. Just by reaching the recommendations of 150 minutes a week for physical activity can positively affect your mental health. Even a short walk during a 10 minute coffee break can improve your mood and get the creative juices flowing again.

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How to Stay Active After it Snows

Winter in Edmonton is not the time to give up your fitness goals and pack it in for the season, because the season is just too long. Try these swim-workoutactivities to get and stay active during the winter months.

  • Swim indoors. MacEwan University has a great pool with loads of activities from lane swimming, water aerobics classes, basketball hoops and discounted recreational swims to get you moving.
  • Visit the fitness centre. MacEwan’s fitness centre is warmer than it is outside, especially in January! If you have been looking for an excuse to come try out the new cardio machines or get into a weight training routine, winter is the time to try it out.
  • Get outside and play! Did you know that Edmonton has Canada’s largest urban park with 160 km of maintained pathways? Whether you are going for walk, building a snow man or taking a cross country ski or snowshoe around Edmonton parks and golf courses. Getting outside is a great way to be active.
  • If you want to try an outdoor activity that’s not walking or running on the trails, try visiting Victoria park for Edmonton’s Skating Oval and Freezeway or your local outdoor rink.
  • Can’t quite get the motivation to get outside to MacEwan University Sport and Wellness or an outdoor activity. Try a workout at home with some simple weight bearing exercises like push-ups, squats, lunges and calf raises. There are lots of apps and workout videos available for you to try out or have a Certified Personal Trainer from Sport and Wellness put together a plan tailored for your body and needs.
  • Try a new workout class that you’ve never done before, consider Barre Fitness, Yoga or Olympic Weightlifting, all available at MacEwan University Sport and Wellness!

by Erin Wright

Erin Wright is Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Master of Health Promotion graduate and is certified with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiologists as a Certified Exercise Physiologist. She specializes in motivating others to get active and pursue a healthy lifestyle. She’s worked with high performance athletes and any individual looking to reach their goals in health.