The Beet Goes On

Athlete’s at all levels are constantly looking for that extra 1% improvement. Ergogenic aids can be difference maker, be it natural from food or processed in the form of supplements. Most supplements are derived and processed from everyday food we see in the grocery store. One root vegetable has become popular as of late with endurance athletes – beets.

Beets, particularly beet root juice, is being used by endurance athletes to enhance the effects of training and achieve greater performance benchmarks. Beetroot juice increases levels of nitric oxide (NO), which serves multiple functions related to increased blood flow, gas exchange, mitochondrial biogenesis and efficiency, and strengthening of muscle contraction[1]. Based on these biomarkers, improvements in performance may be achieved by supplementing with beetroot juice.

Benefits of Beets

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5 Things to do with Your Mom on Mother’s Day

If you’re anything like me, as soon as you grew up you realized you are OBSESSED with your amazing, loving, perfect mom! Make sure you honour her like the Queen she is this Mother’s Day with the greatest gift of all – time spent together! Here is a list of 5 ways you can stay active with your favourite lady this Mother’s Day weekend:

  1. Walk to the Farmer’s Market: Edmonton has amazing farmer’s markets, so why not take your mom out for a refreshing morning walk to the market, browse around and buy her some flowers and fresh produce to make her a Mother’s Day brunch!
  2. Sweat it out with Spin: Get those heart rates and endorphins pumping with a spin class! The perfect workout that is adjustable to all fitness levels, and a fun idea for competitive families. See who can pedal the farthest in class.
  3. Families who lift together, stick together: You already know how strong your mother is, bring that strength to the weights by hitting the gym together! Sport and Wellness is offering free access to all strong mommas this Sunday, May 13!
  4. Plant a garden: Gardening is a terrific way to bump up your fitness minutes – lifting, digging, planting and raking get the heart rate elevated and increase strength and mobility. Help your mom grow a garden that is at least half as beautiful as she is.
  5. Run or walk a Mother’s Day race: There is no better way to bond with your mom than achieving a goal, like crossing the finish line together at a race! Not into competition? No worries, most races offer recreational heats, or an option to walk a distance.

by Megan Denholm

Megan is a Bachelor of Kinesiology graduate from the University of Alberta. She is a CSEP-CPT certified Exercise Specialist with the MacEwan University Sport and Wellness fitness team.

Bent-Over Row

Equipment needed: Barbell

Muscle groups used: Latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rhomboids, biceps

How to Perform:

  • Hold the bar with palms down, hands and feet set shoulder width apart.
  • Starting position is with a flat back parallel to the floor, knees slightly bent and the bar in hand.
  • Pull the bar towards your body contracting shoulder blades and arms while keeping the elbows close to the body. Keep chest up and spine neutral, making sure not to arch the back.
  • The final position has the bar against the abdomen.
  • Control the bar as it lowers back down towards the ground until you are back in the starting position.


  • To simplify – use a bar with no weight and master the correct form.
  • To add difficulty – add more weight, but only as much as you can maintain with proper technique.

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

You Don’t Have to Go Fast, You Just Have to Go

To achieve health benefits, physical activity guidelines state that adults, ages 18-64 should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week. Moderate activity can be defined as 11-14 (light work – somewhat hard) on Borg’s Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale of 6-20 (6 = laying on the couch, 20 = hardest thing you’ve ever done). So why are only 57% of Albertans meeting these guidelines? In addition to lack of physical activity, Canadians are also spending on average almost 10 hours per day completely sedentary.

Dangers of Being Sedentary

Sedentary behaviour refers to any waking behaviour with a low energy expenditure while in a sitting or reclining posture. Screen time (TV viewing, video game playing, leisure time computer use) is a common sedentary behaviour, while other behaviours include time spent sitting, reading, or in passive transportation. Excessive sedentary time is associated with negative health and mortality outcomes, even for those individuals achieving health benefits and meeting the physical activity guidelines. Between family, friends, work, social life, and school, the days seem to run away leaving most people feeling like they don’t have time or energy to sneak in a workout. With advancing technology and living in a world of convenience, our recreation time has been taken over by tablets, motorized vacuums and fast food delivery services. So, what can we do to meet guidelines?

Physical Activity vs Exercise

Physical activity is any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure. Exercise can be defined as an activity requiring physical effort, carried out specifically to sustain or improve health and fitness. Both contribute to our 150 minutes of activity per week, but often physical activity is perceived as two hours at the gym, with the latest and greatest in fitness technology and a brand-new outfit. Being physically active doesn’t necessarily mean spending hours at the gym, as long as you’re increasing your heart rate, you’re contributing to your 150 minutes of activity per week.

150 Can be Easy

  • Let’s break 150 minutes per week down even further:
    • 30 minutes per day x 5 days per week
    • 10 minutes x 3 bouts per day

When you break the time down into three 10-minute bouts, it seems more manageable. Some strategies for increasing physical activity include using active transportation (walking, cycling, running), parking farther away from work to add in those extra steps, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. This all contributes to not only your 150 minutes of activity per week, but it also aids in counteracting the effects of sitting!

For more information on Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines and ways get active, check out the Alberta Centre for Active Living.


The Importance of Fat in Cooking

For my birthday I received a cookbook titled Salt Fat Acid Heat, Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Norsat. Over the next 3 months will be a book review, a 4-part miniseries exploring each element and its importance according to Samin Norsat. I will share some of the recipes or tips found in the book. If you missed the first installment, The Truth on Salt, you can find it here. In the second part of the series I will focus on what Sarmin calls the second most important component of good cooking, fat.

A Life without Fat? Pointless

Fat is a macronutrient, a basic element in cooking is also a building block of life along with protein, carbohydrates and water. For a long time, fat, like salt, was considered unhealthy. Fat provides cushioning for organs, insulation from the cold, nutrient absorption and most importantly energy for activity. 1 gram of fat provides 9 cal of energy, just over double that of protein and carbohydrates (4 cal). Fat plays 3 distinct roles in the kitchen: as a main ingredient, as a cooking medium and as a seasoning.

Roles explained:

  • Main Ingredient – Fat in a burger renders, basting from within, butter provides tender and flaky textures in pastry, cream and egg yolks determine how smooth and decadent it will be
  • Cooking Medium – Can be heated to extreme temperatures to allow for foods to be cooked in them.
  • Seasoning – “toasted sesame oil will deepen flavor in a bowl of rice, dollop of sour cream in soup or mayonnaise spread on a BLT increases its succulence”

Flavor Savor

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How You Can Stay Active During Pool Renovations

I know you’ll miss that refreshing feeling of jumping in the pool for a swim, that sense of accomplishment when you check the clock and you hit the wall even quicker, plus there’s the camaraderie of your friends and fellow swimmers who show the same passion. Don’t worry, you still get most of that outside of the pool.

Physical activity should be balanced between strength and resistance, cardiovascular, mobility, balance, and flexibility.

With the pool closing this spring and summer for renovations, here’s some suggestions from Sport and Wellness staff of things you can do outside of the pool to benefit you for when you dive back in this fall!

Brittany- Aquatics Programmer and Lifeguard

  • Walking outside is a wonderful way to get active and enjoy the outdoors; I would recommend finding a few people you work with to do this with you daily. It is amazing how much more enjoyable a workout walk is when you have someone else to talk to, the more fellow walkers the merrier. Start off with a short distance at a moderate pace and set a goal for yourself to increase both your distance and pace by the end of the summer. This will help to improve your cardio fitness and endurance in anticipation of our pool re-opening.

James – Exercise Specialist and Fitness Class Instructor

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Pull Ups

Muscle Groups:

  • Latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rhomboids, biceps

Equipment: A bar to hang from.

How to Perform:

  • Grab the bar with hands outside of shoulder width, palms facing away from the body.
  • Start from a dead hang (arms fully extended, hanging at the bottom)
  • Pull on the bar to elevate body to a maximum allowable height, ideally the head is fully above the bar. Focus on squeezing shoulder blades together and keeping elbows out to the sides.
  • Slowly allow body to lower back to starting position.


  • To simplify – bring a box under the bar that is tall enough to start the exercise with chin close to the bar when standing. Begin in this position and allow yourself to fall to the bottom position as slowly as possible. This is the eccentric part of the exercise that will help strengthen the back and biceps until you are able to do the full exercise.
    Use an assisted pull-up machine
  • To add difficulty – add weight by wearing a weight belt

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

The Truth on Salt

Food is more than just fuel for the body. There is a social, psychological, geographical, and chemical experience when we smell, taste, and touch food. A lot of food on its own is very beneficial to a balanced intake. These items are typically snack or convenient foods we can enjoy on a break or working on an assignment to keep us occupied and satiated. A trail mix or prepared fruit and vegetables come to mind. Although, many foods on their own are quite appetizing, the preparation and flavour combinations of foods are what really excite people about cooking.

For my birthday I received a cookbook titled “Salt Fat Acid Heat, Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking” by Samin Norsat. The next four months will be a book review, a four-part miniseries exploring each element and its importance according to Samin Norsat. I will share some of the recipes or tips found in the book. The 1st installment of the series will look at Salt, enjoy!

The zing! In your meal:

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6 Things to Consider when Choosing a Personal Trainer

Congratulations, you have decided to take your physical activity goals to the next level and start working with a personal trainer! Whether you are just starting your workout journey, looking for a little extra motivation and accountability, or taking your training to the next level, a trainer can be your ticket to success. But, with the unlimited supply of fitness centres, private studios, online fitness options, and the never-ending supply of “helpful” jacked guys at the gym; how do you choose? With a little bit of preparation and research you can make sure the time and money you invest into personal training is well spent. Here are some recommendations of what to look for:

  1. Credentials
  2. Experience/ reputation
  3. Specialties/ training philosophies
  4. Convenience
  5. Cost
  6. Personality and empowerment


When looking for a personal trainer one of the first things to consider is the individual’s knowledge base. Although in some cases, anecdotal evidence and concepts like “practice makes perfect” come into play, it is important that trainers understand why they are prescribing the exercises. Background education in exercise physiology, biomechanics, anatomy, and classes such as principles of strength training are great building blocks for understanding the “why” principle to exercise. So, if possible, looking for a University degree in the areas of physical education, human kinetics, kinesiology or any other related degrees is a good place to start. Second, it is valuable to know if the individual’s knowledge has ever been standardized or challenged by a national governing body such as Canadian Society for Exercises Physiology (CSEP), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), or the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Attainment of a recognized certification demonstrates that the individual has basic competencies in all areas related to physical activity and associated lifestyle factors and that the individual understands the risks of exercise and is insured.

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4 Simple Nutrition Tips for Weight Loss

It’s no surprise that humans are habitual, and that it’s very hard to make a long-term change. Here’s some simple tips to help make the process easier!

  1. To lose weight, reduce caloric intake by no more than 500 kcal/day. This could be taking a latte out of your day, or having a smaller portion of fats or carbs at dinner.
  2. 1/2 of your plate should come from vegetables (Not starchy ones or grains like corn) 1/4 should come from protein, and 1/4 from carbs.
  3. Increase fibre intake, it will make you feel full and improve your digestion.
  4. Cook meals in advance and freeze them in portion controlled containers for dinners later. 



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