Protein Myth Busting

Protein intake is one of the more widely discussed topics around a fitness centre. It’s the other “How much do you?” question at the gym. ‘Bro’ Science, old wives tales, myths, misconceptions and a little bit of truth can all be overheard walking through the gym. A common misconception is higher protein intake can adversely affect renal (kidney) function. In the November issue of the Journal of Nutrition a systematic review and meta-analysis was published examining the changes in kidney function between healthy adults consuming a higher, compared with lower or normal protein diets.

Higher-protein (HP) intakes of >1.0–1.2 grams/kilogram/body weight have been shown to:

  • Promote greater muscle hypertrophy (an increase in size of skeletal muscle through a growth in size of its component cells) during periods of resistance training.
  • Increase the absolute amount of weight lost, but also preserve lean body mass during weight loss.
  • Preserve skeletal muscle mass loss due to sarcopenia in older populations.
  • HP intake during weight loss may also increase satiety, resulting in lower daily energy intake and protein ingestion has an increased thermic effect, resulting in greater daily energy expenditure.

Consuming a higher protein diet has its advantages, despite these advantages there is a common misconception that consuming a higher protein diet can have negative effects on kidney function, particularly glomerular filtration rate.

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“I don’t like the gym.”

Whether or not you hate the gym, physical activity is important for your long-term health. According to the World Health Organization the benefits of physical activity include:

  1. Reducing the risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, breast and colon cancer, depression and the risk of falls
  2. Improving bone and functional health
  3. Helping with energy balance and weight control

Although physical activity consists of bodily movements of everyday life ranging from house chores to recreational activities, many individuals choose the gym as their physical activity setting. However, some individuals straight up hate the gym. Here’s some common reasons for loathing the gym, and suggestions on how to tackle these dilemmas:

1. Exercise is boring

  1. Exercise is classically defined as a planned, structured and repetitive movements designed to maintain or improve one’s physical fitness (WHO). However, doing the same routine every time can be boring. To avoid this, try some of the following options:
    • Try out a fitness class (ex. yoga, aerobics, strength, spin). The choreographed or designed workouts usually vary week to week or class to class to keep you both interested and challenged.
    • Work with a personal trainer who can provide you with structured variety in your routine and provide you with different options that still work to meet your goals.
    • Make a workout playlist that gets you moving and grooving, thereby taking your mind off the movements or amount of repetitions you are doing.
    • Think about getting a workout buddy who can help you to stay motivated and encouraged.
  2. If doing repetitive exercise movements are not for you, think about other activities that can get your body moving.
    • Do seasonal activities outside (ex. winter – snowshoeing, skating, skiing).
    • Think about other spaces in the facility you go to that can be utilized for physical activity options (ex. gymnasium, pool, or fitness studios).
    • Join a recreational sports league.

2. It takes too long to get to the gym and work out

  1. Figure out what amount of time you can commit to being active. It doesn’t have to be 60 minutes at a time.
    • The Canadian guidelines suggest Adults aged 18-64 years should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.
    • Remember being active doesn’t mean you have to be a gym setting. Use the spaces you have around you (stairs, backyards, playgrounds) in the time you have allotted (break times at work, commercial breaks, commuting).

3. The gym is intimidating

  1. “So many pieces of equipment – what do I use, and how do I use it?”
    • Don’t be afraid to ask staff. They are around for your questions and are more than happy to provide you with advice, or suggestions.
    • Consider hiring a personal trainer to help you build your confidence in knowing what to use and how to move. They can also set you up with a program to get you started.
  2. “I’m very self-conscious of how I look, and worry that I will be stared at.”
    • Try to remember:
      • Everyone is at the gym for the similar reason of improving their health.
      • All gyms are full of different kinds of body shapes, sizes and age groups – you are not alone.
      • Consider going at a non-peak hour so it is less busy, and you don’t feel as overwhelmed or crowded.
    • Choose the gym that has the right environment for you
      • There are many different gyms around these days that cater to different wants and needs (women’s only, private gyms, public gyms, yoga studios, etc.). Consider what setting and activities you may be looking for and try it out as a drop-in participant.

Most importantly focus on finding a setting that works for you, an activity you enjoy, and have fun. Remember by choosing physical activity you are investing in your future health!

by Jessica-Anne Imppola, Exercise Specialist

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

Find Your Fitness Quiz

From yoga to triathlon training, barre to boxing, there are endless fitness trends to choose from for your workout. Take our quiz to find out which MacEwan University Sport and Wellness fitness class is right for you!

  • When you go to the gym, the first place you head to is the:
    1. Class Studio – Gotta be early to get the best spot in front!
    2. Treadmills – Ready to get that heart racing!
    3. Weightlifting Platforms – new personal best lift today for sure!
    4. Gymnasium – It’s game time! Shooting hoops, agility, sprints, anything to get the win!
    5. Stretching Mats – A core circuit and a long stretch, this is the year of the splits!
  • Your idea of a fun Saturday is:
    1. Party night!! I want to hit the busiest spot in town!
    2. Going for an early morning jog.
    3. Same thing I do every Saturday! Big breakfast, read a book, walk the dog, hang out with friends.
    4. Oilers playing? Eskimos? Whoever is playing I want to be there.
    5. I like a quiet relaxing Saturday with a yoga practice to wake me up.
  • If you could choose a superpower, it would be:
    1. The ability to be in multiple places at once!
    2. Super-strength.
    3. To be the best at every sport.
    4. Ultra-bendy Powers to stretch to any length.

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“I don’t have time to go to the gym. I’m too stressed!”

The fall and winter months can be busy times for people. Gone are the days of barbecues and summer vacations, but very quickly the holiday seasons begin. With these things happening all at once, our health and wellness sometimes takes a back seat due to time constraints. With that in mind, here are a few changes to your workout program that you can make during periods where time is of the essence:

  1. Structure Intervals in your cardiovascular exercise.
    • Intervals allow us to have a more intense workout in the same amount of time or less. If we are accustomed to doing 60 min of cardiovascular exercise at an intensity of 50% max heart rate, try changing up the intensity and duration to something like this:
      • 11 x (2 min @ 80% + 2 min @ 60%) = 44 min X 70% HR Average Total Volume= 8
      • 60 min @ 50% max heart rate = 60 X .5 Total Volume = 30
    • Jump on a treadmill, elliptical, spin bike, any cardio equipment that allows you to monitor your heart rate.
    • So it’s possible for us to achieve the same amount of work in 16 minutes less by increasing the intensity and decreasing the duration.
  1. Performing 2 or more exercises in succession with little or no rest between
    • “Super-sets” or “compound-sets” means performing two or more exercises with little to no rest, either with the same muscle group (compound-set) or opposing muscle groups (super-set). A sample super-set would be bench press (chest) followed by a row (back) and a compound-set would be two pressing or two pulling exercises, so a squat (quads) and lunge (hamstrings). By minimizing the rest time between exercises, we pack the same amount of work into a smaller amount of time or more work into the same amount of time.

I’m too stressed – training smart

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30 Day Challenges- Benefits and Tips for Success

30-Day Challenge Graphic

Are you looking for some self-development, but are struggling with the motivation to get going? Participating in a 30-day challenge may be the answer!

The great part about challenges is that having a goal to shoot for is an excellent motivator. Thirty days is a short enough timeframe to make your goal palatable, but long enough to be challenging.  Completion of your goal can also be habit forming. Doing something for 30 consecutive days puts you well on your way to a formed habit, so you may just want to keep on going with it!

A thirty-day challenge is an excellent opportunity to try something new, or to take on a personal opportunity for growth. These don’t need to be onerous, or time-consuming activities. Some ideas could be:


  • Getting 8 hours of sleep per night
  • 20 minutes of cardio
  • 10,000 or more steps per day
  • Ride your bike/walk to work
  • Eliminate a vice (alcohol / nicotine / caffeine / sugar)


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“I can’t work out. I need to watch my kids!”

We all know the benefits of exercise, but we are quick to find excuses to prevent ourselves from starting or continuing a workout regimen. Often, parents use the reasoning “I can’t work out. I need to watch my kids”.  A good way to stay active and teach your kids the importance of a healthy lifestyle, is be active together! An easy way to do that is in the pool.  Pools are great places to play, swim, and spend time together.

The most common question I get about the Aquatic Department at Sport and Wellness is: “You have a pool!? I did not know that. Do you offer lessons for the public?” The answer is yes, we offer group lessons, private lessons, and a variety of courses and classes that are open to all. Not only do we offer lessons for your child, we also offer lessons for you at similar times. Whether you are scared stiff of the water or looking for tips on how to improve your endurance, there is a program suited to fit your needs.

We also have a hot tub that is open throughout lesson times, giving you the opportunity to recharge your weary muscles, while watching your kids.

From claims that swimming is the most well-rounded type of workout to research articles that show how beneficial water movement can be for the body, it is simple to confirm that there are significant benefits to a water work out. Not to mention swimming is a life skill, which can help you to save your own life or even the life of another person.

For kids that are more experienced in the water we have Youth Triathlon or Junior Lifesaving Sport and certification programs to work toward becoming a lifeguard.

If you just want to play, we have a pool climbing wall, log roll, monkey bars, basketball nets and other pool games and activities.

While being a ‘pool’ person and feeling strongly about the benefits of the pool, I do understand that the pool is not every person’s cup of tea. If staying on dryland for your workout speaks more to you, we do have a full fitness centre that looks onto the pool. You can get your exercise in while your child is participating in one of our pool programs.

Do not let having to care for your kids stop you from reaching your fitness goals. Let us at Sport and Wellness get your whole family active!

Good Mornings

Good Morning Exercise sequence.

Olympic Weightlifting movements have become a popular method of training for people of all ages recently. The two lifts (Snatch and Clean & Jerk) comprise similar phases which make it easier for those doing the movements to break down the movement into distinct parts. This, like any skill, makes it easier for those involved to focus on specific part of the movements in order to improve the full lifts themselves. The First Pull in Olympic Weightlifting movements is the portion of the lift where the barbell leaves the floor and is guided to an area between the mid-thigh and the hip. This portion is critical because the speed and direction with which this movement occurs can affect the phases after it which have less room for error.  For these reasons we are putting out a four-part series on exercise progressions for improving the technique of the First Pull phase of your snatch technique. The first exercise in our four-part progression is the Good Morning.

Exercise #1: Good Mornings

Equipment Needed: Weighted Bar

Main Muscle Groups Worked: Spinal Erectors, Hip extensors, Knee Flexors

How to Perform:

Starting Position

  • Place either an unloaded barbell or dowel on your shoulders behind your neck with a shoulder width grip pulling the bar into the shoulders.
  • Stand with feet directly under hips with toes pointed forward.

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How to Stay Healthy on Campus

Many of us find the summer to be an easier time to eat healthy; Farmer’s Markets are open with fresh fruit and vegetables, the warm summer sun allows us to spend more time outside doing activities, and the stresses of the school year are eased often letting us slow our addiction to caffeine. Summer however is coming to its end, and another school year is back in full swing.

How to Stay Healthy on Campus Graphic

What does this mean for your food intake? Are you changing your exercise regime? Are you turning back to the ever-supportive caffeine drinks?

If you are like me and want to stay active and healthy but know that your daily life is going to get more hectic you may often turn to on-campus vendors for your food and drink needs. Can we find healthy, or at least healthier, options from these vendors?


MacEwan Eats offers us a wide variety of food on-campus but finding the healthiest options might be challenging if you do not know what you are looking to eat.

  • Grab & Go Foods: Student life is busy, but fast and convenient snacking does not have to be synonymous with unhealthy. Express and Campus Convenience both offer healthy snacking options for students, including gluten-free, vegan/vegetarian, locally grown, and halal friendly snack options.
  • Meal Time: One of the most popular food spots on campus is Subway. Boost the nutrition factor in your sub by piling on the veggies, avoiding processed meats, and opting for flatbread or salad to save calories! Other food places on campus that provide a variety of food choices include: Booster Juice (watch out for high sugar content options – choose a protein booster and sub skim or almond milk for frozen yogurt), SEASON (exclusively vegetarian/vegan), or the newest edition to campus, Explore India!


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15 Reasons to Play Leagues

With the start of a new semester, comes the start of a new intramural league season. Now for those of you who aren’t sports nerds like I am, or just don’t know what intramural leagues are, let me give you a super quick rundown of the whole thing.

Leagues are coordinated by MacEwan University Recreation staff, here at city centre campus. You get to form teams with your friends to play a variety of sports ranging from Soccer, to Volleyball, to Table Tennis, to Badminton and more! Don’t know enough people to make your own team? No problem, you can register as an individual and Recreation will make a team for you!

Leagues are great because while you still get to play in official games against other teams, it is only as competitive as you make it.  It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner looking for a reason to get off the couch, or you live to play sports, anyone can participate and have a great time while doing it.

Not only is it a fun experience, but you can try sports that you have never played before to see if you like them. So if you’re considering joining or starting your own team, but are a little unsure about it here are 15 reasons why you should:

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10 Reasons to Jump In

We have all heard how wonderful swimming is for you. But we hear these reasons from swimmers; those who love being in the pool, have no problem lugging around their big swim bags all day, or take pride in how fast they can swim a 50m sprint. These individuals are exceptions to the norm, and for that reason the explanations go in one ear and out the other.

Here are some of the reasons I have heard over the years that people use to avoid getting in the pool, and the responses that debunk the misconceptions.

Excuse 1- “I never learned how to swim, and now it is intimidating to go into the pool with all those people who are swimming lengths.” –

Whether you are a scared stiff beginner or just want to learn better stroke technique, there is a program that can fit your needs. We offer a variety of swimming lessons, group, semi-private, and private lessons. As well, we offer shallow and deep water fitness classes.

Excuse 2- “I am just not motivated to swim.”

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