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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3 Ways How Physical Activity Helps Students

The benefits to regular physical activity are well-documented. It probably won’t surprise you to hear things like Improved body composition, decreased risk of certain diseases, and longer life expectancy when discussing exercise, but research is now starting to uncover other benefits of physical activity.

Better Sleep

A research study from Oregon State University asked participants to have at least 150 min of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity for 7 days. Afterwards, participants that met these requirements were then asked 20 sleep related questions. What researchers found were that those participants that met the requirements reported better ratings on in numerous areas including having more energy during the day, better ability to concentrate when tired, and having an easier time falling asleep.

Improved Memory

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Having the best sleep ever doesn’t write my mid-terms or my papers Devin”. And you would be right; However, sleep and exercise are both associated with improvements in memory tasks and cognition which do affect those things.

In one study, participants’ working memory was assessed before, during, and after 15 min of moderate intensity activity on a stationary bike. Researchers found that those participants who performed physical activity had higher scores on working memory tests and had faster response times than those who did not. These results suggest that exercise can have positive affects with even lower doses and intensities of exercise and that affect can happen almost immediately.

Physical and Mental ‘Gainz’

In student life it is common for physical activity to take a back seat to our studies. Any gym rat can tell you that when regular exercise is stopped, the body loses a lot of it’s “GAINZ”, but what this research suggests is that if we continue to be physically active during times where our cognition and mental acuity are important, we can actually improve our ability to study and keep our gainz bro!– it’s a win-win! So next time you are cramming for an exam, try working some physical activity into your study sessions. Your physical and mental health will be better off and so will your marks!

Sport and Wellness has several options to keep you active and help your physical and mental performance while at MacEwan. Your student, staff or public membership includes access to the fitness centre, pool, gymnasium, free and discounted aquatic and fitness classes, and personal training or swimming lessons with highly trained professionals.

  1. Paul D. Loprinzi, Bradley J. Cardinal. Association between objectively-measured physical activity and sleep, NHANES 2005–2006. Mental Health and Physical Activity, 2011; 4 (2): 65 DOI: 1016/j.mhpa.2011.08.001
  2. Hogan, Candice L., Jutta Mata, and Laura L. Carstensen. “Exercise Holds Immediate Benefits for Affect and Cognition in Younger and Older Adults.” Psychology and aging2 (2013): 587–594. PMC. Web. 8 Sept. 2018.

 

Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat on Stairs or Bench

Kick up the intensity with a stair focused sweat session! Use these exercises to supplement cardio intervals for a challenging, fun workout that can be done

Elevated Split Squat Exercise Sequence.

pretty much anywhere, no equipment required! Incorporate one set of each exercise between sets of stair running. Modify the workout for your abilities by

increasing or decreasing the intensity.

Exercise #4: Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat (RFESS) on Stairs/ Bench

Equipment Needed: Stairs, optional weights

Main Muscle Groups Worked: Glutes, Quadriceps, Hamstrings

How to Perform:

  • Set up at the base of a flight of stairs. Step one foot back onto a step (2-3 steps up).
  • Focusing your weight through the front foot, bend the back knee to drop straight down until the back knee is just above the ground.
  • Ensure that the front leg’s toes are still visible, ideally a 90 degree bend in the knee will be achieved.
  • Press through the front foot to extend the back knee and return to the start position.
  • Repeat all reps on one leg before switching.

Modifications:

  • MAKE IT EASIER – reduce the elevation by using a lower step, or performing a split squat on flat ground.
  • MAKE IT HARDER – hold weights to increase difficulty with higher resistance.

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

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.

Four Ways to Reduce Post-Exercise Muscle Soreness

If you have ever done strenuous exercise, chances are you have experienced waking up the next morning feeling sore. You know, the kind that makes you dread having to use the toilet for fear of sitting down. This muscle soreness, known as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), is caused by unaccustomed eccentric stress placed on the muscles. This is why we typically experience it the worst when we have been inactive for extended periods of time or when doing a new type of physical activity. While it can be a deterrent against future activity, don’t let DOMS stop your progress! Here are 4 ways to ease muscle soreness to help get you moving again:

  1. Prepare your body – performing a dynamic warm up specific to the muscles you will be working will help to prepare your body for the upcoming stress of vigorous exercise. Warm muscles are less prone to injury. Alternately, while stretching post-workout will not prevent DOMS, it is important to stretch after exercising to prevent injuries due to tight muscles.
  2. Cold and Compression – There is evidence shown to prove benefits of cryotherapy for DOMs. Cold-water immersion followed by compression post exercise has shown to reduce general and localized muscle soreness and inflammation (Conolly et al.). Similar to how you would typically treat an injury, this combination can help ease discomfort in those hard-worked muscles!
  3. Supplements – Research has shown that BCAAs (branch chain amino acids) are effective in decreasing the effects of DOMs and muscle fatigue when taken prior to exercise (Watanabe et al.). BCAA supplements are normally found in powder form that dissolves in water and are easily found at most health and wellness shops.
  4. Get moving – while it can be incredibly tempting to just lie on the couch, staying sedentary is one of the worst things you can do when recovering from muscle soreness. Light exercise is proven to be one of the most effective treatments for DOMs, as it allows for increased blood flow to the muscles, as well as endorphin release which dampens the sensation of muscle soreness (Cheung et al.).

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.

 

 

Yoga for Life

As we get older, what we can and should do for exercise can change, but one thing that can continue throughout your active life is yoga.

Dancers Pose

Yoga has several health benefits for older adults, including maintaining healthy bones, improving flexibility, relieving stress and anxiety not to mention improved mood and aging gracefully.

Although getting older comes with many gifts- maturity, grace, wisdom, experience, and perspective, to name a few- growing older can also bring on many challenges.  As we age, we become more susceptible to joint stress, osteoarthritis, weight gain and various cardiovascular diseases.  Psychologically and emotionally, older adults begin to experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, loneliness and other mental health disorders. Memory can decline, balance can be impaired, and with that, self-efficacy can suffer.  Yoga can offer a wide array of physical and mental health benefits which can assist in preventing injury and disease.

Many yoga poses focus on balance and stability, both incredibly important as we age. Strengthening muscles and improving balance prevents the likelihood of falls, which can be a common concern.  Not only can it prevent falls from happening, but an increase in strength and stability can also help to bounce back and recover, should a fall occur.  Flexibility exercises offered in yoga can help increase joint range of motion, which can help especially if your joints feel achy or stiff.

Another benefit of yoga is that it encourages mindfulness and focus on breath.  As we practice yoga, we and become more mindful of not just our physical bodies, we also become more connected to and mindful of our thoughts, feelings, emotions and the environment around us. Yoga practices are generally calm and restorative in nature, focusing on breath and slow movements, which help trigger the parasympathetic nervous system.  This can help reduce the byproducts of stress and anxiety. It can also help to lower blood pressure, which can decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.  When practiced regularly, yoga can reduce the sympathetic nervous system’s fight-or-flight response, which can cause inflammation of all kinds and wreak havoc on our minds and bodies.

MacEwan University offers several older adult fitness classes that incorporate mind body practices, including yoga poses.  If you are inexperienced with yoga practice, our class instructors can modify the poses to match your current ability and/or provide the use of chairs and props to make the poses more accessible if necessary.

Stair Push-ups

Summer time is the perfect excuse to get creative and take your workout outdoors. Kick up the intensity with a stair focused sweat session! Use these exercises to supplement cardio intervals for a challenging, fun workout that can be done pretty much anywhere, no equipment required! Incorporate one set of each exercise between sets of stair running. Modify the workout for your abilities by increasing or decreasing the intensity.

Exercise #3: Stair Push-ups

Equipment Needed: Stairs.

Main Muscle Groups Worked: Pectoralis Major/Minor, Triceps, Rectus Abdominus

How to Perform:

  • At the bottom of a flight of stairs, assume an incline plank position (3-4 steps up), with hands just outside of shoulder width.
  • Pivot from the toes, bend elbows until chest touches the step.
  • Extend at the elbows to push up to start position.

Modifications:

  • MAKE IT EASIER – perform the incline push up from the knees.
  • MAKE IT HARDER – Try a decline push up, with feet on a step (the higher the step the harder it will be), hands at the base of the flight and perform your push up.

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

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.

Six Simple Steps to Super Smoothies

Smooth, refreshing, packed with vitamins, minerals and macronutrients, smoothies are a great way to hit nutritional targets. While on the go, they can be a

6 Steps to a Super Smoothie

convenient beverage to keep you satiated when there are large gaps between meals. And don’t forget, they are a great way to refuel after a workout. The internet is loaded with recipes to suit your individual tastes and nutritional needs. The other day I came across an excellent guide from Precision Nutrition outlining the steps to make a ‘Super Shake’. The author, Ryan Andrews, suggests before getting started, ask yourself, “Do I have a good blender?” To make these super shakes, he suggests 2 options. The cheaper but serviceable option a Magic Bullet. I personally have a magic bullet and use it for smoothies regularly. I have never had any issues. The second option, a Vitamix blender is the ‘Mercedes Benz’ of blenders according to Andrews. Starting at $400, it is not cheap. Despite the high cost, they have received many positive reviews noting excellent power and longevity.

The author does an excellent job of making the 5-step process simple. He also provides a variety of options.

STEP 1

Pick a liquid

  • Water
  • Almond milk (unsweetened)
  • Cow’s milk
  • Soy milk (unsweetened)
  • Hemp milk (unsweetened)
  • Iced green tea

Less liquid = thick shakes. More liquid = thin shakes. 4-8 oz is a good starting point for each serving.

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What’s so Great About Avocados?

Unlike most fruits that are mostly carbohydrates, the avocado is high in healthy fat making them a very unique member of the fruit family.  Approximately 77% of the calories in an avocado come from fat, known as oleic acid.  This monounsaturated fatty acid has been linked to reduced inflammation and a lower risk of developing heart disease.  While high in fat, avocados tend to also be high in fiber, about 7% per weight.  Fiber can have various health benefits for weight loss, metabolic health and reduced blood sugar spikes as well as help you to feel full longer.  These properties can be helpful for appetite regulation and weight loss.

Because the majority of the calories come from fat, avocados are also high in calories.  If weight loss is one of your goals, be sure to stick to reasonable portions – a quarter to half of an avocado in one sitting. A whole avocado is typically around 160 calories. Avocados do not contain any cholesterol and are low in saturated fat. 

A single 100-gram serving contains: Vitamin K (26% of the RDA), Folate (20% of the RDA), Vitamin C (17% of the RDA), Potassium (14% of the RDA), Vitamin B5 (14% of the RDA), Vitamin B6 (13% of the RDA), Vitamin E (10% of the RDA) and trace amounts of Magnesium, Manganese, Copper, Iron, Zinc, Phosphorous, Vitamin A, Vitamin B1 (thiamin), Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and Vitamin B3 (Niacin). 

Not only are avocados healthy, they are also very delicious and can be eaten in a number of different ways.  You can add them to salads or a variety of different recipes or grab a spoon and eat them plain.  One of the most famous uses for avocados is homemade guacamole. 

Easy Peasy Guacamole Recipe:

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SUP, Dude

I can vividly remember the day I fell in love with Stand-Up Paddle Boarding (SUP). It was October 29, 2014; a hot picturesque day in Ko Lanta, Thailand. I had always been intrigued by the idea of SUP, but never found the opportunity to try it. As I sat there on the beach thinking “wow that looks like fun”, I mustered up the courage and thought “I should get out there with them! Let’s try something new!”. And just like that, I had found my moment to try this trendy activity.

I rented the board for an hour; a safe amount of time to try SUP to decide if I liked it or not. Just like a surfer, I Velcro-ed the leash of the board around my ankle and waded out into the ocean. With endless possibilities of where I could explore, I climbed onboard the deck of the board and off I went.

I was instantly shocked at how comfortable I felt on the board. There was a freedom in my movement, a sense of security in the stability of the board against those tipsy waves, and a level of versatility in body position (you could sit, kneel, sit, or even simply lye down and bask in the sun!). I was enthralled by the cooling sensation of the water splashing over my feet and amazed that you could paddle in extremely shallow water. The part that really grabbed by attention was the higher vantage point. Standing gives paddler’s a unique birds-eye view into the water providing me with a unique opportunity to glimpse all sorts of exotic fish, turtles, and jelly fish as I paddled.

As a beginner, this activity was approachable, yet fun for me. It provided a great arm workout, but had this calming feel about it. It was relatively easy to get the hang of and I never felt that I needed prior experience to enjoy my time on the water. I can honestly say that I didn’t want that hour to end.

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5 Ways to Think Beyond Weight Loss

It’s no surprise, the majority of people who start a new exercise program do so because they want to lose weight – weight loss goals are often the first – and only – fitness goal set. If your only motivation to exercise is weight loss, you can easily find yourself frustrated and wanting to give up when progress is slow or hits a plateau. The scale is just one indicator of how healthy you are becoming, and it can sometimes overlook the changes happening in your body. That is why setting goals beyond weight loss are important if you are going to stick with a fitness or weight loss program for the long term.

Setting goals that don’t focus on weight loss can actually help you reach your desired weight-loss goal. For example, if you focus on getting stronger, you will likely gain lean muscle mass, which will speed up your metabolism and help you lose weight.  Or setting a goal like walking with a friend a few days a week or taking your dog hiking every weekend will keep you active and does not rely on what a scale says to keep you motivated. Over time, you’ll be more consistent with exercise, burn even more calories and, of course, lose more unwanted fat.

Here are five types of goals that often lead to weight loss and better health, without focusing on the scale.

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