The Sleep Diet

Sleep Diet graphicOn my way into work the other day, I was listening to Virgin Radio. Ryan Seacrest was on air and told listeners to stay tuned to hear about this new diet, the one he was talking about was the Sleep Diet. In my 14 years of combined academic and work experience in the field of kinesiology and fitness consulting I have not once come across this diet. The segment did not air while I was in the car and when I arrived at work I immediately looked up the ‘Sleep Diet’. The earliest result returned in my google search showed articles from 2013. The News tab returned results showing mainstream media sources, Fox news, Huff Post, The Daily Meal, reporting on the ‘Sleep Diet’.

The news articles are based off a peer reviewed study published in the Lancet that looks at the impact of sleep debt on metabolic and endocrine function. The researchers used 11 young male participants (small sample size, all male) and measured them after six days of sleep debt, four hours of sleep a night. They measured the same group after a sleep recovery period where they slept for 12 hours a night. Their findings suggest that sleep deprivation is harmful to carbohydrate metabolism and endocrine function. They believe this may increase the severity of age related chronic disorders.

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Wall Sit w/ Tricep Dips

Equipment needed: none
fitness exercise picture

Muscle groups used:

  • Wall Sit – glutes, quadriceps, calves, hamstrings.
  • Tricep Dip – triceps, anterior deltoid, pectoralis major.

How to Perform:

  • Partner A begins with back against a wall. Step feet forward and approximately hip width apart.
  • Slide back down the wall to assume a 90-degree bend in the knees, holding this position for the duration of the exercise.
  • Partner B sets up in front, resting hands on the thighs of partner A. Bending only at the elbows, lower yourself down, keeping back close to partner A’s legs.
  • Extend the arms to return to the start position.


  • To simplify – Tricep dips – walk feet in closer to you while performing dips for more assistance from the legs.
  • To intensify – Wall Sit – lift toes off the ground for increased glute activation, or rest a weight across lap. Tricep dips – walk feet farther away to full extension to reduce assistance from legs, or rest a weight across lap.

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Latest in Fitness Trends

Some of the latest in fitness trends include wearable technology, fitness apps, bodyweight training, HIIT, circuit training, personal training, outdoor activities and various group fitness style classes.  Some of the most popular trending group fitness classes are barre, dance, bootcamps, spin, strength, yoga, functional fitness and specialized classes for older active adults.  Even stretching has made its way back into vogue in a new way.

Wearable Technology
Wearable technology such as fitness trackers and smartwatches have been hot for the last few years.  Today’s wearables track distance, provide heart rate readings, GPS route tracking, and so much more.

Fitness Apps
Like wearables, there are many fitness apps available.  Whether you’re looking for help with a fitness program or meal planning, there’s probably an app out there for you.   Some examples include MyFitnessPal, MapMyRide, Nike Running, and Tabata Pro.  It’s projected that as these apps become more accurate, usage will also rise.

Bodyweight Exercise
No equipment workouts are relatively easy to learn, they can be modified to suit any ability level, and they can be done just about anywhere. Plus, bodyweight exercises are an efficient way to get fit for free. Some common bodyweight moves include push ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges, and planks.

HIIT (high intensity interval training) helps boost metabolism by alternating quick bursts of high-intensity exercise with short rest periods. To try a high-intensity interval training workout yourself, spend approximately 20 to 30 minutes alternating repeated shorts bursts of work with short break periods.  For example, you could try 30 seconds of burpees or squat jumps with 10-15 seconds of rest followed by another work/rest cycle.

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Swim to Survive

From extreme fear of the water to overconfidence in swimming ability, I have heard it all.SwimtoSurvive-400px

What is the fear of water? Aquaphobia, as it is medically termed at its extreme, is a social phobia that is defined as the persistent, unwarranted and irrational fear of water. Many people experience these feeling of being uncomfortable in and around deep water, often due to childhood incidents. As we get older these fears grow and grow causing many to be terror-stricken at the thought of being near deep water.

As a swim instructor and lifeguard, I have heard countless times, “I want my children to learn to be comfortable in the water because my fear stems from a childhood trauma.” I am happy to see that these parents recognize that a fear of the water is not something they want to pass on to their children, but I also feel for those parents. Fear of water is so commonly associated with individuals who were not given the opportunity to learn safety in aquatic environments, whether this be a pool, river, lake or ocean.

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Getting Through the Door – Overcoming Gym Anxiety

Let’s imagine a scenario – you’ve been thinking about starting up an exercise routine for a while. You’ve done your research and understand the benefits you will have from getting active, you bought your new motivational gym clothes and runners because you deserve them, and you signed up at your neighbourhood gym. Next Monday rolls around and you jump out of bed, throw on that new gear and head over… now you’re sitting in the parking lot thinking up excuses not to go in. You don’t know what to do once you get inside, what if everyone stares at you and judges you?

Fear not, fellow gym-goer! What you are feeling is normal, most of us (including myself) have been in this position. Anxiety when it comes to the gym or exercise in any public space is a common barrier that many individuals face when it comes to getting physically active. It can be intimidating, especially if you are a beginner to walk into a gym and see people throwing around heavy weights and running at seemingly lightning speeds. The last thing you want to do is stroll up beside Mr. Olympia and feel like you’re in competition. But the truth is, we all start somewhere. We all have a point A – even Mr. Olympia, and the truth is that all they are thinking about is what they are doing in their own workout, not you.

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Times, they are a Changin’!

A look at the proposed revision of Canada’s Food Guide

The Canadian Food Guide is getting a major overhaul. Health Canada has been taking the necessary steps to update the food guide – the last revision was in 2007 – based on current research and extensive feedback from health practitioners and the Canadian public.

“Canada’s first food guide, the Official Food Rules, was introduced to the public in July 1942. This guide acknowledged wartime food rationing, while endeavoring to prevent nutritional deficiencies and to improve the health of Canadians.”[1]

There have been 8 revisions to the food guide since 1942. In 1961 the name was changed from the Official Food Rules to the Canadian Food Guide, in 1977 the revision was guided by reports from the Nutrition Canada National Survey (1973), which represented the largest, most comprehensive nutritional study of the Canadian population to date and finally, in 1992 the title was changed to reflect a new goal for the Guide, to become Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating. Some principles have stayed the same while others have changed. But, over the years the underlying message has stayed the same, to guide food selection to promote the nutritional health of Canadians.

Where is the new guide headed?

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Benefits of Yoga to Reduce Stress

If anxiety and stress are getting the better of you, you might want to grab a mat and give yoga a try. Yoga is a mind-body practice that combines physical poses with controlled breathing and relaxation. Yoga uses a series of postures and breathing techniques to build a better connection to self.

The benefits of yoga include decreased stress and tension, increased strength and balance, increased flexibility and range of motion, lowered blood pressure, lowered heart rate and reduced cortisol levels.  It can also enhance your mood and overall sense of well-being.

Yoga differs from other exercises because of the mindful aspect of the practice.  Staying in the present moment is an important aspect of yoga.  When you’re stuck in the past or worrying about the future, you quite often miss out on what is in front of you.  Practicing yoga helps us to remember to bring our awareness back to our breath and our bodies allowing us to live in the present moment.  Yoga is about looking inward instead of outward and listening to our own bodies.

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Exercise: High Five Plank with a Twist

Target Muscle Groups: erector spinae, abdominals (rectus abdominus, transverse abdominals).

Equipment Needed: none

Performance Points:

  • Both partners assume a plank position, facing each other.
  • Plank can be performed either off the hands or the forearms with shoulders directly aligned above.
  • Both partners raise the same arm and twist to raise arm to ceiling.
  • Twist back to plank position and high five your partner.
  • Alternate sides.


  • To simplify – perform plank off the knees, or take out the twist – simply reach forward and high five your partner.
  • To intensify – increase speed of movement, or grab a weight to pass back and forth at the bottom of each twist.

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 Fitness Consultant with the MacEwan University Sport and Wellness fitness team.

Post Natal Fitness

What to consider after having a baby?

Now you are postpartum. Whether you had a caesarean or vaginal birth, your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles have been stretched and possibly damaged. While your goal might be to lose your baby fat, it is important to start by getting your core and pelvic floor muscles working properly again. Some kinds of exercise can create back pain, difficulty controlling urine/stool or dropping of the uterus and/or other pelvic organs. It is important to know when and how to begin exercising.

What is normal 0-8 weeks after delivery?

You may feel like your bottom is falling out. You may experience back pain, aching hips or pain in your pubic area. You may experience difficulty controlling urine, gas or stool. Your neck, arms, hips and back may be sore as you adjust to lifting and feeding your baby. This is an important stage of healing. Allow yourself time to adjust and listen to your body.

What can you do during this 0-8 week stage?

Use pillows to help support your back and baby during nursing and sitting for prolonged periods of time. Try to avoid slouching when you are sitting and standing. Begin to gently contract your pelvic floor muscles. This should not be painful if you use these muscles gently. Slowly increase the number of contractions. Start by holding each one for up to 5 seconds gradually building up to 10 seconds. Stretch your back, gluteals and shoulders. Rest is just as important, if not more important, than exercise at this stage so take time to adjust and get lots of rest.

What is normal 8+ weeks after delivery?

Your bleeding should have stopped and any tears or incisions should have healed. You should have control over your bladder and bowel movements and be pain free. This is when you can consider returning to your exercise practise and increasing your activity level. Before you do, make sure you go through the following “not normal” checklist to ensure you are ready.

What is not normal?

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15 Reasons to Play Intramurals

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.

Intramural 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!

Intramural 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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