Active Living Articles
A Healthy Balance - Helping kids eat wisely and stay active
According to a recent report, as many as one in four Canadian children are overweight or obese. This is a major health issue in Canada and the rest of the developed world. It is shocking to think that this next generation of children may actually have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.
Active Kids, Healthy Kids - fighting childhood obesity with a healthy diet and exercise
Childhood obesity is an alarming trend surfacing in Canada and throughout the developed world. A recent report says the number of overweight Canadian boys increased from 15 per cent in 1981 to 28.8 per cent in 1996. The increase among girls is from 15 to 23.6 per cent. Reasons for this increase in overweight children today relate to changes in our society and how our children’s lives are affected by these changes.
Ankle Sprains - treatment, rehabilitation and prevention
Ankle sprains are high on the list of injuries that occur during physical activity. You might sprain an ankle when you are active at a sport, but it’s as likely to happen when you least expect it. The cause might be something as simple as stepping in a small hole or slipping off the edge of a curb. Even when the activity is on flat ground and proper footwear is providing protection, unexpected twists can cause the ankle to turn. Sprains usually occur when the foot rolls inwards.
Athletic Skin Infections - avoiding and treating them
A PGA player’s golf swing looks so effortless, it is easy to think no one can get hurt playing golf. However, such a swing involves many body parts moving through maximum ranges of motion and speed. A typical male golfer’s swing reaches speeds of around 160 kilometres per hour in less than a fifth of a second. The muscles work as hard as possible. Although the motion doesn’t last long, it is extremely powerful. In a round of golf, it repeats hundreds of times in practice and ‘real’ swings.
Attention to Prevention - the key to successful golf
Even the strongest athlete can be affected by common skin problems. Some infections are just a nuisance and do not cause any serious harm. Others can be quite serious, even life threatening.
Beat the Heat! - Exercising safely during the warm months
After long months of winter, the joy of long, sunny days begins. At last, parkas and thick sweaters are left in the back of the closet and replaced by lighter summer clothing. Children spend time outdoors playing soccer or at the beach. It is now possible to enjoy exercising without spending half the time bundling up. A bottle of water and you are good to go, right?
Concussion in Sport - protect players from serious injury
You are the coach of Joshua, a 17-year-old hockey player. During a game, he is forcefully body checked into the boards. He is wearing a helmet with a full face shield. The right side of Joshua’s helmet hits the glass and he falls to the ice. He gets up slowly, but continues to play. When Joshua’s shift ends, he skates back to the bench. He seems okay.
Core Stability - Why it's important and how to maintain it
In the past few years, it seems that core strengthening has become the latest fitness fad. Many fitness centers offer core strengthening or stability classes and techniques like Pilates are growing in popularity. Core strengthening exercises are also emphasized in the rehabilitation of low back injuries. What exactly is your 'core', how do you strengthen it and why is it important to have good core stability?
Cross-country or Nordic skiing is enjoyed by people of all ages and athletic abilities. In Western Canada especially, an abundance of well groomed trails lure more and more people to the sport. All you need is a little equipment, a love of the outdoors and a healthy dose of enthusiasm.
Drink Water When You Exercise
"Water is the only drink for a wise man" said Henry David Thoreau many years ago. Although it may sound a little restricting, Thoreau did understand the importance of water.
Exercise in the Heat
Regular physical activity, for all ages and in all seasons, is a basic goal for good health. When exercising in the heat, certain factors in the environment and in the individual person may lead to health risks. Understanding these factors can help you to exercise in a safe and enjoyable way during the hotter days.
Exercise and Disabilities – keeping active promotes health and independence
Starting an exercise program may be one of the best things anyone can do to stay healthy. Those with physical disabilities are no exception. In fact, if you have a disability it may be even more important for you to get regular exercise. Physical limitations and problems with exercising can make those who have disabilities less active. Lack of activity can affect heart and lung fitness, bone and muscle strength, and flexibility. It can also increase dependence on others.
Exercise and Menstrual Irregularities – should physical activity make you skip periods?
Exercise brings many benefits, including a stronger heart and cardiovascular system and a lower risk of some cancers. For women, exercise helps regulate the menstrual cycle and may even ease cramping. However, female athletes may find that exercise can be associated with menstrual disorders.
Exercising During Pregnancy - Give your body and your baby a health boost
A woman’s body changes a great deal during pregnancy to create the best environment for her baby to grow. Once, we feared that exercising while pregnant might harm the fetus (unborn baby). Concerns existed about greater risk of miscarriage, early birth, low birth weight, poor pregnancy outcomes and resulting affects on childhood development. However, studies have not supported these fears. In fact, research shows that light to moderate exercise during an uncomplicated pregnancy benefits a woman’s health during pregnancy. It may help with birth and recovery. Exercise also maintains fitness, helping women feel good about their bodies. Rest assured that once the baby is born, light to moderate exercise will not affect the composition or production of breast milk
Exercise is Medicine - The FITT prescription
It is no secret that exercise is good for you. However, it is especially beneficial if you are living with a chronic disease. In Canada, three out of five adults have been diagnosed with a chronic condition such as cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease. .
Exercise is Medicine - The FITT prescription
Imagine a treatment that would reduce your chance of getting almost any chronic disease, including heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis (brittle bones), and certain cancers. No pills are involved, and there are few to no side effects. Believe it or not, such a remedy exists. This miraculous treatment is exercise.
Exercise Your Options - Alternative ways staying fit
The usual exercise routine of going to the gym and lifting weights or running on the treadmill can eventually become tiresome and boring. It is not only more enjoyable and motivating to vary your exercise, but also better for your body. Doing the same exercise routine over a long period of time results in "staleness" in physical improvement. By varying the type of exercise, the intensity and amount, you can bring about positive physical changes.
Female Athletes - women who exercise have different concerns
Everyone needs regular exercise to stay healthy. Women often have questions about exercise related to the menstrual cycle and reproduction. By knowing the answers and learning how to avoid the pitfalls, women can benefit from a full exercise program.
Fit Mommy - Exercising after pregnancy
Most Canadians know they should exercise daily as part of a healthy lifestyle. However, many new mothers wonder how to combine exercise with the demands of a baby. When you are caring for a newborn, finding time and motivation for physical activity can be challenging. If you are struggling with the fatigue of new motherhood, it can be hard to imagine that exercise is more likely to boost your energy levels than reduce them.
Flexibility - stretching helps keep you limber
At 6 a.m. your alarm abruptly wakes you from slumber. You roll out of bed and hobble to the bathroom. It feels like your muscles and joints have been injected with crazy glue. Ahhh, morning muscle tightness! Whether you are an elite athlete, a weekend jock or simply trying to improve your shape, you have probably experienced sore and tight muscles at some point.
Gadgets and Gizmos - Deciding what will work for you
You’re getting more active. As you begin to make lifestyle changes, you wonder how you can measure your activity and see what you accomplish by exercising. Many of the interesting new devices include global positioning systems (GPS), heart rate monitors, and pedometers. Choosing the right one for you can feel overwhelming. Read on to find concrete information on current gizmos that can help your exercise routine.
Get Moving! Including exercise in your busy lifestyle
There is no doubt about it – regular exercise keeps us healthy. Many scientific studies show that exercise helps prevent chronic diseases. It is a way to avoid heart disease, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis (brittle bones), depression, arthritis, stroke, and high blood pressure. Even if you do have a chronic medical condition, exercise can help control the progression and effects of the condition.
Give Your Child a Running Start - Healthy food and exercise are key to a long life
Childhood obesity is quickly becoming a major public health issue in Canada and throughout the developed world. A recent report suggests 25 per cent of Canadian children ages two to 17 are considered overweight or obese. This increase is related to changes in our society that affect our children's lives.
Golf Exercises - Prevent golf injuries before they occur
A professional golfer’s swing looks so effortless it’s hard to believe anyone could get hurt playing golf. However, during a full swing, many parts of the body move through maximum ranges of motion and at top speed.
High Intensity Interval Training - A better way to exercise
Any older track athlete or cross-country runner can remember doing interval training workouts designed to improve speed and explosive power. Workouts were often held on the track at a stadium. You would run several timed sprints for 300 metres, with slower recovery laps. Sometimes these workouts were outdoors, sprinting up the steepest hill and then walking down. The sprints repeated, just like the track workouts. An interval training session ended once your uphill time slowed, so it was the same as the time it took to walk down.
Home Gyms - how to choose the right equipment
You'd like to exercise regularly but find it difficult to make time or get access to exercise equipment. One solution is to create a home gym where you can improve and maintain physical fitness. A home gym offers convenience. You can exercise any time without having to travel to a fitness facility. In the long run, you may also save money by working out at home as compared to buying a membership at a fitness facility.
If the Shoe Fits - Selecting footwear for running
When it comes to selecting footwear, making a decision can be difficult. So many different shoes are available! Differences include shoe styles and purpose, amount of cushioning, weight of the shoe, and heel height. Then, consider the different aspects of the runner, including foot width, weight, type of running done, and running experience.
In the last century, children often died from illnesses that could not be prevented. Even early in this century, diseases that now can be prevented, were responsible for many children dying young. Each time a vaccine is discovered that will prevent a disease, more children's lives can be saved. Vaccination is a fact of life that we often take for granted, yet it has changed the health of the world.
Jump Start Weight Loss - Using physical activity to boost metabolism
If your weight loss program has stalled, maybe you need a jump start. Physical activity is key to boosting your metabolism. Whether you are just starting to lose weight or want to maintain it, increasing your metabolic rate through exercise can help.
Keeping Kids Active Through a Long Winter - The right tools make it enjoyable
In Canada, we are used to winter months that can be cold and rainy, dry and snowy or downright bone chilling. Some brave Canadians embrace what Mother Nature brings. However, far too many let winter keep them from venturing too far from the sofa. Only 15 per cent of adults and five per cent of children and youth get the recommended physical activity they need to be healthy. For most Canadians, physical activity levels decline when winter arrives.
Knee Cap Pain - All about patellofemoral pain syndrome
If you are active, there's a good chance you have experienced knee cap pain. The medical term for pain around or behind the knee cap (patella) is patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS).
Knee Ligament Injuries - Treat problems and avoid future damage
Knee ligament injuries are common. They can happen to anyone, not just competitive athletes. Such injuries affect the tough bands of fibrous tissue that connect the joint bones in the knee. The knee has four major ligaments: the anterior cruciate (ACL), the posterior cruciate (PCL), the medial collateral (MCL) and the lateral collateral (LCL). Each gives stability and support in different ways. Some are more easily hurt than others.
Low Back Pain - Ways to cope
If you have back pain, you know how challenging, frustrating and disabling low back pain can be. Low back pain, and the related buttock and leg pain, can exist for many reasons. Fractures, muscle strains, ligament sprains, spinal disc irritation or herniation (rupture), and spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) are all possible causes.
Osteoporosis - exercise builds your bones
Remember the seventies' TV cartoon characters Fred Flintstone and George Jetson? The Flintstones came from the prehistoric era, while the Jetsons lived in an automated world of the future. Who would have stronger bones, Fred or George?
Osteoarthritis - exercise is an effective remedy
Exercise may be one of the most effective and inexpensive remedies for osteoarthritis (OA). It can be adapted to any person’s needs. In fact, light to moderate exercise may not only help in the treatment of OA but play a preventive and possibly restorative role.
Osteoarthritis of the Knee - Exercise can help
If you have osteoarthritis (OA), you know how this chronic disorder can alter your daily life. It can affect many joints, especially the knee. Running, walking, squatting, kneeling and climbing stairs can all be challenging. Bearing weight is difficult, making work and other activities hard. OA in the knee may affect as many as one in 10 Canadians over age 65. The effects cannot be undone.
Ouch! - Plantar Fasciitis
The base of your heel is hurting again. The stabbing pain comes when you take your first steps in the morning and sometimes after exercise. If this sounds familiar, you may have Plantar Fasciitis.
The Prehistoric Workout - health tips from our ancestors' lifestyle
The world has changed a great deal since prehistoric times, and our lifestyles along with it. Yet our bodies are very similar to those of our ancestors. By taking pointers from how these first humans lived, we can improve our health.
Prevention and Care of Sports Injuries
Canadians love to play and watch ice hockey. For many it has become a year round sport. In recent years, attention has focused on ice hockey because of the number of serious injuries and increasing violence. In Canada, sport and recreation have become the second leading cause of injuries, after motor vehicle accidents.
Proprioception – how to get your sixth sense back
As children, we learned about the five basic senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Another, lesser-known sense is proprioception, our intuitive awareness of the position of our joints. Proprioception keeps us stable and oriented during static (still) and dynamic (moving) activities. Static sense provides us with a conscious orientation of one body part to another. In other words, we know exactly where our foot is in relation to our knee. Dynamic sense gives us a sense of the speed and direction of where our foot is moving in relation to our knee or hip.
Protect Your Head – preventing and treating head injuries
High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects about one in four Canadian adults. Age, weight, life-style and smoking all play a role. For people with diabetes high blood pressure is even more common, affecting as many as 60 per cent of those with the disease. If you have diabetes, you are twice as likely to have high blood pressure.
Recreational Safety Equipment
There was a time when safety equipment for competitive and recreational sporting activities was scoffed at as being unnecessary. Many felt that this extra equipment got in the way of performance and enjoyment of a sport. In the past safety equipment was often ill-designed, poor-fitting and lacking in 'looks' appeal.
Running – an exercise program with realistic goals
How many times have you designed your own fitness program with a schedule that looks flexible and simple to follow? Shortly after starting, reality kicks in. “You want me to do what? How long? We have to do this how often?” The program is then reduced or stopped entirely. The desire to start again is replaced with really good excuses to avoid it altogether. We also make the mistake of starting with a goal so far out of reach that the motivation to get out the door is quickly lost.
Safe Snow Shovelling - here's the scoop
Most of us know that shovelling is very hard work and can severely stress the heart. Fewer people recognize the stress and strain that it places on the lower back. Back injuries and pulled muscles are among the possible threats to your health from using poor technique when shovelling snow.
Shin Splints - What they are and how to treat them
Lower leg pain is a common complaint in active people, especially those involved in activities that require running and jumping. Injuries usually involve the lower leg bones (the tibia and fibula) and muscles surrounding these bones. Often any pain in the lower leg is described as shin splints, though the causes may vary.
The Seven Wonders Of Walking
How many people have discovered all of the seven wonders of the world? Given the distances and costs involved, the answer probably is, not many. However, there are seven wonders that are close to your home, cost very little and can make a huge difference to your health.
The Truth About Exercise - does it help you to lose weight?
If your goal is to lose weight, it can be frustrating to find the pounds aren’t coming off. It is upsetting to invest time and effort into exercising, only to step on the scale and see it barely move. This can disappoint, deflate, and downright discourage you! The harsh reality is that this result is not really all that surprising.
Ski Conditioning - shaping up for the slopes
The season of wool sweaters and down blankets is coming and it will be time to gear up, get out and hit the slopes. With ski season just around the corner, the whitening peaks of our western Canadian mountains silently encourage us to get in shape.
Explaining Spine Surgery - surgery for sciatica takes the pressure off
The combination of two irresistible forces — time and gravity — creates the need for spinal surgery. Even though teens undergo it, most people are in their fifties, sixties and seventies. Many suffer from chronic back pain after years of wear and tear on their spines. Various factors cause advanced degenerative disc disease (DDD). We don’t know why some people have more symptoms than others. Genetics appears to influence the effects of aging and mechanical loading of the spine.
Staying Fit in the Cold - with common sense, outdoor activity is enjoyable
Canada is a land of extreme weather, from sweltering heat in summer to bone-chilling cold in winter. However, there is no reason to stay indoors through our long winters. You do not need to lose the fitness and the joy of being active that you gain over the summer. Indeed, the cooler seasons may be the most beautiful time to be outdoors. Autumn brings changing colors, while winter features crystal-blue skies and fun activities like skiing, snowshoeing and skating.
Living Well with Spinal Cord Injury - Physical activity and healthy diet are key
About 1500 spinal cord injuries happen each year in Canada. Though the exact number of people living with these injuries is not known, it is thought to be more than 20,000. Almost half of spinal cord injuries come from automobile collisions. Falls, violence and sports injuries, particularly diving into shallow water, are also common causes.
Sports Injuries in Teens - Can they be prevented?
In Canada, 65 per cent of teens are involved in regular physical activity at least three times a week. Sports are an important part of life. Our kids need to stay active to be healthy in the future. Evidence shows that inactivity is linked to many diseases. However, teens participating in sports run an increased risk of injury, which can carry lifetime consequences. Adolescents are at higher risk from sport-related injuries for several reasons. Injury from overuse is a particular concern in this age group. Overuse is likely due to increased skill levels, intensity of training and competition in sport at younger ages, and longer (often year round) training seasons.
Sports Nutrition and Supplements
Carbohydrates or protein? Water or Gatorade? When it comes to sports, questions like these ones are common, as the trend towards healthy living become more popular. We are more aware of the benefits of an active lifestyle. At the same time, we have become overwhelmed with the variety of products, fad diets and media advice. Proper nutrition, fluid replacement and occasional supplements remain key to improving athletic performance.
Staying Active - the key to growing old gracefully
Most of us expect to remain vital and healthy well into our golden years. While most people recognize that physical activity is the key to good health, too often older adults forget they need regular exercise too. Fit or frail, adults of any age can benefit from physical activity.
Strength Training Q & A
Strength training is a way to condition your muscles and bones using weighted resistance. It is a general term for what is also referred to as weightlifting or resistance training. As you will discover, there are many benefits to including strength training into your exercise routine.
From Surviving to Thriving - Exercise helps you resume life after cancer
Cancer- it's not a word anyone wants to hear. Often our first reaction is shock. Next, the focus is on survival. Ideally, we can then find ways to enjoy life again.
Swimming is a popular sport for both recreation and competition. It is the third most common fitness activity after walk-ing and running. In Alberta, 6,000 children and adults swim in year-round programs, summer clubs and masters' swimming. Water babies to the elderly can take part in this activity with a low risk of injury.
Understanding Food Biotechnology - what genetically modified foods are all about
Do you know the one about the arctic char gene in the frost-resistant tomato? Or maybe you have heard the term 'Frankenfood' used in popular media? These images may be catchy and provoke emotion. In many cases they've even reached urban myth status. However, they do little to give consumers the knowledge they need to make informed choices about food biotechnology.
Walk Your Way to Better Health
Are your days stressful? Do you seem to feel tired all the time? Do you look ahead and see an endless tunnel with one pressure following after another? If you answered yes to these questions, relief can be close at hand. You have two helpmates waiting -- your legs. Let them take you for a walk.
Jennifer has just made the senior high school volleyball team. This is her second year on the squad and she is delighted to return. Her coach has mentioned that her game could improve if she started a resistance training program to improve her leg strength. How does she get started?
Your Sore Elbow - Healing the elbow joint after a sports injury
Imagine not being able to bend your elbow! Suddenly, daily activities like eating, dressing and grooming become difficult. Many sports, hobbies and tasks at home and work usually done without thought are now out of reach.
Your Sore Shoulder - Understanding the common causes
Your shoulder is made up of bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. When these structures mesh properly you use your arm without a thought. However, if something goes wrong, the pain gives a constant reminder that you cannot ignore. Shoulder pain is a frequent reason why people see their family doctors.
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