Thursday, December 23, 2010

To stretch or not to stretch – that is the question?

Who hasn’t begun a run, exercise session or volleyball game with a bit of static stretching? You see it everywhere – runners stretching their hamstrings while pushing against trees and stretching their Achilles tendon using street curbs, and then setting out for their run.

But is this really doing your muscles and energy systems any good for your pending athletic performance?

Once an essential part of the sporting warm up, many coaches are now suggesting that static stretches should be avoided just prior to warming up, competition or exercise. New research also doubts the effectiveness of static stretching in enhancing your performance or work out, with some strongly recommending against it.

Static stretching, the slow and constant movement of a muscle to a fixed end point, and held for up to +/-30 seconds, is designed to improve range of motion and enhance athletic performance. But research says that doing this before athletic practice or performance actually produces a decline in muscle performance and should not be done immediately before any activity whose performance depends largely upon achieving high amounts of force.

While there is value to static stretching, the real question is ‘when do you perform it?’ The best times are just after a low intensity activity designed to increase muscle temperature, or after your workout, or at a completely different time not associated with a high session of physical activity, in order to get its full benefits.

To learn more about static stretching prior to exercise, please review the following resources.

Small, Katie, McNaughton, Lars, and Matthews, Martyn, (2008) A Systematic Review into the Efficacy of Static Stretching as Part of a Warm-Up for the Prevention of Exercise-Related Injury. Research in Sports Medicine, 16(3), p213.

Warming Up

Flexibility Training

To stretch or not to stretch before competitive tennis?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Importance of Sleep to the Athlete

While attending the Ontario Sport 4 Life “Shaking The Foundations” conference in November 2010 in Markham, Ontario, it was interesting that with all the experts speaking about physiology, psychology, paradigm shifts, nutrition, coaching, hormonal cycles, long term athlete development (LTAD), that the number one cog in the athlete sustenance wheel was the importance of sleep, according to LTAD expert Istvan Balyi.

Sleep. It’s something we do at the end of each day. Still, it’s the one thing that is always sacrificed no matter what level of athlete you are. How is it that something so important in daily human physical and mental repair is so underestimated? For the most part we all spend most of our days in a very large sleep debt, which affects such areas as cognitive function, mood, fitness, general health and reaction times.

Optimal environment elements affecting how well we sleep include the light, temperature and noise in our bedrooms, along with dedicating the time to getting enough quality sleep. So embrace the importance of crawling into the flannelette pasture so that your body can do its maintenance work.

For more information on sleep, which won’t put you to sleep, please review these articles or contact SIRC.

Health Benefits of Sleep

Importance of Sleep for the Young Athlete

Importance of Sleep to the Endurance Athlete

Davenne, D. (2009). Sleep of athletes - problems and possible solutions. Biological Rhythm Research, 40(1), 45-52.

Noland, H., Price, J., Dake, J., & Telljohann, S. (2009). Adolescents’ Sleep Behaviors and Perceptions of Sleep. Journal of School Health, 79(5), 224-230.

Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter (2007) A Wake-Up Call on Sleep and Health. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, 15260143, 24(12).

Williams, A. (2010). Recovery Nutrition - Sleep, Eat, Train, Recover, Repeat. Coaches Plan/Plan du Coach, 17(2), 20-23.

Waterhouse, J.; Atkinson, G.; Edwards, B.; Reilly, T.,(2007) The role of a short post-lunch nap in improving cognitive, motor, and sprint performance in participants with partial sleep deprivation. Journal of Sports Sciences, 25(14), 1557-1656.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Winter Running

Recent news reports have focused on the severe winter weather that has suddenly hit Canada. For a lot of runners this weather can be discouraging. Winter running does not have to be extreme or unsafe, it should be fun. Cold weather running should be exhilarating as it is a great way to get fresh air, spend some outdoor time with friends, and enjoy the beauty of the season. It all depends on how well prepared you are for the weather. Wearing the correct clothing and being prepared for the cold can be the difference between having fun and discouragement. When putting on your running gear make sure to think about these three layers:
  1. Wicking Layer: Synthetic Material that moves moisture away from the body, preventing you from getting chills
  2. Insulating Layer: Keep your body warmth close to you preventing you from getting cold
  3. Shell Top Layer: A jacket to protect you from the cold wind and water…well snow!
Other items that are recommended for runners are:
  • Positive attitude
  • Running Hat
  • Two pairs of running gloves
  • Neck Warmer
Reference from the SIRC Collection:
Mandel, C. (2009). Winter Running Guide. Canadian Running, 2(1), 62-63.

Other SIRC Resources:
SIRC Winter Newsletter
Cold Weather Resources

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Coaches and the Female Athlete Triad

There are awkward conversations some coaches avoid having with their female athletes. One of these discussions may be about the menstrual cycle, especially by male coaches. This awkwardness can be avoided by educating your athletes on the Female Athlete Triad.
The three clusters of the triad are:
  • Disordered Eating (poor nutrition),
  • Menstrual dysfunction (irregular or loss of period), and
  • Osteoporosis (low bone density)
Athletes should be educated on proper eating habits to maintain or balance the use of energy when training, as to prevent low-energy availability. The low-energy availability and excessive exercise can lead to a lack of estrogen causing amenorrhea (loss of period) or menstrual irregularities. A lack of estrogen, and poor nutrition (especially calcium) can lead to the third cluster, osteoporosis.

As coaches, the main focus should be on disordered eating, as this leads to the next two clusters. Women face many pressures these days to look a certain way, or have a certain body-type. For serious female endurance athletes, the pressures of training can produce the mind set of, “If I lose 5lbs, I can run faster.” These pressures can very easily lead an athlete into poor eating habits.

For more information on this topic please check the SIRC collection.
Female Athlete Triad Coalition

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Technology – The Bigger Picture

This past November, SIRC had the pleasure of attending the Petro-Canada Sport Leadership Conference hosted by the Coaching Association of Canada, in Ottawa. This event is where top coaches, sport administrators, coach educators, leaders in the corporate community, and sport scientists come together to connect, learn, network, and celebrate together.

One of the sessions was about social media and the bigger picture. One of the three presenters was Dr. Linda Duxbury, a professor at Carleton University. Her presentation was not so much about social media, but the bigger picture behind it. She spoke about how technology is supposed to make our lives easier and more efficient. Her studies have shown quite the opposite. Our time in work has increased, thanks to laptops, blackberry’s and other portable devices, but this is a poor measure of productivity. Our work load has also increased, where our leisure time has decreased. This can only mean one thing; technology is hurting our quality of life.

Dr. Duxbury also brought up that we need to establish email etiquette. Just like phone etiquette, email etiquette is just as important since many of us communicate via email on a daily basis. But is email causing us more stress? It only takes 50 emails per day to cause stress to the average person. People are sending and receiving an average of 71 emails per day, with some receiving upwards of 200. This can only mean, people are sending and receiving work related emails outside of work hours. With access to work through mobile devices, workers are finding it increasingly difficult to “switch-off” from work. Studies have shown that there is a need for organizations to educate their employees, about the importance of strategic unwinding post work to optimize the quality of leisure time and prevent them from becoming fatigued and burnt out.

For more articles on quality of life and general well-being, please see the January 2010 SIRC Newsletter.

For more information about Dr. Duxbury’s study on work-life conflict please see:
Duxbury, L. and C. Higgins (2009), Key findings and Conclusions from the 2001 National Work-Life Conflict Study. Health Canada; Ottawa, Ontario.

Reference from the SIRC collection:

(2010). Email stress can wipe out benefit of holiday. Occupational Health, 62(9), 4.

Cropley, M., & Millward, L. (2009). How do individuals 'switch-off' from work during leisure? A qualitative description of the unwinding process in high and low ruminators. Leisure Studies, 28(3), 333-347.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Nature versus Human Endurance

In 2003, trapped in a Utah canyon by a fallen boulder, a solitary hiker freed himself with an amputation that became famous around the world. And it has now become a Hollywood movie, where Aron Ralston relives his harrowing experience, with a Hollywood twist.

Aron re-tells his story in the December 2010 issue of Outside from the set of “127 hours”, a film starring James Franco, out in theatres now. Aron’s story is both thrilling and a true test of the human spirit. In this particular article, Aron describes what it’s like working with a Hollywood actor and on a set, trying to detach himself from the changes needed to translate his book and his experience onto film. He has been able to revisit many times the site of the incident, the first time just 6 months after the accident. He describes it as a place of peace and clarifying acceptance. He still climbs to this day and goes back to Blue John Canyon as often as once a year. He thanks his premonitions of family and life during his ordeal that gave him the courage to make it until dawn one more time before freeing himself.

Aron, like many other climbing enthusiasts, looks back at his experiences and how it has made him grow as a person and athlete. Encouraging others not to give up, overcoming any obstacles that they may encounter. Many schools are incorporating outdoor survival into their physical education programs. Not only to prepare for worst case scenarios but to look at wilderness survival as an enjoyable way to become closer to the earth. Along with personal growth, it offers skills that will encourage the participants to become more interactive with nature by observing and participating in it.

Reference from the SIRC collection:
Ralston, A. (2010). Cut Rough. Outside, 35(11), 78-82; 88-90; 149-151.

Aron’s story and many other informative articles on survival and the outdoors can be found in different parts of the SIRC collection:
Ball, M. (2001). Wilderness Survival and Outdoor Education. Association of Outdoor Recreation & Education Conference Proceedings, 61-65.
Jenkins, M. (2003). Between a rock and the hardest place: what happens when a solitary day hike turns into the ultimate test of survival?. Outside, 28(8), 51-54.
Ralston, A. (2006). MY SUMMIT PROBLEM. Outside, 31(4), 84-88;90;122-123;125;132
Reiter, B. (2010). The Not-So-Great Outdoors. Sports Illustrated, 113(18), 21.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Check out the latest SIRC Newsletter on Exer-Gaming:

Video games are one of the most popular leisure activities in the world. Children and adults alike can enjoy playing anything from virtual sports, war and racing games to fantasy, role playing and music games. Many video games have been a focus of controversy with claims that they have been taking away from the physical activity levels of many people. And since video games are here to stay, it was about time for game makers to create games that allow for otherwise sedentary playing to merge with physical activity. Exer-gaming has grown to be popular with all age groups and all levels of fitness. These games allow the gamer to dance, run, jump, play tennis, baseball, boxing and golf, and even allow one to work on their strength and yoga postures. But is this the future of exercise? Game makers aren’t looking to replace the gym or playing outside, but are offering an alternative to those who may prefer to rack up high scores rather than race to the gym.

Worldwide fitness trends for 2011

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has just released its findings from their 2011 worldwide fitness trends survey and one of the most notable changes has been the rise in “fitness programs for older adults” to the number 2 position. The values of educated and experienced fitness professionals as well as the concern over children and obesity continue to be in the top 5, however, it is interesting that the focus on fitness for older adults is attracting so much attention. As the population is aging it is important to encourage healthy lifestyles for older adults. We are often told of the necessity to get children active, to break the sedentary trend; however we need to also provide programs and encouragement for all adults to be active. The health benefits associated with physical activity are universal whether with children or adults.

Top 10 Worldwide Fitness Trends for 2011
  1. Educated and experienced fitness professionals
  2. Fitness programs for older adults
  3. Strength training
  4. Children and obesity
  5. Personal training
  6. Core training
  7. Exercise and weight loss
  8. Boot camp
  9. Functional fitness
  10. Physician referrals

References from the SIRC Collection:
Thompson, Walter R. (2010). Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2011. ACSM’s health & fitness journal, 14(6), 8-17.

Canada’s Physical Activity Guide to Healthy Active Living for Older Adults

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Just a hit to the head or a concussion?

We often hear about the severity of head trauma and coaches are encouraged to check for symptoms of concussions (dizzy, headache, light sensitive). However, recent studies are showing that repeated hits to the head, concussed or not, may result in long term side effects. In particular athletes who receive frequent head blows in sports such as football, boxing, soccer, equestrian etc may suffer significant visual memory loss.

It was estimated that a concussion may result from a head impact of over 80 times the force of gravity, (the average header in soccer produces an impact of 20 Gs) however, a recent study in the US monitored college football players and found that players were receiving approximately 150 hits/week with a force often between 100-250 Gs. The amount of force regularly hitting the players is astounding and yet these players were not exhibiting any symptoms of concussions and they appeared fine to their coaches and parents. What was disturbing was to find out was that the tests were showing a 20% decrease in visual memory capacity (in particular the area that requires rapid identification of recurring patterns) for players after just 3 months of training.

What this is saying, is that we need to be more aware of all head injuries. Be very careful of both major concussions as well as all those minor impacts that “chip away at the brain”.

Consensus Statement On Concussion in Sport

SIRC Newsletter: Concussions

Reference from the SIRC Collection: Epstein, David (2010). Unexpected Findings: The Damage Done. Sports Illustrated, 113 (16), 42-47.

Friday, November 26, 2010

2011 SIRC Research Award

Call for Papers
SIRC (Sport Information Resource Centre) is proud to announce the official launch of the 2011 SIRC Research Award and the SIRC Research Development Award.

SIRC invites Canadians associated with a Canadian University or degree granting institution to submit their original sport related research for consideration of the 2011 SIRC Research Award.

SIRC Research Award
The SIRC Research Award recognizes outstanding sport research that benefits the Canadian sporting community. SIRC invites Canadian researchers to submit sport related original research papers in consideration for the 2011 SIRC Research Award.

This year, the 2011 SIRC Research Award has two categories. Your submission must fall into one of these two categories.

The social impact of sport on the community:

This category contains research in four broad areas;

social, cultural, and/or economic benefits of sport
health and wellness
education and life long learning

The impact of applied research on athletic excellence / high performance:

This category contains research in four key areas of study;

Sport Psychology
Sport Physiology
Sports Medicine

The Award:
Winners receive $2,000, a SIRC membership, media coverage, inclusion in the SIRC Collection and international exposure to the sport and academic community through SIRC’s publishing channels.

The applicant must be a Canadian citizen currently associated with a Canadian University or degree granting institution.
You must submit original research that has not been previously published.
Your paper must be written in English or French.
Your paper must be a minimum of 2500 words and up to a maximum of 4000 words (excluding references).
Your research must be relevant and benefit the Canadian sporting community.
Review Process:
Candidate’s abstracts will be initially screened by members of SIRC (or a representative group).

Abstracts will be assessed based on the following criteria:

Abstract content
The results of long-term impact of the paper on the Canadian sporting community.

The review criteria for the paper are:

Relevance/significance of topic to sport, fitness or sport science in Canada
Relevant literature
Clarity of conceptual framework /appropriate methodology
The value to the Canadian sport system
All criteria will be evaluated on a 5-point scale (1 = poor, 5 = excellent). Judges are selected nationally and are considered experts in various areas of study within sport.

Important Submission Deadlines:

January 14th, 2011: Abstract and bio submission

March 25th, 2011: Research paper is electronically received by In addition, a complete hardcopy of the applicant’s submission, which includes a bio, an abstract, a photo of the applicant (passport photo) and the signed SIRC Content License agreement and eligibility outline, with original applicant signature, is received in our offices by 4:30 pm EST

SIRC’s mailing address is 180 Elgin Street, Suite 1400, Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 2K3

Winners will be notified by June 17th, 2011

*Subject to change without notice.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pilates: Great for Athletes

With the hectic and time consuming training schedule of athletes, it is often hard to find time to recover from a workout. Add to this the fact that often athletes are repeatedly using the same muscle groups, they are leaving themselves open to injuries. These days, many athletes (especially teenagers) are turning to Pilates as a great way to switch up their work out and help with injury prevention.

The following 6 basic principles of Pilates can be used by athletes to stay focus and improve performance:
  • Concentration
  • Centering
  • Control
  • Precision
  • Breathing
  • Flowing movement
The benefits of Pilates don’t end there. Because of the extensive core work, an athlete’s body alignment and awareness is improved. Pilates also focuses on conditioning the body and mind which can help improve sleep quality. Finally because Pilates incorporates numerous muscles of the body, athletes often work muscles they wouldn’t in their normal routine, which can lessen injury risk.

Reference from the SIRC collection:
Pilates: Tools for Teen athletes. Trap, Zoey., IDEA Fitness Journal Nov/Dec2010, Vol. 7 Issue 10, 80.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pomegranates .. the Super Food!

We have all heard of so called “super foods”. Well the” super food” that gets the most attention this time of year, is the pomegranate. A native fruit of Iran, pomegranates are now available year round, however are considered “in season” now until February.

The health benefits of pomegranates are constantly being researched. To date the list includes:
  • Very high in antioxidants
  • Lowering bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Reduce the incidence of skin and breast cancer
  • Decrease blood pressure
Current studies on pomegranates are looking at the effect of this “super food” on diabetes, prostate cancer and various heart diseases.

To get the most out of your pomegranate it is best to consume either pomegranate juice or the whole fruit. Many people shy away from eating the pomegranate as extracting the seeds can be a messy and time consuming process. A quick and easy way to prepare a pomegranate is to cut off the crown and slice the fruit into sections. In a large bowl submerge the sections in water and gently pull the seeds away from the surrounding membrane. Seeds will sink to the bottom of the water leaving the membrane floating on top.

References from the SIRC Collection:
Food Focus: pomegranates. Webster, Sandy Todd, IDEA Fitness Journal Nov/Dec2010, Vol. 7 Issue 10, 57.

The Pomegranate. Samples, Evangeline Y., American Fitness Nov/Dec2009, Vol. 27 Issue 6, 66.

Pomegranate juice: a heart-healthy fruit juice. Arpita; Penugonda, Kavitha, Nutrition Reviews Jan2009, Vol. 67 Issue 1, 49.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Coaching Do's and Don'ts

We all want our young athletes to be the best that they can be. And in order for athletes to be at their best, their coaches also need to be at their best. Supporting coaches through a very stressful competitive season should be high on everyone’s priority list. What can coaches do to focus less on stress and more on constructive teaching moments? A recent article in the SIRC Collection (Arnold, 2010) provides the following top 10 list of Do’s and Don’ts for coaches:

DON’T match your athlete’s negative mood, lead them to a more centered mindset
DO move beyond focusing on problems and focus on improving correct techniques or skills
DO provide challenges that will motivate your athletes
DO provide praise for athletes’ success (training and competition)
DO praise athletes character development as well as skill development
DON’T present a negative training environment that supports negative athlete feedback
DON’T focus on correcting large technique issues at competition, this is the time for tweaks and emotional support.
DO pay attention to parents and make them part of the athlete support team
DO treat all your athletes the same with a single set of over-riding rules
DO make it fun!!!

Full article reference from the SIRC Collection: Arnold, Alison, (2010). Top 10 Coach’s Sanity Tips for Competition Season, Technique 30(9), 26-27.

For more coaching information check out SIRC’s latest newsletter on Coaching Leadership or ask us a question at our booth at the Coaching Association of Canada’s Petro-Canada Sport Leadership Conference.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Better Post-Competition Recovery

Research tells us that we should pay just as much attention to our post-race/post-competition routines as we do to our pre-race/pre-competition routines. Why is this? Simply stated, the sooner you return your body to its pre-competition state and give it the attention it requires to recoup later the same day, the sooner you will be ready for more hard training. It also helps reduce stiffness and soreness that may occur later in the day.

Your muscles are most receptive to refueling and other recovery strategies for the first 30-60 minutes after strenuous exertion. While this is often easy to remember after an intense workout, it is often forgotten in our competition planning. So what can be a good recovery plan? The following strategies were recommended in a recent article in the SIRC Collection:

  • Immediately post-competition/race, have some sport drink or other easily tolerated source of calories before starting a cool-down jog.
  • After cooling down, refuel further with food and drink you brought to the race. This food can be specifically targeted to your body’s needs as opposed to relying on whatever offerings the event has provided.
  • Do some gentle stretching before and after driving home.
  • Later that day do a light aerobic workout, followed by more stretching.

So next time the competition heats up, don’t forget to plan for the appropriate cool down afterwards.

Reference: Fraioli, Mario (2010). Post-Race Recovery. Goal: Recover Quickly From Your Morning Road Race. Running Times (373), 21.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Check out the latest SIRC Newsletter on Coaching!

Leadership has been described as a process of social influence in which one person can get the support of another to accomplish a goal or task. In order to be a good leader and coach you must possess certain skills and knowledge to be able to guide your team in the best direction to reach your goals. Studies have shown that a person with a growth mindset would believe that leadership abilities can be learned and acquired through effort and experience. With this in mind, coaching education and leadership training programs should consider focusing on helping coaches and leaders develop a growth mindset about their leadership abilities. With everything in life one must practice the necessary skills to be the best and the same goes for coaching. National standards are set by the Coaching Association of Canada (CAC) and its partners are implementing new frameworks to help coaches reach for the stars as coaches help their players. The sport landscape is always changing; this is the same for the coaching world.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The toning phenomena continues…clothing that can make you fit?

Reebok has introduces an EasyTone clothing line that claims to help people get fit. The pants and shirt have strategically place rubber resistance bands to make the body work harder, toning elements. Will it last? Time will tell. The toning shoes that we’ve discussed before continue to be popular so this new installment may be around for a while. To check out the new line of clothing go to .

Although there appears to be a lack of evidence that the toning products work. Consumer Reports project that it will become a $1.5 billion business by year end, increasing 500%.

How the toning clothing is marketed is up for debate. In North America they are used to tone your legs and butt whereas in Europe they are marketed as a health product. The positive reports of the toning products lean towards the health benefits of posture and core control not necessarily as a fitness product.

The toning clothing line has just been released so stay tuned for upcoming articles however in the meantime you can find articles such as these are currently available in the SIRC Colleciton:
  • (2010). Toning Shoe Skeptics. Fitness Business Canada, 11(5), 12.
  • Ryan, T. (2010). Toning Footwear Trend or Fad?. SGB, 43(2), 12.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Anti-Doping in Qatar

Have you ever wondered what is going on in the anti-doping commission in Qatar?

This week we got to find out when Spirit of Sport, the journal from the Qatar Anti-Doping Commission arrived in the Resource Centre. It had some articles over viewing things like:

- The who, what, when, where and why of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)

- Facts about masking agents and nandrolone

- What athletes have made it to the Doping Black List

- The benefits of acupuncture in health

- Highlights from the International Council for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sport and Dance (ICHPER-SD) congress

- Fencing and what equipment is needed

- What's new in the QADC library

Spirit of Sport is just one of many publications that can be found in the SIRC collection. If you'd like to find out more information email

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Abs-olutely perfect exercises!!

Core strength has been linked with a host of benefits to healthy active living. It provides better physical performance, less back pain and a host of other benefits. Most of us realize that abdominal strength is one of the key elements in strengthening and stabilizing your core. But what is the most effective exercise to engage your abdominal muscles?

A recent issue of the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (as reviewed in the IDEA Fitness Journal) compared eight stability ball and two floor-based abdominal exercises to determine which activated the abdominal muscle groups the most effectively. Exercises compared included the following:

  • Stability Ball: roll-out; pike; knee-up; skier; hip extension right and left; decline push-up; and seated march.
  • Floor based exercises: crunch; and bent knee sit-up

The most effective exercise to activate the different groups of muscles in the abdomen turned out to be the roll-out and the pike. These exercises are from a more advanced group of exercises, so should only be included in a workout once an individual is strong enough to perform them with proper technique so as to avoid risk of injury.

References from the SIRC Collection:

  • Halvorson, Ryan (2010). Which Exercise Is Best for Abdominal Activation? IDEA Fitness Journal, 7(8); 15.
  • Escamilla, Rafael F.; Lewis, Clare; Bell, Duncan; Bramdlet, Gwen; Daffron, Jason; Lambert, Steve; Pecson, Amanda; Imamura, Rodney; Paulos, Lonnie; Andrews, James R., (2010). Core Muscle Activation During Swiss Ball and Traditional Abdominal Exercises. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 40(5), 265-276.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What to Keep in Mind When Eating …

Now that Halloween has passed, what do we do when tempted by those extra leftover candies? Do we indulge in a little “guilty” snacking? Do we bring them in to our workplace to share with our colleagues? A recent article coming in to the SIRC Collection examines research compiled on the topic of mindful eating. This growing trend begins with the concept of paying attention both to inner cues (thoughts, emotions and sensations) and to the environment when contemplating triggers to eating.

Research suggests that mindless eating is a major factor in weight gain and plays a large role in the failure of weight loss attempts. It also notes that most of our eating decisions are automatic and made without awareness. Without this awareness most of our eating decisions are made without taking stock of the state of our bodies, our minds or our environment and the information to make conscious decisions. According to researchers the majority of our food decisions are not based upon hunger, but rather are influenced by stress, anxiety or frustration.

The philosophy behind mindful eating stresses the importance of carefully thinking through your food choices. It is not about what to eat and what not to eat, but rather being aware of the food you are about to eat, the reasons you want to eat, how you are eating and the choice you make in eating different foods. Learning to work with your body’s rhythms and your mind’s thought process leads you to make conscious choices.

A few electronic resources are provided to learn more about mindful eating:
· The Center for Mindful Eating
· The Cornell University food and Brand Laboratory
· The Association for Size Diversity and Health
· Mindful Eating: The CAMP System
· Dietitians of Canada
· American Dietetic Association

Thursday, October 28, 2010

SCRI Pre-Conference Workshop

Communication was flowing at the pre-conference workshop hosted by SIRC yesterday for the SCRI (Sport Canada Research Imitative) conference. The purpose of the workshop was to create a forum through which the sport and fitness community, policy-makers and researchers can bridge the gap between research needs and actualization of those needs. The goal was to create a setting wherein practitioners (sport and fitness community) could communicate the type of information needs they had, how they were currently using research and address the transfer of knowledge.

Highlights include:
- Connecting people. Identifying the researchers and people looking to have research done.
- Partnerships. Working together in collaboration with the ability to listen and compromise.
- Community involvement. Getting the information that is needed to the community coach and parent.
- Practical information. Make it relevant to people to that they can incorporate it into their programs.
- Identifying barriers. What stops people participate in sport? Capacity? Quality of experience? Non-inclusive programs?

It was a fast pace two hours of discussion resulting in fantastic ideas. Thanks to all that participated, your feedback was amazing.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

SIRC at the PHE /Ophea Conference

The Exhibit Hall at the Ophea/PHE Conference was bustling with activity last week. At the SIRC booth Brandie Adams and Michele Walker were onsite to answer questions. The SIRC Newsletters were a hot commodity. The latest issue was Physical Education and Physical Literacy containing fifteen full text articles. The newsletters change topics every few weeks and are a great way to keep up to date on topics. Previous newsletters have included, volunteering, sport parents, concussion and nutrition. They are great for everyone, especially if you are on the go and want to save time. Signing up for them is easy (and free).

Many other groups came up to talk with us as well so we were able to learn about many great programs that are going on including:

It was a fantastic time and we’re looking forward to blogging more about some of the things we learned.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Injury Risk for Female Athletes

We are all aware that women and men differ in general physiology, and it is easy to extrapolate that they differ in physiology in response to exercise and physical activity. While women are prone to many of the same exercise-related injuries, a recent article in the SIRC Collection draws our focus to the injury risks of women in exercise and athletics and the special concerns of the female athlete.

With the growing numbers of female participants in sport and exercise there is a corresponding incidence of injury to females. In a review of the literature the article observes that women have greater injury incidence due to differences in:
  • biomechanics (the most noticeable factor),
  • weakness in local musculature,
  • coordination and neuromuscular fatigue,
  • ligament and tendon properties,
  • increased flexibility (with corresponding greater joint laxity),
  • hormonal effects on connective tissue.

Injuries that are more common for women than men include:

  • musculoskeletal injuries
  • lower extremity injuries
  • ACL injuries
  • stress fractures

While there are treatments that address the specific needs of the female athlete, both men and women can benefit from the same preventive measures such as adequate stretching, appropriate warm-up and cool-down, sport-specific strengthening, and conditioning exercises. It is important however, to keep in mind the specific physiological differences when planning fitness and sporting activities.

Reference: Groeger Marlelena (2010). Injury Risks for the Female Athlete, ACSM’s health & fitness journal, 14(4), 14-21.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bone Health and Calcium

We’ve all heard from childhood that we should drink milk for healthy bones. Milk is one of the most common sources of calcium which is a vital ingredient in bone development and maintenance. Many people stray from consuming milk as they enter adulthood for a variety of reasons whether it is fat content, lactose issues or preferences for other beverages. While it is most commonly found in milk and dairy products such as yogurt and cheese, calcium can be found in alternative sources such as calcium-fortified soy milk and juices, as well as breakfast cereals, spinach, broccoli and almonds. However, you would need larger quantities of these products to achieve the recommended amount of calcium (10 cups of spinach; 3.5 cups of broccoli, about 88 almonds). Calcium supplements are also available and can help boost intake, they do not contain the protein found in milk or soy milk or the other nutrients they contain. It is also important to know that dairy sources of calcium also contain Vitamin D which enhances the absorption of calcium and is needed not only to protect bone health but also to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease; enhance immune function and reduce inflammation. Vitamin D is not readily available naturally in other foods. Active individuals and athletes are recommended to check with their health care provider to make sure that they have adequate Vitamin D levels.

Paying attention to bone health should be a life-long effort. Whether you have young developing bones or you are concerned about developing bone issues such as osteoporosis, bones require a matching life-long intake of calcium.

Reference from the SIRC Collection: Clark, Nancy (2009). Calcium concerns. Ultr-FIT, 19(8), 40-41.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Renewal Time … Is the Canadian Sport Policy working?

Folks from across Canada have been meeting to discuss the Canadian Sport Policy. In 2012, the ten year term of the current policy is ending. Should we continue as is? Should there be no Policy? Should we adopt Canadian Sport for Life? Do the current four pillars (Participation, Excellence, Capacity and Interaction) reflect Canadian society now? These are some of the questions the federal and provincial/territorial governments are now considering.

Sport Canada and the Sport Matters Group have been asking for thoughts from Canadians on the Policy. Here are some of the suggestions so far:

- Extending the vision of the Sport Policy to incorporate the social development aspects of sport such as community involvement, immigration, and education
- Adding Community Building as a fifth pillar
- Evaluate what is meant by ‘participation’ to incorporate unstructured and informal sport
- Incorporate the language of Canadian Sport 4 Life

Do you want to find out more? The summary of findings from the community engagement and the consultation process are available online as well as the reports from the working groups, consultation papers and more.

Read the documents and if you have thoughts now is the time to get them out there to be heard.