Thursday, April 28, 2011

Active Kids ... It's No Coincidence!

Is it more than a coincidence that Active Healthy Kids Canada released the 2011 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth during the same week that Montreal is hosting the Canadian National Obesity Summit? If you grew up before the advent of technology, the thought that you or your children would only be getting 14 minutes of play time after school between 3pm and 6pm would seem simply unbelievable. But it’s shockingly true. The days of kids running around playing ‘kick the can’, pick-up basketball, or staying outside until called in for dinner, are long gone.

The Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth is the most comprehensive annual assessment of child and youth physical activity in Canada. The Report Card was released this week by Active Healthy Kids Canada and its strategic partners, ParticipACTION and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Research Institute – Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group (HALO).

Among the 23 grades assigned in the Report Card, key grades include:
  • “F” for Active Play
  • “D” for Active Transportation
  • “C-“ for Physical Education
  • “D+” for Family Physical Activity
  • “D-“ for Municipal Policies and Regulations
It is well documented that youth and teenagers who are involved in organized and supervised after-school activity programs are less likely to find themselves toying with the idea of experimenting with risky behaviours such as drugs and alcohol. While the physical benefits of exercise to the human body are obvious, less obvious is the fact that time spent outdoors playing lowers levels of:
  • anxiety
  • anger
  • fatigue
  • sadness
Parents and after-school caregivers play a paramount role in changing the habits of today’s youth and they should not be afraid to encourage children to engage in fun physical activity, and restrict television viewing, computer games and the like.

Contact SIRC for more information on physical activity for children and youth!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Eat The Rainbow For the Good Life Recipe

Variety really is the ‘spice’ of life and nowhere is that more important than with what you decide to put into your body. Of the main food groups – vegetable/fruit, grain, dairy, meat – you can have a lot of fun with how you consume the veggie and fruit collection! No matter the cultural background that provides the foundation of your food consumption choices, eating the colours of the rainbow, will contribute a great basis to a healthy eating menu.

Eating by the colours of the rainbow is fundamentally important to your well-being. There has to be a reason that only in nature can you find such vibrant colours:
  • Red: raspberries, beets, tomatoes, strawberries, apples, watermelon
  • Orange: oranges, sweet potatoes, carrots,
  • Yellow: squash, bananas, peppers, corn
  • Green: spinach, broccoli, cucumbers, avocados
  • Blue: blueberries
  • Purple: grapes, cabbage
Canada’s Food Guide provides the recommended number of Food Guide Servings chart showing how much food you need from each of the four food groups, including veggies and fruit, every day. While it is important to focus on your individual needs (and preferences) to maintain, improve and have optimal health, the occasional fall from food grace will not destroy your healthy eating choices as long as it’s all done in moderation.

Food is the fuel that makes the tank go efficiently, just like driving a nice car! Since such pleasure is derived from eating, it is important to have fun with food, and know that you are providing the best source of fuel for the greatest machine on earth – the human body.

So eat the rainbow, mix in a dose of exercise, fresh air and sunshine and you’ve got a recipe for an optimal life.

For more information on nutrition in sport and physical activity contact SIRC!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Play Safe Initiative (PSI)

Last week in Toronto, SIRC attended a Sport4Ontario hosted presentation by Brandy Tanenbaum from the Play Safe Initiative (PSI) with the RBC First Office for Injury Prevention at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (Sunnybrook RBC-FOIP). As a member of the collaborative Stewardship Group involved with PSI, SIRC has come together with organizations of all sizes and shapes, to commit to understanding and preventing injury in sport and recreational activities through research, education and collaboration.

Following the Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport’s (MHPS) lead in promoting the benefits of physical activity, there must also be a lead in injury prevention. While sports injuries are nothing new to those that participate in motor activities, there is now an urgent call from government and non-government organizations concerned about the significant personal, social and economic burden of acute and chronic injuries sustained by Ontarians as a result of participation in sport and physical activity.

The objectives of the Play Safe Initiative are:
  • To collaborate by establishing a partnership of organizations committed to pursuing the objective of safe and healthy physical activity in Ontario.
  • To learn by creating an injury surveillance system that is a secured web-based database that will enable comprehensive data collection, data storage, data processing, and reporting of results aptly named WISE™(Web-enabled Injury Surveillance Enterprise) and that can deliver timely information about injury prevention and injury treatment, and identifies resources for key stakeholders. In 2010, meetings with researchers from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, were paramount in producing the emerging technology and project development for the WISE system.
  • To understand the facilitators and barriers of injury data sharing for key stakeholders
For the past 35 years, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto has been home to Canada's first and largest trauma centre, and is currently well positioned to help bring together, through their Play Safe Initiative, the various sectors and leaders to address the issue of injury in sport, recreation and physical activity.

For more information on sport injury and injury prevention contact SIRC!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I'm Sorry ... What Did You Say?

How well do you communicate with others? Yes - you are talking to someone, but are they really hearing and understanding what you are saying? And are you really listening to what they are saying? HOW you deliver your message is just as important as WHAT you are trying to say.

SIRC recently attended an insightful interactive workshop hosted by Sport 4 Ontario in Toronto called “Communicate and Connect in 90 Seconds or Less” with guest facilitator Corey McCusker from “Your Mind Matters.”

The objective of the one hour workshop was to identify communication preferences in each of us and to remind people why it is important to ‘connect’ when building strong relationships. Connecting is really established in the first 90 seconds or less, while much of how others listen to you is done at the sub-conscious level. The major elements of rapport between individuals can be broken down surprisingly enough into the following categories: 55% representing physiological responses, 38% representing tonality and, actual words only representing 7%.

A ‘Preference Test’ was administered to each participant at the beginning of the workshop to determine the “Communication Preference Characteristics” in each person, and what type of communicators and listeners they represent.

The types are:
  • Visual: Memorize by seeing pictures and are less distracted by noise. APPEARANCE is important.
  • Auditory: Typically are distracted by noise. Learn by repetitive listening. Like to HEAR how they are doing.
  • Kinesthetic: Often talk slowly. Respond to physical rewards and touching. Memorize by doing or walking through something. FEELS right or gives them a GUT feeling.
  • Auditory Digital: Spend a fair amount of time talking to themselves. Memorize by steps, procedures and sequences. Program has to MAKE SENSE.
Every one of us could have a combination of each of these communication preferences so it is important:
  • to know your audience,
  • to learn how people perceive communication,
  • to understand their preferences and,
  • to have simple techniques to build instant rapport with others!
For more information on communication in sport contact SIRC!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Whose Heart Will Break This Year?

On Monday, April 18, 2011, the Boston Marathon, one the world's oldest annual marathons and ranked one of the world's best-known road racing events, will be held. Recognized as one of five world marathon majors on the planet, the Boston Marathon is always held on Patriot’s Day in the USA – the 3rd Monday of April.

The marathon course runs through 42.195 km (26.22 miles) of winding Massachusetts roads, but no place is more sacred than the legendary “Heartbreak Hill” – the last hill of the race. It rises only 27m (88 vertical feet) over a 600 m (1968.5 feet) ascent of the course but “Heartbreak Hill” is positioned at a point on the marathon route (between miles 20-21 / 34-35 km) where muscle glycogen stores are likely depleted and marathoners are "hitting the wall". The nickname "Heartbreak Hill" originated in the 1936 race when defending champion John Kelley was passed by Tarzan Brown at this point, ultimately going on to win the race, and a Boston Globe reporter wrote that this move and the bitter defeat was “breaking Kelley’s heart.”

But once at the summit of “Heartbreak Hill” a marathoner can see the Prudential Tower and the cheering Boston College students, and then they are rewarded with a 800 m (1/2 mile) decline to ease and assist with breathing recovery and the abuse just put on the energy system and legs.

So, whose heart will be broken at this year’s Boston Marathon, on Heartbreak Hill on Commonwealth Avenue in Newton, Massachusetts and who's heart will swell with the pride of accomplishment?

For more information on marathons and training contact SIRC!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Is There An App For That?

Well, there sure is! It doesn’t matter what information you need access to, or what activity you want to track, there must be an App(lication) for that. And if you own an iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, iPod Touch, Android or Mac, you are already probably a convert to the App world. We are now able to do things that were thought impossible even a decade ago.

But believe it or not many people have yet to jump on the App bandwagon. Now there is fitness at your finger tips. So if you want to take a first step towards a fitness application, MapMyFitness may help you, as they have one of the fastest growing online fitness-oriented social networks and training applications out there. Millions of runners, walkers, hikers and cyclists use their online training tools.

MapMyFitness actually has a suite of websites including,,,,, and – something for everyone! Among other things, you can map your route and track your results just for yourself or compare them with your friends. The good thing is that you don’t have to be an elite athlete or be into serious recreational activities in order to use the functions. If you move, you can use it! Maybe all you want to know is how far you walked the dog each night or the route you and your kids took on your bike ride. A very unique idea to getting someone motivated towards some fitness goals is in the MapMyWalk app that has designed a few challenges for spring, where you can complete your goal over a specified period of time, such as walking a marathon in 30 days. What a great idea!

Of course, depending on your needs, there are many other popular Apps to consider. Here is just a small sampling.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spring Training

Spring is always that time of year of hope and excitement, and all the joys of summer sport come flooding back. As we look forward to the days of trail or road running, golf, tennis, biking, and team sports like soccer, football, baseball and lacrosse, we need to be careful and remember that getting back into these activities will start working those muscles that may have become dormant with our winter training routines. Preparing our muscles for these movements will help us slide right back into our summer sports safely while increasing enjoyment. Here are two concepts to think about when creating your spring training schedule: Strength training and Yoga for sport.

Strength Training:
  • While being accepted as a part of a well-planned workout schedule, it is important that we plan for training that is transferable to our sports. Traditional weightlifting develops stronger muscle, however plan to exercise your stabilizing muscles that help in joint movement, balance, and provide the body with needed leverage.
  • You want to train movement, not just your muscles. Sport creates a need for the body to use force coming from several different muscles and joints. You want to plan exercises that use multi-joint movements that feed to your sport demands.
  • Multi-directional movement will help the body to build the stability for sport that creates force in varied angles and motions. When we think about trail running, as in any sport, we realize that not all motion is equal. Developing strength in a range of motion will help to compensate for the unknowns that are thrown at us in sport.
Yoga for Sport:
  • What we first think of when it comes to yoga is developing flexibility. However, after a few studies, flexibility is not the only benefit. Other benefits include increased stride length, decrease in muscle discomfort, improved unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation, stronger core, and mental benefits. Adding yoga to spring training will help decrease your chance of injury as we move winter sport into summer sport.

Reference from the SIRC collection:
Twist, Peter. (2008). Training Transition for Spring Sports and Recreation. Fitness Informer, Spring/Summer 2008, 18-19.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Preparing for Race Season

Now that spring has sprung, race season is right around the corner. The race you signed up for over the winter, and you may or may not have started training for, is quickly approaching. So how do you prepare yourself?

Whether or not you plan on being competitive or just using the race as encouragement to get active this spring, training is essential to make the experience fun and help prevent injury. Everyone has their own preferences. Keep these in mind as you create your training schedule.

Can’t make up your mind about how to train, here are some things to think about to help make up your mind:

Group Training
  • This type of training can be using for those who are slow to get out of bed and need the encouragement to get going for those early morning runs.
  • Provides accountability.
  • Provides training partners and a social atmosphere to discuss your running habits
  • Provides a support group.
  • Often fees can be costly
  • May not fit your schedule
  • Often responsible for training outside of the group
Training on your own
  • Easier to tailor to your already busy schedule
  • Can adapt your schedule based on recovery
  • Can decide on a program that best suits your fitness and lifestyle
  • Online Tools
  • Almost no cost
  • No social support group
  • You are only accountable to yourself
  • Coaching not provided
Check out these websites to help with your training:
Runner’s World Smart Coach
Hal Higdon’s Website (author of Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide)
Run Injury Free with Jeff Galloway
Marathon Performance

Reference from the SIRC collection:
Heintz, Anna. (2010). Choosing the Perfect Marathon Training Program. Marathon & Beyond, 14(1), Jan/Feb 2010, 44-55.