Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Healthy Holiday Eating

Tis the season of good cheer and holiday celebrations. Keeping your basic dietary and exercise lifestyle habits on track helps to combat that holiday weight gain. Research shows that one-off over-indulgences do not cause weight gain, rather the weight gain is induced by the gradual and sustained caloric increases or dietary habits that are developed as long term behaviours. So while it is fine to indulge in those holiday treats, it is also important to remember a few key tips to help avoid the holiday over-indulgences.

  • When faced with a holiday meal or those groaning buffet tables, remember portion control and selecting from a variety of food groups
  • Drink a large glass of water just before the holiday dinner, liquid helps you feel fuller faster
  • Use a smaller plate
  • Cover most of the plate with vegetables and salad
  • While turkey is one of the lean proteins, keep portion control in mind
  • Keep stuffing portions small
  • Avoid "candied" vegetables and starches
  • Instead of watching football, why not suggest an activity of your own
  • Instead of having full portions of desserts or sweets, make thoughtful selections and just indulge in a taste of each
  • Cut down on alcohol consumption, it is a fast way to add up calories
  • Offer to make lighter versions of traditional dishes as your contribution to the table
  • Remember to maintain your exercise routine
  • Don't let the season begin before it should and end way after it should, those are the beginnings of lifestyle habits
The holiday season is about spending time with family and friends. Focusing on the enjoyment of the companionship instead of the food is the best way to head off the holiday calories. After all that is the true meaning of the season.

References from the SIRC Collection:
  1. Burrell, S. (2012). Avoiding the Holiday Body Hangover. Bicycling Australia (173), p.90.
  2. Wuesthoff, S. (2011). 'Tis the season for holiday eating strategies. IDEA Fitness Journal, 8(10), p.56.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Winter Cycling

by Michelle Caron
Algonquin College Library Technician Student
SIRC Intern

Peering outside in the morning darkness when it’s cold and windy outside is enough to discourage even the most determined cyclists.  However, making the appropriate adjustments for the climate in the winter months can make cycling in the winter months both positive and enjoyable.

Be Prepared:
Most people who ride in the winter get the question “how do you stay warm?” But the issue is not how to stay warm, it’s how do you regulate your temperature once the body starts working hard? 

The key to this challenge is layering:
  • The first layer should be snug to your body and made of a material that moves moisture away from you, synthetics or wool are your best options.
  • The second layer is an insulator and should be a little looser on your body to trap the air and keep you warm. 
  • The third layer is to protect you from the elements.  It should be a zip-up with wind-blocking and water resistant capabilities.  Be prepared to dress up or dress down.
  • The most important to consider are the hands, feet and head since these can get cold the quickest.  Some items to check out would be lycra booties, polyester socks, wind stopper gloves and wool hats with ear guards.
Wear bright clothing, winter consists of shorter daylight hours and flying snow can make it difficult for others on the road to spot you.  Attaching lights to your bike are a good idea and can keep you safer. Every year there are new items of cycling gear on the market and a consumer should have no problem finding what they need to get started.

Road chemicals, salt, and sand can all deteriorate your bike quickly.  If you take 10-15 minutes to wipe down and lubricate your bike after each ride it can prevent corrosion and save you some money on repairs in the future.  Equipping your bike with studded tires helps with traction and increases control. 

Since it is cold outside, riders tend to forget to stay hydrated.  The reality is that biking is an aerobic activity, and with the added layers can actually make you feel warmer.   If temperatures are really cold, you can keep your water bottle next to your body to prevent the water from freezing.

For more tips on winter cycling safety, comfort and maintenance visit SIRC.

References from the SIRC Collection: 
  1. "Beat The Big Freeze." Cycling Weekly (2010): 38-41.
  2. Bridge, M., and M. Febbraio. "Training In Extreme Conditions." In Jeukendrup, A.E. (ed.), High-performance cycling, Champaign, Ill., Human Kinetics, c2002, p.43-55. United States: 2002.
  3. Michael N. Sawka, et al. "Glycerol Hyperhydration: Physiological Responses During Cold-Air Exposure." Journal Of Applied Physiology 99.2 (2005): 515-521.
  4. "Pulling Out The Winter Gear As The Temperature Drops." Cycling Weekly (2009): 33.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Feet First

Like most things in life, a strong and balanced foundation is crucial and this also applies to the human body. The solution to some of the body's most nagging ailments could quite simply be resolved by wearing the right type of shoes for your type of body and its mechanics.

Pronation is the term used to describe the normal motion of the foot when it strikes the ground during the gait cycle. Normal weight distribution travels from the lateral side of the heel (subtalar) to the medial (talocalcaneonavicular) side of the ball of the foot.  Knowing if one is an “over pronator" or "supinator” is valuable information in diagnosing other areas of injury, as well as choosing the correct footwear and/or foot supports.

Over pronation occurs when the feet roll inward excessively, creating a flat foot which can lead to a variety of injuries, especially in runners, including:
  • Achilles tendinitis
  • Anterior compartment syndrome
  • Bunions (Hallux valgus)
  • Patello-femoral pain syndrome
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Shin splints
  • Tarsal tunnel syndrome
For a supinator (under pronator), the foot will not roll far enough in a medial direction during the gait cycle, with excessive weight put on the baby toe (metatarsal) towards the lateral side of the foot, and therefore not allow the foot to provide efficient shock absorption. Extreme supination can lead to:
  • Ankle sprains
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Shin splints 
  • Stress fractures of the tibia, calcaneus and metatarsals
In both excessive cases of pronation, the wearing patterns on the soles of the shoes can say a lot about how your feet are striking the ground during gait. Depending on the severity of the correction required, the proper shoe or insole can straighten things out. There are also custom orthotics, specially fitted devices, that can be made for sports and dress shoes.

If the feet are out of line, so will everything else be. So don’t let misalignment create unnecessary wear and tear on the body.

For more information on biomechanics, please visit SIRC.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Can endurance athletes be vegetarians?

by Michelle Caron
Algonquin College Library Technician Student
SIRC Intern

All athletes want to be better, faster and stronger than their opponents. On race days, athletes need food that will give them the energy to get through to the end of the day. In order to accomplish this goal, the right combination of carbohydrates, proteins and fats are required. Endurance athletes need to consume more calories than the average person, so when an athlete makes the decision to become a vegetarian it can be a complicated move.

High performance comes with good health so many athletes have been exploring vegetarianism as a viable lifestyle change. There are various types of vegetarianism:
  • Vegan: This group excludes animal food and animal products. They eat only plant-based food. 
  • Lacto-Vegetarian: This is a pure plant diet that includes dairy products. 
  • Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian: Will not eat meat products but includes eggs and dairy 
  • Pesco-Vegetarian: Does not eat meat but includes fish. 
Comprehensive research is highly recommended so that athletes can make an informed decision before cutting meat out of their diet. Without that knowledge base, vegetarian diets have the potential to be unhealthy (saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, low protein, iron, zinc and calcium). That being said, vegetarian diets are able to support an athletes’ needs and with careful planning it can be done. Some tips to consider:
  • Prepare your meals at home 
  • Vary the foods you eat 
  • Make smart choices by monitoring protein intake 
  • Try to eat small, frequent, nutrient packed meals throughout the day to keep energy and blood levels stable
Nutrition deficiency can happen very easily when someone is going through intensive training. This can be avoided if you incorporate nutrient rich foods. Some staples to incorporate into your diet should include: 
  • Hummus 
  • Beans – kidney, black beans and lentils 
  • Nuts and nut butters – almond, cashew 
  • Brown rice 
  • Whole grains 
  • Fortified soy milk 
  • Seeds containing Omega 3 – flax, hemp, chia, sesame, pumpkin, sunflower 
  • Good iron sources – spinach, broccoli, oatmeal and fortified cereals 
  • Vitamin supplements 
If you feel you are out of your depth regarding nutrition and vitamin supplements, Dieticians of Canada is a wonderful resource that provides comprehensive information on healthy nutrition for athletes. It is possible to maintain a healthy, plant-based diet and still perform at higher levels if you educate yourself and ensure all your nutritional needs are met. 

For more information on vegetarianism and sport, please contact SIRC

References from the SIRC Collection: 
  1. Crosland, J. "The Athlete's Guide To Turning Vegetarian: More And More Athletes Are Turning Vegetarian. But It's Vital They Follow Some Simple Guidelines. Jeanette Crosland Suggests How It Should Be Tackled." The Coach (Peterborough, England) 4 (2001): 42-44. 
  2. Eberle, S.G. "Vegetarian Diets For Endurance Athletes." Strength & Conditioning Journal 26.4 (2004): 60- 61. Fuhrman, Joel, and Deana M. Ferreri. "Fueling The Vegetarian (Vegan) Athlete." Current Sports Medicine Reports 9.4 (2010): 233-341. 
  3. Nisevich, Pamela M. "Training Tips For Vegetarian Athletes." IDEA Fitness Journal 6.4 (2009): 56-58. 
  4. Seebohar, Bob. "VEGETARIAN EATING Life Style." Triathlon Life 10.4 (2007): 36. 
  5. Venderley, Angela M., and Wayne W. Campbell. "Vegetarian Diets: Nutritional Considerations For Athletes." Sports Medicine 36.4 (2006): 293-305.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dance for Fitness

The debate on the athleticism, physical requirements and benefits of dancing is finally being put to rest and the sport is gaining much deserved respect. Generally an aerobic exercise, regular sessions of dancing can bring well known health benefits, such as:

  • weight control
  • flexibility
  • strength
  • endurance
  • reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • a sense of psychological well-being
However, like any task done to the extreme, there are health risks that come with the demands of professional dancing, which can include:

  • Sport injuries
  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • Stress associated with a higher than average risk of eating disorders and body image
There are as many types of dance as there are running shoes. From ballet, hip hop and swing to belly, Latin and country western, there is a dance for everyone. So turn on a favourite type of music and dance like no one is watching getting fit in the process.

For more information on dance, please visit  SIRC.