Thursday, January 31, 2013

Let kids play!

Most experts agree that Canadian children need to increase their physical activity. We also know that organized sport can help achieve that.  However, concentrating on one sport or putting too much focus on winning may lead to kids dropping out of sport altogether.

A recent survey has shown that the main reason that kids drop out of sport is that they just aren't having fun anymore. While competition definitely has its place, a lot of children may feel unwanted pressure to perform rather than the working on skill development or just enjoying themselves.

Unstructured game time or an increased focus on practice time instead of competition is important in order for a child to:
  • Create their own passion for their sport
  • Transfer what they are learning into a game
  • Prevent boredom and/or burnout
  • Give them an opportunity to explore other sports and harness other skills
  • Allow them to be social and have fun 

Set realistic expectations for young ones; the opportunity to dribble, pass, or shoot is way more appealing than sitting on the bench or standing in the outfield waiting for the ball to come you. Create skills challenges or mini-games and work them into your practice. Remember to offer encouragement and support if a player doesn't quite get the skill you are trying to teach.

Young children need a positive environment where players can learn the game at their own pace. Focusing on skill development and adding in the fun could make the biggest difference for a child forming a lifelong passion for sport.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Average Canadian kid gets about 8½ hours of screen time a day. Active Living. May 2012;21(3):26.
2. Aylward L. Let the Kids Play. Golfdom. November 2006;62(11):24-31.
3. Barrell M. When Can I Play Again? Getting Kids' Competition Right!. Australian Tennis Magazine: Asia & The Pacific. October 2011;36(10):60.
4. Howe B. Let the kids play...the top reasons why kids drop out of soccer. Down-The-Line. 2001;(4)
5. Melville S. Will kids be kids? Is play something that children do, or is it now something that must be provided for them?. Leisure Manager. August 1997;15(4):35-36.
6. Weinerth J. 4 v. 4: more passes, more fun. Survey shows involvement of players is far greater in small-sided games. Soccer Journal. January 2004;49(1):29-30.
7. Young C. The Importance of Putting the Fun Back In to Youth Sports. ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal. November 2012;16(6):39-40.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Never underestimate the power of a good walk

Walking is one of the least expensive and most accessible forms of physical exercise. It can be adopted by people of all ages and abilities, requires no training and is a great benefit to your health. 

Walking isn't an exercise that leads to many injuries, although it's still a good idea to  equip yourself with proper fitting shoes and loose comfortable clothes. Whatever the weather conditions be sure to bring a water bottle so you can keep your body hydrated.

Start slow and grab a buddy

To begin, keep your pace a bit slower than normal to allow your muscles to warm up. Try to add some variation in your walk, if you are on a treadmill change up the incline and pace, if you are outside, climb some hills or stairs to challenge your body. Walking by yourself can be great, but you may be able to remain consistent with your walks if you include a friend or co-worker. Skipping out on exercise is harder if you have someone waiting for you outside.

I already exercise, why should I add walking into my schedule?
  • It allows the body to make small changes that strengthen your feet, knees and hips
  • Long, brisk walks can boost endurance
  • Walking as a form of cross-training gives your joints and muscles a break
  • It can aid in recovery from endurance exercise
  • Burns body fat, engages ab muscles, builds bone mass, 
  • Facilitates relaxation, improves mood, and reduces stress and fatigue
  • It can improve sleep quality, increase energy levels, reduce symptoms of anxiety, and improve cognitive function
Studies have also shown that adding just 30 minutes of walking a day reduces the risk of lung disease, osteoporosis, cardiovascular problems and obesity.  Making walking part of your everyday routine can be easy if you take the time to make it a priority and recognize that exercising regularly is essential for maintaining a healthy, happy lifestyle.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Crust L, Keegan R, Piggott D, Swann C. Walking the Walk: A Phenomenological Study of Long Distance Walking. Journal Of Applied Sport Psychology. July 2011;23(3):243-262.
2. Doyle-Baker P. Mall Walking: A New Strategy for Physical Activity Among Older Adults. Wellspring. February 2007;18(1):2-4.
3. Halvorson R. Join or Start a Walking Club. IDEA Fitness Journal. April 2012;9(4):14.
4. Have a Walking Lunch. Running & Fitnews. May 2012;30(3):15-18.
5. Lipsey D. An Inadvertent, Early Testimonial to the Benefits of Walking. Marathon & Beyond. July 2009;13(4):14-16.
6. Sugiyama T, Francis J, Middleton N, Owen N, Giles-Corti B. Associations Between Recreational Walking and Attractiveness, Size, and Proximity of Neighborhood Open Spaces. American Journal Of Public Health. September 2010;100(9):1752-1757.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sport for Life

SIRC Newsletter now available online: Sport for Life

Participation in sport and physical activity is extremely important for the development and the health of your child. We all know this, yet obesity rates are climbing and children spend more time in front of screens than they ever have before. For this and many other reasons, SIRC supports the sport for life movement and its principles for Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD), fundamental movement and physical literacy. Sport and physical activity is meant to be fun and enjoyable for all ages. With the Canadian Sport for Life (CS4L) summit taking place from January 30-31, this newsletter will be focusing on different aspects of sport for life in support of this organization.

Read more:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Gettin' Down and Dirty with Obstacle Racing

Obstacle racing which has exploded in popularity since 2009, requires participants to navigate various obstacles, such as fences, mud pits, and climbing nets, that have to be overcome in order to complete the race. When Tough Mudder launched in 2010 it attracted 20,000 participants in the US, and had Canadians jumping on board with 35,000 participants last year. Many Canadians are also familiar with the Spartan race that also keeps growing in numbers.

These races are not a walk in the park and injuries do occur. Usually it's just scrapes and bruises, but there have been some serious injuries. So why do people keep coming back?
  • Many want to try something different; they enjoy the diversity of the activities
  • Not a competition (depends on the host)
  • Enjoy the physical strength and mental challenges
  • Teamwork; camaraderie
  • Increased focus and concentration to complete the activity
  • Fundraising
  • It's exciting, some may find singular activities monotonous
First of all, most courses are designed with a team in mind, meaning you can't get through them without someone giving you a helping hand. Anyone can sign up, regardless of your fitness level, although preparing a bit for an upcoming race would probably be a good idea. Ages vary with most participants being in their 20s or 30s and mainly consists of men, but the number of female participants is growing.

Obstacle course training is a highly effective method of developing a diverse set of skills and abilities. It offers a variety of activities for participants to challenge themselves physically and psychologically and adds a sense of pride, accomplishment and camaraderie with the other athletes when you finish the race.

If you feel you are up to the challenge, Tough Mudder will be hosting events in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal this year and the Spartan Races will be held in multiple cities across Canada. If you have never participated in one of these races before, it's a good idea consult your doctor when starting any new vigorous exercise program.

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Get Your Mud On. Runner's World. October 2011;46(10):100.
2. Mellen G. Getting Dirty for Good, Clean Fun. Sportstravel. April 2012;16(4):45-52.
3. MUD RACING GOES MARTIAL. Black Belt. August 2012;50(8):22.
4. Mullins N. Obstacle Course Challenges: History, Popularity, Performance Demands, Effective Training, and Course Design. Journal Of Exercise Physiology Online. April 2012;15(2):100-128.
5. RADDING B, OLIVERO T. GET IN THE RACE. Men's Fitness. October 2011;27(8):36.
6. Schaefer K. ONE TOUGH MUDDER. ESPN Magazine. June 27, 2011;14(11):114-119.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Maintaining Motivation

Some of you may have started running, cycling, or joined a class within the last year and have found that your exercise has become a "must do" rather than something you look forward to.  Whatever you do, sometimes it can be good to remind yourself of what motivated you started your training in the first place.

Seek out new experiences - With any activity you perform day in and day out, the repetition can make it hard to stick to your training.  If you run or cycle, try a different route, find a new group of people to exercise with, or try a new activity entirely. Sometimes all we need to find our motivation again is a little change in scenery.

Start small - If you are just starting or thinking about exercise, the first step is to put on your running shoes. We tend to have an all or nothing approach, especially this time of year when people are still trying to maintain their new year resolutions. Give yourself attainable goals, schedule the training into your routine and build slowly.

Remind yourself of the benefits - Exercise is excellent for your physical, psychological and social well-being that has the added benefit of helping you get fit and depending on the activity, usually gets you outside to enjoy the great outdoors. Think about what aspect of exercise you benefit from the most and use it as a motivator to get yourself moving.

Commit yourself to your training goals - Once you let yourself fall out of focus, it gets more difficult as time goes on to keep pushing yourself out of the house.  Commit yourself to an exercise regimen and you might be surprised at what you can accomplish.

Even elite athletes can struggle with maintaining motivation, keep in mind that being creative, starting small and committing yourself to a healthier lifestyle all can work together to help keep you on track.

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Barney D, Gust A, Liguori G. College Students' Usage of Personal Music Players (PMP) During Exercise. ICHPER -- SD Journal Of Research In Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sport & Dance. Summer2012 2012;7(1):23-26.
2. Gallagher K, Updegraff J. When 'fit' leads to fit, and when 'fit' leads to fat: How message framing and intrinsic vs. extrinsic exercise outcomes interact in promoting physical activity. Psychology & Health. July 2011;26(7):819-834.
3. Lewis M, Sutton A. Understanding Exercise Behaviour: Examining the Interaction of Exercise 
4. MOTIVATION BOOSTERS FOR EXERCISE. American Fitness. November 2012;30(6):5.
Motivation and Personality in Predicting Exercise Frequency. Journal Of Sport Behavior. March 2011;34(1):82-97.
5. LOUW A, VAN BILJON A, MUGANDANI S. Exercise motivation and barriers among men and women of different age groups. African Journal For Physical, Health Education, Recreation & Dance. December 2, 2012;18(4):759-768.
6. Walsh A. SeIf-Determination Theory: A Key to Motivation. IDEA Fitness Journal. October 2011;8(9):78-80. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Reaching the limit

The training loads for an elite athlete can be taxing, to say the least.  Work too little and you won't get the results you want, work too hard and there is chance something will break.  It's difficult to understand how the body can cope with the kind of mass training that we demand of it. So the question becomes: 

How do you know where the line is?
  • Listen to your body - Obviously you cannot stop training for every ache or pain that manifests itself, but you can be aware of when pain is "acceptable" and when to seek medical help.
  • Understand how long it takes for your body to adapt to greater training loads.  Basic strength changes in one area of the body take a minimum of six weeks, tightness in the tendons and connective tissue takes three months, and bone can take six to twelve months to fully adapt.
  • Know the symptoms of overtraining or burnout - Extreme tiredness on a regular basis, diminished or no motivation, negative or cynical attitude towards your sport, increased pain in the joints or limbs, weakened immune system, among others.
What can I do to prevent overtraining?
  • Let yourself know it's OK to take breaks, you will see better results if you allow your body to recover.
  • Cross train - Include some easy workouts in your training, varying your training also helps to prevent overuse injuries.
  • Get adequate sleep - This is big one, many elite athletes have early starts and busy schedules so it can be easy to convince yourself that losing a few hours of sleep doesn't make much of a difference.  In fact, just two days of inadequate sleep can affect performance, motivation, focus and energy levels.
There are many talented athletes who, in order to make themselves better, push their bodies too hard and end up in a cycle of injury and frustration.  With large training loads, injury is almost inevitable, but knowing your body and knowing what to look for is a step in the right direction for injury prevention.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Bales J, Bales K. Training on a Knife's Edge: How to Balance Triathlon Training to Prevent Overuse Injuries. Sports Medicine & Arthroscopy Review. December 2012;20(4):214-216.
2. Kellmann M. Preventing overtraining in athletes in high-intensity sports and stress/recovery monitoring. Scandinavian Journal Of Medicine & Science In Sports. October 2, 2010;20:95-102.
3. Lemyre P, Roberts G, Stray-Gundersen J. Motivation, overtraining, and burnout: Can self-determined motivation predict overtraining and burnout in elite athletes?. European Journal Of Sport Science. June 2007;7(2):115-126.
4. McKune A, Semple S, Peters-Futre E. ACUTE EXERCISE-INDUCED MUSCLE INJURY. Biology Of Sport. March 2012;29(1):3-10.
5. Overtraining. Cross Connections. August 2011;:7.
6. Wallden M. The Yin & Yang of rehabilitation & performance. Journal Of Bodywork & Movement Therapies. April 2012;16(2):258-264.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Can sleep loss contribute to weight gain?

It is well known that if we don't get enough sleep we have difficulty thinking and focusing clearly, we are irritable and may have trouble finishing tasks.  It can be easy to think that a few hours of sleep loss isn't a big deal, but over the long-term the cumulative sleep debt may cause some health issues in the future.  Current research now shows that sleep deprivation may also be linked to obesity. 

Sleep deprivation affects:

Glucose and Insulin levels - After only three nights of inadequate sleep, the body becomes less sensitive to insulin; this means that the body needs more insulin to dispose of the same amount of glucose.  An inability to regulate glucose and insulin levels leads to insulin sensitivity, which in turn increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Appetite control - A recent study found that two consecutive nights of four hours of sleep or less results in a 30% greater desire for calorie-dense foods like cake and potatoes.

Caloric intake - With the greater desire for high calorie food comes an increase in calorie consumption, by as much as 350-550 kcal/day.

Energy levels -This is an obvious set-back, we all feel groggy if we have a bad night's sleep; however, a decrease in energy also lowers your motivation to get the physical activity you need to stay fit and healthy.

How can you tell if you are sleep deprived?
  • Chronic sleepiness
  • Nearly-instant state of sleep when you go to bed
  • Inability to think clearly - decision-making, problems finding the right words, trouble with problem-solving
  • Lack of physical stamina
  • Frequent naps or an over-reliance on your alarm clock to get you out of bed
There are many benefits to getting a good night's sleep, not only will it keep you fresh, focused and motivated to tackle the day, it also reduces the likelihood of weight gain and the risk of diabetes.

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Kravitz L. Chronic Sleep Restriction Is a Risk Factor for Obesity. IDEA Fitness Journal. September 2010;7(8):21-23.
2. Less sleep = more fat. Active Living. September 2009;18(5):30.
3. Meyer K, Wall M, Larson N, Laska M, Neumark-Sztainer D. Sleep Duration and BMI in a Sample of Young Adults. Obesity. June 2012;20(6):1279-1287.
4. MONROE M. It's all in the Brain: Unlocking the Secrets of Overeating With Neuroscience. IDEA Fitness Journal. November 2011;8(10):38-46.
5. Sleep Duration May Play Important Role in Childhood Role in Childhood Obesity. O&P Business News. March 2008;17(5):86-88.
6. Trenell M, Marshall N, Rogers N. SLEEP AND METABOLIC CONTROL: WAKING TO A PROBLEM?. Clinical & Experimental Pharmacology & Physiology. January 2007;34(1/2):1-9.
7. Watenpaugh D. The Role of Sleep Dysfunction in Physical Inactivity and its Relationship to Obesity. Current Sports Medicine Reports (American College Of Sports Medicine). November 2009;8(6):331-338.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Confidence for Competition

Having confidence is the key to achieving many great things - whether it's on the field or off of it. Highly confident athletes have the ability to focus on the task at hand and execute it, all while under intense competition pressure.  Although some athletes have a natural "knack" for this, there is an element of control required that anyone can learn to increase their self-confidence.

Below are some strategies that can be employed to help you on your way:

1. Realize that confidence requires effort and is not a gift - Most athletes don't feel that gaining confidence is something that they can actively work toward achieving.  Make building confidence a daily discipline.

2. Know your strengths - The last few weeks before a major event is when doubt and worry can creep up on you, so remind yourself how good you are.  Have a list of your best attributes written down and/or imagine some of your best performances. Remind yourself that you have done it before and can do it again.

3. Focus on the positive - If you do something well, don't be afraid to compliment yourself on it. Believe you are awesome!

4. Talk nicely to yourself - Taming that voice in your head can be the most difficult and also the most crucial element in how your feel about life and obtaining confidence. Incorporate self-talk into your training sessions so that when the pressure is on, you'll have the mental strength needed to get through low points.

5. Surround yourself with positive people - This part is easy, try to have people around you that build you up and only want the best for you.

Psychological strategies can play a huge part in an athlete's success, adopting training programs that improve mental skills adds an extra advantage for the athlete trying to cope with the added pressure that competing can bring.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Covassin T, Pero S. The relationship between self-confidence, mood state, and anxiety among collegiate tennis players. Journal Of Sport Behavior. September 2004;27(3):230-242.
2. Hays K, Thomas O, Maynard I, Bawden M. The role of confidence in world-class sport performance. Journal Of Sports Sciences. September 2009;27(11):1185-1199.
3. INDIVIDUALIZED CONFIDENCE: Let elite athletes guide your self-confidence enhancement. Journal Of Pure Power. January 2010;5(1):65-71.
4. Koehn S. Pre-Performance Confidence as a Predictor of Flow State. Medicine & Science In Tennis. February 2012;17(1):16-21.
5. Levy A, Nicholls A, Polman R. Pre-competitive confidence, coping, and subjective performance in sport. Scandinavian Journal Of Medicine & Science In Sports. October 2011;21(5):721-729.
6. McCann S. What to do before hitting the road: Three key tasks while preparing for the "Big One". Olympic Coach. Summer2008 2008;20(3):20-21.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2012 - A Year in Review

SIRC Newsletter now available online: 2012 - A Year in Review

The beginning of a new year is a great time to look back and see all we have accomplished and most importantly, what knowledge we have shared with the sport community. The year 2012 was an exciting time for SIRC as the country supported the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic teams by cheering on our athletes at the London Olympic Games. The Canadian sport community participated in and witnessed the launch of the new Canadian Sport Policy 2012 and SIRC continued with our popular Sport Governance Webinars, our Governance Portal as well as announcing our SIRC Research Award winners.

Read more:

Nutrition Strategies for Young Athletes

Young athletes need plenty of energy. They need it to grow, to play and to compete.  When it comes to active children or teenagers, it can be easy to skimp on nutrition - we all lead busy lives and snacks, high sugar drinks and fast food are usually quick grab-and-go items. Whole grains, dairy, lean meats and fresh fruits are what the body needs to be at its best.

Carbohydrates - Good quality carbohydrates such as, whole grain, high fibre breads, breakfast cereals, and snack foods are essential in providing vitamins, minerals and extra fibre for the body. Combining a whole grain, low GI carbohydrate such as grain bread, crackers or cereal with protein from lean meat, nuts dairy or fish will help to regulate your kids' energy levels.

Picking the right snack foods - To some parents, this may seem a little daunting, with so many products out there making various health claims how do you decide what to give your child? Look for options that contain positive nutritional properties, such as protein, fibre and iron.  Good options include yoghurt, cheese and crackers, homemade muffins or snack bars, roasted or plain nuts and flavoured milk.

Hydration - Water should be the drink of choice for all of us, not just our children.  Sports drinks, vitamin water and energy drinks all have a high sugar content and generally are not recommended for children.  Fruit juice is also high in sugar and should not be consumed more than once a day.

Treats - There is nothing wrong with enjoying an occasional treat, whether it's a popsicle on a hot day, a bit of chocolate or even grabbing that fast food meal.  The trouble is that currently, children get all of these treats on a frequent basis.  Set aside some 'treat days' for your family so you can all enjoy a little indulgence plus getting the added benefit of teaching your child how to regulate their food intake.

It's important that a young athlete to eat healthy, doing so helps them increase their stamina, energy and overall health. Careful attention to a young person's nutritional needs is also a great start to establishing a lifetime of healthy eating.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Astrup A. Dietary strategies for weight management--the importance of carbohydrates. Australian Journal Of Nutrition & Dietetics. March 2, 2001;58(1):S9-S12.
2. Bar-Or O. Nutritional Considerations for the Child Athlete. Canadian Journal Of Applied Physiology. December 2, 2001;26:S186-S191.
3. Griffin J. NUTRITION FOR THE SERIOUS YOUNG ATHLETE -- THE PRACTICAL APPROACH. Sportex Dynamics. July 2007;(13):7-10.
4. Meyer F, O'Connor H, Shirreffs S. Nutrition for the young athlete. Journal Of Sports Sciences. December 2, 2007;25:73-82.
5. Patel A, Hampton K. Encouraging Consumption of Water in School and Child Care Settings: Access, Challenges, and Strategies for Improvement. American Journal Of Public Health. August 2011;101(8):1370-1379.
6. Rowland T. Fluid Replacement Requirements for Child Athletes. Sports Medicine. April 2011;41(4):279-288.
7. Sports Nutrition for Young Athletes. IDEA Fitness Journal. October 2008;5(9):95.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Top 5 Fitness Trends for 2013

With a new year just beginning and all the holiday celebrations coming to an end, many of us are probably looking forward to getting back to or starting a new fitness routine.  The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and Goodlife Fitness each survey fitness professionals to gauge what they feel will be the top fitness trends of the new year.

Looking over both reports, we've found where they coincide and have created a top 5 list for you.  

1. Educated and experienced fitness professionals - this is fast growing industry where clients are expecting more bang for their buckMany fitness professionals are now required to have a bachelor's degree in a wellness/exercise related field, have multiple certifications, and a wealth of experience through credible organizations. 

2. Small group training - with a lot of people trying to stretch their budget, many are opting for a group personal training experience.  Depending on the club or gym you belong to, many offer discounts to those wishing to experience exercising in a group setting. 

3. Body weight training - this is the big surprise of this year's listBody weight training is not a new concept and involves exercise that uses your own body weight to provide the resistance usually reserved for free weights or other equipment.

4. Core training - currently there isn't a fitness program available that does not include core training in some form.  Core training exercises obviously give you an attractive tummy, but also have the added benefit of improving your posture and balance, and decreases back pain

5. Fitness classes for older adults - this market is also growing fast with aging baby boomers wanting to remain healthy as they get older.  People over 55 now represent nearly a quarter of health club memberships so expect to see your gym offering up new classes for this age bracket.

New year's resolutions are fun, but the the best way to ensure you stick to your fitness goals is by incorporating exercise into the rest of your life by setting realistic goals and schedules.  For any of you wanting to take advantage of these new trends for 2013, it's good to note that there are many exciting opportunities to do so.
References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Body Weight Training: Emerging Trend in Annual ACSM Fitness Survey. Fitness Business Canada. November 2012;13(6):12.
2. Herek M. Boom time: the health and fitness segment is blasting off as Baby Boomers seek to get fit. Sgb. July 2002;35(7):48;50;52-54.
3. Milner C. 10 trends that are changing the face of the fitness industry. Active Living. September 2012;21(5):18-19.
4. Swan J, Friis R, Turner K. Getting Tougher for the Fourth Quarter: Boomers and Physical Activity. Journal Of Aging & Physical Activity. July 2008;16(3):261-279.
5. Thompson W. WORLDWIDE SURVEY OF FITNESS TRENDS FOR 2012. ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal. November 2011;15(6):9-18.
6. Thompson W. WORLDWIDE SURVEY OF FITNESS TRENDS FOR 2013. ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal. November 2012;16(6):8-17.
7. Twist P. DISCOVER BODY WEIGHT TRAINING. Fitness Business Canada. March 2010;11(2):32-35.