Going to the chiropractor can help relieve pain and prevent injuries, but being active is also a great way to help keep your spine healthy. Just going for a brisk 10 minute walk each day is enough to help improve your health and prevent conditions of the spine, joints and supporting structures of the body. But there are also a few other recreational activities that you can incorporate into your daily routine to prevent back pain and reduce stress.
Here are a few suggestions and why you may benefit from them:
Yoga and Pilates:
Yoga and Pilates are forms of exercise that typically focus on moving the body while focusing on breathing and body awareness. The poses are purposeful and usually work a few areas of the body at once, including the back and leg muscles to build a stronger foundation for other movements. Also, the poses often focus on balance which can be important to prevent falls and injuries as we age. Compared to higher impact activities that cause added strain to the body, Yoga and Pilates are known to be ‘safe’ for healthy and even injured individuals. Yet, with most practices being keenly aware of your body is important and adapting movement to your skill level. However, regular practice has been shown to decrease back pain1. The great thing about Yoga and Pilates is that there are several types of classes catered to your specific skill and comfort level.
Aquafitness is a dynamic, low impact activity that usually involves the entire body in movement, including the abdominals, gluteal, and leg muscles. Since the movements are done in water, the water adds extra resistance to strengthen muscles but also minimizes impact on your joints. Aquafitness has been shown to be an effective management tool for those suffering from certain MSK injuries allowing them to keep active. Notably, people suffering from low back pain2 may particularly benefit from aquafitness or gently swimming in water. Contact your local community centre or gym to see if aquafitness is part of their regular programming.
This Chinese martial art focuses on meditative, deep breathing combined with methodical practice of slow movement enhancing mobility and balance among those who practice the art. Tai Chi is known to have major health benefits – even for those with back pain. Tai Chi can improve pain and function, while decreasing likelihood of chronic pain. It is a safe and effective activity for those experiencing long-term back pain symptoms3.
Other activities you may want to consider are low-impact cardiovascular exercises such as walking or striding on the elliptical machine. There are always alternatives to staying active, even when you experience pain. Some of these can even help relieve the pain.
If you’re looking for ways to stay active and relieve pain, meet with our team to discuss more options.
Sourced from CCA
1Sherman K, Cherkin D, Wellman R, Cook A, Hawkes R, Delaney K, Deyo R. A Randomized Trial Comparing Yoga, Stretching, and a Self-care Book for Chronic Low Back Pain. Arch Intern Med. 2011 Dec 12; 171(22): 2019–2026.
2Ariyoshi M, Sonoda K, Nagata K, Mashima T, Zenmyo M, Paku C, Takamiya Y, Yoshimatsu H, Hirai Y, Yasunaga H, Akashi H,Imayama H, Shimokobe T, Inoue A, Mutoh Y. Efficacy of aquatic exercises for patients with low-back pain. Kurume Med J. 1999;46(2):91-6.
3Hall AM, Maher CG, Lam P, Ferreira M, Latimer J. Tai chi exercise for treatment of pain and disability in people with persistent low back pain: a randomized controlled trial. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2011 Nov;63(11):1576-83.
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What impact is research having to advance healthcare, the chiropractic profession and patient care?
For the last decade, the Canadian Chiropractic Research Foundation was working to achieve one goal—to place chiropractic researchers in Canadian universities for the first time in history. With the help of generous donors, this goal was successfully achieved in 2017.
Check out for yourself how donations are making a difference!
- 13 CCRF Research Chairs placed in universities across Canada—seven are tenured; two are tenure-track.
- Chiropractic researchers are working with multidisciplinary health teams, educating medical students, breaking down barriers and building inter-professional networks.
Disease & Disability Prevention
- Discovery of a therapy halting the progression of Degenerative Disc Disease, a condition that creates significant disability, expense and the highest number of disability-affected years globally.
- Evidence-based treatment protocols developed for mechanical, degenerative and inflammatory spinal disorders.
- Working with healthcare teams in Denmark, U.S, Switzerland, Australia, Cuba, Hong Kong, UK, South America and more.
- Industry collaborations with CCGI, CCA, Provincial Associations, Research Manitoba, World Federation of Chiropractic, World Spine Care Research Committee, Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis (IMHA) and more.
Patient Care and Practice Development
Sourced from CCA Blog
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It is no secret that at the Canadian Chiropractic Association (CCA) we often promote the benefits of regular physical activity as a way to stay healthy and happy. In fact, the CCA thinks it’s so important that we’ve created a free app: Straighten Up Canada! The app is currently available for download via Apple Store, Google Play and Blackberry World. Featuring easy-to-follow exercises, it helps to improve your posture and allows you to stay active during your day!
Investing time to do activities or sports that you enjoy is key to healthy aging and an active lifestyle. Being physically active is often a good way to prevent and manage musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries as well as helping maintain strength and mobility. Varying your routine between high- and low-impact activities is a great way to modify your workouts and challenge the body. We’ve outlined some great suggestions for both so you can get up and get moving!
High-impact exercise is typically described as an (often aerobic) activity where both feet leave the ground at the same time1. Often, high-impact activities may include exercise classes which involve jumping, leaping, or jogging in place. Doing high-impact exercise can put you at greater risk of injury if your body is not prepared, especially if you’re just starting out. Be cautious and adapt to a lower impact version of the activity if in doubt. Otherwise, before starting high-impact exercises make sure you have warmed-up.
Good examples of high-impact exercises are:
- Jumping jacks
- Jumping rope
- Running or jogging on a treadmill (or outdoors)
- Performing plyometric exercises
High-impact exercises tend to be more intense and expend more energy, so it’s important that if you’re doing high-impact exercises that you’re well-prepared. For some, high-impact exercises are not appropriate: they may increase the risk of injury, commonly to the ankles, knees, hips, and even the back. That being said, high-impact exercises can have a lot of great benefits too2:
- Improves bone density
- Increases an individual’s heart rate more quickly, thereby burning more calories
- Improves a person’s stability, balance, and coordination
- Strengthens the heart and lungs
Low-impact exercise tends to be less jarring on the body and joints, and less intense overall. According to the American Council on Exercise, keeping at least one foot on the ground at all times also reduces your risk of musculoskeletal injury. Some examples include4:
- Working out on an elliptical machine
- Low-impact aerobics
- Using a rowing machine
- Home exercise
- Nordic walking
It’s important to realize that low impact doesn’t mean low intensity (unless purposely designed to be so) because you can still get an intense workout keeping both feet on the ground. Low-impact exercises are great for beginners, people with arthritis or osteoporosis, older adults, individuals who are obese, pregnant women, and people with bone, joint, or connective tissue injuries.
Whichever form of physical activity you choose, make sure you do it safely.
Provided by the Canadian Chiropractic Association
1Amy Gonsalves, “High Impact versus low impact.” Diabetes Outside blog. April 19, 2011. https://blog.diabetesoutside.com/?p=1060
2Paige Waehner, “High Impact Exercise—Is High Impact Exercise Right for You?” VeryWell.com. May 2, 2016. https://www.verywell.com/is-high-impact-exercise-right-for-you-1230821
3Nicole Nichols, “low impact vs. high impact exercise: Which is right for you?” SparkPeople.com. April 14, 2010. https://www.sparkpeople.com/blog/blog.asp?post=fitness_defined_lowimpact_and_highimpact_exercises
4NHS, “Easy exercises.” NHS Choices. Page last reviewed: 01/03/2016. https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/Lowimpact.aspx
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You’ve made the decision to take your cardio routine from the treadmill to the sidewalk – congratulations! You’re on your way to reaping some amazing benefits. If you’re feeling wary about transitioning your routine to a new location, we’ve got you covered. With a good pair of running shoes and some healthy preparation, you can get the most out of your running session outdoors.
Note: Running is a high-impact activity. If you’ve never run before, please consult a chiropractor/medical practitioner to ensure you won’t worsen any pre-existing conditions or cause injury to your joints.
Here are some tips to help get you started:
Warm up and cool down: Make sure you stretch before and after your run. Stretches are an essential part of your running routine to avoid injuries. Some important points to keep in mind:
- Never stretch a cold muscle
- Hold each stretch for a slow count of 30
- Repeat twice on each side
- Don’t overstretch—be comfortable
- Don’t bounce when stretching
Pick a road or trail you are familiar with: When starting out, the last thing you want to worry about is getting lost. Before you lace up your sneakers, do some research: ask friends where they like to run, use online running forums to find popular routes, and check to see if your park has designated trails. The more popular and visible the trail, the better.
Wear the appropriate footwear: Adapt your shoes to your environment. A regular running sneaker works for the flat, predictable surface of a treadmill. But once you are outdoors, make sure the sneaker’s tread can handle the gravel, dirt roads, and slick trails. Runners should get a sneaker that supports the feet while having the appropriate sole to help maneuver and provide support over uneven surfaces.
Start slow: Running outside is more taxing on your muscles, joints and bones, making you more prone to injuries like shin splints. Start off with shorter distances on flat roads or trails. As your endurance improves, gradually increase your mileage and hill work.
Maintain a constant pace: Don’t feel compelled to push yourself to run at the same pace that you would on a treadmill. Start with moderate and comfortable pace that allows you to run safely, and gradually increase your speed over several weeks as your body allows.
If you’ve been running on a treadmill for a while, transitioning to the outdoors may take time. The mechanics of running on a stationary treadmill are different than running outside on an uneven surface.
Originally published June 2016 by the Canadian Chiropractic Association
1Shape Magazine, “Don’t make these mistakes when running. https://www.shape.com/fitness/cardio/dont-make-these-mistakes-when-running-outdoors
2Popsugar, 4 things you need to know before running outside. https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Tips-Running-Outside-28328027
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Many Canadians continue to have questions about the role that chiropractors play in the healthcare team, and what benefit chiropractic care may have to their health.
1. Once you see a chiropractor you have to keep going back
This is false. When seeking care from a chiropractor, we will perform an assessment including a history and physical examination to determine the cause of the pain or dysfunction. From these observations, a diagnosis will be made and the treatment plan developed in collaboration with the patient – according to their needs and goals. The treatment plan will recommend a number of initial visits to see if the patient responds to care and scheduled re-evaluations. Depending on the patient and the condition, the recommended course of care may vary. Ultimately, the decision to continue care is yours. As a patient, if you have questions or concerns about care, you should feel comfortable to ask the chiropractor for more information on the recommendations made and address any concerns. The care plan should be part of a shared decision-making between the patient and practitioner.
2. Chiropractors are not ‘real’ doctors
Chiropractors are regulated in all 10 Canadian provinces, and are designated to use the title “doctor” similar to physicians, optometrists and dentists after completing the extensive Doctor of Chiropractic degree program. Those professions who are recognized to use the “doctor” title have extensive training in their area of expertise that allows them to be diagnosticians – to provide a diagnosis.
Chiropractic care in Canada
3. A medical doctor must refer you to a chiropractor
In all provinces in Canada, chiropractors are primary contact providers, which means you can access them directly. Due to the extensive training of chiropractors as diagnosticians, chiropractors will perform a comprehensive assessment to help determine a diagnosis or clinical impressions. Depending on the outcome, the chiropractor can discuss a course of care or refer to another healthcare professional, as needed. However, in some cases, you may need a referral to access coverage depending on your benefits provider.
4. There is no evidence to support the effectiveness of chiropractic care
Chiropractic treatment is at times questioned on its effectiveness. Yet, the chiropractic profession and others have invested significant resources to build a robust body of evidence studying the impact of manual therapies on MSK conditions. For example, spinal and joint manipulation has been shown to be effective treatment for acute and chronic MSK conditions, like back pain. In fact, spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) is recommended as first line intervention for back pain in numerous clinical practice guidelines including the Bone and Joint Decade Task Force1, the American College of Physicians and American Pain Society2 as well as Britain’s National Institute of Health and Care Excellence3.
5. Chiropractors can only treat back pain
Chiropractors are musculoskeletal (MSK) experts and are trained in assessing, diagnosing, treating and preventing biomechanical disorders that originate from the muscular, skeletal and nervous system. In addition to the evidence that supports chiropractic care in managing musculoskeletal complaints of the spine, there is also evidence that it supports chiropractic management of the extremities, headaches and even TMJ pain,5,6. Chiropractors are also able to provide lifestyle counselling about nutrition, fitness and ergonomics among others that may be useful in managing or preventing a variety of health conditions. The health of your MSK system doesn’t just start with a healthy spine, you need to be fully aware of your health to maintain a well-rounded healthy lifestyle!
6. Adjustments are painful
In general, adjustments or joint manipulations do not hurt. In fact, many patients report immediate pain relief. Patients may be nervous about the ‘cracking’ or popping sound that may occur during an adjustment. The sound is believed to result from the release of gas bubbles from the joint – similar to cracking your knuckles!
Asking questions about your health and treatment options are very important. You are a partner in your care and your participation is critical to helping us provide the best care to meet your goal. To do so, as a profession, we strive to better understand what information you need to make those important decisions. We want to hear from you! If you have any questions beyond this blog about chiropractic treatment, visit a chiropractor in your area. To learn more about what to expect at your first chiropractic treatment, you can take a look at our online videos.
1Haldeman, S., Carroll, L., Cassidy, J., Schubert, J., & Nygren, A. (2008). The bone and joint decade 2000–2010 task force on neck pain and its associated disorders: Executive summary. Spine, 33(4S), S5-S7.
2Chou, E., Qaseem, A., Snow, V., Casey, D., Cross, T., Shekelle, P., & Owens, D. (2007). Diagnosis and treatment of low back pain: A joint clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society. Annals of Internal Medicine, 147(7), 478-491.
3National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. (2009). Low back pain early management of persistent non-specific low back pain. Londres, Angleterre.
4Hoskins, W., McHardy, A., Pollard, H., Windsham, R., & Onley, R. (2006). Chiropractic treatment of lower extremity conditions: a literature review. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics, 29(8), 658-671.
5McHardy, A., Hoskins, W., Pollard, H., Onley, R., & Windsham, R. (2008). Chiropractic treatment of upper extremity conditions: a systematic review. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics, 31(2), 146-159.
6Bryans, R., Descarreaux, M., Duranleau, M., Marcoux, H., Potter, B., Reugg, R., White, E., & , (2011). Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with headache. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 34(5), 274-289.
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Exercising the heart makes it stronger. It’s a lesson we all know in adulthood, and it begins with good habits that are ingrained within us over time. If we want to make the general population more heart healthy, it’s important to start the lesson early.
The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP), a voluntary organization that focuses on the scientific study of exercise physiology and biochemistry, fitness, and health, came up with a new plan to get our young people moving. The 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth, aimed at those 5 to 17 years in age, is the first evidence-based set of guidelines to address the whole day of a person’s activity, including rest and sleep.1
The rationale behind taking into consideration a whole day of active and passive activity is that the body is always active. It’s about more than concentrated physical workouts—all physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and sleep are necessary in a fine balance for overall well-being.
The categories of movement are broken down into “Sweat, Step, Sleep, and Sit,” and the guidelines encourage youth to achieve high levels of “sweat,” low levels of “sit,” and the right amount of sleep each day depending on their age group1:
SWEAT: When it comes to sweating, the CSEP recommends a total of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity throughout the day, including some aerobic activity. Strengthening activities should be part of that “sweat time” at least three days out of the week.
STEP: “Step” activities can come in many forms of structured and unstructured physical activities, as long as they are light intensity. One clear example would be walking. Several hours of light movement are needed throughout the day.
SLEEP: Of all the activities, this is the one that should take up most of your time. For those aged 5 to 13, nine to 11 hours of sleep per night are needed. For those a little older in the 14 to 17 year age category, eight to 10 hours of sleep per night are recommended. Along with this schedule, it is recommended that bedtimes and wake-up times stay consistent.
SIT: One of the next-most recommended pieces of advice is to avoid being sedentary. In the 24-Hour Movement Guidelines, it’s built into the plan: no more than two hours per day of recreational screen time, and limited sitting for extended periods.
Following these guidelines can have a significant, positive impact on the body, improving “body composition, cardiorespiratory and musculoskeletal fitness, academic achievement and cognition, emotional regulation, prosocial behaviours, cardiovascular and metabolic health, and overall quality of life.”2
These guidelines promote building extra movement into your day without being overwhelmed by one specific category. By promoting regular activity and sleep schedules, it’s a practical beneficial framework for youth (and adults) to apply to their daily lives.
Sourced from CCA Blog
- Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. CSEP announces new Canadian 24-hour movement guidelines for children and youth: the world’s first evidence-based guidelines to address the whole day. 2016. Available at: http://www.csep.ca/en/guidelines/24-hour-movement-guidelines. Accessed December 5, 2016.
- Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. Canadian 24-hour movement guidelines for children and youth: an integration of physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and sleep. Available at: http://www.csep.ca/CMFiles/Guidelines/24hrGlines/Canadian24HourMovementGuidelines2016.pdf. Accessed December 5, 2016.
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Mindfulness; it’s become a popular topic for mental health and well-being, but what does it actually mean, and where does it come from? Mindfulness, a form of meditation, has its roots in Buddhism. It is one group of many meditation techniques that originated in Eastern religious or spiritual traditions. Today, it is often practised to help with stress reduction.1
Most commonly, mindfulness meditation is used to help modify a person’s response to stress. A growing body of research shows that the practice is effective in reducing stress and improving mood, and may even help to improve cognition in older adults.2 It has also been shown to improve anxiety, sleep disturbances, stress, and chronic pain.
There are a few other reasons why mindfulness meditation is gaining in popularity: it involves low physical and emotional risk, is easy to implement, is not expensive, and it has the potential to empower people to be more actively engaged in their mental health.2
Many mindfulness exercises involve practising just that—being mindful. It involves focusing on breath, posture, and the space you occupy at the present moment. Often, even just adding a few minutes of meditation to your routine per day can make a big difference in your overall sense of mental well-being. Here are some tips to help add meditation to your daily routine3:
- Choose a time. Morning is a calm time in many people’s days, but choose what’s easiest for you and stick to it.
- Choose a place. Consistency of space can be helpful to ground your practice. Preferably choose a place that’s quiet and where you can sit quietly and relax for a few minutes each day.
- Choose a duration. It’s good to decide before you start how long you’re committed to. Start with five minutes, and slowly build upon it.
- Set an intention. At the beginning of each meditation, remind yourself why you are meditating that day.
- Set your posture. This is about more than spinal health: having a healthy posture increases alertness in your meditation, and it helps keep you focused. (There are more posture tips below.)
- Take a few deep inhales, and a few deep exhales, allowing your body to unwind. As you breathe out, focus on relaxing different muscles and areas of the body with each breath, moving in one direction up (or down) the body.
- Choose an object of attention. Not necessarily a physical object, but a point of focus, such as the breath as it flows in and out of the nostrils, or the chest, as it rises and falls with each breath. With a relaxed body and an open posture, this keeps your meditation focused on the present.
Remember, concentration involves placing your attention on one thing or in one place. Mindfulness is noticing everything in its purest form, moment-to-moment. Neither of these things come easily. Meditation is a practice, not just an activity, so it takes time to develop it as a skill unto itself.3
Here are a few tips for setting your posture: try sitting on a chair or cushion. When you first start each meditation, it’s best to find back support in a chair or sit with your back against a wall to maintain a straight-back position. In this position, let the rest of your body hang freely. You can rest your hands on your knees or lap. When you let your eyes close, you allow yourself to bring the attention inward to the body, and to the present moment.3
If you’re able to sit a little bit each day and be mindful of the present moment, not only will you experience noticeable benefits like the ones listed above, the practice will become easier. Commit to what’s possible for you, and stick with it. Happy meditating!
- Horowitz S. Health Benefits of Meditation: What the Newest Research Shows. Alternative and Complementary Therapies. 2010; 16(4): 223-8. doi:10.1089/act.2010.16402.
- Morone N, Greco C, Weiner D. Mindfulness meditation for the treatment of chronic low back pain in older adults: A randomized controlled pilot study. Pain. 2008; 134(3): 310-9. doi:10.1016/j.pain.2007.04.038.
- How to Meditate | New York Insight Meditation Center. Nyimcorg. 2016. Available at: https://www.nyimc.org/how-to-meditate/. Accessed November 4, 2016.
Source: CCA Blog
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There’s no sugar-coating it: North Americans sit a lot. Two-thirds of the North American workforce sits for all or part of their workday.1 When you don’t adjust your posture frequently enough, you’re more likely to experience discomfort while sitting—and you’re inviting a whole host of other musculoskeletal problems along with it.1
Today, on average, sitting takes up more than half of an adult’s waking hours.2What’s worse is that, according to Mayo Clinic cardiologist Martha Grogan, “for people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking.”3 Based on current trends, researchers predict the number of hours we spend sedentary will likely increase.2
There are other health risks that come from being more sedentary: prolonged time spent while sitting or reclining can tamper with your glucose levels and your metabolism.4 It’s also a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.4 The good news is that if you break up those long periods of sitting, you can reduce your risk of having diabetes, heart disease, or stroke.4
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada5 recommends at least thirty minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity—such as brisk walking or bike riding—at least five days out of the week. If you work Monday to Friday, consider adding a few steps to your commute, or taking two 15 minute walk breaks each workday.
Here are some more helpful tips to help break up your sitting time6,7:
- Create a schedule to remind you to stand up and move. Programming your day can help you stick to something you may otherwise forget to do. A good goal is 5–10 minutes of activity per hour. For example, if you have a job that involves sitting most of the day, plan to spend five minutes every hour up from your chair and moving around the office (like getting coffee, walking around the building, or taking a restroom break) and spend the other five minutes doing stretches.
- Walk around on your lunch break. Invite coworkers from your office to go for a walk with you at lunch. You can check out a nearby park or take a new route around the neighbourhood.
- Park further away and walk. Whether you’re running errands or parking at work, you can choose to park further away and walk those extra few steps to your destination.
- Walk around the house while talking on the phone or during commercial breaks of your favourite show. You might find other opportunities throughout the day too!
Little changes can go a long way to improve your posture and decrease a number of health risks. Whatever method you choose, you can also use the Straighten Up Canada app and Fit-in 15 program to find small exercises you can do during the day.
- Fenety A, Walker JM. Short-term effects of workstation exercises on musculoskeletal discomfort and postural changes in seated video display unit workers. J Am Phys Ther Assoc. 2002; 82(6): 578-89.
- Healy GN, Eakin EG, Owen N, et al. A cluster randomized controlled trial to reduce office workers’ sitting time. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016; 48(9): 1787-97. doi:10.1249/mss.0000000000000972.
- Winslow, R. The guide to beating a heart attack: first line defense is lowering risk, even when genetics isn’t on your side. The Wall Street Journal. April 16, 2012. http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304818404577347982400815676. Accessed November 25, 2016.
- Benatti FB, Ried-Larsen M. The effects of breaking up prolonged sitting time. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2015; 47(10): 2053-61. doi:10.1249/mss.0000000000000654.
- Stay active. Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. 2016. Available at: http://www.heartandstroke.ca/get-healthy/stay-active#How-much-activity-do-I-need. Accessed November 22, 2016.
- Storrs C. Stand up, sit less and move more, researchers say; here’s how to do it. CNN. August 6, 2015. Available at: http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/06/health/how-to-move-more/. Accessed October 14, 2016.
- Sit less. The Heart Foundation. Available at: https://heartfoundation.org.au/active-living/sit-less. Accessed October 14, 2016.
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When it gets cold outside, we tend to spend more time indoors doing sedentary activities and it can be difficult to stay active. It’s helpful to plan ahead and set some time aside in your schedule a few days a week to make sure you’re getting the activity you need.
To have health benefits from exercise, adults need a total of 2.5 hours of activity spread across the week, in bouts of ten minutes or more. These activities need to be moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic activities. Moderate-intensity physical activities include brisk walking or bike riding. Generally, you know your activity is moderate-intensity if you sweat a little and breathe harder than when you’re moving about day-to-day. Vigorous-intensity activities include jogging or cross-country skiing, and you’re likely to find yourself sweating and feeling out of breath.1
Here are a few tips to help keep you motivated to stay active during the winter months2:
- Plan activities ahead. When activities are in your calendar, you’re less likely to forget them. Preparedness also helps set good habits.
- Find a fun local activity, like snow shoeing, skiing, skating, or cross-country skiing.
- Dress in layers. Insulate your body. When you can keep your body warm, it’s easier to continue being active outside.
- Use your daylight hours. It’s easier to stay outside while it’s still light out. It’s easy to miss out on activities when you start them too late in the day.
- Find indoor activities at your local community centre. This could be aerobics classes, badminton, basketball, or yoga classes.
- Climb stairs. Deliberately add more steps to your day. Consider going up and down a flight in your home, the mall, or an office building more than once over the course of your regular daily activities. As little as five minutes can make a huge difference for your health.
- Visit a library to find more motivation. There are plenty of free exercise DVDs you can borrow, including dance, step, aerobics, or Pilates. You can use the return date as a deadline to pick up another one!
- Sign up for a fun run. You can often find non-competitive “fun runs” in your community that are usually between 5 and 10 kilometers. You can invite friends and family to join in!
- Find an activity buddy. Find someone willing to commit to being active as often as you are, and set a plan. That could be planning to meet for morning walks or afternoon workouts. Having a friend keeps you accountable.
Whatever your activity level is, remember to stay hydrated. It is easy to forget to drink water when it’s cold out, but your body needs just as much hydration in a snowstorm as it does in a heatwave.2
Most importantly, stay motivated. Revisit your goals (or look for tips to set new ones) to make sure you’re still on track. Plan ahead and make sure you can envision your goal as you look ahead towards the finish line.
Here’s to staying active in the new year!
- Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines. 1st ed. CSEP; 2016. Available at: http://www.csep.ca/CMFIles/Guidelines/CSEP_PAGuidelines_adults_en.pdf. Accessed November 7, 2016.
- Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. 11 ways to stay active in winter. 2009. Heartandstroke.ca. Available at: http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=ikIQLcMWJtE&b=4832209&ct=7596299. Accessed November 7, 2016.
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As a society, we’re constantly reminded to exercise our bodies, but when was the last time you were reminded to exercise your mind? Part of a healthy lifestyle involves exercising your brain. Your brain can be trained like a muscle, and without a good workout now and then, it can eventually shrink over time.1
Sedentary activities are not only bad for your physical health, they can also be detrimental to one’s brain.1 Engaging in more stimulating leisure or social activities are a great start to keeping your brain in shape.2 This is because when you actively engage the brain, more cells can be produced, as well as the connections between them. When the body has more brain cells on reserve, research suggests that this may be able to help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.2 While more research is needed in this area of study, there are other health benefits to keeping your brain active—like boosting your memory and cognitive function—that are worth keeping in mind.2
What Types of Activities Can I Do?
Any type of stimulating mental activity can help exercise your brain. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to make sure you’re on the right track2:
- Does it incorporate new learning?
- Is the activity reasonably complex?
- Is the activity varied and interesting?
- Do you engage in the activity frequently?
Examples of Brain Exercises2
- Listening to the radio
- Visiting museums
- Taking a course
- Learning a new language
- Playing musical instruments
- Artistic/other hobbies
- Participation in leisure activities such as sports, dancing, or gardening
- Cultural activities and conversation
- Board games, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and other puzzles
- Doing simple calculations
- Imaginary exercises to stimulate the senses (e.g., recalling a peaceful nature scene)
These are just a few ideas of things you can do to stimulate your brain. When you’re considering your overall brain health, you can also look to your diet, ensuring that it is well-balanced, low in fat and cholesterol, and high in antioxidants.1 Having the right nutrients in your body helps maintain cognitive function and stimulate proper brain function and development.3,4 You can also look to your physical exercise regime—regular physical activity can improve cognition,5 help memory and thinking processes, improve mood and sleep, and reduce stress and anxiety.6
Chiropractors care about your overall health and can help point you in the right direction if you have any questions or concerns about this topic.
Whatever activity you choose, remember that brain health is just as important as physical health, so keep finding new and creative ways to keep those mental juices flowing.
- Melone L. 10 brain exercises that boost memory. EverydayHealth.com. 2016. Available at: http://www.everydayhealth.com/longevity/mental-fitness/brain-exercises-for-memory.aspx. Accessed November 1, 2016.
- Alzheimer’s Australia. Mental exercise and dementia. 2016. Available at: https://www.fightdementia.org.au/files/helpsheets/Helpsheet-DementiaQandA06-MentalExercise_english.pdf. Accessed November 1, 2016.
- Lim S, Kim E, Kim A, Lee H, Choi H, Yang S. Nutritional Factors Affecting Mental Health. 1st ed. Seoul, Korea: Department of Food and Nutrition; 2016.
- Rathod R, Kale A, Joshi S. Novel insights into the effect of vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids on brain function. J Biomed Sci. 2016; 23(1). doi:10.1186/s12929-016-0241-8.
- Chang Y, Chu C, Wang C, Song T, Wei G. Effect of acute exercise and cardiovascular fitness on cognitive function: An event-related cortical desynchronization study. Psychophysiology. 2014; 52(3): 342-51. doi:10.1111/psyp.12364.
- Godman H. Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills. Harvard Health Blog. 2016. Available at: http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110. Accessed November 7, 2016.
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