Fitness

6 ways to stay active in the winter

I’ll be the first to admit that keeping up with an exercise routine is more difficult when the days get shorter and the temperature gets cooler. However, I also know that staying active is vital for both my physical health and mental well-being, and this keeps me motivated to prioritize exercise in my weekly schedule. Think of it this way - we don’t always want to brush our teeth, but we do it every day because we know its good for our health and we always feel better afterwards. The same goes for exercise.

So, how exactly do we prioritize exercise in our weekly schedule, especially as winter approaches? Here are a few tips to help keep you motivated:

Alex Piller Kinesiology Blog
  1. Find a type of exercise you enjoy

    Exercise is a form of self-care and should be fun! If you enjoy an activity, it increase the likelihood that you will actually do it. Sometimes, though, the activities we enjoy in the summer aren’t as much fun in the winter. For example, I am a “fair weather cyclist,” so instead of cycling outdoors in the winter I attend an indoor spin class. If you’re someone who enjoys going for daily walks, maybe try going during your lunch break while the sun is still up instead of waiting until after work. Sometimes trying another form of your favourite exercise or tweaking your schedule is all you need to do to keep yourself motivated.

  2. Schedule it in!

    When you’re planning your weekly schedule, purposefully set aside time for physical activity. It’s even better if you can write it in your calendar or sign up for fitness classes ahead of time. Planning ahead will help you commit.


  3. Surround yourself with people who motivate you

    This may mean finding a workout partner, or attending an instructor-led class. Typically, the hardest part about getting active is physically getting to the gym (or putting your walking shoes on). If you can commit to meeting a friend or signing up for a class, you’re more likely to actually go.


  4. Get a support network

    Sometimes watching someone exercise is all the motivation we need to get off the couch. Try following social media accounts or YouTube channels of your favourite athletes, exercise specialists, health and fitness magazines, or local gyms for regular inspirational content on your feed (Disclaimer: choose accounts that help to motivate you, not those that cause you to compare yourself to others or leave you with negative thoughts about yourself).


  5. Consider the time of day you schedule your workouts

    If you’re anything like me and plan to wake up early to workout, only to turn off the alarm and go back to sleep, chances are you’re going to bail more often than not. Instead of trying to workout early in the morning, I go straight to the gym after work. This works best for me because if I go home first, I may get too comfortable (or hungry) and decide to stay put. On the contrary, I know lots of “morning people” who prefer to start their day with a workout, and that way they don’t have to worry about their day getting away from them and not being able to fit it in.


  6. Set goals

    The more specific, the better. For example, “exercise more” is vague and open to interpretation, but “exercise three times per week for 60 minutes” is clear and concise. You may have goals around committing to regular weekly activity, or they may be more personal (e.g. lose 10 lbs before Mexico vacation, increase 1 rep max back squat by 20 lbs, run 10 km in under 50 minutes) - what matters is that they’re meaningful to you.

-By Alex Piller

What are the health benefits of Golf?

Golfing Stronger to Live Longer

Golfers can live up to 5 years longer compared to non-golfers regardless of age, gender, or income level (Murray et al. 2016). Finally! A way to live healthier, happier, and longer without force feeding yourself bunches of blended kale at 6 am or sitting on a stationary bike for the recommended 150 minutes per week wondering whether you'll meet the suggested requirements of die of boredom first. Not that those are necessarily bad ideas, but I think golfing regularly may bring a little more enjoyment to your physical activity and is a more sustainable option over the long term.

Whether you are a regular golf cart user or not, golf will help prolong your life and keep you active, though you tend to find greater benefits walking the course regularly.

Golf is considered a moderate level of physical activity, which compares torace-walking, heavy gardening, and aerobic dancing...yeah, let’s keep you golfing. Whether you are a regular golf cart user or not, golf will help prolong your life and keep you active, though you tend to find greater benefits walking the course regularly.

Chiropractor, Ben Stebbins

Participating in moderate level physical activity regularly is associated with decreased risk of hip fractures, diabetes, CVD, stroke, colon cancer, depression/dementia, and breast cancer. Not only will golf add years to your life, but it will add life to your years. It is well known that golf will help maintain your social connections and additionally may help to bridge the gap between age groups. Who hasn't gotten a few tips on their game from "Mr Consistent" who doesn’t look like he could drive it past the ladies' tees yet seems to always be on the green in regulation?

Interestingly enough, watching golf can provide great health benefits as well. Sorry, not from sitting on the couch and cheering on every hole of Tiger's comeback. Spectating at golf events has been reported to provide more than the minimum requirements of physical activity in a day. So, when walking hole to hole, socializing with friends and other golf aficionados, or watching your favourite athletes play, you're able to reap the health benefits of walking enough steps to go around the world 4 times, as demonstrated by the 20,000 fans who completed that feat at the 2014 Ryder Cup.

It may seem by now that golf is a miracle elixir to a longer life, which, by many accounts may be true. Golf has been shown to let you live a longer, healthier, and happier life. But... I know there's always a but, golfers have a moderate incidence of injury when compared with other sports. The last thing you need is a nagging back or shoulder injury that keeps you off of the course and missing out on the game you love. The best thing you can do to avoid injury is to be proactive, prevent any future injuries, and fix any limitations in your swing that may currently be causing pain or discomfort. I would suggest finding someone who understands movement, golf, and its effect on the body and let them help you stay on the course golfing stronger for longer.

The best thing you can do to avoid injury is to be proactive, prevent any future injuries, and fix any limitations in your swing that may currently be causing pain or discomfort.

So, next time you're walking out the door trying to rationalize your third game of golf that week. Just remember, golf is going to let me live a longer, healthier, and happier life. You shouldn’t have a hard time winning that debate!

If you do have any questions regarding your golf game, pain, and being proactive against injury please don't hesitate to contact me at ben@talltreehealth.ca or check out www.evolvenaturalhealth.com/evolve-golf for more information.  

Dr. Ben Stebbins is also TPI Certified!

Chiropractor, Golf

References

Luscombe, J., Murray, A. D., Jenkins, E., & Archibald, D. (2017). A rapid review to identify physical activity accrued while playing golf. BMJ open, 7(11), e018993.

Murray AD, Daines L, Archibald D, et al, The relationships between golf and health: a scoping review Br J Sports Med Published Online First: 03 October 2016. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-096625

Murray, A. D., Turner, K., Archibald, D., Schiphorst, C., Griffin, S. A., Scott, H., ... & Mutrie, N. (2017). An observational study of spectators’ step counts and reasons for attending a professional golf tournament in Scotland. BMJ open sport & exercise medicine, 3(1), e000244.

What's the best thing we can do for our health?

As a society, we are obsessed with things we can do to look younger, live longer, avoid disease and feel good. We spend billions on medications, special foods, creams and a whole slew of other things. So, what really works? What is the best thing we can we do to live longer, healthy lives and avoid disease? Although some pills, supplements and foods may contribute to longevity and health, the answer is a simple intervention that everyone can do and often costs nothing: exercise!

We all know that exercise makes us look better but its benefits are far more widespread. A recent systematic review published in the British Medical Journal found that active individuals experienced significantly less serious disease with heart attacks, strokes and diabetes all being reduced by as much as 25%. Other studies have found significant reductions in various forms of cancer, depression, Alzheimer’s, dementia, anxiety and osteoarthritis for those who exercise regularly.

While some of these studies suggest a more intense exercise program can lead to greater health benefits, many studies found substantial health benefits with simple exercise programs at lower intensities such as walking 15 minutes, five times a week. What this means is that you don’t have to do a triathlon or live at the gym to get benefit from exercise – low levels of exercise also help benefit our health.

....many studies found substantial health benefits with simple exercise programs at lower intensities such as walking 15 minutes, five times a week

As if these benefits are not enough to convince you to exercise, people who are active also live longer. In fact, one large trial published in the Lancet followed almost half a million people and found that those who regularly exercised at a low intensity for only 90 minutes a week lived an average of 3 years longer than inactive individuals. Those people who were classified as being very active found further health benefits, with the most active group living about 4.5 years longer than the inactive group. There is even more to the benefits of exercise on longevity. Not only did these people live longer but they also lived more of their life without disability. We all show some decline with age but those who exercised regularly tended to have a better quality of life for a much longer period of time.

Physiotherapy, Steve Young

So, there are lots of benefits to regularly exercising but only 20% of the population gets the recommended weekly amount of exercise – 2.5 hours of moderate cardiovascular exercise and two strength training sessions per week. Why is this? Well, it has been said that if exercise came in a pill form, everyone would be on it and herein lies the problem. Exercise does require more motivation, time and commitment than taking a pill. Here are a few tips and pieces of information to make you successful at starting up an exercise program:

  • Choose an activity you like. Your much more likely to stick with an exercise program if you are having fun.

  • Try a group activity where you are accountable for showing up. You’ll benefit from the socialization and be more likely to attend when others are expecting you to be there.

  • Know that it is common to get some aches and pains when you first start an exercise program. This does not mean you should stop! We can help and a visit to your physiotherapist can get you back on track quickly!

Often exercise programs are preceded by a disclaimer that you “Should contact your doctor before starting any new exercise program” but after reading this blog I hope you think that you should contact your doctor if you don’t plan on starting an exercise program!

 

How kinesiologists help chronic pain - part 2

In Part 1 of my blog, I discussed chronic pain and it's effect on the brain and nervous system. For Part 2, I'll explain the role of a Kinesiologist and how we can help.

Now, diving right back in to my observation about guarding and and/or compensation. Two things have happened here:

Kinesiology, Jeremy Cote

1)      Pain from an ailment or physical trauma has imprinted messages to the body regions on the brain map thus creating some behavioral guarding to the area ie: not wanting to stress or elongate the area

2)      Any pain that may exist emotionally, whether related to the cause of the pain or not, can further the perceived physical pain.

The emotional component comes with it’s own body behavioral pattern. Example: the head protruding forward or down along with tight and elevated shoulders is commonly seen. Everyone knows this look. It’s a classic. Any type of pain can and likely will result in this posture. There are numerous subtle changes as well that a Kinesiologist would identify but that’s a big one.

The intervention of exercise when it comes to chronic pain influences these objectives:

  1. Postural changes; not allowing the muscles to behave as if they are in pain
  2. Achieving more range of motion; again, not letting the muscle tissue stay guarded and contracted
  3. Length/tension relationships; building strength where appropriate
Kinesiology, Jeremy Cote

The head forward, rounded shoulder case will typically have a tight chest and therefore a decent amount of strength there by virtue of the positioning. Does chest strength matter to a Kinesiologist at this point? No. Creating mid-back strength to open the chest and complimenting that with chest stretches is more appropriate. This is one simple example of imbalances that Kinesiologists will deal with regarding chronic pain. By training the body to present or behave in a way that is void of pain, the feedback loop for the nervous system can be intervened. The mapping can be re-trained. In other words, our brains can influence our behaviors but our behaviors can also influence our brains. The mapping effect and the regions in how they are situated on the brain allow us to understand how our behaviors can influence our brains. Body positioning is huge! It’s becoming more and more appreciated but I still often see it overlooked. If your body is able to achieve non guarded movements and utilizing postural muscles appropriately, this re-mapping can begin.

In other words, our brains can influence our behaviors but our behaviors can also influence our brains.

Once the re-mapping out of pain has begun, we typically see specific patterns. Almost always, the reported wide-spread pain will alleviate (the “de-mapping” down of unnecessary body parts) and what will linger is the focal and often milder pain that represents the original injury area. It’s like a cycle has been broken and the neuron messaging has become less efficient so it goes back to the most paved path -- the original one. 

Another aspect of the feedback loop is that if more and more movements are not guarded or accommodated, we notice over time that overall muscle tension goes down. Guard perpetuates more guard. If someone is still in pain but has learned to un-guard, it’s only a matter of time before the re-mapping relieves the overall pain. Outlying influences take part in this loop as well; clients often comment on how the pain doesn’t wake them at night (there’s the sleep centre being influenced) or get them down as much (there’s the emotional centre). Longer term posture training will continue to have benefit. Envision the map of the brain only receiving a minor pain stimulus for the original injured area. At this point, clients will say that they barely notice it and they are able to return to their old lives. I often hear that the area still feels different but they aren’t bothered by it because it’s a huge improvement from where they were.

The big take-away that I want to emphasize is to never stop working on your posture. Injured or not, the brain will read the body positioning.  Know that working on your posture will help you feel better regardless if you suffer from an injury but ESPECIALLY if you are suffering from an injury or any type of pain for that matter.

How kinesiologists help chronic pain - part 1

Almost everyone that I see is dealing with pain of some form.  Some present as acute but the most common is chronic. A lot of chronic pain sufferers come with a history of motor vehicle accidents, osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, fibromyalgia, or recovery from a total hip or knee replacement. In my experience, there appears to be two components of chronic pain that must be dealt with in the kinesiology model:

Kinesiology, Jeremy Cote

1)      Address the pain by prescribing movements that will improve strength and range of motion to correct the pain, specifically that speaks to the cause of the pain.

2)      Address the guarding and accommodation that has not only resulted from the pain but is perpetuating more pain.

The second item listed is the one I will focus on in this post.  Number two is often the barrier from moving forward into progress; the ball and chain that is keeping someone in their pain state. It goes beyond the physical injury or trauma that may have initially occurred to create the pain. It’s a behavioral state that has both conscious and unconscious aspects. Moving past this barrier is by far the most difficult task in dealing with clients as no two people are the same in how they recover from chronic pain. Some of the overall behaviours are common among individuals but the way to intercept is different with each person.

Our nervous system is trainable. Our nervous system is adaptable. Yes, pain can be trained in very easily; BUT, it can also be trained out!

If you deal with chronic pain, know this:

1)      Your pain is real

2)      Your pain is treatable- often through movement

No one, these days, needs to be convinced that exercise is good for you. The information available is overwhelming. Weight loss, cardiovascular, strength, conditioning- all results of a consistent exercise regime.  However, what is it about exercise that addresses pain? We know that it helps alleviate pain, but why? How?

Brain and Behavior

Kinesiology, Jeremy Cote

In the last 20 years, there has been some excellent research on the topic of the brain and the nervous system. The last 10 years has resulted in a very steep learning curve for researchers and professionals in the understanding of our behaviours, our bodies, and particularly our pain. Studies are determining that rather than focusing on the exchanges of messages in the brain to explain pain, the brain can be geographically mapped with the physical parts of the body in a particular geographical region. These regions receive stimulus in and can transmit stimulus away. Applying a stimulus of touch to the lower leg will result in the “lower leg region” of the brain map to light up and respond. Continual stimulus of that region will result in a refinement of the neurological route or highway that the incoming stimulus travels on.  That route becomes a very efficient, well-oiled machine. When our brain regions receive such a strong, efficient input over and over, they look at nearby regions that are receiving less stimulus and move in on their air time. Yes, if the lower leg region is getting a great deal of incoming message, it will look at the knee or ankle and move into it. In other words, the message “spills over”. What does this result in? The perceived pain will travel from the lower leg of the person and “refer” to the upper or lower regions around that physical area. This re-mapping that happens on a high center in the neurological chain has helped explain referred pain and phantom limb pain. I think it sheds a huge amount of light on chronic pain. Especially in cases where the original injury has long healed but pain in the region or other regions persists.

Now, let’s consider other regions of the brain- we’ve got areas for mood, emotions, impulses, urges, hunger, and sleep. For the chronic pain sufferer, the signals are so strong and efficient that they can influence these other regions. Pain signals from the body can become pain in others aspects of wellbeing like emotions (e.g. depression) or disrupted sleep. This signal can play out in the reverse effect as well. Studies have shown that emotional pain can translate to physical pain; a region of the brain map can become so efficient with stimulation that it begins to be opportunistic and take over the brain tissue occupying or representing a physical part of the body such as the back or the shoulders.

What does this tell us? Our nervous system is trainable. Our nervous system is adaptable. Yes, pain can be trained in very easily; BUT, it can also be trained out!

Stay Tuned for part 2, which dives into how Kinesiology can train your pain away.