Sport Psychology

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.

The psychological effects of concussion

One of the most challenging things about concussion is that you can’t see it; there are no scars, no broken bones, very few, if any, outward signs of injury. We hear a lot about common symptoms of concussion such as headaches, sensitivity to light and sound, balance or vision issues, and memory and attentional impairments, but we don’t often talk (openly) about the psychological symptoms.

When it comes to concussion, I’ll begin by emphasizing that everyone is different and each experience is unique. Psychological and emotional symptoms present differently in each person. That said, there are a few more common symptoms that we tend to see. Here’s a short list, along with a few strategies to help you work through them:

Anxiety:

There is no shortage of things to worry about post-concussion. How long will this last? When will I be able to go back to school/work/play? What will others think of me? Will I ever be the same again?

Excessive worry never seems to do much good for anyone, especially if you’re worrying about things that are beyond your control. When you’re injured, your physical, cognitive, and emotional resources are limited. Ask yourself this: is there anything you can do right now to help the situation? If the answer is yes, then do it. If the answer is no, then direct your energy toward more productive avenues. Focus on the 3 S’s: Strengths, Solutions, and Safety. 

Stress:

Getting back to “normal”, financial concerns, work or social commitments, physical and cognitive limitations, the list goes on. 

Test out some strategies to manage your stress.

Test out some strategies to manage your stress.

Being injured is stressful, no one should deny that, including you.  The first step is acknowledging your stress and, more importantly, identifying your “stressors”. What are your “yellow light” and “red light” things that signal stress? Know your triggers, acknowledge them and decide in advance how you’d like to deal with them. Test out some strategies to manage stress like deep breathing, meditation, light physical activity, or just spend time with a friend or loved one. Everyone deals with stress differently, the key is knowing what works for you and deciding in advance how you’re going to deal with it. 

Depression/Low mood:

You’ve been told you should rest, limit your screen time, limit your physical and cognitive strain, you can’t do your regular duties or activities, you’re missing out on other commitments, and you generally don’t feel all that good, physically or mentally. 

Optimism and hope matter. You will get through this.

Optimism and hope matter. You will get through this.

Concussions suck. Period. But they are not uncommon, and one has happened to you. While that can be pretty scary and overwhelming, it isn’t permanent. We hear all about the ‘worst case scenarios’ in the media, but we don’t often hear about all the people who successfully recover from concussion (the vast majority) in a reasonable amount of time (a few weeks to months). Again, everyone is different, but those with a positive outlook tend to experience positive outcomes (ref). Look for the good things, no matter how small they are, and choose to focus on those. What are you able to do? What are you learning from this experience? How is it making you stronger? Make a list and refer to it often.

PTSD:

Flashbacks, nightmares, negative thoughts, avoiding certain places or activities, avoiding thoughts/feelings, fear of re-injury.

You’ve been through something significant and when that happens your subconscious mind can sometimes take advantage of your vulnerability. Talk about it. Grab a close friend, family member, or a professional, and talk it out. Sometimes this can be scary and uncomfortable, but better out than in, as they say. Once you feel a little more comfortable talking about it, try to gradually reintroduce some of the things that make you uncomfortable. For example, if concussion is a result of a car accident, the idea of driving might be stressful for you. Start by simply spending a few minutes per day just sitting in the driver’s seat of a parked car. Put your hands on the wheel. Maybe even turn the car on and adjust some of the radio or mirror settings. Eventually, once you feel comfortable (and that might take days, weeks, or months), take a slow ride around your block or on quiet side street, and then build from there. By gradually reintroducing some of these things in a safe and controlled environment, you allow your body and mind to build some confidence to reengage in those activities or experiences.  

Anger/Blame:

He was driving too fast and not paying attention, the turf was too wet we shouldn’t have been playing on it, I should have been more careful, he back-checked me on purpose!

It happened, it was scary, but it’s over now and your energy is best spent in the here-and-now.
Physiotherapy, Concussion

It’s human nature to want to understand why bad things happen and it can feel cathartic (at least temporarily, anyway) to assign blame. The problem with that is, when we assign blame to others, we remove our control over the situation; we become victims. In some cases, it can even be tempting to blame yourself. The problem is, the blame game can take a serious toll on your recovery. Blame requires a focus on the past (what happened, why did it happen, who was involved, etc.) but at the end of the day, how can you expect to move forward and recover if you’re spending your limited resources dwelling on the past? It happened, it was scary, but it’s over now and your energy is best spent in the here-and-now. What are you going to do today to help yourself move forward? What is your goal and what steps can you take to bring yourself closer to achieving it? 

To summarize, this is very much a simplified explanation of the psychological and emotional side-effects of concussion paired with a few tidbits of advice, but be well-aware that there really is a lot more to it. These symptoms can be difficult to acknowledge and challenging to work through – no one is saying it’s easy – but around here we like to operate guided by optimism, positivity and, of course, the evidence. What that tells us is that with the right attitude, a lot of hard work, and maybe a little guidance, you really can feel better, get back to school, work, sport, and life, and thrive once again.