Summer Play

Family members of all ages thrive on unstructured “playtime.” This is especially true for Canadian families, as longer days bring extended outdoor play hours. Here are some ideas to help your family get moving and play together this summer:

Active Training. If you missed out on a community run/walk or charity event in the spring, consider signing up for one. Take the family to a free all-ages event like the Running Room 20 Minute Challenge— it might be the springboard for a more active summer ahead. Continue reading “Summer Play”

Are there any food choices that can supply some natural anti-inflammatory benefits for runners?

Exercise creates inflammation in the body, through the act of doing work and producing heat. Runners also have the effect of the impact of our feet striking the ground. In moderate amounts, inflammation a good thing, as it stimulates healthy immune responses in the body that actually make our cells stronger and more prepared to protect themselves. However, repeated long duration exercise, coupled with other environmental and internal stressors, can have the opposite effect and actually contribute to the breakdown of the body tissues Continue reading “Are there any food choices that can supply some natural anti-inflammatory benefits for runners?”

Running with Asthma: Using the Air Quality Health Index to Plan the Perfect Time to Be Outside

Having asthma or another respiratory condition doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy exercise, reach your fitness goals, or even become a champion. But it does mean paying close attention to your body and the main triggers of symptoms, such as outdoor air conditions.

And the best way to do that is by checking the Air Quality Health Index, or AQHI.

The AQHI assigns a rating between 1 and 10 for the air quality in your region: the higher the number, the greater the risk. People with asthma and other health conditions often experience more severe symptoms — issues like wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, or irritated eyes and throat. But even people who are otherwise healthy can feel the effects of air pollution (and especially when poor air quality combines with extreme heat). Continue reading “Running with Asthma: Using the Air Quality Health Index to Plan the Perfect Time to Be Outside”

Arthritis and Running

We’ve invited readers to send in topic suggestions for this column, and we received this question from David: “Is it possible to run or jog when one has a chronic and painful condition of the knee, like arthritis?”

To begin, there are many causes for “arthritis.” I’m using quotation marks since the patient has to be satisfied that the diagnosis of arthritis is correct in the first place. Arthritis of the knee should definitely be confirmed before any alterations of activity or lifestyle are made. Continue reading “Arthritis and Running”

Eating Well as a Vegetarian Athlete

by Lisa Podlecki

Athletes may choose to eat vegetarian or vegan for a variety of reasons, such as environmental considerations, animal welfare, personal preference, and/or religion. While eating a well-balanced vegetarian diet can have a number of positive health outcomes—including lower risk of heart disease, diabetes and hypertension—athletes may also believe that becoming vegetarian may be a way to lose weight, improve their performance and help with recovery. As with any diet, cutting out a particular food group can result in insufficient calorie and nutrient intake, which may lead to potential nutritional deficiencies and decreased performance. With the proper guidance, however, vegetarian athletes can be just as strong and healthy!

Continue reading “Eating Well as a Vegetarian Athlete”

Are processed meat-alternatives good replacements for those looking to limit or avoid animal protein?

by Tara Postnikoff

There are many meat-alternative products on the market today, with brand names like Beyond Meat, Tofurky and Boca Burger. For people looking to remove animal products from their current diet, these types of products are offered as a substitute for burgers, ground meats, deli meats and other traditional meat products.

As with conventional packaged meats, many meat-alternative products are heavily processed. Unfortunately, pre-packaged products tend to be high in sodium, preservatives and artificial flavours and thus should be eaten sparingly. For a balanced diet, choose foods that are as minimally processed as possible. Continue reading “Are processed meat-alternatives good replacements for those looking to limit or avoid animal protein?”

Four Ways to Boost Your Family’s Activity Level

by Don Zabloski

When it comes to being active as a family, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy. Every family is unique and will make active choices that work for them. Some families may thrive on friendly competition, while others prefer not to keep score. One family may choose to devote themselves to a beloved sport, while another finds that they thrive in a variety of activities. Here are some active suggestions to try on for size with your team.

1. Tackle a new challenge
Trying something completely new can be energizing. It could be learning to cross-country ski on a nature trail or working up the courage to jump off the diving board at the community pool. Brainstorm activities you’ve never tried but always wanted to—how about bowling, archery, mini-golf or trampolining? Spend a weekend afternoon at the local recreation centre as a family, experiencing all that it has to offer for adults and kids alike. Or, head outside to the local park for a walk, run, hike or scavenger hunt. Continue reading “Four Ways to Boost Your Family’s Activity Level”

What Runners Should Know About the Air Quality Health Index

by Sarah Gutenberg, BSc (Pharm), CRE, CTE

As committed running enthusiasts, we can all agree with Sting on the importance of “Every Breath You Take.” Having an efficient set of lungs is essential to supply oxygen to our circulatory system and muscles, and to enhance our individual performance over time. Unfortunately, we cannot always be sure that the air we breathe is clean and free of pollutants that may seriously impede our lungs’ ability to absorb oxygen. Continue reading “What Runners Should Know About the Air Quality Health Index”

Why It’s Better to Over-Fuel Than Under-Fuel

by Megan Kuikman, RD

Most athletes are concerned about how nutrition can help them recover faster, perform better or reach an ideal body composition. However, adequate calorie intake should be a main focus for all athletes, as the negative consequences of under-fuelling can be more detrimental than over-fuelling.

Under-fuelling means not eating enough calories to cover the calories burned through exercise, plus the calories to simply get through the day. Energy from calories is required for the heart to beat, for the lungs to breathe and for the brain to think. Even if a person was to sleep all day, they would still require calories. If not enough calories are consumed, there are metabolic and hormonal changes that occur (in both females and males) that are detrimental to one’s health. Continue reading “Why It’s Better to Over-Fuel Than Under-Fuel”

Are smoothies a healthy option for the whole family?

by Tara Postnikoff

Smoothies are an amazing way to get a lot of nutrition in a convenient and tasty way. They can be customized to suit your mood, tastes and nutritional needs. They are great for breakfast, a quick meal, or as a pre or post run snack. The most common concern with smoothies–the homemade versions and especially the store-bought ones–is the high sugar content.

One way to boost the nutritional content of your smoothie is to add protein powder, as well as some additional ingredients to make it a balanced meal. This can make it easier to boost your protein levels throughout the day if you are not getting enough from real foods. However, it is important to know that protein powders are a processed form of protein and should be considered a supplement to the diet; in other words, you should not get all your protein from a powder. Continue reading “Are smoothies a healthy option for the whole family?”