Monday, 17 March 2014

Keeping Your Head In The Game

In just a few short months, the biggest single-event sporting competition in the world, The FIFA World Cup, will kick off in Brazil and fans across the globe will tune in to watch some of the greatest athletes on the planet battle for the coveted Jules Rimet Trophy.

Even though hockey is such a mainstay of our culture here in Canada, make no mistake, Canadians are just as passionate about 'footy' as they are most other sports. On any given weekend, soccer fields throughout the Lower Mainland are filled with kids and adults kicking a ball around, either in organized leagues or pick up games.

In fact, nearly 3 million Canadians played soccer last year!
 And while sports like hockey and football (the North American kind) often get most of the attention when it comes to the risk for concussion, soccer is no stranger to these traumatic head injuries. In a sport where heading a ball (and accidentally on occasion, the noggins of other players) is commonplace, it's not hard to see why the risk of concussions in soccer has created a lot of discussion in recent years.

So much so, The Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine published a series of recommendations some time ago to help reduce the risk of concussions to soccer players.

 If you play soccer or coach youngsters playing the game, keep these recommendations in mind.

• Use age appropriate soccer balls. Size 3 balls for ages 10 and under, size 4 for ages 10-14, and size 5 for players over 14.

• Heading of the ball should be minimized amongst children. Repetitive heading should be avoided and not used in games until proper technique is learned.

• Proper heading technique should be taught by qualified coaches.

• Goalposts should be padded and secured to minimize tipping over onto players.

• Goalies face the greatest risk of concussions and players and referees should ensure precautions are taken to ensure their safety.

• Mouth guards should be worn at all times. These help reduce dental injuries but also reduce forces be transmitted through the jaw to the head.

• Finally, headgear is being investigated for its potential to protect the head and may provide further protection for athletes.

To read the full Discussion paper, you can download it here

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Are You Sitting Down?


A new study just released by The Journal of Physical Activity and Health, reveals some alarming new revelations about the negative effects of sitting on our health as we get older. 

The study observed 2286 adults over the age of 60 and the effects sedentary time had on their bodies.

Specifically, the study explored what relationship exists between sitting and the development disabilities in activities of daily living (ADL).

While it’s no surprise that lack of exercise resulting in a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to a host of ailments, especially as our bodies age, the degree to which ‘taking a load off’ can debilitate us, raises some serious red flags for inactive seniors.

Seniors participating in the study were given accelerometers, attached to belts worn around the waist. Participants were instructed to wear the devices for seven consecutive days, during waking hours.

Over a seven day period, the average monitoring time during waking hours was 14 hours a day. 63.4% of participants reported being sedentary for at least 9 hours a day.

While most sedentary time was common among all seniors studied (reading, watching television, etc.) of particular note were sedentary social activities prevalent among women, a sub group the study suggests warrants particular attention.

The study suggested that offering physical activity classes immediately following or preceding social programs like book clubs, bingo, etc., may help to stimulate more activity.

In the end, the study found that a senior’s risk of an ADL disability increases by a whopping 46% for every hour spent sitting each day.

Clearly, seniors should be taking these latest findings seriously. With consequences ranging from metabolic syndrome to depression, cancer and even mortality, as one newspaper declared, sitting may just be the new smoking.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Show Your Body Some Love This Valentines Day

Chocolate, Fruit, Wine and Romance are thought of as indulgences of Valentines Day but they can be good for your heart. 

There are components in tart cherries, grapes and wine that can protect your heart muscle and lower your blood pressure. A massage along with a glass of wine can lower stress and anxiety.

Cherries contain a component called anthocyanins which is also good for your heart. You can go ahead and dip some cherries in chocolate to make a heart-healthy Valentine’s snack.

When it comes to chocolate not any will do, dark chocolate is the heart-healthy kind. Dark Chocolate contains flavonoids which are good for the heart.

Red Wine vs. White Wine?

Red wine has agents in it that are heart-healthy and heart-friendly; it could be the dark skin of the red wine grapes. Grape intake is also shown to lower blood pressure.

Facts About Cherries:

Tart Cherries have been shown to: 

  • • Lower Blood Sugar 
  • • Help in storing less fat in the liver 
  • • Lower Oxidative stress 
  • • Improve heart health and function 
  • • Reduce bell fat Massage Getting a massage is a good way to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety and stress. 
So it is possible for sweets to set the mood for a heart-healthy and romantic Valentine’s Day.

Exercise Might Be The Sweetest Treat of All

Then again, you could forego the sweets and really show your body some love with some exercise to ignite that Valentine’s spark.

Research studies have shown that exercise can increase sexual drive and satisfaction in both men and women.

Twenty minutes of exercise, especially more intense exercise, has been shown to increase testosterone levels in both men and women, a key hormone in regulating desire.

In addition to these benefits, exercise also increases sexual health and confidence. Men who exercise regularly have a much lower risk of erectile dysfunction and impotence compared to inactive men.

Regular exercise also increases a person’s perception of their sexual performance and attractiveness, importance components of satisfaction and activity. These effects last throughout our lives as well with regular swimmers in their 60s reported having similar sex lives to those in the average population in their 40s.

So, to sweeten up this Valentine's Day, make the right 'sweet' choices or skip the candy all together and head out for a brisk walk with your partner, you never know where you’ll end up.