Check out our new video! A visual of some of the things we do in Kinesiology here at UPEI.
In the human performance laboratory and beyond. For more information on our program visit: http://www.upei.ca/science/applied-human-sciences/kinesiology
Check out our new video! A visual of some of the things we do in Kinesiology here at UPEI.
In the human performance laboratory and beyond. For more information on our program visit: http://www.upei.ca/science/applied-human-sciences/kinesiology
I am a proud and strong supporter of cycling. Those who know me are aware that I cycle to the office on a daily basis, and encourage others to do the same for the benefits to mental and physical health (not to mention the environment or money).
My time spent in Vancouver showed me firsthand that the more cyclists there are in a city, the safer and more enjoyable it is. It would seem that drivers not only get used to sharing the road with cyclists (and thus do less unpredictable or seemingly foolish things around them), but also that most car commuters ARE ALSO cyclists and can sympathize with the other perspective. Despite the bike-friendliness of Vancouver, North American’s clearly have a long way to go to catch up to Europe where cycling is a way of life.
So what do European’s think about the state of cycling across the pond? This video offers some interesting perspective on the way we do it (or don’t do it) and offers some useful suggestions for improvement.
Ride your bike!
Another video well worth watching.
What’s your motivation to move?
“We all try to be busy instead of being alive, busy instead of getting out and breathing, busy sending useless texts instead of walking in the woods with our kids or introducing them to life’s joys. We move information instead of simply moving”
“Every time I slip out of the house…to bike, hike, run or just walk for an hour, it’s a win”
Welcome back students! After a long summer, it’s finally time to get back to the books.
Although midterms aren’t for a few weeks yet, its never to early to start thinking about good study habits for the coming year. Here are some good tips (which I too recommend) from Daniel Coyle, Author of “The Talent Code”.
I am a big fan of this new ad that Canadian Tire has released as part of the bring back play initiative. We can all do something in our own communities to bring back play for children and adults alike.
Ever sat in a lecture, laboratory, or meeting and felt like the person talking knows absolutely everything about a topic? It can be daunting to think “I will NEVER be as knowledgeable, succesful, or creative as this person”.
But if YOU don’t know all the answers that’s ok, no one expects you to. After all, you’re stupid. You just have to accept it first before you can start moving on in your scientific career. But don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that you are an idiot, just that maybe you don’t know the right answers (or even the right questions)…and maybe neither do I.
I recently came across this great article, which I had read a number of years ago, and then completely forgot about. After re-reading it, I immediately thought to share it with graduate students, but upon further reflection I realized that the ideas in THIS ESSAY by Martin Schwartz (published in the Journal of Cell Science, 2008) apply to just about everyone. The main point of the article is that its OK if you don’t know all the answers – and even though you might feel like everyone else does…. they don’t. Perhaps knowing and recognizing this as a student helps in getting over the hump of problem solving (or “paralysis by analysis”). As Dr. Schwartz says “The crucial lesson was that the scope of things I didn’t know wasn’t merely vast; it was, for all practical purposes, infinite. That realization, instead of being discouraging, was liberating. If our ignorance is infinite, the only possible course of action is to muddle through as best we can.”
After all, we as humans are stupid…or at least rather ignorant about the way many things around us work. Even times when we think we have something figured out, we’ve been looking at the question (and thus the answer) all wrong. By accepting that we don’t know all the answers, we can get past worrying about this fact and seek out the information we need. I hope you enjoy the article as much as I did, and good luck trying to sort your way through life’s challenges, dummy.
“I just don’t have time to exercise”.
Have you ever heard that before? Maybe said it yourself? Lack of time is the most commonly cited barrier to physical activity. This perception that we don’t have enough time to fit-in meaningful exercise may well explain society’s obsession with determining just how little exercise we can “get away with.”
Last month the New York Times ran an article titled “The 4-minute workout” which (like similar stories before it) was met with great enthusiasm, as it suggested that fitness could be maintained with the investment of very little time. In fact, the research on which they were reporting suggested no more than 4 min a session, three times a week was necessary.
How does this possibly work? The most important caveat of this research is that this is not just any-old exercise, it is what we call high intensity interval training, or HIIT. High intensity intervals are not a new concept, in fact, they have been used by elite athletes for quite some time and it is well known that the added intensity is quite effective in boosting fitness gains. What is more novel is the idea of swapping time for intensity, that is exercising very hard for a short amount of time without sacrificing efficacy. Many people who are initially excited by the prospect of exercising only 4-6 minutes a day perhaps miss the point that this exercise is performed near maximal (often about 90%), either for one continuous bout (4 min) or for multiple shorter bouts, interspersed with lighter exercise between. Despite the higher intensity of this type of exercise, current evidence suggests that it is still quite safe (see the CACR webinar I presented on HIIT in cardiac rehab here), but there is no denying that the risk goes up slightly and extra effort and motivation to push oneself is required.
Seems to good to be true doesn’t it? There must be a catch. Not necessarily, but there are still a number of things that we do not yet understand, and some important limitations. Firstly, it needs to be noted that the research showing improvements in fitness with only 4 min a session was done using inactive participants (who we would expect to change the most from adopting ANY exercise), and comparisons were made to other forms of interval training to determine that increases in fitness were “not different”. Although other previous research has shown comparable (and even magnified) alterations in fitness using HIIT vs traditional longer and slower exercise, we need to recognize that the generalizability of these findings to the broad population are still unclear. Furthermore, the efficacy of this style of training for people with better baseline fitness may differ. We also don’t understand the longer term effects of adopting a condensed HIIT program vs doing more traditional exercise. For example, do the findings of a relatively short research intervention actually just show us who would win a 12 week “race to fitness?” That is, does HIIT simply speed up the adaption process that “regular” training would have eventually caused if given a little more time? If it does, there is still potential value in this, but we don’t yet know or understand what will happen in the longer term, or if these changes will plateau. Drawing from elite athlete experience and HIIT, it is also plausible that burnout and injury could become an issue, but this may also be avoided based on the low volume of exercise exposure.
In short, any exercise is probably better than none, and if you are going to only invest a short amount of time (or can only find a short amount of time), you might as well bump up the intensity to get a better “bang for your buck”. It is important to understand that fitness and fatness are not necessarily the same thing- and this type of training may help you to control fitness, but not fatness. The calorie burning of this type of workout may actually be well below that of a lower intensity exercise session that can be sustained for a longer period of time. Rather than looking at the “least possible” angle, a better interpretation may be that even little bits of high intensity added to your regular program will likely add further benefits. So, why not run up the stairs when no one is looking, chase your kids and dogs around the yard at full speed, and don’t be afraid to work up a real sweat during your workout? After all, its only a few minutes.
Ever noticed that climbing a mountain (or stairs) is hard, but that coming back down is actually harder? On top of that, it’s the descent that makes your legs sore the next day, or the day after that. Why is this? When coming back down, your leg muscles have to control the weight of your body while the muscle is getting longer, rather than shorter. We call this type of a muscle action an “eccentric” contraction. Interestingly, we can produce great forces using eccentric contractions, but delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is increased.
Research shows that eccentric squat-type muscle contractions performed on an exercise machine leads to soreness, and also to inflammation. In turn, this inflammation may have some effects on the cardiovascular system. Even though these types of heavy weight eccentric contractions rarely happen outside of the weight room, they may be applied to the human body while running. Our lab is currently exploring what happens when someone runs downhill- although we’re using a downhill treadmill for safety. We want to know: does the expected inflammation and muscle soreness lead to changes in the cardiovascular system? If so, what does this mean? Stay tuned.
In the meantime, if you want to get involved (we are looking for runners, non-runners, fit and not fit) please contact us!
That’s right, I have the secret that personal trainers, dieticians and doctors everywhere don’t want you to know. With just three simple steps (and 4 easy payments), I can tell you everything you need to know to gain massive amounts of fat in just 1 week. Not only will you pack on the pounds, your fitness will almost immediately plummet to levels you’ve never before experienced. Activities of daily life will be challenging in less than one week!
Sound ridiculous? Sure it does. Not just because you likely don’t want to gain a great deal of fat and lose fitness, but also because you intuitively know that this just isn’t likely to happen. Let’s be honest, we’ve all over indulged during vacation, and although doing so likely didn’t have beneficial effects on your waistline, the wheels probably didn’t fall off so quickly that you needed to come home with an entirely larger wardrobe.
So why is it then, that people are so apt to believe the opposite could be true? If it takes us weeks, months or years to put weight on (and lose significant fitness), why would anyone believe the ad campaigns that suggest we should be able to take it off in such a short amount of time? Common sense suggests that getting back into shape is going to take time (and some effort) to make meaningful and sustainable changes.
So plan ahead, set your goals and work away at them slowly. Then, think about what small changes you can make in your everyday life to sustain those changes. And, when you’ve done that, join me in snickering at the silly commercials for “safe and effective” overnight weight loss…because really, who are they kidding?
As summer is just around the corner, bathing suit season is almost upon us. Time to hit the gym. After all, there is nothing in this world that is worse than unwanted flab….right?
But maybe looking good on the outside isn’t a highly motivating factor for you. Despite the messages we get from the media and others around us, perhaps being skinny isn’t the most important thing, on which we should be judging our self-worth. In fact, current scientific health-evidence suggests that being skinny is less important than being fit.
So why exercise?
On a personal level, there are many benefits to living a healthy active life. For students, as exam time is upon us making time for exercise can aid with focus, sleep quality and managing stress. Exercise can also be a very social activity. Outside of school, exercise has many benefits (over the long term) for keeping us productive, functionally independent and disease-free.
On a population level, there are many benefits to society if we can curb “couch-potatoism”. In this excellent short presentation Karim Khan (editor of British Journal of Sports Medicine) examines how and why to get people active. You can click here to view it in Prezi. As an organizing member of the conference wherein the Toronto Charter was formed, I am particularly supportive of this initiative.
So, as the snow melts find your reason to get you, and those around you, moving toward and active healthy life.
Today, marathon running is more popular than any other time in history. What used to be a race reserved for the hardened elite is now on the “bucket list” of many recreational athletes. As a physiologist who studies health (and the negative health consequences of inactivity) my first response is “that’s great, people are moving!” However, we are also in an era of unprecedented sedentary living, as regular physical activity has been cut or reduced from many parts of everyday life including at work, at home and during recreation. Taking on too big a challenge before we are physiologically (and mentally) ready can overwhelm the body, particularly when underlying health conditions exist. So, should you attempt that next big race or physical activity challenge? You bet, but make sure you’re appropriately training for the race-day physical demands, not trying to compete right off the couch.
Below is a fantastic infographic discussing some of the differing physiological effects of marathon running on the trained vs the untrained participant. Some food for thought.
It is becoming abundantly clear that sitting (not just lack of exercise) has negative health consequences. This is problematic as many of our daily lives require long periods of sitting, whether it be as a student in a lecture hall, or as a professional behind a computer. Perhaps most frightening is the fact that long periods of sitting has negative effects even for those of us who meet the recommended daily physical activity guidelines. So, what can we do about it? Find a reason to get up and move around. Take standing breaks (every 30 minutes or so if possible). Find excuses to exercise every chance you get- take the stairs, go talk to someone in person instead of emailing, or start doing walk and talk meetings (my favorite). Since we were children most of us were taught to sit quietly and not move around. It’s OK to move now.
In time, I hope that we will see changes to the social norms that promote/require excess amounts of sitting. For instance, what if classrooms and boardrooms became active places where no one sat down to learn or talk? At present it sounds odd, maybe even impossible, but at one time the idea of mandatory seat belt use and smoking bans did too.
Want more information? Check out this infographic from medicalbillingandcoding.org and visit http://www.sedentarybehaviourclassification.net/
As we talk about in my first year Kinesiology class, physical activity, sport and exercise don’t happen in a vacuum. All of our decisions to participate, or to not participate (and to work hard, or to slack off) are influenced by others components of our overall being. These include psycho-social factors such as our thoughts and feelings, past experiences, perceived incentives, and our social contexts. Sometimes, through our actions we motivate others. Sometimes, we could use a little motivation ourselves.
Need a motivating pep talk to get moving or keep moving? Click the picture below.
Other good motivating ideas for exercise: get a workout partner to hold you accountable, keep a record of your goals and progress (i.e. time, weight, distance), or use one of the countless smartphone apps now available.
Welcome to 2013! With the arrival of the new year comes thoughts of renewal, fresh starts and maybe even change. Perhaps this year you plan to make more healthy choices: a new exercise plan, alterations to your diet, or adding active commuting / active living to your regular schedule. Are New Years resolutions a good idea? Dr. Mike Evans (of 23.5hrs fame) brings this insightful look at the science of New Years Resolutions.
So go on. Dream about what the new you could be…its the first step to getting there. Whether you are an elite athlete, an average joe, or someone working through an existing chronic condition, we can all find ways through which physical activity and lifestyle changes can improve our life and help us accomplish our goals.
To watch the video, click the picture above or click here
Designing, implementing and reporting scientific research is a huge part of graduate school. Although simple in theory, effectively seeing this process through is difficult in practice. You can design the most eloquent study in the world, but if you struggle to effectively describe it to others, it will have little impact. Similarly, if you’re a fantastic writer but your research methodology is poor, publishing your work and convincing others to agree with your conclusions will be difficult. So how do you write a good research paper? This article, from the Journal of Physiology, offers some great tips for new graduate students and seasoned investigators alike.Click on the picture (or here) to read the article online.
It’s no secret that the obesity/diabetes epidemic is driven not just by the amount of activity (or lack thereof) in the average Canadian’s life, but also by what we eat. Strong arguments can be made for the fact that caloric consumption has changed toward a greater proportion of high energy (and low nutrient) foods at the same time that sedentary behavior has been increasing. Why is this happening, and what can we do about it?
In a compelling talk, which was coincidentally cancelled last minute by food industry reps, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff of the University of Ottawa, examines the influences in today’s culture. Are you being misled by today’s advertising? Watch the video here.
The lure of screen time is a growing temptation in today’s society. With television-on-demand, content specific channels (e.g. cartoon network), traditional computer usage, live video streaming, Youtube, smartphones, tablets, social networking etc. all vying for our work and leisure time, sometimes it seems impossible to unplug and step away from it all. If you feel this way, you’re not alone…and be sure that there are people making healthy paycheques to make the consumption of these technologies even harder to avoid.
Perhaps it is this market driven emphasis on screen usage that makes the idea of “exergaming”, or combining exercise and video games, so appealing. After all, wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to choose between these seemingly opposed activities?
Research into this area gives us somewhat mixed results. In general, the physical demands of currently available “exergames” are moderate at best. Although moderate intensity physical demands could thus justify the classification some of these games as meeting current exercise guidelines, critics are quick to point out that there are multiple ways to reduce the demand (cheat), certain benefits are conspicuously missing in a virtual world, and that boredom likely sets in quickly. Proponents argue that the benefits of safety, breaking up sedentary time, and habilitation/rehabilitation should not be underestimated or overlooked.
Today, Active Healthy Kids released an official statement regarding exergaming, an activity which it DOES NOT support. Agree or disagree with this position, I think it is important for many parents to understand the issues at the centre of the debate so that they can make their own decisions. Check out the position here.
So you’ve finally found that dream job advertised…now all you need to do is convince the hiring committee to choose you. Simple right? Not always.
Recently I have had a number of requests as to how to get noticed and stand out above the competition. Sure, good grades, impressive research, scholarships, great reference letters and experience are all assets- but let’s be honest, for a great job only the best candidates with these prerequisite skills will even be considered/short listed. It’s important to make sure your potential employer sees why you’re different from everyone else – in a good way. Without a doubt, this is easier said than done.
One tactic that I think is particularly effective, and which I have personally used is to demonstrate that you can “walk the walk.” In every applicant’s cover letter he or she will invariably attempt to make the case that they stand-out for a number of (often cliche) reasons. It’s one thing to claim something, but completely another to show it. Or put another way, “actions speak louder than words.” As an example, when applying for my position at UPEI, I wrote in my cover letter that I embrace technology and approached my teaching in novel and unique ways. How did I show this? By adapting my CV (resume) into an interactive, online display of everything I had done in my career. I can’t say for certain, but I suspect none of the competition had anything similar. To help come up with some of your own ideas, I have included my example below.
To view the actual presentation I submitted with my application click here.
So when the time comes, what will you do to show you are creative, unique, memorable, knowledgeable and ultimately hire-able? The job market is more competitive than ever. Think outside the box. After all, your (dream) job may depend on it.
If someone collapsed in the exercise laboratory, at the gym, or while you are out in public….would you know what to do? There is incontrovertible evidence that early intervention saves lives, particularly the use of AED machines.
Check out this “Save-a-life simulator” at heart rescue now.
AED’s are available in public spaces now more than ever…but they are only effective if people understand what they are and have the confidence to use them. Share this with your friends- and encourage them to seek further training!
With rising rates of obesity and inactivity-related chronic disease at increasingly younger ages, the need to improve the physical activity levels of Canadian children is greater than ever. Of late, there is an emerging movement, led by groups like Participaction, to “bring back play” for kids.
Many adults can likely remember spending countless hours after school and on weekends playing impromptu sports-games, building forts and tree-houses or just exploring vacant spaces in the neighborhood. I certainly remember being told I could play outside all afternoon, I just had to come in when the lights came on, which was almost invariably before I was ready to be done. Sadly, today many kids aren’t offered these same opportunities with changes in parenting styles owing to concerns about safety, and societal shifts in what is viewed as important (e.g. time would be better spent doing homework rather than playing in the dirt). Commonly, active outdoor time has been replaced with computer and TV “screen time” and pick-up games have been replaced by organized sport. Although organized sport certainly has its merits, it can also limit involvement and creativity as children can only participate at scheduled times, they focus on one sport only, opportunities for ball/puck handling are often limited, and the activity is typically coordinated by adults. This neat infographic displays some of the many benefits to simply letting kids play. What do you think…isn’t it time we bring back play?
For more information on the bring back play movement and ideas on how you can promote kid’s play visit: http://www.participaction.com/get-moving/bring-back-play/
I am a big fan of the CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest) as they take complex research theories and results and present the information in easy to understand terms for everyone. Much of their work centers around nutrition, but they also touch on the interactions with physical activity and exercise. I highly recommend their newsletter “Nutrition Action”, an easy to read and well written news leaf (http://www.cspinet.org/nah/canada.htm).
The full video can be viewed here (video)
A big thank you to all the volunteers who helped out with the cardiovascular exercise science booth for the kids this weekend at the AVC open house. It was a great event, and lots of visitors (kids and parents alike) committed to being more active after understanding how exercise affects heart health!
Congratulations also to all members of the Applied Human Sciences Society who took part in the “Run for the Cure, to support Breast Cancer” in the pouring rain. A great showing for an important cause.