After a large snowfall, we often see patients in our clinic. From Physio to Massage, to Yoga, our practitioners are helping people with injuries and aches and pains.
We have shared blog posts in the past with snow shovelling tips (Click Here) to help prevent injuries.
While the advise still stands, it is often a surprise to people how challenging clearing the drive and sidewalk can be. People are often surprised by how they feel afterwards as well. The snow we got in North Oakville and the surrounding areas of Burlington and Milton was A LOT at one time on January 17, 2022. The Halton School Boards have their schools closed for a second day now.
It is a good opportunity to be honest regarding how robust and resilient you are. Is there any activity you do in your week that helps to increase your robustness and resilience for tasks like this MASSIVE snow fall?
While going for walks and doing steady state cardio is fine. It is good for your heart, lungs, brain etc. It is NOT strength training. Including exercise that challenges your muscles in your week is what will prepare you for these types of tasks.
Whether you lift large amounts of snow all at once or do repeated smaller shovels, the net amount of snow is still the same.
If there is one thing our North Oakville Physiotherapists, Massage Therapists and Yoga Therapists can encourage people to do, it is to add global strengthening activities to your week.
If you are new to these types of activities, are recovering from a surgery or health issue, or recovering from a surgery or are post part, our Physiotherapists are here to help get you started safely.
If you are injured from this past snowfall our Oakville RMT’s and Physio’s are here to hep you recover with the goal of preventing the same thing from happening in the future.
Contact us to book in at our North Oakville Clinic serving Oakville, Milton and Burlington in person. We also treat physiotherapy patients virtually all over Ontario!
Your muscles do not really get enough stimulation to grow stronger from just walking. Their baseline strength is somewhat maintained by regular walks, but there is no added strengthening benefit.
More than that, in order for you to get the cardiorespiratory benefits of walking, you need to feel exertion and raise your heart rate. In other words, a leisurely walk may feel nice but to get the real benefits of cardio exercise, such as:
improving heart rate,
controlling blood sugar and cholesterol,
boosting your mood,
improving your brain function and memory,
you need to add some pep to your step! 😉 To do this, you can:
increase your speed,
hold onto small weights,
go on rougher terrain (lots of hills, or incline on the treadmill),
increase the distance to tire you out and work on your endurance…
Cardio exercise is great at any age and you shouldn’t trade it for strength training. But as we get older, it alone is not enough.
So what is strength training then?
Usually, strength training for your muscles means using resistance (such as weights, or even your body weight) in a repetitive manner. When done regularly, this causes an adaptive response in your muscles to grow larger and more efficient.
And why should I bother to do this?
Have you ever heard the term “sarcopenia?” It means the loss of muscletissue due toaging.
Not only do we lose muscle mass more quickly as we age, but the type of muscle fibers in our body also changes. This leads to reduced muscle responsiveness and power overall.
Strength training can offset these changes. The benefits:
Maintain your muscle mass and strength so that you are able to engage in your daily tasks, as well as the activities you enjoy, for a long time to come. In other words, maintaining your strength means maintaining your independence as you get older.
Reduce risk of falls (our declining strength is also accompanied by reduced coordination and balance for a number of reasons, which overall increase the likelihood of falls –> long hospital stays –> further muscle strength decline & increased risk of infections)
Maintain / improve bone density (as we get older, our risk of osteoporosis increases, and therefore, so does our risk of fractures if we have a fall)
Other associated benefits: improved sleep and mood, contribution to weight loss
Alright, so how do I start strength training?
Select three days per week, preferably every other day (e.g. Monday / Wednesday / Friday).
Start slow. Maybe just 15-20 minutes whenever in the day works best with your schedule.
Play energetic music, or have the TV on to something you enjoy watching. Your workouts will often reflect your mood 😉
Now, let’s consider the major muscle groups:
Chest (pecs): some common workouts include chest presses, flies
Back: rowing, lat pull downs
Shoulders: shoulder presses, front and side arm lifts
arms (biceps and triceps): bicep curls, tricep extensions
abdominals (core): bird-dogs, crunches, side crunches, planks, side planks, bridges
gluts: bridges, clam shells, side and back leg raises, squats!
legs (quads, hamstrings, calves): lunges, single leg deadlifts, heel raises
You don’t have to start with all of these. Maybe pick a few of these exercises to begin, and gradually add on based on how you are doing. Some of these exercises also work multiple body parts. If you don’t have knee pain, then squats and lunges are great multi-purpose exercises!
Often, people will alternate between upper body and lower body workout days. It depends on preference and convenience.
Start with body weight only, and as the workouts get easier, start using weights or resistance bands or machines in the gym.
Start with 3-4 sets of 6-8 repetitions with high intensity exercises, and 2-3 sets of 12-15 repetitions with low intensity exercises. If a weight is heavy and you fatigue quickly, it is high intensity. If using light weights, or body weight only, it will likely be lower intensity.
Look up some free YouTube workout videos, or an app like the free Nike Training Club App, and do only what feels comfortable to you… don’t push yourself too hard when starting out because we need to build up the endurance first, or we risk straining a muscle!
Consider consulting a personal trainer for a few sessions to get exercise suggestions and work on your technique.
Depending on local COVID-19 restrictions, as well as your personal comfort level, joining an exercise class may help your motivation, discipline, and overall confidence with working out!
If you develop pain as a result from your workouts, rest for a week before trying again. If the pain is not going away, your technique or something else is likely amiss. Contact your local physiotherapist for guidance, especially if you’ve struggled with injuries in the past, or are still recovering from one! If you are unsure about coming in due to COVID-19, we alsoofferTelehealth appointments!
In-person classes are scheduled to resume in just over a week! That’s hardly any time at all!
What is your back-to-school preparation looking like?
Today we will cover a few tips to get us back into the back-to-school mindset and to make the transition easier…
1. Sleep Quality
Sleep quality is so important. What time is the whole family going to bed and what time are they waking up at during the summer? Will you need to adjust that time once school starts?
It might be a good idea to start practicing getting up a bit earlier and going to bed a bit earlier. Start in small increments!
Did you know that exposure to sunlight early in the morning can actually reset your biological clock and sleep cycle?
It doesn’t happen immediately but if on average you view sunlight at a similar time each day, this will begin to shift your sleep cycle based on that time of day.
For this to be most effective, make sure you are actually outdoors and not viewing the sun merely through a window.
Do not wear sunglasses unless you are very sensitive to bright light.
You do not have to look directly at the sun (nor should you, especially if it is hurting!)
Do this first thing in the morning when you wake up (or as soon as able)
If it is bright and sunny out, then even 2 minutes is enough!
If its overcast, then up to 10 minutes would be needed
Bonus points if you go outside for 2-10 minutes around sunset / dusk so your eyes can also be exposed to the fading light
2. Meal Schedule
How has your eating / snacking schedule been at home during the summer?
It might be worth it to start adopting a meal schedule that would mirror the one at school!
Bonus points for practicing with younger kids how to open their lunchbox, take out the tupperwear, unwrap the snacks, and then put everything away on their own!
3. Getting the backpack ready!
If picking out a backpack for a younger child, ensure the sizing is correct. The width of the backpack should be similar to that of the child’s back and shoulders. It should sit just below their shoulders and on top of their hips!
Avoid carrying unnecessary textbooks or supplies… the weight of the backpack should be maximum 10-15% of the child’s body weight. Make sure your child is wearing both straps, well-adjusted, to evenly distribute the weight of the backpack.
Maybe even a waiststrap might be appropriate if the backpack is on the heavier side!
4. Desk and computer ergonomics…
If you or your child is an older student who will be spending a lot of time in front of a computer for school, make sure the ergonomics are set up for success!
should be ideally at eye level (for laptops, consider a riser table, or connecting it to a larger monitor)
Keyboard and mouse
should be close enough so that you are not always reaching your arm forward for them
Elbows should be close to body and forearms parallel to ground while using mouse and keyboard
A mousepad can avoid bending your wrist too far up and creating strain
Avoid having the table too high because that will cause tension in your neck and shoulders!
sitting as far back in your chair will allow full use of the back support (ideally, the backrest should support the whole back)
Feet should be able to fully touch the ground even when sitting all the way back in the chair
Adjustable chairs and tables can really help!
Can really help avoid the strain of prolonged positioning
Microbreaks can be just getting up to move around, get a snack, drink some water, go to the washroom…
They can also be some postural stretches… E.g. wall angels! Neck ear to shoulder stretches! Reaching arms forward as far as you can until you feel shoulder blades pull apart from each other!
5. Team Sports
If getting back into team sports, remember…
Eat well to fuel up and hydrate!
Stretch and warm up… don’t pull something on day 1!
Wear appropriate clothing and footwear
Listen to your body! Don’t push yourself back too quickly into what you were able to do back in early 2020! If it’s been a whole year since you’ve been that active, your body is going to need time to rebuild that strength and flexibility.
Welcome back to Part Two of what is exercise! Here is quick link to Part One for a refresher on what counts as exercise and whether it may or may not be enough of what you need.
This time we answer some burning questions like…
Why do some of us hate to exercise?!
The problems we often encounter with exercise can be that:
It is usually hard work, which makes the body feel uncomfortable, and therefore, can often feel punishing rather than enjoyable!
Unlike work, groceries, paying bills, or driving kids to activities, an exercise routine is not a mandatory part of life… wehave to carve that time out for ourselves!
Depending on our relationship with physical activity growing up, we may not have had the opportunity to develop enjoyment of sports, unlike someone who may have played soccer or baseball growing up.
Maybe we learned to associate exercise as something we were not good at, e.g. always being picked last in gym class. It either didn’t interest us, or it didn’t make us feel good about ourselves.
Maybe exercise does not feel possible if we already have chronic pain or a recurrent injury that flares up every time we try.
If we don’t have a lot of experience with exercise and sports, maybe we just don’t have the confidence or knowledge to know where to start.
And for some, exercise may seem to be a financial luxury they are not able to afford.
However, I’d like to offer up some solutions to the problems listed above. After all, every problem implies a solution! 😉
How to start liking exercise…
If exercise is hard work and feels like punishment, maybe it doesn’t have to be! Let’s forget for a minute what you think exercise shouldbe and let’s brainstorm what would help you enjoy the activity instead…
Do you prefer cycling or the treadmill? A specific sport or using weights?
Would you rather exercise at home or do you feel more motivated at the gym?
Would you like it to be a solo or a social activity?
If you are a beginner, or it’s been a really long time, don’t put pressure on yourself. Something is better than nothing, so even a moderately-paced 30 minute walk, a half hour yoga video, or 20 daily squats can be a place to start!
Also, consider combining exercise with something you enjoy, like listening to music or an audiobook. In that case, limit your time listening to the audiobook unless it’s when you’re exercising. Research shows that pairing something you like with something you procrastinate can help improve the habit! 😊
Consider using a tracker app or having a small reward for every time you exercise to help motivate you! Starting a tally of how many weeks in a row you’ve been exercising can boost your sense of accomplishment and the desire to keep the streak going 😉
Is exercise a priority for you?
Once you select an activity that seems more enjoyable and achievable, let’s talk about priorities…
As (somewhat) proficient multi-taskers, we have a lot of priorities in our day. How many of them are for your personal self-care?
Self-care includes proper nutrition, decent quality and quantity of sleep, time for deep and meaningful connection with family and friends, alone time to enjoy meaningful hobbies such as gardening or reading or knitting, etc… but it should also include your physical and mental health.
Not everyone can make time for 30 minutes of daily exercise. What about 20 minutes, 3x week? Or any other schedule that works for you.
When would that be? Where will you exercise? Who will you be with?
Tell your family in advance you won’t be available during that time, and remind them again right before you start!
Is there someone, or something (like a tracker app), that will be keeping you accountable?
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself…
If you didn’t grow up playing any sports, or don’t feel you are the “sporty” type, then don’t worry…
Exercise isn’t something you have to be goodat.
It doesn’t require a certain body type or a special discipline.
That is why we brainstorm what we might actually likedoing and that is why we prioritize time for ourselves during the week to actually try it and see how it goes.
If you don’t know where to start, it’s okay to feel overwhelmed by the options!
Start simple… like a 20-minute free YouTube video for pilates, or yoga, or cardio!
Ask friends and family about their preferred exercise routine!
Ask yourself what your fitness goals are… why do you want to exercise… what do you want to exercise… what do you picture exercise looks like. The answers to these questions may help guide you.
Consider asking your PT for an individualized program, especially if you are dealing with an injury or chronic pain. We would love to help!
Otherwise, consider taking a class or two when gyms open up, or maybe doing so virtually. Maybe consider hiring a personal trainer for a few sessions to get you started and to make sure you have good technique to avoid injury!
Exercise does not have to cost you…
Even if you cannot currently afford a gym membership, a personal trainer, or fancy equipment, something is better than nothing!
Walking and running only require a decent pair of running shoes!
A lot of workouts can be done solely with body weight… e.g. squats, lunges, push-ups, planks, crunches, etc.
There is a ton of free content on YouTube, or even some apps like the Nike App. You will find a wide selection from cardio and dance workouts, to body weight exercise routines, to pilates and yoga.
The hardest part is getting started which is why you should start small and don’t overthink it!
Often, people who work more physical jobs consider their job to be a form of exercise.
Whether it’s construction or landscaping… working in a warehouse… doing daily house and gardening work… or even as a physiotherapist, we might all feel that because we are on our feet all day, we are physically active!
But is that the same as exercise? Maybe… Let’s check out the definition below!
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) defines exercise as “a type of physical activity consisting of planned, structured, and repetitive bodily movement done to improve and/or maintain one or more components of physical fitness.”
If I am going up and down the stairs, bending to push a vacuum cleaner, getting down on the floor to clean the tub, or squatting to pull weeds in the garden, I am doing repetitive movements on a regular basis. So in a way, I am doing a form of exercise!
But is that enough? Is that all there is to exercise? We will address that in the following section!
As an aside… if you do have a physical job and don’t think it counts as exercise, just know that research into “job crafting” shows that people who reframe the physical things they do all day as a healthy way to move their body and maintain a level of strength and flexibility actually have improved health outcomes over time! Sometimes, things really are mind over matter… 😉
The different types of exercise…
If we get sciencey about it, then exercise can be divided into two categories: aerobic and anaerobic.
Simply put,aerobic means your muscles require a steady supply of oxygen to perform the exercise. These types of activities are more endurance-based.
For example: brisk walking, running, cycling, swimming. i.e. cardio workouts.
Anaerobic activities are short-bursts of high intensity energy that break down glucose (sugar) stores in your body as an alternate energy supply to oxygen. This is not sustainable for longer periods of time.
For example: sprinting, high intensity interval training (HIIT), weightlifting.
But we can break these grouping downs even further! The ACSM provides us with four kinds of exercise:
1. Cardiorespiratory Exercise: e.g. the aerobic activities mentioned above!
2.Strength (Resistance) Exercise: depending on the intensity of the exercise, this can be either aerobic, anaerobic, or a combination of both.
3. Flexibility Exercise: stretching exercises which can help prevent injuries as well as allow you to reach your full range of motion.
4.Neuromotor: this one is a newer addition! Also referred to as “functional fitness training”, these types of exercises involve a more active cognitive role to go along with the motor activity. E.g. exercises that involve balance, agility, coordination. Examples include dance and yoga, or even sports that include more strategic and quick reactions.
So, now that you’ve learned about different types of exercises, do you think your typical weekly routine includes all of the above?
The reality is, neither a physically active job, nor regular housework at home can hit all of the above categories. And sometimes, the type of exercise you are doing may not be what your body needs most at that point in time… So, while being physically active is always great, being strategic and intentional about the activities you engage in is the best way to maximize your physical health and fitness!
But how do we do that??
In Part Two of “What is exercise?” we will discuss some of the more commonly experienced barriers to exercising regularly, as well as suggestions on how to overcome them!
If you are just starting out, don’t feel overwhelmed by trying to incorporate all types of exercise into your routine! Start small. Even when you’re out for a brisk walk, you’re still lapping everyone else on the couch! 😉
If you are overfocusing on only one activity, e.g. running, don’t forget that strength training can improve your running speed and endurance while minimizing your risk of repetitive strain injuries. Just because your muscles are used to running doesn’t mean their strength is enough for long-term training or to avoid strains when you increase your training intensity.
If your exercise regimen is not hitting all of the categories listed above, then what are ways you can start incorporating different forms of training? Sometimes you can hit two birds with one stone… dance aerobics are a cardio activity that also has a neuromotor component. Certain types of yoga include both stretching and balance.
If you’ve got a familiar exercise routine but have recurrent injuries every time you try to progress or branch out, let us know and we can help!
The work to continue to change the narrative about the importance of exercise continues.
Right now it is even more important than ever.
The focus of the aesthetic effects of exercise and physical fitness are simply superficial. Maybe this type of communication around exercise can be a barrier to accessing and beginning an exercise journey. It may seem that you are so far away from becoming that advertised “goal body” that it’s hard to begin.
There is an awesome commercial right now that takes us through the journey of an older man lifting his kettlebell. The end of the commercial give us some insight into reaching his end goal. Click here to take a peak.
We as Physiotherapists, and health care professionals need to continue to educate our communities on the importance of exercise for:
As Physiotherapists we are able to get people started and encourage them to keep going with even a basic exercise program. As a profession we are often under-utilized in the facet.
Every person that walks into ANY health professionals office with high blood pressure, diabetes, a lack of balance, progressive weakness, obesity, osteoporosis, osteopenia, after a hospital stay, after surgeries, with Parkinson’s disease, etc. should be asked about their levels of fitness / activity. They can be coached and educated on self-empowerment and small steps to begin to exercise sufficiently to meet their health goals. They can also be encouraged that they are worth these changes.
Basic level of function can be observed through a quick visual scan of things like:
How is a person walking?
How easy / difficulty is it to et in and out of a chair?
How are they able to move positions on a treatment / assessment table?
How are they able to take off and put on their shoes?
When medications are provided for blood pressure and such, so too should there be exercise prescription. If this is something they are not comfortable with, they should be referred to Physiotherapy, or even a sports medicine physician.
It is not enough to tell someone they need to exercise.
Everyone’s idea of exercise is different. Many people believe (wrongly) that they are active enough by doing their laundry, vacuuming and moving around the home a bit.
This is like telling someone they should simply take antibiotics for something…..
For how long?
Should it ever change?
Exercise can do wonderful things in allowing individuals to take an active role in their treatment. After diagnosis of certain conditions there can be feelings of hopelessness that the issue will inevitably progress in a negative way. There is so much that individuals can do which provide empowerment and self-efficacy.
At North Oakville’s Palermo Physiotherapy and Wellness Centre our Physiotherapists are happy to help get you started with a plan and program. We are also happy to point you in the right direction if you require more / different services. We are currently providing both in-person and virtual physiotherapy and yoga therapy sessions. We are able to treat anyone virtually throughout Ontario if you are unable to see us in clinic.
Contact us for more information or to book in with one of our Physiotherapists.
If you’re like us, you have been listening to the public health advice (and we hope you are!) and leaving the home only for more essential activities. We are also focussing on social / physical distancing.
As much as we would like things to be different, we are having a virtual team holiday party. We’ll be hanging out over the computer, playing a game and eating local to us food!
There are many online gift giving options, local curb pick-ups and services you can give your loved ones. Consider it mindful giving.
Gift Giving Ideas:
Private Yoga Sessions
2020 has been a stressful year for everyone. Mental health issues are being challenged for sure. Facilitating someone relaxation and helping provide them with some tools for self-care is lovely. Right now our North Oakville clinic is offering private one-on-one yoga and yoga therapy sessions. These can be done either in person or virtually. We are able to provide these services anywhere in Ontario!
If you know someone who has expressed interest in trying yoga but is fearful of a group setting this is a great option! Private yoga session are also amazing if you have a difficult time keeping up in a “traditional class”. These sessions are geared towards you, your goals and your capabilities.
We love seeing people leaving our North Oakville massage space looking visibly more relaxed. For many people this is a necessary monthly “treat”. Massage can help calm the nervous system. This helps with relief of pain, stress, tension and even sleep.
If you know someone who is working from a desk all day, is a manual labourer, an athlete or could use some relaxation time, a massage is always a wonderful gift.
TCM or Traditional Chinese Acupuncture can be an overlooked aspect of wellness and health care by many. Many people in Oakville have have heard more about “acupuncture face-lifts” than the non-ascetic benefits of health care.
We encourage you to explore the deeper health benefits of balancing the body through the use of acupuncture.
Having someone guide to through exercise programs to help achieve a certain goal is an amazing gift. If you would like to see a loved one (of any age) function better and age well, strength and functional training is an amazing gift. A personal trainer that educates long the way is ideal. Moving towards some independence with training and fitness is such a confidence builder! Think increased bone density, increased function, decreased chance of falls, brain health, and mental health (etc). WOW!
A Physiotherapist can help a person who has more complicated health and injury issues get going and then transition to more intense training.
So many people are now able to offer online / virtual personal training services as well. We recommend our friends at Radix Performance Centre in Oakville and online, Element in Mississauga and Kinnected Training in Burlington.
Getting outside and moving is amazing for mental health and physical health. It’s also a way to be a little more social.
Some ideas can be snow shoes. Many people hibernate when it snows, but snowshoes are a great way to enjoy some Canadiana!
Nordic Walking Poles are a great addition to a walking program. Good ones will have interchangeable rubber and metal tips. These can be modified based on the conditions. Hikers’ Haven is a great local place to pick these up as well as other outdoor toys!
Canoes, Kayaks, Stand-up Paddle boards are all fun outdoor toys. If you’re unsure if someone will like it or it’s out of your budget, consider a rental or a class locally. This can be something to look forward to! You may also be able to find gently used ones on a local online marketplace.
For kids, things like sports balls are always fun. Bikes, balance bikes, skateboards, and scooters are all great ways to get moving and work on some gross motor skills. Just make sure they have a helmet too!
Conservation Park Pass
We have so many beautiful park in Ontario and in Halton specifically. Gifting someone an individual or family pass is the gift that keeps on giving!
You do need to book a time in the park currently, but don’t let that stand in your way!
You can have a chill-out session, hike, walk, swim etc in these trails and parks.
Royal Botanical Gardens Pass
Being so close to RBG is a gift! It’s another area that has walking trails and experiences. You can gift a year pass or individual passes as well.
Enjoy the quiet and beautiful gardens throughout the year!
Online Cooking Class
This is such a fun activity! Over quarantine time I participated in a virtual cooking class with a friend. We were in our own kitchens with our computers close by. It was something fun to look forward to and I know we’re both looking forward to trying the recipe again!
You can always create this experience with a new cook book as a gift and pick a recipe to make together virtually. This can also be a fun way to get kids in your family involved and familiar with the kitchen!
Contact us if we can help you give a gift to a loved one this holiday season. We are happy to help!
Welcome back to our Lifestyle Changes series. Today’s theme is… themes!😊
In Part 2, we talked how to get started on making healthier changes to our lifestyle, using a more goal-oriented approach.
But maybe if you’ve already tried SMART goals (or something similar) and it didn’t work for you. Or maybe you find the idea of having a specific goal and deadline daunting.
Perhaps you have a general idea for lifestyle changes which doesn’t fit too well into a “specific” goal.
But how will I progress if I don’t have a goal?
The approach we take to lifestyle changes is not one-size-fits-all. Depending on the person, the goal, or even in which phase of change you find yourself in, sometimes it works better to have a specific target… but other times the change needs to be more broad.
This is where THEMES come in!
When we are looking at a more general topic such as “lifestyle changes” to improve health and wellbeing, the roadmap may not be as clear. These kinds of changes can be as simple as wanting “more of something” or “less of something” in your life.
Think of Life as a series of choices, or a branching path. Every choice can take you on a slightly different path, which then opens up other opportunities. Having a theme for the changes you wish to enact can help guide those choices!
Examples of Themes
Usually, a theme corresponds to a more long-term period of time, such as a year. Here are some examples:
Year of Health
Year of Nutrition
Year of Gratitude
Year of Mindfulness
Year of Reading
Year of Learning
Year of Saying Yes! (check out a book of the same idea and title by Shonda Rhimes, creator of the TV series Grey’s Anatomy!)
Choose a word (or theme) that resonates with what you need more of in your life. And as you go through the days and weeks, every time a choice comes along, you can ask yourself if it aligns with your theme.
In this way, you may even start to be aware of choices or paths that you would not have noticed otherwise!
This method also allows your idea of what the theme means to you to evolve over time…
So when you have a year of Health, choices like parking further away to walk to the store, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or getting the less calorie-dense smoothie, or picking up a less sugary snack, or going for a walk instead of watching another episode… naturally come up without you having to plan or force them.
And as you continue making these types of choices, your ideas of what is healthy may gradually evolve to what works best for you!
A year is such a long time…
If you feel a year is too long-term, you can try seasons instead! Here are some examples 😊
A Spring of Movement (focusing on being more active for instance)
A Summer of Nature (connecting more with Nature and spending time outside)
A Fall of Family (spending more quality time with your family, whatever that means to you)
A Winter of Reading (getting to that ever-growing book list and replacing time spent scrolling on your phone with a good book… whether it be a physical copy, audiobook, or Kindle version!)
In the meantime… we are here for you!
If you are being limited by pain or injury, let us help. From Physiotherapy and Massage Therapy to Chiropody, and even Yoga Therapy, we can support you along your health and wellness journey.
We are getting ready to re-open our physical doors, but we will also continue seeing patients virtually for Physiotherapy to accommodate for those who may be immunocompromised, still maintaining social distancing, or are located more remotely!
Welcome back! In our last post, we talked about what lifestyle changes are, along with some examples to get you started.
As we noted before, making changes in your routine or behaviour is easier said than done! Often, like New Year’s resolutions, these changes fall by the wayside within a few weeks.
Today, we are going to share some tips on how set yourself up for success from the beginning, and how to maintain those changes when the going gets tough!
How to get started…
Making changes to our routine and lifestyle is not something that happens spur of the moment. Making healthy choices requires conscious effort. Ultimately, we will not have the same motivation every day, or at all times of day.
So first things first, give yourself grace and permission to fail once in a while. It’s not a big deal! The important thing is to get up and try again, instead of giving up altogether 😊
Next, help yourself in advance! Make a specific plan that will give you clarity on what you want to achieve and how you will achieve it, so it can carry you through future obstacles that arise.
If you haven’t heard of SMART goals, this is a good time to brush up on them!
S – be specific
What exactly would you like to achieve?
A lot of people might say “Exercise more”but that is too vague. What does that mean to you? What, when, where, how, and for how long? What about… exercise for 20 minutes, 3x week. Or… go for a fast-paced walk for half an hour every weeknight.
M – how can you measure your progress?
If you have a walking or running goal, it can be measured by how often in the week you go (frequency), the duration or distance covered, the speed, the effort exerted…
A – is this goal achievable?
If you don’t believe it is, modify it. What would make it achievable? If you had started with “lose 50 lbs in 3 months”, maybe change it to something more realistic like “lose 15-20 lbs in 3 months.”
R – is this goal relevant?
Is it relevant to your values and beliefs, or to a bigger picture goal?
If you want to quick smoking to manage your diabetes and hypertension, so you can reduce your reliance on medication and be healthy enough to keep up with your grandchildren, that makes sense.
If you are doing it just because you think you should, or other people are telling you to, then the motivation behind it might not be strong enough to see you through.
T – is it time-bound?
A time-bound goal is more likely to motivate you.
If you’d like to be fit enough to spend hours walking on your trip in Scotland in six months, or if you are training for a half-marathon scheduled in eight months, then that’s a clear deadline.
Based on that deadline, you can work your way backwards to create smaller checkpoints along the way to make sure you are improving. E.g. check-in with your progress at the end of every month, then plan out your next steps.
It’s a good idea to sign up for something before you feel ready (as long as you have a reasonable amount of time to get ready for it). When you’ve put money down and the date is set, you are more motivated to work on it!
Tips on how to keep going once you start!
Remember tostart SMALL! As you progress, you can then take bigger steps, or add a second small goal. If your goal is to meditate regularly, know that starting with 20-30 minutes / day will likely not go well. Instead, start with 5 minutes and a timer. Then after 1-2 weeks, try 8 minutes, then 10 minutes, etc.
Focus on one behavioural or routine change at a time! The more you add at once, the less likely you are to succeed. However, it is reasonable that if you are starting with a small change, such as drinking more water, then perhaps a second change such as walking 3x week, can be added at the same time.
It is important to remember that lifestyle changes of any kind will take time and will benefit from the support of our loved ones. Even if people around you are not as supportive, you can find inspiration on social media accounts that reflect your interests and goals, as well as on podcasts and in books.
Support can take many forms. For example:
Having someone babysit the kids, or help with some household chores while you go to a yoga class
Meeting with friends at restaurants with healthier food options, or for a walk instead
Giving you encouragement instead of making negative comments
To take this a step further, accountabilityis key. If you have no one to be accountable to, you’re much less likely to stick to your change. Examples can be:
A friend or family member you’ve asked for support beforehand
A social media group where you can post your progress regularly
A habit tracking app, because as the days add up it becomes more of a motivator to keep going! For example, DONE app allows five habits / time for free and can give reminders!
If you are looking to quit a habit, rather than adding one, consider replacingthe unhealthy behaviour with a healthier one. This probably makes the most sense with food, or with too many hours of screen time.
How can Physio help?
If you do have health issues that may limit some lifestyle changes, do speak with your doctor about what may or may not be right for you.
When it comes to Physiotherapy, we can help if…
your lifestyle goals relate to getting more active,
or reaching a fitness goal safely
or you are returning to sport after an injury
…but you are limited by pain or injury, live with a chronic illness, or have recurrent injuries.
If you are still unsure if Physiotherapy is right for you, Contact us for more info. We are in the process of re-opening our physical doors which is very exciting!
But in the meantime, virtual sessions are available and will continue to be so even after re-opening, for anyone who is immunocompromised, still keeping to social distancing, or located remotely.
Also, stay tuned for the last instalment of our guide on Lifestyle Changes! If making SMART goals is not working for you, or you find the idea overwhelming, we will be discussing a theme-based approach!
What are “lifestyle changes” anyway? It’s a rather vague expression that gets thrown around a lot.
And just how easy is it to actually change your lifestyle?
Lifestyle changes are modifications you can make in your daily routines or behaviours.
Often, they are mentioned in regards to making healthier choices when it comes to mobility, exercise, nutrition, stress, and sleep.
These choices, however, are only going to enact effective change if they eventually become habitual. Therefore, just like New Year’s Resolutions, they’re easier said than done!
This is because changing our routine and our lifestyle can be met with resistance from:
Our environment: no matter how big we may dream, when the going gets tough, we fall back on the convenience of our environment. If you want to wake up early and go to the gym, it makes a difference if the gym is a 15 minute drive away, or downstairs in your basement.
This is why you need to plan in advance, start small, and be realistic!
The people around us: ever heard of the expression “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”? The people closest to us tend to mirror (and reinforce) our lifestyle choices, values and beliefs. Though they care about us, when you start making choices that make them feel like you’re changing into someone different, leaving them behind, or doing better than them, they may initially be resistant.
This is why it helps to either talk to them about your decisions to change beforehand and maybe ask for their support, or find other people you can turn to for support!
Ourselves: chances are, a lot of our current choices are made on autopilot. Conscious decision-making throughout our day is a finite resource, which is why we often resort to autopilot. Additionally, our routines and current lifestyle are likely rooted in our deeper value and belief systems. E.g. If we view exercise as punishment, even we when resolve to exercise more, we are much more likely to sit back on the couch and watch another episode.
This means that change will be an active, conscious process that takes time, and in some cases may benefit from the help of a professional!
Could you benefit from making some tweaks in your life?
If you can identify with any of the following, then you probably could!
Do you live with chronic pain? (For more information on Chronic Pain, check out our Pain Series posts Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3!)
Do you live with a chronic illness? E.g. Type II Diabetes, Hypertension (high blood pressure), Arthritis, Heart Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, etc.
Do you regularly take multiple medications, long-term?
Do you struggle with managing your weight?
Do you live with high levels of stress, worry, or anxiety?
Do you have trouble sleeping?
Do you have a high rate of injury? E.g. back, knees, shoulders, neck, ankle, foot, etc.
Here are some examples of Lifestyle Changes…
If you know you need to change some things for your health and quality of life, but are at a loss for where to begin, here are some suggestions you can use to get you started!
MOBILITY & EXERCISE
One minute movement breaks, e.g. set a timer for every 2-3 hours and then get up to stretch, or do a specific exercise (such as heel raises, squats, forward bends, marching in place, etc.)
Parking farther away when going to the store, so you have to walk more
Taking the stairs for 1-2 floors, instead of the elevator (or getting off the elevator a floor earlier)
Choose an activity you enjoy rather than something you think you should do (e.g. if you prefer biking to running, or a Zumba class to going to the gym, that’s fine!)
2-3 days per week commit to going for a half hour walk
Commit to a yoga video at home for 20 minute, 3x week. (If you are new to Yoga, check out our Yoga Series for beginners!)
GETTING FRESH AIR & CONNECTING WITH NATURE
Sit outside on your patio or balcony for 10-15 minutes daily. Bring a book or a cup of tea. Maybe enjoy the scenery instead of scrolling on your phone!
2-3 days per week commit to going for a half hour walk
Try to find routes that are along trails and in parks, rather than by a busy street
Commit to at least one family meal on weekends without any screens or devices
Commit to a phone-call (or a Zoom call!) with someone whose company you miss at least 1x week…
Or a coffee-date with friends whose company you enjoy 1x every two weeks (once social distancing comes to an end)
Meditation: sit comfortably and set up a timer. You can use a guided meditation from YouTube or a phone app if you prefer. (You can also follow this Meditation for Anxiety and Stress!)
Breathing techniques, e.g. 3-4 seconds of inhalation for every 6-8 seconds of exhalation for 10 breaths
Start a a gratitude practice! Every day, find three things you are truly grateful for, no matter how simple or mundane they may be!
Try journaling about how you are feeling, your goals, what brings you joy, what you are excited about, etc. at least 1x week.
Try out expressive writing! Set a timer for 10 minutes, and write (or type) freely about a problem you are having without worrying over grammar or punctuation. If you run out of things to write, keep repeating what you have already written until the time is up.
Substituting unhealthy food choices for healthier ones begins at the grocery store. E.g. instead of buying Cheetos for a snack, buy nuts or quality granola bars. Instead of chocolate, buy dates and other fruits you like. It’s best to make a list and plan this in advance! Keep in mind that it’s not enough to take out the unhealthy food, but you also have to find something to replace it with.
Try natural smoothies instead of pop (or fruit juice with sugar added) as a beverage throughout the day. Believe it or not, a green smoothie of 1 banana, 1/2 cup of spinach, 1/2 cup of almond milk, a spoonful of almond butter and a spoonful chia seeds needs no added sugar! (You can substitute any of the ingredients based on preference or presence of food intolerances!)
Drink 6-8 glasses of water / day. E.g. set up a reminder on your phone, carry a water-bottle with you, substitute pop with a glass of water during meals, etc.
Commit to looking up 1 new, interesting, and healthy recipe to make every week
Involve other family members in meal prep and cooking as a way to spend time together increase awareness of what goes into making everyone’s food
REDUCING SCREEN TIME
If you are looking to reduce your screen time (phone, tablet, Netflix), you have to find something to replace it with! Try something you would enjoy!
Commit to reading 1-2 chapters from a book you are interested in every evening, instead of watching another episode from the latest TV show you are binging
Make one night / week Family Games Night instead of watching a movie… e.g. cards, board-games, charades, puzzles, crafts, etc.
Pick a goal you’ve had for a long time, or an activity you miss doing (e.g. drawing, crafts, knitting) and dedicate one hour in your evening to working on it
If your mind is busy with planning to-do lists when you go to sleep, consider keeping a notepad by the bedside to write things down so you can let them go.
Try melatonin, or herbal tea meant to promote relaxation (e.g. Sleepytime). Note: it’s always good to discuss with your doctor what sleep strategies may or may not be for you (especially if you have allergies, or are on specific medications)!
Also, check out these tips from an earlier post on how to improve our Sleep Hygiene!
QUITTING UNHEALTHY HABITS
Just as with making changes to our eating habits, when looking to reduce or quit an unhealthy, habit, it helps to replace it with something healthier.
When reducing caffeine intake, we can substitute for herbal tea, natural smoothies, or water beverages.
When looking to quit smoking, sometimes you need to wean off the habit rather than quitting cold turkey, and replacing it with something else. Commonly, that can be nicotine patches, or chewing gum. Speak to your doctor about a strategy that is right for you!
Reducing sugar and/or junk food by replacing them with healthier alternatives. Stock up your pantry and fridge with nuts, dates, and fruits as snacks instead! Switch from milk to dark chocolate. Every time you get a craving, maybe drink a glass of water and take a movement break instead.
Stay tuned for Part 2 where we will talk about tips and strategies to stay on track with your lifestyle changes!😊
If you want to be more active but are limited by pain or a chronic injury, contact us to find out how we can help! Hopefully, we will soon be able to open our physical doors. But in the meantime, virtual sessions are available.