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Body & Soul - Side-to-side lateral movements matter

Side-to-side lateral movements matter

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Side-to-side lateral movements matter

Photography, bigstockphoto.com

Most workout moves have us moving forward and backward, and up and down. Rarely do we move from side-to-side, or in a diagonal direction. Abby Johnson-Bertan, from GoodLife Fitness, says that we tend to focus our eyes in front of us when we exercise, especially with running and walking. Lateral moves can help us to adapt to unexpected movements, which could possibly save us from falling when walking the dog or hiking on uneven ground.

By adding lateral movements to your exercise routine, you can correct muscle imbalances, improve stability, strengthen smaller muscle groups, stabilize your pelvis and hips, and reduce injuries. Lateral movements include side lunges, side shuffles, lateral bear crawls and jumping jacks.

Body imbalances

Not only do lateral movements help to reduce injuries, but they also help to improve mobility and even out imbalances as we age. “Forward movements, like running and biking, use the same dominant muscles – stressing your hamstrings, calves and quads,” says Tara Laferrara, founder of the TL Method and co-owner of Compass Fitness. “You stress the dominant muscle groups, causing them to become increasingly stronger as your smaller muscles stay the same. Working the muscles on the inside and outside of your legs, for example, helps to keep you injury-free.”

LATERAL EXERCISES

Include in your regular workout a couple of times per week.

  • SIDE LUNGES 12 repetitions per leg x three sets
  • SIDE SHUFFLES 20 yards per leg x three sets
  • LATERAL BEAR CRAWLS 20 yards in each direction x three sets
  • JUMPING JACKS OR STAR JUMPS 30 seconds x three sets
  • SPEED SKATER 10 repetitions per leg x three sets

Step aside

Laferrara says that she includes lateral exercises in all parts of her workout, including the warm-up, workout, and cool-down, but she finds them especially important when warming up. “You are preparing your body for any movement that will occur in the workout. Even as a trail runner, which is primarily a forward movement, at some point you’ll most likely have to jump to the side to avoid tripping. You have to get your body ready for that.”

There are two ways to perform a lateral movement. When you move a limb away from your body, it’s called abduction. And when you bring it back in, it’s referred to as adduction. “These movements stabilize your joints and your dominant muscles,” says Laferrara.


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Ultramatic

Well adjusted – Sleep the night away in an Ultramatic bed

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Well adjusted – Sleep the night away in an Ultramatic bed

Your overall energy, along with a sense of well-being, is naturally enhanced after a good night’s sleep. For more than 33 years, Canada’s leading company for adjustable beds has made it their mission to help people live better, and longer, lives. This Canadian company recently rebranded, and introduced a lifestyle sleeping concept at their flagship location.

Ultramatic’s lifestyle adjustable bed is a game changer. Your body is always changing, so if you have sore muscles after a round of 18, require extra support for your lumbar, or a soothing massage for your back and shoulders, an Ultramatic bed can provide you the comfort that you need.

Sleeping with your legs and back slightly elevated can provide relief for acid reflux, sciatica, edema, sleep apnea, arthritis, back strain, leg cramps, swelling, pins and needles, and so much more. Adjustable beds may reduce snoring, and for some couples this can make a world of difference. Elevating your neck or back opens up airways and improves breathing.

Sleep recovery

You tend to heal faster when you get a better quality of rest. After surgery, or any kind of trauma, these beds are an oasis of relaxation. By slightly elevating your legs and back, blood flows easier to all parts of your body and puts less strain on your heart. With better circulation, the entire body functions better.

Lack of sleep also affects moods and how you handle day-to-day challenges. If you are tired, you tend to be less patient, which increases your stress level. By being able to adjust your mattress to suit you, you’ll fall asleep faster, and stay sleeping longer for a deeper, rejuvenating sleep.

More than a mattress

Select Ultramatic beds are programmable, and will move (with the push of a button) into your favourite position for reading or bingeing on Netflix. The therapeutic massage feature is wonderful for sore muscles, and with the under-bed light you can step out of bed with confidence in the middle of the night. You can also charge your electronic devices using the USB ports and control the bed using an app on your phone.

Ultramatic has developed a ‘wholistic’ approach in their flagship showroom in Toronto, where they’ve used soothing colours and natural greenery for a zen-like quality. Their sleep solutions ignite all the senses, from the silky touch of natural Tencel bedsheets, to the calming scent of lavender-infused pillows.

The friendly team at Ultramatic are well-trained in the science of sleep. Ask about their hybrid mattresses that combine the latest advancements, including ultra-durable Smart-Foam™, NanoGel™, and CarbonCor™ graphite-infused with time-tested cushioning materials.

508 Lawrence Avenue West

ultramaticsleep.com


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Ayurveda - An ancient wisdom for aging adults

Ayurveda – An ancient wisdom for aging adults

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Ayurveda – An ancient wisdom for aging adults

Ayurveda (pronounced ayeyour-vay-duh) is understood to be one of the world’s oldest health systems, originating in India more than 5,000 years ago. When translated, Ayruveda means ‘knowledge of life’ and is a sister science of the more commonly known practice of Yoga. Ayurveda is now being recognized as a reputable approach to total health, complementing Western medicine with the wisdom of the East. The philosophy is simple – we are meant to live with our body and mind in their natural, balanced state.

Photography, bigstockphoto.com
Photography, bigstockphoto.com

What is balance?

Working symbolically with the elements of nature, including air, ether, water, fire and earth, Ayurvedic tradition understands that these forces manifest in the body as three energy systems (Doshas) – Kapha, Pitta, and Vata. A practitioner may recognize you as a Kapha if you’re naturally calm, patient and caring. As a Pitta, you are direct and like to get things done. As a Vata, you tend to be very energetic and creative.

Preserving your constitution leads to optimal health. Like the changing seasons, our energy systems evolve, and change, with time. When born, we were in need of developmental support, realized in the element of earth and the nurturing qualities of water (Kapha). The surge of growth and learning in adolescence is represented in fire (Pitta). In maturity, at a different pace of life, the air and ether around us challenge our bodies to stay nourished and vital (Vata). Our muscles become thirsty, our joints dry and our minds labour – begging us to take better care.

The vata years

Don’t over exert: Slow down and embrace activities that will encourage restoration, like yoga, swimming and leisurely walks. Balance high impact activities with gentle, intermittent movement.

Increase self-care: Give your body, and mind, some love and attention. Try massage, meditation, soaking and stretching.

Bring back a routine: Assess daily practices that you find enjoyable and work them into your routine. Maybe it’s that first cup of tea, a morning walk with the dog or a brain-teasing word puzzle.

Change your environment: If feasible, seek out warm, moisture-rich climates for revitalization, especially in the cold, dry winter months. Otherwise, get outside.

Eat with the seasons: Consuming fresh food cultivated in-season, aligns your body with the energy of the earth. Root vegetables, including potatoes, carrots and parsnips, ground you throughout the year.

Drink water: Replenish the natural moisture that is lacking as we age. Consume warm, or room-temperature, water throughout the day.

To help counter-balance aging, Ayurveda treats the root cause. You might be experiencing joint pain or inflammation, but treatment may be connected to your digestive system. Working with a practitioner, your daily routine would be reviewed, including the intake of food and drink (and expulsion), ritualistic tendencies, exercise regimes and environment, as well as hair and skin care. A personalized program would be developed as a result of an assessment, along with suggestions for daily self-care routines and lifestyle habits, in addition to a customized nutrition plan – all in an attempt to re-balance your body.

Photography by Kelly Moss
Photography by Kelly Moss

Kaely Bell is an Ayurvedic Counsellor and Yoga instructor.


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Mind games

Mind games – Trick your brain for better workouts

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Mind games – Trick your brain for better workouts

As your body’s command centre, the brain sends messages to your muscles to tell them to move. It also moderates our mood, energy levels and motivation. When it comes to exercising, your brain is the most important body part, and it could be tricking you into avoiding exercise.

Photo, bigstockphoto.com
Photo, bigstockphoto.com

Mixed messages

During an intense workout, your brain may read the experience as painful, which can translate into negative, or irrational, thoughts. After the tenth burpee (squat thrust) or 20 minutes of hot yoga, your brain may send you a message to quit. Then, when you want to do the exercise again, your mind might intervene and invent reasons to avoid the anticipated discomfort. If your brain is telling you to avoid the suffering of working out, you’re more likely to skip it.

After a tough workout, you may think that exercise sucks. If you’re watching what you eat and don’t see immediate results, you may say that diets don’t work. It’s okay to not like some forms of exercise, but it doesn’t have to mean that you dislike them all. The trick is to realize when you’re generalizing, and bring you brain back into line.

Mind games are often used by those who are adept at pursuing a desired goal. Whether you’re motivated to run a marathon, embark on a new career, or are committed to improving your relationships, you want your brain to experience the pleasure of success.

All-or-nothing thinking

If you splurge on fast food, it doesn’t mean that you’ve completely sabotaged your diet. Nor does it mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, if you’re not available to workout five times per week. This type of all-or-nothing thinking leaves you feeling inadequate. Instead of dwelling on what you didn’t achieve, refocus on what you actually did. Anything that you do towards improving your quality of life, is a step in the right direction.

Master your mind

It’s easy to recognize your brain’s negative reactions, and it’s just as easy to shift your mind for a more positive response. Our mind plays tricks on us. We may react with alarm if we see, what we think is, a snake, and then it turns out to be a stick. We may see our own reflection in a window at night and jump back as if it’s an intruder. Our minds are trained to question these emergency messages, and, if necessary, override them. When we take a second look, and see it for what it is, we are filled with relief.

The same school of thought applies so that you can disarm irrational thoughts that sabotage exercise – you just have to take another look.

Emotional reasoning

Everyone falls for this at some stage – you fool yourself into believing that whatever you’re feeling must be true. Perhaps you considered joining a fitness class, but your emotions tell you that people will judge you, so you decide not to go. The key is to push past your emotions to a more logical, goal-focused approach. Learning to question your feelings is not just the key to success as it relates to fitness, but it’s the foundation of true emotional intelligence.

Scott Leith, PhD, data scientist and research psychologist, GoodLife Fitness.


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Bed-in-a-box

Bed-in-a-box – one size does not fit all

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Bed-in-a-box – one size does not fit all

Shopping for a car can elicit a great deal of angst. There are so many choices, and we want the best price, an awesome warranty, the perfect colour (of course), as well as state-of-the-art safety features and an impressive stereo for in-car karaoke. Today, shopping for a mattress can provoke similar anxiety. On average, we spend one third of our day sleeping – so by the age of 75, that’s 25 years of sleeping, or 9,125 days. It’s doubtful that we give as much thought to a mattress purchase, as we do to a vehicle.

The players

The first ads for Casper started popping up on billboards a few years ago. While they were very good at creating brand awareness, it took awhile to figure out what they were selling. Was it a memory foam mattress topper? How could a substantial mattress be in a box? Shortly after, came Endy – the all-Canadian alternative. In 2009, Novosbed Inc. launched Logan & Cove. Once you start searching, there’s a great deal of competition.

Casper
Casper

Making it easy

Buying a mattress was referred to as a dull shopping experience, and Casper wanted to modernize it with simplicity and transparency. They rolled out their mattresses here, shortly after launching them in the U.S. in 2014, according to Nicole Tapscott, Vice President and General Manager of Casper Canada.

Co-founders of Endy, Mike Gettis and Rajen Ruparell, set out to create a sleep company by Canadians, for Canadians – one that would offer comfort, quality and convenience.

AL_Mattress_LC_NEW
Logan & Cove

Cradling considerations

Both Endy and Casper promote an open-cell foam, which they claim is temperature neutral and reduces motion transfer. Below the open cell layer of foam, Endy has two additional layers of foam of varying densities. Casper claims to include a support foam framework that contours to each area of the body for pressure-relieving support.

What’s true about both of these options, is that the top layer of foam does cradle the body and helps to reduce pressure on sensitive areas. However, depending upon your age and weight, getting out of that cocooned position isn’t so easy, nor is the mattress firm enough to support you when rolling over or attempting to get up. The profile of these mattresses is generally thinner, ranging between eight and 12 inches in depth. Measure the height of your frame, as well as the foundation and the mattress that you choose, to determine if you can sit on the side of the bed, and get in and out easily.

Endy and Capser come in a box about the size of a hockey bag, and it’s quite fascinating to watch it grow after the shrink wrap has been removed. Unlike Casper and Endy, the Logan & Cove brand is a spring and memory foam hybrid. They have added a heat dissipating gel memory foam, as well as silk and eucalyptus-derived fibres, to help with natural temperature regulation. Not many hybrids are delivered in a box, so this one is larger and the full length of the product. Plus, the depth of this mattress is 14 inches.

Endy
Endy

Trial and error

While all name-brand mattresses come with a warranty, it’s difficult to determine what you might like, even if shopping in a bricks and mortar store. You may lie down on half a dozen for a few minutes, and then decide on the one that you’ll be lying on for the next 10 to 15 years. All these bed-in-a-box products come with a 90- to 120-day trial period. “We know that it can take some time to adjust to a new mattress,” says Sarah Feldman, Director of PR and Communications for Endy. “So, we give customers 100 nights to have it in their sleep environment.”

If you don’t like the mattress after the trial period, all companies say that they recycle or donate them to local charities.

Expanding choices

The split (two-piece) box spring/foundation, used for a king-size bed, often creates a hump in the middle, and this gets worse as the mattress ages. Endy does not offer support frames at this time, but Casper offers an engineered, solid wood foundation, with perfectly spaced slats, that provides optimal support and eliminates this problem.

Novosbed carries other bed-in-a-box products, but found that their Logan & Cove brand appealed to a more-mature market because of its hybrid construction. However, their first release proved to be too firm for some, so they recently added a medium/plush alternative. Casper now offers three options, and both Casper and Endy are adding to their bedding line-up with pillows and linen.

“As we age, it’s important to consider a mattress with strong support that has the right amount of pressure point relief around your hips and shoulders,” says Kleyne. “This will ensure proper spinal alignment, which is imperative for a continued, rejuvenating, sleep.”


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al_health_april_fi

Laugh for your life

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Laugh for your life

It is quickly spreading into many different areas as people come to realize how the benefits can improve their lives. Its mission is to provide good health, joy and create a world without pain and illness. It helps people to deal positively with mental, physical and emotional stresses that can otherwise lead to a breakdown in the workplace and in their private lives.

Modern day stressors, worries and lifestyle changes have increased the rate of heart diseases, which are a major cause of death and despair.

Even as doctors and patients try to minimize the risk factors, scientific studies have proved that laughter is the simplest answer to a healthy heart. An extended hearty laugh is one of the fastest ways to accelerate heart rate and provides an excellent cardiovascular workout and heart massage.

Dr. Michael Miller, a leading heart researcher and associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center, discovered that laughter expands the blood vessels, promoting circulation and reducing blood pressure.

Laughter yoga offers the opportunity to feel refreshed, stress-free and confident any time, providing all the physiological and psychological benefits of laughing without the necessity of telling jokes or even feeling good to start. In the workplace, absenteeism is reduced and job satisfaction increases. The good communication and positive relations that result support an effective workforce.

Simple, repeatable, and easily learned, laughter-communication games are powerful tools for achieving employee satisfaction, boosting morale while opening lines of communication. People who laugh together are more likely to collaborate, to offer helpful suggestions, and to dissipate tensions that can otherwise accumulate on the job. We can enjoy the experience of laughter, but what we don’t see is how beneficial it is for our internal body chemistry. Love and laughter are the twin building blocks that hold life together, Miller says. It seems to make a lot of sense that the pleasant feelings and images that emerge through laughter alter your body chemistry in a good way — supporting your immune system.

An enthusiastic and infectiously positive speaker, Kathryn Kimmins directs unforgettable laughter experiences. Her sessions dissipate stress while refocusing participants. Cheeks get rosy, eyes clear and twinkle, impish grins are everywhere and the room rapidly fills with friendly smiles. Her educational and experiential class boosts self confidence, brain health, improves retention, increases heart health, encourages team building, motivation, imagination and creativity.

http://www.laughyourselfhealthy.com/

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Body & Soul: Muscle Mass

Body & Soul: Muscle Mass

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Body & Soul: Muscle Mass

by Agnes Ramsay

Age-appropriate strengthening exercises for vulnerable areas

As we age, downsizing (on all levels) is something that most of us look at quite seriously. We find that we don’t need as much space, or all the stuff that we’ve accumulated. In our decision to downsize, we may factor in the preference for single-level living, as opposed to a two-storey residence. While none of us can predict what our requirements might be in the latter part of our lives, having stairs might not be a bad thing. You might be missing an ideal, stay-fit option by going up and down them everyday. Even in her early 90s, my mother would comment on the fact that running up and down the stairs was great exercise.

EXERCISING WITH LIMITATIONS

Arthritic hips, sore knees and bad backs are definitely deterrents when it comes to exercising, and these conditions limit our ability to do certain types of activities. Still, it’s important that we work our muscles at any given opportunity and keep active. Staying fit requires a positive attitude, along with an understanding of how to make adjustments in order to accommodate life’s changes.

Check with your healthcare provider before doing certain exercises, and never exercise through pain.

BACK TO BACK

Resting isn’t always the answer to back problems. To strengthen the back, the muscles need to be activated.

Photo, bigstockphoto.com
Photo, bigstockphoto.com

PARTIAL CRUNCHES: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your hands behind your head. Gently lift your head and your shoulders towards the ceiling. This is a small move that won’t put excess strain on your lower back or neck. Never do standard sit ups.

BIRD DOGS: To gently work the other side of your core, go on your hands and knees. Tighten the core by lifting one leg straight up behind you, and the opposite arm in front of you. Stabilize. Don’t let your back sag or sway. Hold each side for five seconds, and work up to five rounds.

WALL SITTING: This is a great way to exercise your legs, without stressing the spine. It’s also a suitable pose for those with arthritis. Stand 10 to 12 inches away from the wall, and lean back until your back is flat against it. Your knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle. Hold for a 10 count. Start with five repetitions and work up to 12.

ARTHRITIS-FRIENDLY OPTIONS

  • Walk on a flat surface, preferably in the shallow end of a pool. No running.
  • Ride a stationary bike on the easiest setting, and vary the intensity – slightly.
  • Many yoga poses are helpful when doing strength training for your upper body.
  • If you have arthritis in your hips, do not do exercises that cause you to move your leg away from your body.
  • If you have arthritis in your knees, avoid exercises that require quick, lateral movements, such as jumping and racquet sports.
  • You’ll experience more resistance when you exercise in a pool, as water’s buoyancy virtually eliminates the effects of gravity – supporting 90 per cent of the body’s weight for reduced impact and greater flexibility.
Agnes Ramsay is a Registered Nurse, Personal Trainer and Wellness Coach specializing in Electric Muscle Stimulation Training.

agnes.ramsay@xbodyworld.com


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Condo living for the dogs

Condo living for the dogs

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Condo living for the dogs

by Emily Ward

Condo living may come with smaller square footage and less outdoor space, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be the perfect home for a four-legged family member to enjoy their days. Here are a few tips on how to keep your petite space dog friendly from interior designer and dog owner Alicia Sass of Harrison Fae and Ally Fodero of the downtown Toronto dog walking, boarding and daycare facility Soulmutts.

Durable home fabrics: Make wise choices when it comes to your pillows and sofa in case your fury friend likes to climb on the furniture. Tonic Living, for instance, has great outdoor fabrics that are suitable for indoors and still offer that cozy comfort for unwinding after a long day.

Storage: Cut down on doggy clutter with a dedicated built-in cabinet which can store doggy kibble and treats as well as have a pullout tray for food and water, which will help monitor your pet’s intake and can easily be tucked away when done. Grandin Road’s pet feeder station is a favourite. Soulmutts’ Fodero suggests that a unit from Ikea or Canadian Tire can be easily retrofitted to keep everything organized and out of the way.

Dog walker/daycare: Not everyone’s schedules allow for long walks with your pup or daytime outdoor breaks and some dogs need more socialization and exercise than others. Dog walkers or dog daycare can be the solution. Ensure you are covering all your bases when interviewing pup support by ensuring the vehicles they are transporting the dogs in are secure and safe, leash-walkers aren’t taking on too many dogs on a single walk, and the dog parks are not overcrowded or under supervised. Facilities, such as Soulmutts offer pick-up and drop-off for regular dog daycare clients, as well, making the process seamless.

Multi-purpose dog crates: Many dogs are crate trained and feel safe and secure knowing they have a dedicated space unto their own. Today, there are great furniture design companies who have truly embraced the needs of dogs in small spaces, such as DenHaus, which has designed crates that double as side tables and nightstands in a variety of decor styles to maximize small spaces.

Dogs on vacation: Planned vacations don’t need to be a stressful when it comes to owning a dog. A trip out of town can be a great excuse to indulge your pup as well by sending them to a great dog ranch or boarding facility. Soulmutts, for instance, features a 6,000-square-foot outdoor barnyard space and 5,000-square-foot of indoor “family style” space for boarding. Dogs love socializing with other furry friends and have a change of scenery while their owners are away getting a much needed change of pace as well.

https://soulmuttstoronto.com/

https://www.harrisonfae.ca/

Emily Ward is co-founder of Shine PR. http://www.shinepr.ca/



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Body & Soul: Urinary Incontinence

Body & Soul: Urinary Incontinence

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Body & Soul: Urinary Incontinence

by Jayne Hobbs

Photo: bigstockphoto.com

A treatable inconvenience

Have you ever sat for four hours in gridlocked traffic during a snow storm with no bathroom in sight? Or maybe you coughed so hard from one of this year’s bronchial viruses, that urine leakage occurred. Most of us have experienced some form of urinary incontinence (loss of bladder control) in our lifetime.

Urinary incontinence effects one-in-five women, as well as many men. It is a common, and often an embarrassing, problem that for too many years was considered a taboo subject – often claiming the very existence of one’s lifestyle.

We no longer need to hide from the condition, or change our daily activities. Simple lifestyle changes or medical treatments can help with discomfort or urinary incontinence.

TYPES OF URINARY INCONTINENCE*

  1. Stress incontinence happens when urine leaks as a result of pressure that is exerted on the bladder by coughing, laughing, exercising, lifting something heavy or having a full bladder.
  2. Urge incontinence is a sudden, intense urge to urinate, followed by involuntary urine leakage. You may need to urinate often and throughout the night, and this may be caused by a minor infection or a more severe illness.
  3. Overflow incontinence is the frequent or constant dribbling of urine. The bladder does not empty completely.
  4. Functional incontinence is due to a physical impairment, such as arthritis, when you cannot make it to the toilet in time.
  5. Mixed incontinence simply means that you experience more than one type of incontinence.

* Visit your doctor if you are experiencing any type of incontinence that is frequent.

Causes

  • Temporary urinary incontinence can be caused by certain foods, drinks and medications that act as diuretics, such as alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, sugar or acidic foods, heart and blood pressure medications, muscle relaxants and sedatives, in addition to treatable urinary tract infections.
  • Persistent urinary incontinence is caused by physical problems, or changes, such as pregnancy, aging and prostate gland issues in men.

Increased Risk Factors

  • Gender: Women are more likely to have urinary incontinence due to pregnancy, childbirth, menopause and normal female anatomy. However, men with prostate problems are at an increased risk.
  • Age: Muscles in the bladder and urethra lose strength as we age, and the bladder cannot hold as much urine.
  • Weight: Increased pressure on the bladder and surrounding muscles are weakened.
  • Diet: Certain foods, drinks and medications can act as diuretics.
  • Disease: Diabetes or neurological conditions.

Treatments

  • Diet management: Maintain a healthy weight and avoid trigger foods.
  • Bladder training: Try to delay urination when you get the urge, or double void to completely empty your bladder.
  • Exercise: Strengthen pelvic muscles by contracting the muscles used to stop urination and hold for two to five seconds, then relax the muscles for three to five seconds. Increase time to 10 seconds and try to repeat 10 times per day.
  • Medications: See your doctor.
  • Absorbent undergarments or pads: Use core products that absorb bladder leaks and odours, which also help to relieve anxiety.
  • Lifestyle changes: For urge incontinence, use a night light, and remove rugs, furniture or anything else that you might trip over when rushing to the bathroom.

For more information visit mayoclinic.org, emedicinehealth.com, healthline.com, webmed.com.


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