50 Ways to Stay Well

This year, the University of Lethbridge is celebrating 50 years! And in honour of that, the Wellness Committee is hosting a year long health challenge- 50 Ways to Stay Well.

Each week we want you to focus on a different aspect of Wellness up until mid-December 2017. Each month we will post  the four or five activities meant to improve your mental and physical well being.

We will share tips, tricks, and links for each week to help you stay well in 2017! 

Want a tool to stay on track? Create a word document or grab a notebook and document your journey through the year. It doesn’t have to be time intensive, a sentence or two a day or a paragraph a week on the challenge you are doing and how it’s working. This will help you stay on track and let you look back on your journey at year's end!

 

 

46- Donate Blood

A lot of the Ways to Stay Well that we’ve shared are helpful in lowering blood pressure or getting your blood pumping, but donating that blood is also a way to improve your wellness.

Health benefits include:

(Source: Lifehack.org)

1. The Joy of Saving Human Lives

It is such a wonderful feeling being able to help doctors save human lives. The blood you donate is divided into various components according to the needs of patients. Every time you donate blood, you can help up to 3 or 4 individual recipients.

2. Health Check-up

You can donate blood only if you are fit enough to do so. Before every blood donation process, a series of health check-ups are performed on the donor which can be helpful. For example, you will come to know of any blood pressure abnormalities.

3. Reduces Risk of Heart Disease

Regular blood donations help to keep the levels of iron in the body in check, especially in males. This has shown to reduce heart disease.

According to a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that those aged 43 to 61 had fewer heart attacks and strokes when they donated blood every six months.

4. Burns Calories

The University of California in San Diego estimate that for every one pint of blood donated, 650 calories are burned as the body must replenish itself.

5. Reduces the Risk of Cancer

High levels of iron have been implicated in cancer. Theoretically, donating blood frequently will reduce the risk of cancers. More research is going on to find strong evidence on this one.

Resources

Canadian Blood Services

Articles

Donating blood is as good for YOUR health as it is for the receiver (Daily Mail)

5 Health Benefits of Donating Blood (Life Hack)

45- Rock climbing

We here at the University are fortunate to have a state of the art rock climbing facility right here on campus! Rock climbing is an excellent full body workout and a great cross training activity.

Rock climbing is a cardio and strength workout requiring both upper and lower body strength. Abs, obliques, delts, traps, biceps, lats, quads, calves are all muscle groups utilized while climbing.

It’s also a great form of cardio, similar to climbing stairs or jogging. According to a 1997 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the cardio and energy consumed in rock climbing is similar to running at a pace between 8 and 11 minutes per mile.

Besides the physical benefits, rock climbing offers great mental benefits such as;

  • Boosting brain function- When climbing, you have to mentally map out your route, this is actually problem solving at it’s finest.  Navigating routes demands a climber to judge their individual abilities, such as reach, strength required to complete the next step, current energy levels and route planning.

 

  • Rising up to Meet Challenges-  Climbers are always pushing themselves past their comfort zones.  Climbing provides many with  the opportunity to tap into the mind and body’s limitless potential, enabling them to challenge themselves further in completing increasingly complex routes.

 

  • Potentially getting you outside- If you opt to take your session out of the gym and itno the great outdoors you will be getting fresh air, vitamin D, and increasing your happiness levels in general. Just be sure to do this safely.

 

Resources

Ascent  Climbing Centre (U of L)

U of L Sport and Rec Climbing Courses

Articles

How Rock Climbing Does Your Mind -- And Body – Good (HuffPost)

Top 10 Health Benefits of Rock Climbing (Health Fitness Revolution)

44- Family Skate

The flurries are starting to fly and so often we Canadians hunker down at home and bust out the movies and books. But getting out and moving your body is detrimental to your mental and physical well being. Prolonged screen time has been shown to be detrimental to children and adults alike.

Fitness for the Whole Family

Skating as a family is a great way to get out and moving. Physical & Health Education Canada have identified skating as one of thirteen locomotor and body skills that children should learn by age seven.

It’s fairly inexpensive. Due to the popularity of the sport, finding used kids skates on online message boards is fairly easy and the admission fee at local rinks is nominal.

According to Health Fitness Revolution, health benefits of ice skating include;

  • Better balance: Ice skating helps improve your balance through fun and positive exercise. Travelling across an incredibly slippery surface should quickly train you to stay on your feet.

 

  • Improves joint flexibility: With its emphasis on quick foot movements and strong knees, your leg joints will receive a great workout and hopefully feel more flexible in no time.

 

  •  Builds leg muscles: Focusing on lower-body movement, ice skating offers great exercise for the leg muscles, building and toning them up over time.

 

  •  Cardio: Aerobic exercise is an important aspect of cardiovascular health, and ice skating provides a great aerobic workout. The best part about skating is you get a great cardio workout without even knowing it.

 

  • Endurance: Ice skating requires energy over an extended period of time, making it a great way to build your endurance. The longer you skate, the more you’ll improve your endurance, not just for ice skating but for other sports and activities as well.

 

  • Stress relief: Regular physical activity like ice skating can help combat the effects of stress. Ice skating is one of the most fun ways to exercise, especially if you skate outdoors where you can soak up the scenery and enjoy nature.

 

  • Mental fitness: The fresh air and sunshine in outdoor ice skating, as well as the company of family and friends, greatly help in unwinding from a long week of work and stress.

Resources

City of Lethbridge Public Skating & Shinny Hockey

City of Lethbridge Skating Lessons

 

Articles

Top 10 Health Benefits of Ice Skating (Health Fitness Revolution)

Health benefits of ice skating (Chatelaine)

43- Collecting

Do you still have your Beanie Baby collection from the 90s? Maybe you enjoy collecting souvenir spoons or have books of stamps your spouse wants you toss. Hold on to them because collecting is good for your health! Collecting will hone your skills and make your brain more alert. Whenever you start collecting, you are keenly aware of your environment because you’re always seeking out another piece for your collection.

According to Think Health B.C., collecting can improve your health in the following ways:

Increased Observational Awareness – You know all the nuances of the objects you collect so you are always on the lookout for others that are similar or uniquely different. You pay more attention to things because you have trained your brain to recognize subtleties.

Organizational Skills Enhanced– You will want to keep your collection in some sort of order. So, your organizational skills will need work as you try to determine how to separate genres, time periods, etc.

Pattern Recognition Improved – When you organize your collections you will be able to recognize the gaps in patterns. This makes it more probable that you will notice imperfections and fakes in the pieces you choose to collect.

Creative Inspiration – You will be collecting things that offer some sort of stimulation for you. Whether its music, art, or even toys, something about it inspires your imagination, which will in turn heighten your level of creativity. They might even open your eyes to other collecting options, or things that you can make on your own.

Resources

Showcase Comics & Hobbies

Antiques & Collectibles Free Resources (Kovels)

Articles

Collecting is Great for Your Brain Health (Think Health BC)

8 Reasons Why Collecting Things You Love Is Good for Your Brain (Rewire Me)

42- Bowling

Bowling is an excellent indoor activity that Lethbridge residents can enjoy year round. This social sport is low-impact and offers a lot of fun and laughs (and some frustrations).

According to Bowl Canada, approximately 95 million people all over the world enjoy the game of bowling.  While not an overly intensive workout, participants in bowling enjoy many health benefits, both physically and mentally as follows:

  1. Promotes the growth of body muscles.

Bowling is a kind of anaerobic exercise that promotes the growth of body muscles. During the game you build up your leg muscles when you are approaching the foul line. Holding the ball in your hand helps to develop the muscles of the arms.

  1. Excellent exercise for the body.

The average bowler walks approximately 6/10ths of a mile during a three-game series.

During the game you are not only building your muscles, but also stretching them. This improves the overall flexibility of the muscles. Swinging your arm for rolling down the ball on the lane, you exercise on your joints, tendons, and ligaments.

  1.  Helps in weight loss.

Every movement in the game helps in burning body calories. Depending on an individual’s weight and the amount of effort put into the game, bowling can burn anywhere from 170 to 300 calories per game. An adult who weighs 200 pounds can burn up to 275 calories per hour while bowling, according to MayoClinic.com.

  1. Social benefits of bowling.

While individual competitions and opportunities certainly exist in our sport, bowling is a game that typically is not played alone.Leagues are based on a “team” format, and the sport therefore tends to bring people together.Participation in a league helps in building relationships and friendships, introducing new players to a big group of people who share a common interest, whether it be in a competitive league atmosphere or just a fun/social league.

  1. Helps relieve stress.

Stress is simply a part of our lives, perhaps more so today than in the past.Bowling engages us in physical activity, which is a known stress reliever, and also involves a significant amount of socializing with fellow bowlers, both teammates and the competition.The combination of both physical activity and social interaction help make bowling a stress reliever for many.

Resources

Holiday Bowl Leagues

Galaxy Bowling

Articles

Top 10 Health Benefits of Bowling (Health Fitness Revolution)

Health Benefits of Bowling (Bowl Canada)

41-  Recycling

You’ve heard the many benefits recycling has on the environment and even the economy.

  • Reduces waste sent to landfills
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions
  • Conserves natural resources
  • Create jobs
  • Helps sustain the environment for future generations

But recycling can also contribute to your own personal sense of wellbeing. Recycling can remind you how your actions affect the world at large. Many people think personal efforts have no effect but every little bit counts.

Recycling can also bring communities together. Simple programs that make a community stronger can be built upon the many benefits of recycling. Many people have found that their collective efforts in proper waste disposal have made their towns cleaner and happier. Others have found friends and supporters in their mission to change the world. In fact, it is one the best ways to teach children about responsibility and taking an initiative. (Source: Conserve Energy Future)

Resources

City of Lethbridge Waste & Recycling

Residential Recycle

Earth 9-1-1 Resources to teach kids about recycling

Articles

Recycling: A Component of Strong Community Development (US EPA Archive)

Benefits of Recycling (National Institutes of Health)

Effects of Recycling on Humans (SF Gate)

40- Breathing

‘Ha’ in Hawaiian means breath or breath of life. In yoga circles, "prana" is breath or vital energy in the body.  To athlete’s, proper breathing is vital to a good performance. So why do most people breath primarily chest oriented and shallow?

Typically, when angry or stressed, a person breaths faster and more shallow. When in pain or sick, we tend to take longer and deeper breaths to get relief. Short breaths cause oxygen deficiency in the tissues and organs of our body and just isn’t good!

Just walking around taking deeper breaths isn’t the answer (though it’ll help), there are different breathing techniques.

The Soft-Belly Technique

Keeping your stomach relaxed (no pushing it out or in), inhale through the nose and exhaling through the mouth, while keeping your stomach relaxed. This technique is believed to stimulate the part of your parasympathetic nervous system that runs through your abdomen, chest, and back to your brain.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Sit comfortably with your eyes closed and use the thumb of your right hand to block your right nostril. Inhale deeply through your left nostril for six seconds. Next, cover your left nostril with the fourth finger of your right hand, release your right nostril, and exhale slowly for six seconds. Switch nostrils and repeat for about two minutes. This technique is believed to lowers pulse rate and diastolic blood pressure.

The Bee Breath

Sitting in a comfortable position, take a deep breath through your nose, then let out a high-pitched humming sound as you exhale through your nose. You should feel a vibration in your nose, as well as in your chest and head. This is believed to be a good breathing technique for anxiety.

The Pursed-Lip Breath

Breath through your nostrils for four second and exhale for eight through lips puckered as if you were drinking from a straw.

Resources           

Breath (app)

Calgary Holotropic Breathwork Workshop

Articles

Improve Your Breathing Techniques (Women’s Health Magazine)

20 Weird Ways Breathing Right Can Improve Your Life (Health Magazine)

39- Build a Better Relationship with Coworkers

You can’t choose your co-workers but you can control what kind of relationship you want to have with them. Psychologist and author Ron Friedman points out in his book, "The Best Place to Work," that workplace friendships are one of the strongest predictors of productivity and success, according to research.

Think about it, if you spend eight hours per day, five days per week and take three weeks off per year for vacation, you spend approximately 1,960 hours per year with your coworkers. Having a solid relationship with your coworkers definitely makes your entire work experience more enjoyable.

Here are some great tips on building better relationships from The Everygirl.

1. Work Hard

Start by making sure that your own job performance is up to par. Get your work done on time and respond promptly to co-workers.

2. Be Helpful

Being helpful and conscientious instantly makes you more likable. So, offer to assist when your coworker is positively buried under work.

3. Avoid Office Gossip

Falling into the office gossip trap is way too easy. In fact, at first glance, it might seem like a great way to actually solidify relationships in the workplace. After all, that person must really like you in order to take the time to approach you and gripe about your boss or another employee. But you don’t need me to tell you that office gossip always comes back to bite you. So, do your best to stay completely disengaged. After all, if the only things the office blabbermouth can think of to talk about is your boss’ bad haircut or your coworkers’ pending divorce, that’s probably not a relationship you want to have flourish anyway.

4. Participate in Office Outings

Company events are an amazing chance to get to know your coworkers outside of the four walls of your office. So get out there and participate in the outings your organization puts together! You’ll get to connect with your coworkers on a different level—and you’ll probably be surprised at how much fun you end up having.

Hit a Wellness Lunch & Learn, go the Art Gallery’s social events, or sign up a team in the next Be(e) Amazing Race!

Having something to connect over—other than your shared hatred for expense reports—can build a stronger relationship.

5. Find Common Ground

Most of your interactions likely revolve around work-related issues. While you don’t want to waste tons of work time gabbing about irrelevant subjects (it’s a surefire way to annoy your boss), finding different interests and passions that you share with your coworkers is still a great idea. Having something to connect over—other than your shared hatred for expense reports—can help to build a stronger relationship.

7. Perform Random Acts of Kindness

Pick up an extra coffee for your desk mate on your way into the office or leave a snack in the break room. These are all small, easy to manage actions—but they’ll have a huge impact. Plus, it doesn’t take a genius to know that everybody loves the person who’s armed with free coffee and donuts.

Resources

Be(e) Amazing Race U of L

The Great Escape

Articles

20 Ways to Bond With Your Co-workers (That Don't Involve Fantasy Football)

How to Build Better Relationships With Your Coworkers (The Everygirl)

38- Curling

We don’t like to think about it, but winter is upon us and why not get out this winter and get moving? Curling is an excellent national sport that is low impact, for all ages, and can get you off the couch and moving and socializing on those cold winter evening.

Reasons to Try Curling

(Source: Canadian Immigrant)

1. Curling is inclusive sport and can be played by anyone at any age and of any ability. Unlike many organized sports, you don’t have to have a high level of physical activity to be able to play. It’s even possible for someone in a wheelchair to participate in curling by using a delivery stick.

2. Curling is inexpensive. A full-year membership at a big city club costs around $400 while a smaller city club may cost around $200 for a 20- to 24-week season. It also doesn’t require much equipment. To begin curling, all you need is a pair of rubber-soled shoes and loose-fitting pants like yoga or track pants. Clubs typically supply brooms and sliders for new players. Once you’re hooked on the game, you may wish to purchase curling shoes, which range in price from $50 to $350, and brooms, which can cost $40 to $250. The stones are always supplied by the club.

3. Curling has physical health benefits. While you don’t need to be in terrific shape to be a good curler, the sport can get you moving. Sweeping is an excellent cardiovascular activity, and throwing the stone can help to improve your balance and hand-eye co-ordination.

4. Curling is a social sport. Like any team sport, curling involves a great deal of camaraderie. There are four members on a curling team and you’ll play against another foursome. One of the key benefits of curling, especially for newcomers, is the diversity found in curling clubs.

Curling has been found to help women in rural settings fight seasonal depression. People in rural setting face poor road conditions, limited recreational resources, more isolation and therefore, higher rates of seasonal depression than average Canadians. Curling is a way to get them out, to socialize, and to be active.

So hurry! Hurry hard! Sign up for a beginner workshop or find a rec league now!

Resources

Lethbridge Curling Club

 

Articles

Here’s why you should try curling in Canada (Canadian Immigrant)

Curling helps fight seasonal depression for rural women (University of Waterloo)

37- Take Your Breaks

As a full time employee, we typically have a mandated lunch break and 1-2 coffee breaks, but how many people take these breaks? Too often, workers get too involved in what they are doing and opt to skip breaks to work more- this is bad for your health! The brain and body needs breaks, you might find your ability to concentrate wane if you don’t take the few minutes to step away from your work and refocus.

Productivity-Boosting Activities For Your Break

(Source: Fast Company)

So you’ve realized the importance of breaks and added them into your day–hooray! Now: How to spend your well-deserved break? Here are a few suggestions, each with proven benefits!

  1. Take a walk – walking increases blood flow to the brain, which can boost creative thought. Regular walks can enhance the connectivity of important brain circuits, combat age-related declines in brain function and improve memory and cognitive performance. Download the University of Lethbridge Walking maps for both indoor and outdoor route
     
  2. Eat - Replenish your brain with a snack–try some brain-and productivity- boosting foods such as nut, avocados, blueberries, fish, dark chocolate, whole grains, and carrots.
  3. Read - Read a (non-work) book–especially fiction. Studies have shown that individuals who frequently read fiction are better able to understand other people, empathize with them and see the world from their perspective.
  4. Get a coffee - OK, you probably already though of this break option. But are you timing your coffee breaks correctly? For people who wake up between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., the optimal times for consuming caffeine fall somewhere around 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Remember to pair your coffee with a glass of water!
  5. Doodle - Let your mind wander as you put pen to paper for some creative free time. Research shows that doodling can stimulate new ideas and help us stay focused.
  6. Listen to music - Focusing on music can significantly improve our motor and reasoning skills, and it has a variety of health benefits as well.
  7. Exercise - Exercise gives you more energy and help you gain focus. You can pack in a decent workout in under 10 minutes, and switching to a different kind of task give yours mind needed rest.
  8. Talk to friends or coworkers - Yup, even hanging out with coworkers for a bit is a productive break! Research shows that talking with colleagues can increase your productivity.
  9. Meditate - One of the most powerful ways to relax your brain in a short amount of time is a session of meditation. Meditation lowers stress levels and improves overall health as well as creativity.
  10. Go outside and see some nature - Spending time in nature is good for your immune system and has been shown to improve focus and relieve stress.

Resources

University of Lethbridge Campus Walking maps

Take Your Break- Weekly emails with break time ideas (Workplace Strategies for Mental Health)

 

Articles

Why You Need To Stop Thinking You Are Too Busy To Take Breaks (Fast Company)

Benefits of lunch breaks (Best Health Magazine)

Why Taking a Break at Work Makes You a Better Employee (Health Magazine)

 

#36) - Carpooling

Carpooling is utilized to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save money, reduce wear and tear on cars, and to utilize the carpool lanes to get there faster. In Lethbridge we’re fortunate to drive from one end of the city to the other in about 15 minutes, but this means that carpooling is not as popular in our city as other citites. But this doesn’t mean there is no value in carpooling, quiet the contrary, carpooling offers health benefits as well.

  • It reduces the stress of your commute and allows you to read, relax, or even work while commuting.
  • Carpooling enables some families to cut back to one car.
  • If you don’t have a car or don’t drive, carpooling allows you to consider jobs throughout the area.
  • Carpooling can provide you with new friendships and company for your commute.

Even if you’re coming from the south side to the University, consider organizing a carpool.

Resources Articles

Carpool.ca

Carpooling Benefits (Drive Less Save More)

Commuterchallenge.ca

 

 

#35) - Hydrate

The temperatures are going to start cooling off, but this doesn’t mean you need less water. The Dieticians of Canada recommend 3 L (12 cups) for men 19 years old and 2.2 L (9 cups) for women 19 years old and over every day.

Fluid helps you stay healthy and energized. It also:

  • controls your body temperature
  • aids digestion
  • carries nutrients around your body
  • cushions organs and joints
  • gets rid of waste
  • keeps your bowels regular

Your body loses water by sweating, breathing and getting rid of waste. If you lose more fluid than you take in you can get dehydrated.

If you find yourself getting so busy throughout the day and forgetting to drink, there are a few tips you can try to remember.

  • Drink a glass of water when you wake up (before coffee)
  • Keep a bottle of fresh water on your desk or on hand where you work
  • Use an app- there are apps like Daily Water Free or Carbodroid that you can use to set daily reminders and alarms.
  • Always order water when you got out. If you stop for a coffee, ask for a glass of water to go along. Swap out a soda with water.

But what about all those folks out there who hate water? There are many creative ways to get yourself to drink more.

  • Add flavor such as fresh fruit (grapefruit, strawberries, lemon), veggie slices (cucumber, ginger, celery), and herbs (basil, mint, lavender) to your carafe
  • Dilute sugary drinks with water and ice. If drinking juice, lemonade, or iced tea is a daily habit, water down your sips with H20 and a healthy helping of ice (aim for a one-to-one ratio). You’ll still get the sweetness you’re craving with a healthy dose of the water your body needs.
  • Opt for sparkling or mineral water
  • Eat water rich foods. Add fruits and vegetables with a high water content to your grocery shopping list. Some top picks include cucumber (96% water), zucchini (95% water), watermelon (92% water), and grapefruit (91% water).
     
Resources Articles

Daily Water Free (App)

12 Easy Ways to Drink More Water Every Day (Self Magazine)

Water Intake Tracker Bottle

10 Reasons Why You Should Drink More Water (Mind Body Green)

 

#34) - Budgeting

Does the word ‘budget’ make your eyes roll?  Life is hectic enough and it can sometimes seem like budgeting is too much extra work on top of everything else. However, budgeting is a crucial step in staying in good financial health.

According to a 2017 report from TransUnion, Canadians owe more than $21,000 on average, in addition to any mortgage debt, though only 2.7 per cent of borrowers’ accounts are delinquent. A budget can help get debt under control while offering a bit of peace of mind.

The Balance shared some ways that budgeting can improve your life:

1. Acts as a Roadmap

Creating the budget will reveal where every dollar is currently being spent. The visual representation of the actual expenditures reveals the direction followed. The budget is a living document that must be updated with the changes that occur in your life.

2. Reveals Waste

A detailed budget that is compared against the actual monthly expenditures will reveal the incorrect use of money. When money is spent on non-budgeted items, budget shortfalls are created and can be corrected. When you can identify a source of waste you can then take corrective action.

3. Aligns Priorities

Family discussions over the budget can reveal differences in priorities that may often cause conflict. Conversations to address the underlying priorities will correct the problems and reduce disagreements over money.

Since money is such a stressful part of marriage, identifying discrepancies before they become an issue can do a lot of good.

4. Builds New Habits

Efforts to stay within the budget will build new spending habits that can be maintained over time. Working within the budget will shift actual expenses from unnecessary categories into the most essential household categories.

Money will be available for the most important expenses and debt reduction becomes possible.

5. Reduces Stress

Following the budget throughout the year gives everyone an accurate picture of the financial health of the family. Guesses are no longer required to determine if large purchases and vacations are affordable. When annual expenses are budgeted each month, sufficient funds will exist to pay the bill when it becomes due.

6. Controls Spending

If expenditures exceed budgeted amounts, corrections can be made in the coming months to control the monthly flow of money. When outstanding debt is weighing on the monthly finances, the budget can show areas where spending can be reduced to find the money to repay the debt.

9. Creates Margin

Debt repayment and living according to the budget will move the family toward living within the monthly income. As less money is spent, excess income becomes available and is considered financial margin. These funds can then be applied to other financial goals.

10. Grows Savings

Budgeting activities make money available to save some of the monthly income for various reasons. Short- and long-term goals can be reached through savings efforts that seemed impossible just months before a budget was created. Savings becomes the highest priority and money can be saved ahead of paying the bills since every expense is closely monitored and compared to the budget.

Resources Articles

Money Mentors

How Budgeting Can Improve Your Life (the balance)

Stretch Your Dollars: Budgeting basics - ALIS - Government of Alberta

4 Unexpected Benefits of Budgeting (Dave Ramsey)

 

#33) - Homecoming Week at U of L

Spending time with your family and being involved in your community and workplace are all ways to improve wellness discussed this year. This week, you can combine all three by taking the family and meeting your friends and colleagues at the Homecoming Weekend September 1-3.

The weekend will feature the John Gill Memorial Golf Tournament, a welcome reception, Faculty mixers, campus tours, alumni TedX speakers, faculty lectures and family activities. The weekend caps off with the Shine On Summer Festival on the Saturday and Sunday, the signature event of U of L’s 50th year. This weekend celebration of music, culture and community will include music and fireworks, a rugby tournament, and a free family festival of activities and fun.

Visit the Homecoming Weekend website for details and registration.

 

September
#32) Get a Pet

Many households in Canada have a pet, or they at least have kids begging for that cute little puppy. The reason people have pet’s vary, but research shows that pet can help your health.  

Pets can decrease your: 

  • Blood pressure 

  • Cholesterol levels  

  • Triglyceride levels  

  • Feelings of loneliness 

Pets can increase your: 

  • Opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities  

  • Opportunities for socialization 

Makes sense. Fido needs to be walked and what better way to pass the time than go for a walk with a friend and his/her pooch? 

Did you also know that having a pet can increase immunity and prevent allergies in children? A study found that children ages 5 to 7 from pet-owning households attend school three weeks more per year than those who don't have pets. The dander on the hair is a natural immunotherapy. Getting a pet as an adult will not minimize allergies, it only helps prevent certain allergies from developing in children 

If allergies are preventing you from getting a pet there are options. Hairless cats do exist (though they look weird) and there are breeds of dogs such as poodles who don’t shed.  

Resources  Articles 

Lethbridge Animal Shelter (City of Lethbridge

                     

10 Health Benefits of Owning a Pet (Woman’s Day)

Windy City Rescue (Lethbridge)

5 Ways Pets Can Improve Your Health (WebMD)

Lethbridge Humane Society 

The health benefits and risks of pet ownership (Harvard Health Publications)

   

 

#31) Paddle Sports

August is usually a hot month in Southern Alberta and a great way to beat the heat is to hit the water! Whether you want to head out with a friend or go solo, there are many options you can choose from.  

Canoeing, kayaking, and paddle boarding involve paddling a small craft through water. They are low-impact activities that can improve your aerobic fitness, strength and flexibility.  

Canoeing typically takes at least two people. This is an open vessel and the person either sits or kneels inside the canoe using a single blade paddle.  

Kayaking can be done solo or tandem. This this is an enclosed vessel and the person sits inside the kayak with legs extended and uses a double-bladed paddle.  

Standup Paddle boarding is an activity that started in Hawaii for surfers on flat days is exploding in popularity among anyone near a body of water. This sport offers many health benefits and equipment is pretty simple; board and paddle. Options available include inflatable boards which pack up tight and can be easily transported or traditional epoxy boards which would require a roof rack of some sort. 

Health Benefits of these activities include; 

  1. Reduces stress - Water naturally soothes the body and exercise helps to reduce stress. Being outdoors in nature and enjoying the sights, sounds, and colours helps reduce stress levels. 

  2. Improved balance-  paddleboarding requires you to stand upright on the board, which requires a lot of core stability and leg strength to maintain balance. 

  3. It’s a workout - Placing the paddle in the water and executing a good stroke is going to incorporate every muscle in the upper body. And in paddle boarding, you are doing a full body workout as leg muscles will be hard at work attempting to stabilize your center of gravity. 

  4. Low impact – These water sports are very low impact making it a great way to move your body without putting too much stress on it. 

Resources  Articles 

High Level Canoes & Kayaks

                       

Top 10 Health Benefits of Standup Paddleboarding (Health Fitness Revolution)

Awesome Adventures 

 Canoeing and kayaking - health benefits (Better Health Channel) 

Costco Boating & Watersports

What Kayakers Can Teach Us About Living Well (Huffpost)

   
#30) Sleep

What’s one thing we tend to sacrifice when things get busy? Sometimes it’s exercise and other times it’s sleep (sometimes it’s both). Sleep is a vital process that everybody must go through daily in order for their bodies to rest and regenerate. So why are so many people cutting down their hours of sleep? 

Sometimes you have no choice such as working nightshift or having a new baby, but often it’s due to stress, a hectic schedule, or you get sucked into that new show on Netflix. But sleep should be at the top of your list of priorities! 

Sleep helps your brain work properly. It helps you pay attention, make decisions, and be creative. 

Studies also show that sleep deficiency alters activity in some parts of the brain. If you're sleep deficient, you may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling your emotions and behavior, and coping with change. Sleep deficiency also has been linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behavior. 

There are a wide variety of benefits from getting enough sleep and a few include; 

  • You'll be happier. 

  • You'll be able to build muscle more easily. 

  • You'll learn better. 

  • People who sleep enough have better moods and fewer problems with depression and anxiety. 

  • You'll be more productive at work and more focused at home. 

  • You'll increase your immune system 

  • You'll be less easily irritated or upset. 

Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep  

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends. This helps to regulate your body's clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night. 
  2. Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual. A relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime conducted away from bright lights helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety which can make it more difficult to fall asleep, get sound and deep sleep or remain asleep. 
  3. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps, especially in the afternoon. Power napping may help you get through the day, but if you find that you can't fall asleep at bedtime, eliminating even short catnaps may help. 
  4. Exercise daily. Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity. Exercise at any time of day, but not at the expense of your sleep. 
  5. Evaluate your room. Your bedroom should be cool, between 60 and 67 degrees, and free from any noise or any light. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, "white noise" machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices.
  6. Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows. Make sure your mattress is comfortable and supportive. The one you have been using for years may have exceeded its life expectancy – about 9 or 10 years for most good quality mattresses.  
  7. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and heavy meals in the evening. Alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine can disrupt sleep. Eating big or spicy meals can cause discomfort from indigestion that can make it hard to sleep. If you can, avoid eating large meals for two to three hours before bedtime. Try a light snack 45 minutes before bed if you’re still hungry. 
  8. If you can't sleep, go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired. It is best to take work materials, computers and televisions out of the sleeping environment.

Resources  Articles 

Lethbridge Sleep Clinic

                       

Why is Sleep Important? (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Canadian Sleep Society

23 Incredible Benefits Of Getting More Sleep (Business Insider) 

Deepak Chopra's Guided Meditation for Deep Sleep (Yoga Journal) 

Sleep, Learning, and Memory (Healthy Sleep Harvard)

   
#29) Limit Screen Time

Just say no to “Netflix and Chill.” It’s the last month of summer so why not set a goal to limit your leisure screen time? Not much we can do about phones and computers at work, but at home opt to bust out a book, board games, or deck of cards for evening entertainment.  

Health experts say screen time at home should be limited to two hours or less a day. The time we spend in front of the screen, unless it's work- or homework-related, could be better spent being more physically active (increasing our energy out). 

A 2016 Nielsen Company audience report revealed that adults in the United States devoted about 10 hours and 39 minutes each day to consuming media. Is it a wonder stress is an epidemic? That’s a lot of information to process in one day.  

Our addiction to screens is effecting sleep due to cognitive stimulation and sleep deprivation. We’ve all heard about the effects that the blue light emitted from TV’s, computers, and phones has on our melatonin levels.  

There are plenty of studies that show the benefits of limiting children’s screen time but we need to think about adults doing the same as well.  

Douglas Gentile, professor of psychology at Iowa State University said, "The work week still takes up 40 of those hours, sleep at seven hours a night is 49, and if we assume all personal care -- such as eating, bathing, dressing, preparing food -- is three hours a day, then we have 58 hours a week left over for all other things. 

This includes hobbies, sports, spending time with children, spending time with friends and romantic partners, reading, learning, exercise, participating in a faith community, volunteer work, house maintenance," he added. "If people are spending over 50 hours a week with media for entertainment purposes, then there's really no time left for any of the other things we value." 

So how do you start?  

Talk to Your Family – Explain why its important to step away and to get out and enjoy the weather. If it’s too hot to play outside, bust out a board game and play until it cools down.  

Set Screen Time Limits Create a house rule that limits screen time to two hours every day.  

Set a Good Example – The whole family has to obey the rules. Don’t tell your family you have a one hour limit and then be scrolling through your Facebook on the sly.  

Make Screen Time = Active Time - When you do spend time in front of the screen, do something active. Stretch, do yoga and/or lift weights.. 

Create Screen-free Bedrooms Don’t put a TV or computer in any bedrooms 

Make Meal Time = Family Time - Turn off the TV during meals and talk to each other 

Provide Other Options – Create a list of all the things you could do rather than watch TV or scroll through social media on your phone. Watching TV can become a habit, making it easy to forget what else is out there so stick this list on your fridge where it’s easily accessible. 

Resources  Articles 
Lethbridge and Area Events Calendar  (Explore Southwest Alberta) .                         Americans devote more than 10 hours a day to screen time, and growing (CNN)
ParticipACTION 150 Playlist  Tips to Reduce Screen Time (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) 
Summer Bucket List for Families Effects Of Screen Time On Adult Sleep (HuffPost)
Summer Bucket List Ideas for Adults   

 

#28) Kindness

Did you know kindness is contagious? The positive effects of kindness are experienced in the brain of everyone who witnessed the act, improving their mood and making them significantly more likely to “pay it forward.” This means one good deed in a crowded area can create a domino effect and improve the day of dozens of people!

KINDNESS INCREASES:

THE LOVE HORMONE- Witnessing acts of kindness produces oxytocin, occasionally referred to as the ‘love hormone’ which aids in lowering blood pressure and improving our overall heart-health. Oxytocin also increases our self-esteem and optimism, which is extra helpful when we’re in anxious or shy in a social situation.

ENERGY- “About half of participants in one study reported that they feel stronger and more energetic after helping others; many also reported feeling calmer and less depressed, with increased feelings of self-worth” Christine Carter, UC Berkeley, Greater Good Science Center

HAPPINESS - A 2010 Harvard Business School survey of happiness in 136 countries found that people who are altruistic—in this case, people who were generous financially, such as with charitable donations—were happiest overall.

LIFESPAN - “People who volunteer tend to experience fewer aches and pains. Giving help to others protects overall health twice as much as aspirin protects against heart disease. People 55 and older who volunteer for two or more organizations have an impressive 44% lower likelihood of dying early, and that’s after sifting out every other contributing factor, including physical health, exercise, gender, habits like smoking, marital status and many more. This is a stronger effect than exercising four times a week or going to church.” Christine Carter, Author, “Raising Happiness; In Pursuit of Joyful Kids and Happier Parents”

PLEASURE - According to research from Emory University, when you are kind to another person, your brain’s pleasure and reward centers light up, as if you were the recipient of the good deed—not the giver. This phenomenon is called the “helper’s high.”

SEROTONIN - Like most medical antidepressants, kindness stimulates the production of serotonin. This feel-good chemical heals your wounds, calms you down, and makes you happy!

KINDNESS DECREASES:

PAIN - Engaging in acts of kindness produces endorphins—the brain’s natural painkiller!

STRESS - Perpetually kind people have 23% less cortisol (the stress hormone) and age slower than the average population!

ANXIETY - A group of highly anxious individuals performed at least six acts of kindness a week. After one month, there was a significant increase in positive moods, relationship satisfaction and a decrease in social avoidance in socially anxious individuals. University of British Columbia Study

DEPRESSION - Stephen Post of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine found that when we give of ourselves, everything from life satisfaction to self-realization and physical health is significantly improved. Mortality is delayed, depression is reduced and well-being and good fortune are increased.

BLOOD PRESSURE - Committing acts of kindness lowers blood pressure. According to Dr. David R. Hamilton, acts of kindness create emotional warmth, which releases a hormone known as oxytocin. Oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide, which dilates the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure and, therefore, oxytocin is known as a “cardioprotective” hormone. It protects the heart by lowering blood pressure.

Resources Articles

Random Acts of Kindness

The Science of Kindness (Randomactsofkindness.org)

Kind Canada

Science Says 'Random Acts of Kindness' Week Has Astonishing Health Benefits (Inc. Magazine)

   

 

#27) Horseback Riding

If you’re looking for a non-traditional way to strengthen your core, horseback riding may be just the exercise you need. Horseback riding really works the core muscles that stabilize the trunk: the abdominal, back, and pelvic muscles. It’s not just about the strength of the core, but the coordination and stability of it as well.

Benefits of horseback riding include;

  • Core Strength
  • Balance and Coordination
  • Muscle Tone and Flexibility
  • Cardiovascular Exercise
  • Mental exercise
Resources
Articles

                    

Benefits of Horseback Riding (Be Your Healthiest Best)

Edgewood Stables

The Health Benefits of Horseback Riding (Health Fitness Revolution)

Alpine Stables (Waterton Park)

Fancy a great work out?: Try HORSING around (Express UK)

 
#26) Geocaching

Geocaching (pronounced JEE-oh-cash-ing) is a recreational activity where you utilize GPS technology to find hidden objects left by others. To play, you find a specific set of GPS coordinates to discover the buried treasure left at that location. It’s free, it’s easy and once you really get into it, it’s fun for the entire family.

When you find a cache, just leave something of equal value in its place for the next geocacher to find, then record your find on the geocache app or website as well as the logbook in the cache. To get started, you just need your indomitable will and a smartphone with GPS.

There are 534 geocaches near Lethbridge.

A Texas A&M Geocaching for Exercise and Activity Research (GEAR) study, tracked 1,000 geocachers throughout the U.S. over 12 months. The study identified adults who geocached at least once a week. Results from that analysis concluded:

  • Geocachers reported improved health and fewers days of poor mental health and physical health
  • Study participants reported geocaching as a moderate physical activity for 134 minutes per week
  • Active geocachers were 40% more likely to meet CDC recommendations for physical activity
  • Study participants reported walking on average 10 miles a month while geocaching

Sign up for a geocache account and head out and enjoy the outdoors and act like Indiana Jones searching for treasure!

 

Resources
Articles

                    

Geocaching Your Way to Good Health (The Joint Chiropractic)

Parks Canada: Geocache 101

Geocaching is Good For You: 8 Reasons Why (The Geocaching Junkie)

Geocaching® mobile apps

 

                  

The Health Benefits Of Geocaching (News Nutrition)

 

#25)  Spirituality

Typically, when talking about health and wellness we focus on the body and look at health from a medical stand point. But spirituality is a part of the overall wellness wheel and can contribute to improved health.

Whether you consider yourself Christian, Buddhist or mindful spiritual yogi, research suggests you are more likely to

  • report being “very happy”
  • have a longer life
  • have a lower risk of depression and suicide
  • be more resilient
  • be more faithful in relationships
  • have happier children and be more satisfied with their family life

But how does all this happen? What's the connection? Here are a few of the major ways spirituality can affect your physical and emotional health. Spiritual people are

1. More likely to volunteer or donate to the poor.

Research has shown that regular community service buffers you against the effects of stress, leading to a longer life.

2. More likely to meditate to cope with stress.

Forty-two percent of highly spiritual people will meditate when stressed rather than overeat or indulge in other unhealthy coping behaviors. And, as you've probably heard, meditation has all kinds of benefits—from improved health, happiness, and focus to decreased pain and depression.

3. More likely to have a built-in community.

After food and shelter, social connection is the top predictor of health, happiness, and longevity. Religious people are more likely to spend time with family and feel a strong sense of belonging to a community of like-minded people.

4. More likely to turn prayer.

Research suggests prayer helps people find comfort by helping them deal with difficult emotions, encourages forgiveness, and leads to healthier relationships

RESOURCES

ARTICLES

Wellness Wheel

The Surprising Health Benefits of Spirituality (Psychology Today)

Spirituality & Practice: Multifaith Resources for Spiritual Journeys

5 Health Benefits Of Spirituality (ShareCare.com)

 

The role of spirituality in health care (US National Library of Medicine)

#24) Golf

Playing golf regularly may prevent chronic illness, improve mental health and increase life expectancy.

These benefits can largely be explained by the exercise associated with golf. Players typically burned a minimum of 500 calories over 18 holes.

Additionally, golfers walking the full course could cover four to eight miles, while those using electric buggies typically chalked up four miles.

Fresh air and Vitamin D also contribute to improved well-being and golf is a great way to get outdoors and move your body.

Don’t know how to golf? Start off with hitting the driving range!

Resources Articles
Evergreen Golf Centre

7 health benefits of golf - why golf is good for body and mind

Henderson Lake Golf Course

Playing golf gives 'all round health benefits'

Bridge Valley Golf

Playing Golf Improves Mental Health And Increases Life Expectancy, Study Finds

 

#23) Crosswords & Sudoku

People who tackle a daily crossword or sudoku puzzle keep their mind alert as well as boost their brain power into old age. Mental exercise in the form of a regular “brain-teaser” puzzle is a great way to boost brainpower.

Benefits of these games include:

  •  Improves your memory
  •  Stimulates your mind. Sudoku keeps you practicing your logical thinking process which improves your number skills. And crosswords help teach you new words
  • Reduces the chances of developing Alzheimers by keeping your brain active.
  •  Learns to do things quickly. Not only playing Sudoku is interesting but it helps to increase your sense of time. You will learn how to make a decision and take an action with less hesitation.
  •  Increases your concentration power.
  • Feel Happy.  These games give you a sense of accomplishment when you can solve a puzzle, especially if the puzzle is a difficult one.
#22) Yoga

Yoga is an activity that is seeing a huge spike in participation. Maybe it’s because our hectic pace of life requires a calming activity or because we’re becoming more sedentary and need to restore flexibility. It could also be that yoga has a long list of mental and physical health benefits!

Whatever your reason, participation in yoga has many physical and mental health benefits.

Physical Benefits

Mental Benefits

  • Increased flexibility & muscle strength
  • Improved concentration
  • Increased parasympathetic activation
  • Sharper focus
  • Improved respiration, energy & and vitality
  • Increased mental clarity
  • Maintaining a balanced metabolism
  • Increased ability to be present
  • Weight reduction
  • Reduced sleep and sleep disturbance
  • Cardio and circulatory health
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Reduced depression
  • Protection from injury
  • Increased feelings of well-being

There are several different styles of yoga, popular styles include:

Hatha- slower moving classes that require you to hold each pose for a few breaths. Great for beginners

Vinyasa- dynamic practice with a quicker pace to raise your heart rate. Best for HIIT lovers.

Ashtanga- Consisting of six series of specifically sequenced yoga poses.

Bikram- Prepare to sweat: Bikram consists of a specific series of 26 poses and two breathing exercises practiced in a room heated to approximately 105 degrees and 40 percent humidity.

Restorative- The mellow, slow-moving practice with longer holds gives your body a chance tap into your parasympathetic nervous system, allowing you to experience deeper relaxation.

 

Resources
Articles

                    

38 Health Benefits of Yoga (Yoga Journal)

Hot Yoga Lethbridge

Yoga for anxiety and depression (Harvard Health Publications)

 

Pop Up Yoga Lethbridge                                         

                               

                  

How Yoga Changes the Brain (Scientific American)

 

#21)  Quilting

Just like knitting and crocheting, many people are turning to hobbies like quilting for stress release and to improve mental wellness. Once a necessary skill to keep your family warm at night, quilting has turned into an art form with elaborate patterns and amazing pieces that some hang on their walls as décor.

Quilting improves well-being in ways that physical and outdoor activities cannot, and offer a creativity that had been ‘stifled’ in the modern world. The activity helps cognitive, creative and emotional well-being, particularly among older people.

RESOURCES

ARTICLES

Sewin' Fun Sewing School

Why quilting improves your health in ways even exercise can't manage

 Lethbridge Centennial Quilt Guild

The Many Amazing Benefits of Quilting

 

Quilting Is My Therapy: A Look At the Very Real Health Benefits of Quilting

 

#20) Hiking

“Take a hike!” is no longer the equivalent of scram, it’s now a wonderful piece of wellness advice. We here in Lethbridge are fortunate to have the coulee trail network within our city as well as the Rocky Mountains a mere 1.5 hours away from us and it’s time to take advantage.

Too many people shy away from hiking because they think they aren’t in good enough shape. They conjure up images of steep, rocky ascents to the top of a mountain but hiking doesn’t have to be difficult. There are so many beginner trails that have little climbing but offer all the views and fresh air of the harder hikes.

Hiking improves your cardiovascular system and engages your core and studies show that spending time in green space can ease stress.Hiking offers many

Your challenge this week is to make plans to hit the Crowsnest Pass or Waterton Lakes National park and hit the trails.

Resources Articles

City of Lethbridge Pathways & Parks Map

Health benefits of hiking: Raise your heart rate and your mood (Harvard Health Publications)

Crowsnest Pass Trail Maps

Proof That Hiking Makes You Happier And Healthier (Huffington Post)

Waterton Lakes National Park Trail Map                                           

Hiking for Beginners: 10 Essential Tips (Liftopia)

 

#19) Gardening

In a world where healthy food is costly and we turn to take out to feed our families, gardening has been growing in popularity as a way to get outside, get active, and to grow organic foods in our own backyards or even terraces. In addition to being a source of fresh, healthy produce, gardening can ease stress, keep you limber, and even improve your mood.

The sensory experience of gardening (crouching and digging in dirt) is a relief from our increasing indoor and sedentary lifestyles.  Besides the mental (stress relief) and physical health benefits (time in the sun and fresh air, movement), gardening has been shown to improve the brain. Two separate studies that followed people in their 60s and 70s for up to 16 years found, respectively, that those who gardened regularly had a 36% and 47% lower risk of dementia than non-gardeners, even when a range of other health factors were taken into account.

May is the time to get planting, and don’t think you need a big plot of land. Container gardening is when you plant a few items in individual containers to keep on a deck or other small outdoor space.

Resources Articles

Campus Roots                                   

Why gardening is good for your health (CNN)

Lethbridge & District Horticultural Society

7 Secrets to Successful Container Gardening (Canadian Living)

Greenhaven Garden Centre

 The best benefit of gardening? Mental health improvement (The Telegraph)

 

 

#18) Volunteering

You often hear about the benefits of volunteering. Besides the benefit to your community and worthy organizations, it helps you feel more socially connected and helping increase happiness. Studies are showing that people who donate their time see improved physical health, including lower blood pressure and a longer life. Other benefits include:

  • Volunteering time makes you feel like you have more time.
  • Volunteering your skills helps you develop new skills
  • Volunteering your experience helps build your experience
  • Volunteering your love makes you feel more love

We all feel like there isn’t enough time in the day, so start off small. Start with a one-time volunteer commitment for an event. From there, you can start with an hour or so a month and work your way up to a regular schedule.

Resources
Articles

                    

Volunteering may be good for body and mind (Harvard Health Publications)

Volunteer Lethbridge

5 Surprising Benefits Of Volunteering (Forbes)

 

Chinook Regional Hospital Volunteer Opportunities                                                

                               

                                                       

The Physiological Power of Altruism (The Atlantic)

 
#17) Art

Looking for an alternative way to reduce stress and anxiety, increase positive emotions, and reduce the likelihood of depression? Look to the arts! Making art (painting, sculpting, writing, etc.) offers many mental and physical health benefits.

Mental health benefits include; stress relief, more positive emotions, release of hidden emotions, improved creativity.

Art has been shown to help dementia patients, it improves their social behavior and self-esteem, and reduces psychiatric symptoms. It’s been shown to be a great outlet for helping people coping with chronic health conditions.

Create More Than You Consume! Art can offer a release from our always on and connected way of life. Losing yourself in an art project is a great way to ignore the constant stream of information and to put something out instead.

 

Resources
Articles

                    

The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature

U of L Art Gallery Public Programs

The Mental Health Benefits of Art Are for Everyone

 

Smudge Art Studio                                                   

                               

                                                       

Make More Art: The Health Benefits of Creativity

 

#16)  Active Commuting

May! Warm weather and sunny days at last. Why not take advantage of the great weather and bike or walk to work? In a Statistics Canada 2011 survey on commuting they found only 5.7% of commuters walk and 1.3% cycle to work. It makes sense, who wants to bike or walk to work in -15C or in 100km/hr winds? But this summer is a GREAT time to make a commitment to actively commute to work at least one day each week!

An active commute can make a big contribution to your health.

MIND - Walking or bicycling for all or part of your commute has substantial mental benefits. A 2014 study that looked at psychological well-being among 18,000 British adults found that those who walked, biked, or took transit had a greater sense of well-being than those who drove.

BODY - Research shows that every additional hour per day you spend driving puts you at 6% greater risk of obesity, while every hour you spend walking reduces that risk by 4.8%.

We challenge you to pick at least one day a week where you will actively commute to work. Worried about being sweaty? Sports & Rec has a staff commuter program that allows CURRENT U of L Staff or Faculty members to utilize locker rooms to shower after an active commute. Contact Sports & Rec for more information.

RESOURCES

ARTICLES

BikeBridge Cycling Association

Want to Be Happier? Try Walking Even Part of the Way to Work

Ascent Cycle

Energize Your Work Day with an Active Commute

City of Lethbridge Pathway Maps                                   

 7 Essential Bike Commuting Tips

 

#15) Photography

It has been proven that creativity and art therapy are valuable tools for emotional wellness. Photography is one such tool that you can utilize without going to art school or being professionally trained. Modern technology provides easy-to-use options including a variety of automatic modes on point-and-shoot cameras, digital SLRs (single-lens reflex cameras), and camera phones. Now anyone can take photos — and just by taking a photo, you are taking a moment to stop and look at your environment through a new lens.  

There are many benefits of having hobbies such as taking a break from life and work, offering new challenges, uniting you with others, and promoting staying present.  

With photography you open your mind to a new creative outlet and begin to see things in a way you might not have noticed before. Nature photography gets you outside and moving in nature, appreciating the little things that capture your attention.  

Online sites such as Instagram and Pinterest showcase millions of beautiful photos to inspire your imagination.  

Your challenge for this week is to take a photo a day for seven days. We’ve given you some prompts and we want you to share your photos on our Facebook page

 

Resources
Articles

                    

How Taking Photos Can Improve Your Mental Health (Huffington Post)

Lethbridge Photography Club

The Therapeutic Benefits of Photography (Pysch Central)

 

                                                                           

                                                       

The Happiness Project: 6 Reasons to Take More Pictures (Good Housekeeping)

 

#14)  Strength Training

Strength training is a key component of overall health and fitness for everyone. Did you know that lean muscle mass naturally diminishes as you age? Strength training is an important part of preserving your muscle mass. 

Strength training may also help you: 

  • Develop strong bones. By stressing your bones, strength training can increase bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. 

  • Manage your weight. Strength training can help you manage or lose weight, and it can increase your metabolism to help you burn more calories. 

  • Enhance your quality of life. Strength training may enhance your quality of life and improve your ability to do everyday activities. Building muscle also can contribute to better balance and may reduce your risk of falls. This can help you maintain independence as you age. 

  • Manage chronic conditions. Strength training can reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, such as arthritis, back pain, obesity, heart disease, depression and diabetes. 

  • Sharpen your thinking skills. Some research suggests that regular strength training and aerobic exercise may help improve thinking and learning skills for older adults. 

If the words ‘strength training’ conjure up images of Arnold Swarzennegar body builder types- don’t be fooled. Strength training can be done at home or in the gym and there are other ways than pumping iron.  

The most common strength training exercises include:  

  • Body weight. You can do many exercises with no equipment, just your body. Try pushups, pullups, abdominal crunches and leg squats. 

  • Resistance tubing. Resistance tubing is inexpensive, lightweight tubing that provides resistance when stretched. You can choose from many types of resistance tubes in nearly any sporting goods store. 

  • Free weights. Barbells and dumbbells are classic strength training tools. (These are Arnold’s favourite) 

  • Weight machines. Most fitness centers offer various resistance machines.  

Resources

Articles

U Leth Sports & Rec offer several strength training programs!

7 Reasons to Add Strength Training to Your Workout Routine

SportChek Fitness Training Equipment

Arnold Schwarzenegger's 8 Best Training Principles

                                         

The Importance of Strength Training for Women

 

#13) Dancing

When is the last time you busted a move? Most of us loved dancing as children, but as we got older (and more self-conscious) many of us lost the joy of dancing. But dancing has so much to offer to your personal wellness! 

Dancing can be a way to stay fit for people of all ages, shapes and sizes. It has a wide range of physical and mental benefits including: 

  • improved condition of your heart and lungs 

  • increased muscular strength, endurance and motor fitness 

  • stronger bones and reduced risk of osteoporosis 

  • better coordination, agility and flexibility 

  • improved mental functioning 

Your challenge this week is to hit the floor! Take your spouse out dancing, sign up for a class with Sport & Rec, or close the door and jam out!  

Resources Articles

U of L Sports & Rec

The Hidden Health Benefits of Dance (TIME magazine)

CASA Adult Classes                                                                                               

Why Is Dancing So Good for Your Brain? (Psychology Today)

Swing Bridge Dance Club

5 reasons why couples should take ballroom dance lessons (Arthur Murray)

 

#12) Massage

Massage isn’t just for a day at the spa, it offers many physical and mental benefits.  

Physically, massage has been shown to help with; anxiety, digestive disorders, fibromyalgia, headaches, insomnia related to stress, myofascial pain syndrome, soft tissue strains or injuries, sports injuries, temporomandibular joint pain 

Research has shown that massage can provide mental health benefits such as alleviating depression and anxiety—and improving sleep quality. 

Sometimes a little self massage at work can help ease muscle tension and provide a little relaxation during your day. 

Resources Articles

 

Rebound Health Centre (located on campus)

Massage Therapy for Mental Wellness

Self Massage Guide

Massage: Get in touch with its many benefits

Heal Yourself! 17 Tricks for a Soothing Self-Massage

                                                                           

                                                                            

#11) Reading

Reading is more than something we do for work, or a hobby for pleasure. Reading offers a multitude of health benefits including (but not limited to):

  • Gives muscle to your memory.
  • Keeps your brain young.
  • Reduces stress
  • Boosts your vocabulary.
  • improves empathy

And don’t think you have to go out and buy Shakespeare’s volumes to get these benefits. “It really doesn’t matter what book you read, by losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author’s imagination,” study researcher Dr. David Lewis told The Telegraph.

Your challenge is to hit the bookstore and find a book, any genre, that interests you and take the time to read every day. Scheduling reading time is a great way to ensure you make the time every day. Maybe it’s 15 minutes first thing in the morning, or during coffee break, or for an hour before bed; ensure you take the time every day for a little ready.

 

Resources

Articles

University of Lethbridge Library

6 Science-Backed Reasons To Go Read A Book Right Now (Huffington Post)

Chinook Arch Library

10 Benefits of Reading: Why You Should Read Every Day (LifeHack)

 Free E-Books                                                                                        

 

 

#10) Swimming

Swimming is a great workout that’s easy on the joints. Swimming is a great workout because you need to move your whole body against the resistance of the water.

Other health benefits of swimming include:

  • keeps your heart rate up but takes some of the impact stress off your body
  • builds endurance, muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness
  • helps maintain a healthy weight, healthy heart and lungs
  • tones muscles and builds strength
  • provides an all-over body workout, as nearly all of your muscles are used during swimming.

Besides the benefits to the body, swimming is a benefit to the mind. It’s impossible to check your phone or be distracted when you’re in the pool. Swimming is similar to yoga as it involves stretching your muscles and developing a rhythmic breathing pattern which can release mental, emotional and physical stress. Plus, because swimming is so repetitive, it’s highly meditative.

We’re fortunate to have a state of the art aquatic facility here on campus and we can take advantage of the pool before or after work. Your challenge this week is to hit the pool! Try the U of L’s new Aqua Zumba on Thursday nights or hit a lunchtime Aqua Fit class on Mondays and Wednesday from 12:05- 12:50 p,m.

Resources Articles

Max Bell Pool Schedule

Health Benefits of Water-based Exercise (Centre for Disease Control & Prevention)

City of Lethbridge Pool Schedules                                                                                    

Ten Benefits of Swimming You May Not Know About (LifeHack)

 The 4-Week Plan to Swimming Your First Mile

 

 

 

#9)  Office Ergonomics

Did you know that back pain is the leading cause of lost time from work​? Whether you’re sitting at a desk, operating machinery, or lifting objects all day, keeping a healthy back is important. Preventing back injuries is a matter of staying fit and practicing good posture.

We are all different. Some people have long arms, others have short torsos, others have long legs - our differences are endless, yet many of our workstations look exactly alike. If we spend several hours a day at our workstations, why not make them fit us?

Ergonomics is the science of work. It is possible to eliminate aches, pains, and stresses at work with proper ergonomics. ​

  • Posture: Take frequent short breaks and stand up, carefully stretch, and walk around.​
  • Sitting: Your seat should be tilted forward slightly so the edge of the seat doesn’t dig into the back of your thigh. Your feet should be flat on the floor, directly beneath the knees.​
  • Eyes: Give your eyes frequent rests focusing them on a distant point. While looking as your monitor remember to blink

The Wellness Coordinator offers COMPLIMENTARY workstation ERGONOMIC ASSESSMENTS. Email wellness@uleth.ca to customize your work space and prevent back pain.

 

Resources Articles

U Leth Wellness Website

Office ergonomics: Your how-to guide (Mayo Clinic)

Fitter First (Active Office Equipment)

10 Office Ergonomics Tips to Help You Avoid Fatigue (Ergonomics Plus)

Ergonomics 101 (Video)              

                                                                       

5 Ways An Ergonomically-Designed Workstation Can Improve Your Productivity (Business.com)

#8) Nutrition

March is Nutrition Month in Canada and proper nutrition is vital to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The saying "you are what you eat" is scarily accurate. The Nutrition Month 2017 campaign is dedicated to helping Canadians Take the Fight out of Food! by guiding them through a three-step approach to improve their relationship with food, no matter what the struggle. The slogan for the campaign is Take the Fight out of Food! Spot the problem. Get the facts. Seek support.

Eating should be joyful, not a source of everyday frustration and confusion. If you’re fighting with food, try this three-step approach:
1. Spot the problem. Define what’s causing your fight with food first.
2. Get the facts. Use facts from credible sources to decide what needs to be done to solve the problem.
3. Seek support. Put the plan into action with support from a dietitian, family and friends.

The Alberta Healthy Living program is a free program sponsored by Alberta Health Services that offers health education services including nutrition. No doctor referral is needed. Find out more HERE.

Resources
Articles

Cookspiration (Free recipe App)                      

It's True: You Are What You Eat (Inc.com)

Canada’s Food Guide

The 50 (New) Healthiest Foods of All Time—With Recipes (Time)

               

Food Portions Toolkit

                                                       

Tips for healthy eating (Govt. of Canada)

 

#7)  Skiing/snowboarding

Skiing and snowboarding are challenging and fun activities to get you outside on a cold winter day. There are many health benefits to these sports including;

  • improves the effectiveness of your cardiovascular system
  • snowboarding & skiing strengthen leg, core, and abominable muscles
  • building agility & flexibility
  • increases self confidence
  • improves mental health (gets you outside in the winter)

Locally, we have Castle Mountain an Hour away, Pass Powderkeg in Blairmore, and Fernie three hours away.

Don’t let the cost deter you! Watch the resorts for specials and deal like Never Ever Days (Jan 7 & 8) where a rental, beginner lift, and lesson are only $25. Watching for deals is a great way to afford a day on the slopes!

Resources Articles

Castle Mountain

6 Benefits Of Skiing & Snowboarding For Your Kids’ Health (Liftopia)

Pass Powderkeg

Why skiing is good for you (Daily Mail)

Fernie

                                                                         

 

#6) Family Play Day

Families are a source of emotional support, love, security and protection. Healthy family relationships result in happy and secure children and give parents the ultimate reward of being important in the life of a child.  Healthy family relationships often translate to healthy eating and exercise habits as well. According to Kids Health, families who engage in healthy eating and exercise together will ultimately become a healthier and stronger family unit. Parents are encouraged to model and explain to children why eating certain foods is healthy and how exercise can benefit all aspects of a healthy life.(Source)

We here in Alberta are fortunate to have a stat holiday dedicated to spending time without family, Family Day! Do something active and fun with your family for the holiday.

The University will be hosting Family Play Day in the 1st Choice Savings Centre on February 20th from 11am- 3 pm. This free family fun event allows families to explore all that campus has to offer! Bring what you need to enjoy the day including a swimsuit, gym shoes and comfortable clothing.

Resources Articles
U of L Family Play Day The Benefits of Healthy Families (Live Strong)
YMCA Free Family Day Event The Health Benefits of Strong Relationships (Harvard Health Publications)
Galt Museum Community Day  
Link to Helen Schuler Nature Centre Event                                        

 

#5) Crocheting/Knitting

Crocheting and knitting has been proved as a great way to reduce stress and anxiety and improve mood.

In 2014 the Craft Yarn Council surveyed more than 3,100 crocheters and knitters and found that top benefits from the hobbies include:

  • Feeling of accomplishment (93%)
  • Reduced Stress (85%)
  • Improved Mood (68%)
  • Sense of confidence (56%)

90% of knitters and crocheters responded that the craft improves their mood and helps them to relax. For 81% it decreases stress and for 57% it decreases anxiety.

Your challenge is to pick up some needles and learn to knit or crochet. You’re in luck, because right here on campus the Art Gallery hosts a monthly program “Knit ‘n’ Knatter/ Crochet ‘n’ Chatter” one Monday each month from 12 – 1 pm.

This month, Knit n' Knatter will be on Monday, February 27th in the main gallery.

Want to try but don’t know where to start? Stop by Suzanne’s office to borrow needles and yarn and give it a try!

Resources Articles

Knitting Time (Lethbridge store)     

                                                           

The Health Benefits of Knitting (New York Times)
Knitting & Crochet Patterns for Beginners Health Benefits of Crocheting and Knitting (Red Heart)

 

#4) Happy Heart - February is Heart Month!

More than 1.6 million Canadians report having heart disease. It is also the second leading cause of death in Canada, claiming more than 48,000 lives in 2012. You can reduce your risk of heart disease by understanding the risk factors that cause it, and making changes to your lifestyle.

HEALTH CHECK FOR U

The best way to start maintaining a happy heart is to know your current status. Here at the University of Lethbridge we offer a great free program to staff and faculty, Health Check for U is a vascular risk assessment where nursing students perform a lifestyle assessment and test your blood, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, etc., to predict your heart's age. After these numbers are put together, you will be given a summary report and can speak to experts about nutrition, fitness, and other things you can do to improve your heart.

Health Check for U is running from February 3- March 31. REGISTER HERE

Read about how Health Check for U changed an employees life! 'Health Check for U is Changing Lives!

Resources Articles
Health Check for U Registration Heart-healthy diet: 8 steps to prevent heart disease (Mayo Clinic)
30 Days to a healthier Heart App 9 Great Heart-Friendly Exercises (Everyday Health)
                                                                          

3- Cross Country Skiing 

Don’t let the cold keep you indoors! We’re fortunate here in Lethbridge to live so close to the Rocky Mountains and have access to a myriad of winter activities. The wind just makes it a little more interesting!  

Cross Country skiing is a low-impact activity that is an excellent aerobic workout, and because no single muscle group is overstressed, the activity can be sustained for hours on end. Maintaining an elevated heart rate during exercise can strengthen and improve your heart's capacity to pump blood efficiently and effectively. Studies also show that being outside, despite the temperature, helps improve happiness.  

Your challenge this week is to hit the trails with skis!  

  • You can head to Waterton Lakes National Park and rent cross country skiis from the Waterton lakes Lodge and ski to Cameron Lake on a flat and groomed trail. And all National Parks are FREE in 2017! 

  • Rent from Lethbridge’s Alpenland and hit the 30km of ski trails in Crowsnest Pass (download map here) or 17km of trails on the Syncline Cross Country Ski Trail nears Castle Mountain Resort.  

Resource Websites Articles
How to Cross Country Ski (L.L. Bean)                    5 Reasons to Spend More Time Outside—Even When It’s Cold (TIME magazine)
Crowsnest Pass XC Ski Assc.                                              The jaw-dropping benefits of cross-country skiing (The Globe and Mail) 
Waterton Park Trail Report  Cross-Country Skiing: The Winter Workout You Should Be Doing (Men’s Fitness)

 

2- Music 

Music has many health benefits; it improves visual & verbal skill, keeps an aging brain healthy, makes you happier, improves sleep quality, and reduces depression & anxiety. 

Your challenge for this week is to find a playlist for every mood. Instead of getting ready in the morning listening to the news or TV, find an energizing playlist. During the work day, find a classical playlist that helps you focus and relax at the same time. After work, find a playlist that will help you wind down after a long day. In your car? Sing along to boost your mood!  

Spotify is great free app that allows you to find music based on your mood.  

Live music is a great way to improve health and get out and socialize. Check out the University Faculty of Fine Arts for performances such as their (free) Music at Noon program or go to a Lethbridge Symphony performance next date night.  

Music at Noon spring dates are every Tuesday staring January 17 – April 4.

Resource Websites Articles
https://www.spotify.com                                          The Power of Music, Tapped in a Cubicle (New York Times)  
U Leth Fine Arts Dept. 

5 Ways Music Improves Our Health (Huffington Post)  

Lethbridge Community Band  Therapeutic benefits of music being used to treat Alzheimer’s, addiction, and depression (The Globe and Mail)

 

1- Mindfulness 

Mindfulness is defined as a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. In today’s busy world, we are constantly multi-tasking and focusing on many things at once.   

Your challenge is to spend a week in January training yourself to focus on one task at a time.   

Mindful Employer Sessions - Wellness will be contacting U of L departments to set up workshops in one of 4 areas: Accommodation, Resolving Conflict, Improving Workplace Relations, Responding to Mental Health Issues. Watch for 1 hour sessions in your area, or contact wellness@uleth.ca for more info.

Resource Websites  Articles                                         
http://www.mindful.org  6 Mindfulness Exercises You Can Try Today                       (Pocket Mindfulness) 
http://www.mindfulnesseveryday.org  Mindfulness Exercises (Living Well) 
http://mindfulnessexercises.com/  10 Ways to be Mindful at Work (Mindful.org)