Wellness Articles

Here you will find monthly wellness articles for the U of L Calgary Campus.

 

2018 Wellness Articles:

Hey Calgary! Are you ready to ride?

If you’ve been in downtown Calgary in the past week, you may have started to notice lime green bikes popping up everywhere. No, it is not the newest colour of the season—Calgary has a new bike share program! Biking is a great alternate transit option. It’s good exercise, gets you outdoors and is easier on the environment. Calgary has been taking strides towards being a more bike-friendly city, with its Bikeway plan that began in 2000. And while it still has a way to go, with a new bike share program, Calgary is taking steps to be more bike accessible.

 

Introducing Lime! Lime is Calgary’s newest urban mobility program in Calgary. The company has placed 372 new electric-assisted pedal bikes in the downtown area. These bikes have an integrated electric motor that gives a boost when ridden. Lime operates on a dockless system, meaning that when you're done with a bike, you just park it on the sidewalk and leave it for the next person. For the winter (November through March), Lime will be operating in the city centre, and then during the summer months (April through October) will operate citywide!

In the first week, 2,769 riders tried out the bikes. Heading into winter, this may seem like a strange time to roll out a bike program, however, Lime assures that their bikes are winter friendly and ready to take on our Calgary winter.

What is Bike Sharing? A bike sharing program is where bikes are made available for people to use (and share) on a short-term basis for a small fee. Members can sign up and are charged only for the time that they use the bike.

 

Interested in trying it out? Here’s some helpful information:

How to sign-up

To sign up, download the Lime app on your smartphone and create an account

How much does it cost?

Every ride will cost $1 to unlock the bike, plus $0.30 per minute you ride.

How to know where a bike is?

The app will show the exact location of all of the bikes in the area.

Do I need a helmet?

Yes—this is the one rule that makes you need to think about whether you want to pick up a bike. The city of Calgary states that all rides on an electric bike (including 18+) must wear a helmet.

Is there more information?

The Lime website has lots of information about how to use Lime, the rules for riding in Calgary and information about the bikes. For more information, check out https://www.li.me/locations/calgary

 

Happy riding!

 

How to maximize your wellness—Stampede style 

 

In Calgary, the first 2 weeks of July mean one thing: it’s Stampede season. This means 2+ weeks of cowboy hats, pancakes, weird deep-fried creations, rides, beer gardens, jeans and plaid, BBQ’s and live music. If you’re in Calgary, it’s an exciting environment because Stampede doesn’t end at the boundary of the grounds: the city embraces it. Everyone becomes slightly more relaxed, and stampede influences slip into almost every element of the city. It’s a very unifying effect that can suck in even the most ‘anti-country music’ individual. And when you live here, if you do it right, you can maximize your stampeding activities for almost 2 solid weeks! 

Everyone “does” stampede in their own way. But it’s easy to get sucked into enjoying the treats, the outdoors, and the excuse to “kick back”, which after 10 days can leave your body, mind, and wallet feeling drained and unhealthy. 

Here are a few tips for maintaining your wellness during the stampede: 

* Eat before you go to the grounds. Have a healthy meal and don’t go hungry. This will help to limit the amount of food you purchase on the grounds, which is mostly expensive and deep fried. If you’re going to be there all day, take something delicious and healthy with you so that you’re not as tempted by the options there. 

* Limit yourself to one treat per day. Take time to find that mid-way treat you want the most, and savor it rather than eating as much deep-fried creations as possible all in one go. 

* Walk the grounds. There is plenty to see, so wear comfortable shoes and get your steps in. 

* Sunscreen and bring your own water bottle! Everyone knows the grounds are hotter than the rest of the city. Stay hydrated and covered. Plus, bringing your own water bottle will save you money and encourage you to drink water, rather than purchasing a sugary drink. 

* Just because it’s free, doesn’t mean you have to eat it. There are free BBQ’s and pancakes everywhere. But free doesn’t have to be an excuse to eat it. Plus, free usually means lower quality and not as healthy. 

* Give yourself some downtime. Stampede can be exhausting, especially if you’re fitting it in daily around work and the rest of your life. Build in some time to sit down and relax. There are quieter places on the ground where you can sit under a tree and people watch. Or get a stamp, and plan to grab dinner off the grounds so you get some downtime. 

 

We’re lucky in Calgary to get to enjoy so many elements of the stampede. So enjoy it! Happy Stampeding!

Calgary - May Newsletter
 

Gardening—Not just for people with a yard

What do you think of with spring? When the weather turns warm, we tend to think of things outdoors: walks along the river, hikes, and gardening. As an activity, gardening has more benefits than just getting in some time in the sun. We tend to think of gardening as a privileged hobby to those that have the space to grow and time to develop it. Pictures tend to feature a big yard with lots of space, layers of different plants and the occasional gnome. Those are the basic requirements for a garden, right? Wrong! You don’t need to have a yard to have a garden. Especially for those living close to the city center, a yard can be a luxury addition. Urban gardening is a trend that is increasing in popularity and it’s something that you can make as big or as small as you want, as gardens come in all shapes and sizes. And just because you have a balcony instead of a yard, doesn’t mean you can’t grow your own vegetables and flowers.
 

Why build an urban garden?
There are lots of benefits to urban gardens. Aside from the obvious self- satisfaction and time spent with the sun, it is a step towards sustainability you can easily take. Growing your own fruits and vegetables will give you fresher produce than you’ll find in the grocery store, making it more enjoyable while also incentivizing you to eat more produce. A quick google search will offer thousands of suggestions for how to build a vertical or container gardens, which help to maximize and beautify the space you have. There is also an evolving trend in recycling unusual household products like old tires or dresser drawers into planter boxes that add another level of sustainability into this activity, while also helping with spring cleaning.

Here are some tips and tricks to starting up your own balcony urban garden:
Assess the sunlight. Pay attention to how much sunlight your balcony gets and how often. Don’t pick plants that require 8+ hours of sun if you don’t get much, and vice versa. While lots of veggies do require fun sun, there are lots of herbs and some greens that thrive in partial shade.
Pick herbs and veggies you enjoy, and would use. This one is a little more obvious. Do you hate cilantro? Don’t grow it.

Mix and Match plants in your containers. As long as there is enough space for each plant, you can plant different things in one container. This will give you more variety in your plants. Talk to a greenhouse garden for suggestions on plants that pair well!

Watch out for wind. Sure, we’re not in Lethbridge, but the wind is still a factor. Don’t baby your plants because they can build up strength against the wind. However, if you have a very exposed balcony, you might need to devise some windbreaks so that your plants don’t get broken down by the aggressive wind.
Talk to an expert gardener for advice. Don’t know any “Expert Gardeners”? Hit up a greenhouse and talk to the staff. They are usually quite knowledgeable, passionate, and paid to help you. Here are a few in Calgary that could help you out:

  • Sunnyside Green House | NW Calgary
  • Golden Acre Home and Garden | NE Calgary
  • Greengate Garden Centre | SE Calgary
  • Country Gardens and Nursery | Springbank

 
Whatever you do, get outside and enjoy the sunshine now that our long-anticipated spring has arrived!

Calgary - April 2018 Newsletter

By Karen Ogilvie 

It’s time for… wait for it… Sunshine!
 

Why is April so refreshing? Because it’s the light at the end of the winter tunnel! The snow is starting to melt, the flowers and trees are coming back to life, and the weather is getting warmer. And this means more sunshine! Think about wonderful feeling of the warm sun on your skin.

As I’m sure we’re all aware, there are a lot of benefits to sunshine. Right? Of course, we hear all about the dangers of sun: sun burn, aging skin, cancer. But there a balance because sunshine has so many benefits too. Sunshine increases the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. This is associated with boosting your mood, bringing calmness and focus. All the things that help us feel so refreshed in the spring and helps us to maintain our mental health. The World Health Organization recommends that we should get 5- 15 minutes of direct sunlight 2-3 times a week. This should directly touch your skin to give you the vitamin D boosting benefits of the sun.

So, while you should always take preventative measures with the sun, make sure you get outside and take in that sunlight. Here are a few suggestions for some sunlight activities in early spring:

Head out for a walk. Calgary has great walking paths, so why not try somewhere new? Grab a coffee in Glenmore Landing and head out around the reservoir for a beautiful nature walk along the river. Or checkout Fishcreek Park. ‘Map My Walk’ has some great ideas where you can find a circuit of the length of walk your interested in. Check it out at http://www.mapmywalk.com/ca/calgary-alberta/.

Volunteer Gardening. Gardening is a great way to get some sunshine. But if you don’t have a backyard, it can be a little tricky. Why not volunteer? Grow Calgary is a Calgary’s Fresh Foodbank. An urban garden where 100% of the produce is donated to food accessible programs. They have lots of volunteer events where you can give back to the community while taking in the sun! Check it out at https://www.growcalgary.ca/

Hit the Mountains. We live so close to some of the most spectacular mountains in the world! Spend a weekend or just a day and take advantage of it. April means that you can do both winter and spring activities. Do a mountain hike. Snowshoe in Kananaskis. Go shopping in Canmore and wander up and down main street. Do whatever you’d enjoy!

Train for the Calgary Marathon. You don’t have to run actually run a marathon. The Calgary marathon has all sorts of distances, including a 5 km, 10, km, 21.1 km, 42.2 km, 50 km, and (if you really love running) a 150 km. Pick a distance and spend some time training for it. Just having a goal will help to get you out more leading up to it. This event is in May, so now is a great time to start thinking about a short distance run, and getting out for some walks and runs to lead up to it! http://www.calgarymarathon.com/

Calgary Ale Trail.  Once a month, RunCalgary offers a free 6km run where you can come out, run 6km and then join all the other runners for a drink at National! This is a great chance to get out, exercise and meet new people. Check out dates at https://www.runyyc.ca/ale-trail.

January Calgary Wellness Article
By Karen Ogilvie

 

Your Morning Commute: Stress time or the best time!  

What is one of the ways to start your day off on the wrong foot? A bad commute to work. And January sets us up perfectly for this with unpredictable weather, bad roads, and terrible drivers. This mean that your day can start with car scraping, standing in the cold, traffic or transit delays, near misses, and tense driving conditions and by the time you walk into the office, your frazzled, frustrated and exhausted. And now you still must tackle your day.

This is Calgary—bad driving happens. But if you are conscious about it, there are a few strategies and tricks you can utilize to make the best of it, and arrive at work without the stress.

Give yourself extra time. Feeling rushed, brings stress. Give yourself plenty of time to account for the scraping and delays. Being rushed could also lead to accidents. Give yourself the extra time, and the worst that could happen is you’re at work early, and have time to go for a coffee before you start your day.

Be mindful. Rather than thinking about bring late, how much traffic there is, or “where the heck is your bus?!”, focus on your breathing and surroundings. Take slow, deep breaths, and take advantage of the slow traffic or wait to notice what’s on your commute that you’d normally speed past. People watch! C-train platforms are a great place to stop and notice other people: their quarks, their fashion, their mannerisms.

Try and enjoy the time you have. You should still be a conscious commuter, especially if your driving, but it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the time. Enjoy your coffee on your slow commute. Listen to an audiobook or the radio. Sing in the car! Try some meditation. Or if it’s possible, change up your commute, and walk rather than drive to start your day actively.

Be productive. There are ways to maximize your time on a commute as well. In the car is a great place to practice talking if you have a presentation or big conversation coming up. Or brainstorming some ideas out loud. You could listen to podcasts about topics you want to learn more on, or get a Rosetta Stone program and learn a new language. You can even play “brain teaser” games on your smartphone if your commuting on the train. This time doesn’t have to be wasted time.

 

Just being aware of the change in commute in January and taking active steps towards making the most of it, can help to start your day on a more positive note. Travel safe, and arrive stress free!

2017 Wellness Articles:

December 2017 Calgary Wellness Article
By Karen Ogilvie

What’s your wellness activity?

When we think of wellness activities, what immediately comes to mind? Probably physical activity. Wellness tends to have this attached notion of physical wellness, whether it’s losing weight, staying active or finding ways to focus on your physical self. And, to be fair, this is good idea. There are lots of benefits to maintaining your physical wellness: it has an impact on your physiological and mental health, it keeps you strong, and can help to fight off illness.

But let’s expand our thinking for a moment and think about what a wellness activity really is. We can develop this idea that something we do for our wellness isn’t just for our physical self. It’s something we do that engages us: it makes us happy, feeling good, and involves our mind. It has a fulfilling quality that leaves us with a sense of satisfaction and reward. For some people, physical activity is therapeutic. It generates this engagement and satisfaction that we want. But for others, physical activity is more of a task. It’s something you need to do to maintain your physical health, and it’s also tedious and takes more mental effort to get through than it does to just relax.

I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t engage in physical activity, but if for you it’s more of a chore than it is enjoyable, perhaps there are other wellness activities you should be engaging in for yourself. 

What to look for in a wellness activity:

  • Enjoyment—you look forward to going and are happy while you’re doing it
  • Satisfaction—when you are done, you walk away feeling good about the activity
  • Mentally Energized—Did you wake up your mind? Did it relax your mind? It should leave you feeling like your refreshed your brain.

Here are a few suggestions for wellness activities you can get involved in:

  • Take an interest course: Cooking, photography, or an art class
  • Volunteer: This is a great way to play off your interests and get that feeling of helping. Get involved with an organization like Alberta Special Olympics, the Calgary Humane Society if you like animals or Grow Calgary if you enjoy Gardening
  • Book Clubs: Do you love reading? This is a great option for meeting new people while also getting into new books
  • Join a Makerspace: Places like ‘Protospace’ offer a space, tools and community for people to come together and work on projects, get creative and collaborate.

So if you’re looking for a new activity for the New Year, or just a strategy to improve your wellness. Think outside the box, and look for something you enjoy!

Happy Holidays!

What to do when November hates Salad

By Karen Ogilvie

There’s something about November that makes eating healthy a sudden challenge. It could be that the drop in temperatures makes salads seem really undesirable, or the knowledge that the indulgence of the holiday season is right around the corner. Suddenly those hot, creamy soups and savory French fries seem a lot more appealing than that cold pile of lettuce that was so appetizing 3 months ago.

Luckily, salad is not the only meal option that helps to keep you eating healthy. And so when the cold weather hits, and you find yourself losing interest in your lunches, it’s probably time to start mixing it up.

Bring your own lunch. Most of us know that it’s typically a healthier option to bring your own lunch when possible. When you make it yourself, you know exactly what’s in it. Restaurants focus on making things you want to enjoy, which usually involves high fat and sugar content—the stuff that makes our mouths water. They want our taste buds to have a memorable experience so that we come back. They don’t care so much about moderation-- They want us to eat more. Figuring out what to bring for lunch can be difficult. But here are a few ideas to help make your planning easier:

 

Grilled Veggie and Shrimp bowl

If you don’t dig shrimp—switch for chicken, beef or chickpeas.

Sweet Potato Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Corn

It’s like pasta—but with vegetables!

Chicken Avocado Burritos

Enchilada Sweet Potatoes

Kale Salad with Roasted Sweet Potato, Dried Cranberries, Feta and Pepitas

Ok, I know we just talked about not wanting salad, but the potato and kale makes this seem less like a salad. Plus—you can make this up on Sunday and have it last all week because the kale doesn’t get all wilted like lettuce does.

 

Eating out. Eating out on lunches when the weather gets cold is tricky because you tend not to want to go outside. So your options become anywhere within indoor walking distance. This gives you limited options that don’t extend much past Tim Hortons, the Market, and maybe Good Earth Café if you’re motivated. If you’re going to buy lunch, take the opportunity to venture a little further and take in some healthier options. Plus, the walk will get you moving! If it’s cold enough, a fast paced walk will add some cardio to your day. Soups always seem like a good idea, but there can be a lot of fat and sugar hidden in those. Try looking for stir fry bowls and sandwiches where you can see each of the ingredients.

The Bow Building: if you can get over to the Bow, then you can take advantage of the +15’s and suddenly your choices are endless! Look for options that are fresh, and that you can control the amount of sauce that’s put onto whatever you’re ordering. Places like Mercado are great because you can see it being made in front of you, so you have a better idea what’s going into it. Freshii and LA PREP are also great places for healthier options too.

Sidewalk Citizen: Sidewalk Citizen in East Village makes most things in house, and has a lot of healthier options. Plus, with Phil and Sebastien in the same building, you can grab a coffee on your way back as well.

 

Stay warm, and enjoy your lunches!