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Showing posts with label Family Fitness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Family Fitness. Show all posts

35 Benefits of Exercising During Pregnancy

Guest Post by Jessica Walter.

Did you know that if you're pregnant, you're not only allowed to exercise, but that it's actually encouraged you do so, for the health of both you and your baby?

With that in mind, and to encourage more women to move around a bit during their pregnancy, we've compiled this list of 35 amazing benefits of exercising while pregnant.

The American College of Obstetricians suggests women who are pregnant exercise a minimum of 20-30 minutes a day for maximum benefits.

Use this guide to motivate you to get started today.​

35 Benefits of Exercising During Pregnancy

Physical Benefits of Exercising While Pregnant
#1. Expectant mothers who exercise are less likely to have unplanned c-sections
#2. Running while pregnant is a great way to boost your heart
#3. Weight training during your first trimester will help prepare your body for the added weight of your baby
#4. During your first trimester, you can try riding a bike for a healthy way to increase your heart rate
#5. Doing Pilates can help you with balance issues associated with pregnancy
#6. Activities such as yoga can help reduce blood pressure
#7. Exercising throughout your pregnancy can lead to a faster, easier labor
#8. Exercising during pregnancy can help tame your lower-back pain
#9. Regular exercise can prevent pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes
#10. Pregnant women who exercise have improved circulation and blood flow
#11. Women who exercise often will feel less pain from symptoms of pregnancy
#12. You'll notice less swelling of your legs and ankles once you start exercising

Emotional Benefits of Exercising While Pregnant
#13. Light to moderate exercise can give you a better self-image
#14. Regular exercise can help curb mood swings
#15. Doing daily exercises will help boost your energy levels
#16. Exercise can give you an overwhelming sense of accomplishment while pregnant
#17. Light exercise throughout the day can help combat fatigue and give you a better night’s rest
#18. You'll learn proper breathing techniques that can help during your delivery
#19. You'll feel better about going into childbirth
#20. Exercising during pregnancy can take your mind off of things

Exercising Benefits for Both You and Baby
#21. Regular exercise can increase your baby’s brain function
#22. Expectant mothers who exercise tend to keep up the habit after their babies are born
#23. Studies show that mothers who exercise produce children that are leaner than mothers who don’t
#24. Baby will be less likely to incur complications such as cerebral palsy
#25. Babies of mothers who exercise regularly are more likely to have a healthier heart
#26. You're less inclined to have an overweight child
#27. You're more likely to carry your baby to full term
#28. Babies born to mothers who exercise semi-regularly are less at risk for learning disabilities

Post-Delivery Benefits of Exercising During Pregnancy
#29. Exercise can help promote better sleeping habits
#30. Women who exercise during and after pregnancy are less likely to have postpartum depression
#31. Exercise can make it easier to drop weight once you have your baby
#32. Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine will ultimately give your child a positive example for years to come
#33. Abdominal workouts can help lead to a faster recovery
#34. Regular exercise while pregnant will help you bounce back quicker from pregnancy
#35. You'll be more likely to continue your exercise once you child is born
Final Thoughts

Physical Benefits of Exercising While Pregnant

#1. Expectant mothers who exercise are less likely to have unplanned c-sections

More and more mothers are being diagnosed with gestational diabetes, which can lead to your baby growing too large. In this case, your baby may be too hard to deliver, requiring a cesarean delivery (11). Moms who exercise during their pregnancy are less like to have unplanned c-sections (12).

#2. Running while pregnant is a great way to boost your heart

If you’re fit and your baby is healthy, it’s perfectly okay for you to continue your normal routine up until your final trimester—it's a great way to boost your heart (2, 5). Expectant mothers who are new to running should start slower and build up to running. Don’t overdo it too quickly, and be sure always to listen to what your body is telling you.

#3. Weight training during your first trimester will help prepare your body for the added weight of your baby

Studies from the Journal of Physical Activity and Health reports low to moderate training twice a week is safe and effective for pregnant women—and weight training during your first trimester can help prepare your body for your baby's added weight (6).

#4. During your first trimester, you can try riding a bike for a healthy way to increase your heart rate

Once you enter your second trimester, your balance may not be what it used to be. At this time you may want to consider switching your bike out with a stationary bicycle, which is a healthy way to increase your heart rate (9).

#5. Doing Pilates can help you with balance issues associated with pregnancy

Pilates focuses on building core muscles and challenging your strength and balance. When you become pregnant, your body begins to produce higher levels of relaxin, which softens the ligaments in your pelvis to make room for your growing baby (7).

This relaxing circulates throughout your entire body, not just your pelvis which can lead to wobbly hips, knees, and ankles. Over time you will learn what your body is capable of and how to control your balance (6).

#6. Activities such as yoga can help reduce blood pressure

High blood pressure is common in pregnant women and even up to 20 weeks after delivery. High blood pressure can decrease the blood flow to the placenta (8), and your baby may receive less oxygen and fewer nutrients if you are diagnosed with high blood pressure. Doing a little yoga during your pregnancy can help to reduce your blood pressure (6).

#7. Exercising throughout your pregnancy can lead to a faster, easier labor

Strengthening your abdominal area, core, and pelvic floor can aid in speeding up both labor and delivery (1, 2). The average first-time mom has a labor of 12-14 hours (3)—cutting this time down will lead to a happier, healthier mother and child.

#8. Exercising during pregnancy can help tame your lower-back pain

Pregnancy related back pain is a common complaint in pregnant women. The added strain caused by your baby bump can have a negative impact on your quality of life.

It's estimated that 50 percent of women will suffer from lower back pain due to pregnancy. Of those women, one-third will experience severe pain (13).

Doing low-impact weight training or stretching exercises such as yoga can significantly help lessen your pain (1).

#9. Regular exercise can prevent pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes

If untreated, gestational diabetes can deliver excessive sugar to your baby’s bloodstream, which can cause potentially serious complications for both you and your unborn child (12).

Doing regular exercise during your pregnancy can help prevent this (11).

#10. Pregnant women who exercise have improved circulation and blood flow

You can increase your circulation and blood flow by doing consistent exercise (14).

This will allow your baby to receive nutrients it needs more efficiently. Better circulation also helps prevent constipation, varicose veins, and leg cramps.

#11. Women who exercise often will feel less pain from symptoms of pregnancy

By strengthening your muscles, you are essentially giving your body the ability to cope with aches and pains associated with being pregnant (17).

To relieve back pain, try exercises that involve stretching such as yoga. If you are suffering from abdominal pain, try swimming.

#12. You'll notice less swelling of your legs and ankles once you start exercising

Swelling of the legs is common in pregnant women, but increasing your circulation will help calm this swelling. Walking helps increase this circulation by pushing excess fluid in your legs through blood valves and back to the heart (18).

Check out this YouTube video for some great ways to start incorporating exercise into your pregnancy.

Emotional Benefits of Exercising While Pregnant

#13. Light to moderate exercise can give you a better self-image

A lot of women struggle with the changes to their body goes through while they're pregnant, but exercise can help you feel more comfortable by making you feel more in control (14).

#14. Regular exercise can help curb mood swings

Exercise releases endorphins that trigger a positive feeling in the body, making you feel good (9).

Start with 10 minutes of light exercise a day and add more based on how you feel, both physically and mentally.

#15. Doing daily exercises will help boost your energy levels

After exercising, you will begin to feel more motivated to do other activities as well, improving your mood.Staying active also keeps you from becoming restless and anxious (16, 17).

#16. Exercise can give you an overwhelming sense of accomplishment while pregnant

The things you can do while you're pregnant are sometimes limited, but exercising during pregnancy doesn’t have to be one of those things.

Enjoy the satisfaction of completing a task such as a yoga class or a morning jog.

#17. Light exercise throughout the day can help combat fatigue and give you a better night’s rest

Even if you never exercised previous to your pregnancy, you may want to consider taking a short walk or a relaxing swim on a semi-regular basis—this can help you fight fatigue and get a better night's sleep (4).

#18. You'll learn proper breathing techniques that can help during your delivery

Exercises such as yoga can help you learn the breathing rhythms that are essential in keeping you calm and focused while giving birth (6).

#19. You'll feel better about going into childbirth

First-time mothers may question their ability to give birth, but when you exercise, you are setting yourself up for success.

Childbirth will be easier for you when your body is prepared. This knowledge will give you confidence and relieve some stress you may be feeling.

#20. Exercising during pregnancy can take your mind off of things

Being pregnant can definitely be stressful, but taking the time to exercise will give you the much needed relief to clear your head of all the what ifs.

Exercising Benefits for Both You and Baby

#21. Regular exercise can increase your baby’s brain function

Studies have indicated that babies of mice who exercised daily were less prone to neurodegeneration, which are changes in the brain that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease (11).

#22. Expectant mothers who exercise tend to keep up the habit after their babies are born

If you're still exercising after you've given birth, you'll have a lot more energy to be active with your little one once they arrive.

#23. Studies show that mothers who exercise produce children that are leaner than mothers who don’t

And even though the baby is thinner, its organ size and head circumference remain the same healthy standard doctors look for when delivering children (17).

#24. Baby will be less likely to incur complications such as cerebral palsy

Exercising during pregnancy increases the blood flow to your child. And without a good flow, your baby could be at risk for oxygen deprivation from birth (21).

#25. Babies of mothers who exercise regularly are more likely to have a healthier heart

A 2014 study showed that infants born to mothers who participated in regular exercise were more likely to have a healthy fetal heart rate variability (13) (15).

#26. You're less inclined to have an overweight child

Babies who are born with excess fat are more likely to be overweight throughout their early childhood (19), and babies born 20% or more over the recommended weight are at risk of becoming obese adults.

#27. You're more likely to carry your baby to full term

Exercising during your pregnancy can help prevent a premature birth, which can lead to many complications for baby, such as immature lungs, infections, inability to maintain body heat, and pneumonia (22).

#28. Babies born to mothers who exercise semi-regularly are less at risk for learning disabilities

Placental insufficiency can lead to a variety of learning issues, if not caught early on in your pregnancy (21).

Post-Delivery Benefits of Exercising During Pregnancy

#29. Exercise can help promote better sleeping habits

Did you know that exercising during your pregnancy can help you sleep better once baby comes along? (23). And as a new mother, you are going to need all the quality sleep you can get!

#30. Women who exercise during and after pregnancy are less likely to have postpartum depression

The endorphins released from exercise can help you feel relaxed (9). Moderate exercise has been prescribed for patients with mild to moderate depression (10).

Exercising as a social event can create a fun atmosphere that will boost your mood even further. Try exercising with a friend or a group.

#31. Exercise can make it easier to drop weight once you have your baby

Studies have shown that women who gain more than the recommended 25-35 pounds throughout their pregnancy will have a harder time losing that weight (14).

#32. Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine will ultimately give your child a positive example for years to come

Exercise at an early age can boost your child’s brain function (24).

#33. Abdominal workouts can help lead to a faster recovery

After the first trimester, stick to exercises that don’t require you to be on your back.

Some great abdominal exercises include standing pelvic tilts, seated belly tightening, along with any other core exercises you can complete seated (2).

#34. Regular exercise while pregnant will help you bounce back quicker from pregnancy

Completing the American College of Obstetricians guide of 20-30 minutes of exercise daily can assist in preparing you for bouncing back from your postpartum period (20).

#35. You'll be more likely to continue your exercise once you child is born

Starting healthy habits can keep you lean and strong through your lifetime giving you more memories with your child.

Final Thoughts

​Hopefully, this list of 35 benefits of exercising during pregnancy gave you the motivation you needed to start exercising today. Whether you decide to go on an afternoon walk, dance your heart out to your favorite tunes, or join a prenatal yoga class, both you and your baby will benefit greatly.

If you found this guide helpful, please share it with your family and friends. It may just give them the extra push they need to get off the sofa. Don’t forget to comment with your favorite ways to exercise while pregnant!

Sources

1 http://www.webmd.com/baby/features/exercise-during-pregnancy-myth-vs-fact#1
2 http://www.webmd.com/baby/features/exercise-during-pregnancy-myth-vs-fact#2
3 http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/normal-labor-and-delivery-process#1
4 http://www.webmd.com/baby/features/exercise-during-pregnancy-myth-vs-fact#3
5 http://www.babycenter.com/0_running-during-pregnancy_7877.bc
6 http://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/first-trimester-exercise-fitness
7 http://www.fitpregnancy.com/pregnancy/pregnancy-health/5-ways-pregnancy-affects-your-balance
8 http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy/art-20046098
9 http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-body/fitness/exercise-during-pregnancy/
10 http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/exercise-depression
11 http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/exercise-benefits
12 http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/gestational-diabetes/
13 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24287100
14 http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/effects-of-exercise-on-pregnancy/
15 http://www.livescience.com/13628-exercise-pregnancy-baby-heart-benefits-cardiovascular-disease.html
16 http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-and-exercise/art-20046896
17 http://www.babycenter.com/0_eight-great-benefits-of-pregnancy-exercise_7864.bc
18 http://www.livestrong.com/article/370099-exercises-to-reduce-leg-swelling/
19 http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/news/20051013/do-bigger-babies-become-fatter-adults#1
20 http://www.babycenter.com/0_the-best-kinds-of-exercise-for-pregnancy_7880.bc
21 http://www.healthline.com/health/placental-insufficiency
22 http://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/premature-birth-complications/
23 http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/labor-and-delivery/in-depth/exercise-after-pregnancy/art-20044596
24 http://www.webmd.com/parenting/raising-fit-kids/move/kid-brain-exercise

Pokémon Go as a Workout Plan - How to get the Most Exercise and the Most Pokémon

First, what is Pokémon Go?

Pokémon Go is a free-to-play location-based augmented reality mobile game that works on both Apple and Android devices (smart phones and tablets). The game uses real world exploration to collect Pokémon in the game, and later to battle Pokémon against each other.

Note - The game has become intensely popular, as the Pokémon Go craze has swept the USA and Canada. For some people it is now more popular than Facebook. It isn't just for kids either. Many adults, usually between 20 to 40, are now playing the game. But that doesn't mean that elderly people cannot get into it too, and are doing so - partially for the fitness benefits.

The goal of the game is to physically get the player to go from location to location, collecting Pokéballs, Pokémon, and other objects within the game. This means that people are walking, jogging, running, cycling, etc to get from location to location as part of the goals of playing the game.

Pokéstops are real world locations, varying from park benches dedicated to people, statues, museums, art galleries, historic sites, etc. At each Pokéstop a person visits they can then slide the icon sideways so it spins and they then get free Pokéballs and other stuff that are useful for playing the game.

Being close to Pokéstops also means that you are also in a great place to catch random Pokémon. They will randomly appear on the screen, usually with your phone vibrating or making a beeping noise to alert you that there is a random Pokémon nearby. Click on the Pokémon and you can attempt to catch it by throwing Pokéballs at it. (Which feels a bit like basketball, but once you get the hang of it throwing the balls and catching them is pretty easy. The only trick is if you miss, that Pokéball is gone and you can run out of Pokéballs very easily if you are struggling to get good accuracy with your throw.)

Pokégyms are unlike real gyms, in the sense that you don't normally fight people at gyms. When you visit one you can try to defeat the current defender(s) of the gym which works a bit like the old "King of the Castle" game you might have played when you were a kid. You fight your strongest Pokémon against whichever Pokémon are guarding the gym. If you manage to defeat all of the Pokémon guarding a gym, then you capture that gym and you can leave a Pokémon there to guard it. You will get your Pokémon back after they are later eventually defeated.

Pokémon Go's Augmented Reality

So why is Pokémon Go good for Fitness?

This game has been surprisingly good at getting people outside exercising when they would normally be indoors watching TV or fooling around on the internet. It is arguably a Competitive Sport.

The more you exercise, the more Pokémon you get, the more powerful those Pokémon become, the better they do in battles, etc. Thus it is a surprisingly powerful and easy way to motivate people to go outside and exercise.

That motivation factor is one of the biggest reasons why some people succeed at losing weight and others fail in their attempt. A game which helps motivate people to go for walks outdoors certainly scores points on the motivation factor, even if it does seem childish.

Now it is possible to gain various things within the game, like Pokéballs, just by paying for them. However even if you pay for the Pokéballs you still need to go outside and walk around to find and catch Pokémon - as they are rarely going to be on your doorstep. Thus while some people might choose to spend money in an effort to reduce how much exercise they have to do to play the game, they still need to exercise a fair bit just to find Pokémon.

Furthermore you cannot cheat during this game. While it is possible to catch a few Pokémon while in a car or on a bus, most of the time the speed of the vehicle will cause you to miss things, such as Pokémon and Pokéstops that are too far away by the time GPS catches up to the speed of the vehicle you are in. Thus the ideal speeds to be going is somewhere between walking and bicycling.

What I find fascinating is that this game has done what no sport has done before - get millions of people to suddenly go outside and exercise, with little more motivation than the attempt to find fictional non-existent pocket monsters who only exist within the game. You don't really get much out of the game beyond the fun of catching them, and the journey of catching them becomes the really fun part instead - in other words, walking around and exploring becomes the real challenge and the whole point of the game. The journey becomes both the means and the end goal.

10 Ways to Lose Weight using Pokémon Go

1. Family Fitness - Take the whole family with you and you can all play the game together as you explore. Friends who are also into the game means more people to talk to while you explore, so it becomes a social activity for everyone involved.

2. Jogging - Get from Pokéstop to Pokéstop faster by jogging. Dress for the occasion and take water with you! (Or plan your route so it goes by libraries with free water fountains.)

3. Cycling - Get there even faster on a bicycle. See more Pokéstops and catch more Pokémon in less time. Many bicycle trails will also have various Pokéstops along the way too.

Map of Pokémon locations in downtown Toronto
4. Walking - Take the easy way and just walk it. Very relaxing. In Toronto a simple walk around the downtown area will garner you quite a few Pokémon. See map on right.

5. Hiking - Hilly parklands can sometimes have lots of Pokémon. In the last two days I have visited two parks in Toronto and came away feeling invigorated from walking and exploring, and catching quite a few Pokémon.

6. Focus on Cardio - Don't be afraid to alter your speed now and then. Rotate between walking and jogging between Pokéstops the same way people do using HIIT (high intensity interval training). This way you get to enjoy the best of both worlds between walking and jogging, getting more Pokémon faster, but with breaks that allow you to take it easy once in awhile.

7. Stay Safe - Don't take silly risks. Pay attention to where you are going, what is around you, avoid cliffs or steep ledges, take the long way around, avoid dangerous shortcuts, and take your time. Also you don't need to look at your phone the whole time. You can ignore it while you walk from location to location.

8. Go to the Beach - If you want to swim, then do it safely. All of the Pokémon will be on the shore however as they usually dot places of importance, historical or otherwise. Many water-based Pokémon can be found near lakes, rivers, and ponds - and Toronto has plenty of rivers and water features to check out.

9. Rollerblading - Again, watch where you are going and be careful. Rollerblading will let you get from place to place faster, which saves on battery life - and you get to capture more Pokémon faster.

10. Skateboarding - Not for everyone, but still a decently fun way to get around Toronto.

Note - Fans of the Pokémon TV show will also note that one of the main characters also used a skateboard frequently to get around.


Five Archery Games for Kids

Getting kids involved with archery at a young age is a great way to get them interested in the Great Outdoors - and off the sofa.

However keeping kids interested and motivated can sometimes be tricky, even with a sport as engaging as archery. Thus one way to get them more motivated is to introduce games so they are more motivated to try harder.

#1. Bowling for Cups

Cans work equally well for this activity but the concept is simple enough. The more cups or cans you knock over the more points you get.


#2. Shooting Balloons

Makes a nice satisfying sound when they get hit. If they are getting hit too easily move them further back, or if they are too difficult to hit then move them closer. The balloons are not reusable like cups or cans are, so you will want to make them just hard enough to hit so that your kids have to pay attention to what they are doing to actually hit them with an arrow.


#3. Hit the Foam Ball

Below is a foam/rubber target ball usually used by hunters for practicing shooting at different distances. For kids however you can substitute a cheap foam ball or for extra challenge, a tennis ball. The goal is to hit the ball at different distances and learn how to adjust your aim regardless of the distance you are shooting.


#4. Bow-Making Contest + Flight Archery

For added fun you can also have a wooden bow making contest - for this activity your kids should be 10 years or older and have some experience with carving knives. As parents you will want to supervise this activity and help them using any of the more dangerous woodworking tools. eg. Don't let your kids use a skilsaw or band saw by themselves. But a draw knife, hand saw, rasp or sandpaper would be okay tools for them to learn how to use.

Their goal during this contest is to make a bow out of wood or bamboo or PVC that can shoot really far - flight archery is a good measurement of whether their bow is any good. Making a stickbow, bamboo bow or PVC bow is ridiculously easy, but to get it to shoot really far is the true challenge because that requires the bow to be "fast on the cast".

Tip #1 - Thick limbed bows are sluggish and slow. Bow-making is an artform wherein you have to learn how much thinness will make the bow shoot faster, but still provide good power / prevent breaking.

Tip #2. Top and bottom limbs need to be tillered evenly so they both bend the same amount, in the same places, and bounce back at the same speed. One limb slower than the other will make your arrows fly slower.


Even for adults with some woodworking skills making a quality bow is a challenge. If you are interested in bow-making try reading The Traditional Bowyer's Bible - Volume I. There are 4 volumes, but the first volume covers all of the basics.

Note - For the purpose of the above activity try using store-bought arrows on your homemade bows. Arrow-making is a challenge by itself.

#5. Tic Tac Toe Archery

Tic Tac Toe is a very easy game and all you really need is a target and two sets of arrows that are different colours.


Other games that are more for adults are: Poker Archery, Dart Board Archery, Battleship Archery (you can see their ships on the board, but can you hit them?), Clue Archery, Chess Archery and more.

If you are looking for archery lessons in Toronto contact me to schedule some lessons.

Autumn Cycling

The Fall months are arguably the best time of year to go bicycling. And it is a great time of year to do something with the whole family.

It is not too hot, not too cold, you can wear a hoodie or a short sleeved shirt (or both), and the chance of rain is minimal.

The cooler temperature means you can cycle harder and faster without overheating.

Visually the scenery becomes quite brilliant too, so take your camera with you as you cycle through pretty neighbourhoods in Toronto - or take the bicycle with you as you visit locations near Toronto.

One of my favourite places is Hilton Falls near Milton. It has both hiking and bicycle trails. And with the waterfalls as part of the scenery it makes for a fantastic place to stop and enjoy the wonder of nature.



Hilton Falls is one of the few waterfalls in Ontario which you can walk around behind the waterfalls and then plunge your arm into it. The Hilton Falls Conservation Area has multiple bicycle trails of varying intensity. More than enough to challenge experienced cyclists - and plenty for fun for people new to cycling in the great outdoors.

I am already planning another trip back there in October when the leaves will be different colours.

There are many other fun locations to go cycling in the region around Toronto.

Things to take with you:

Camera / cellphone

Water / Sports Drink

Snacks

Umbrella (not for the rain, for walking around behind the waterfalls - trust me on this one)

Depending on where you are going you might also wish to take a map with out. A proper paper map is easier to read than your phone app. So if you are going on a bicycle / wine tour of the Niagara wineries, take a map with you - and don't drink and ride!



Rock Climbing, Waterfalls Exploring, Spelunking and More!

There are many great ways to exercise, but the following is several of my favourites. Some of these you can even do as family activities, but others are dangerous and children should not be doing them at all. Use your better judgment. Some of them are also very frugal and won't cost your wallet much.

#1. Rock Climbing

Now I don't mean going to a special "rock climbing gym". I have never done that, although I presume it is still fun to do that indoors with the safety of a harness and first aid kits nearby. You can still do that if you wish, but for myself I do Freehand Rock Climbing - no ropes, no safety harness, if I fall, I fall and hurt myself.

Rock Climbing Tips

Don't climb anything freehand unless you are absolutely confident you can climb it without falling.

Practice on trees. (Or in a rock climbing gym.)

Stick to small climbs first as you build up your strength and skill.

Always be certain of your footing or handholds before you go to the next foothold or handhold.

Remember to plan your route back down. Sometimes getting up is easier than climbing back down.

If you don't think you can do it, maybe it is time to crack out the harness and ropes. Safety first.

#2. Waterfalls Exploring

This is a bit like rock climbing, but the surfaces are going to be slippery. Often you need to climb over wet rocks that are slippery, but it is a lot of fun to work your way around and get behind a waterfalls - or even go swimming below it (warning - if there is signs that say "no swimming", that means this falls is powerful enough to have undertow that can drag you under and kill you. Only swim near the base of a waterfalls that is relatively weak).

The photo on the right is of Hogg's Falls in Ontario.

Waterfalls Exploring Tips

Wear super grippy boots that you don't mind getting wet.

Wear gloves, possibly even grippy fishing gloves.

Wear clothing you don't mind getting wet. Avoid white t-shirts unless you enjoy showing off.

Don't bother trying to climb the sides of the waterfalls. It is too slippery.

#3. Spelunking

Otherwise known as cave exploring or cave diving, spelunking is an amazing activity to get into if you love exploring geological formations, crevices and caverns.

Spelunking Tips

Good quality boots.

Gloves are handy too.

Flashlight or headlamp is very handy.

Try getting guided tours of caves (ones with stairs, safety bars, etc all in place) first so you know what to expect.

Take a spelunking safety course.

#4. Rocky Mountain Biking

Bouncing over rocks while cycling down a hill might not sound like your cup of tea, but to those who love it then it is certainly a possibility.

Start slow, stick to the easy cycling trails and work your way up. Also, buy a better bicycle that has higher quality shocks and sturdier tires. You don't want your equipment to fail if you go over a rock your bicycle simply could not handle.



#5. Natural Parkour / Freerunning

If you are familiar with parkour / freerunning, then you also know this activity normally occurs in an urban environment. But there is no reason why you could not do this in a more natural terrain - using rocks and trees as your obstacle course. All you are really doing is applying the same principles of parkour to a different landscape.



#6. Tree Climbing

And by this, I am referring to climbing trees using ropes, helmet and a harness. You could climb the bottom reaches of the tree freehand, but once you start to go high enough that you might run into a weak limb that could snap underfoot it is time to get the rope and harness out. The views from the top can be pretty spectacular.



#7. Underwater Spelunking

See #3 above, but add in scuba gear. You will need snorkeling lessons, scuba lessons, and eventually underwater spelunking lessons. This activity is both expensive and dangerous. Definitely not for children either.



#8. Extreme Rock Balancing

Normally rock balancing is an activity done by one person who just lifts up a rock and then balances another rock on top of it. Extreme Rock Balancing is done by a team of people using much larger rocks, ropes, chains, pulleys, ladders, the whole shebang.

You will need a group of friends (preferably friends who are also into rock balancing), and you will probably want one person to document the whole project using a video camera.

Muscles will only get you so far with this project. You will also need patience and perseverance. And friendships will be tried and tested if you get into an argument about how to best achieve the finished product.

You will also want your finished product to last. You won't want it falling down the first time a teenager comes along and gives it a push. Thus aim to your rocks large enough - and well balanced - so that it wouldn't fall down even during a small earthquake.

Some people might want to cheat and use a crane or tractor to move the rocks, but if men of old can build Stone Henge and the pyramids of Egypt, certainly a group of adults can balance some rocks without using machinery.

Unlike normal rock balancing you probably will not be balancing multiple rocks together. But one or two should be possible.

Best of all your end results will stay up for a long time and baffle future generations.



8 Fun Ways to Exercise this Summer in Toronto

Looking for fun ways to exercise this summer? With the whole family?

#1. Go swimming at Canada's Wonderland!

Just north of Toronto is a great place to go swimming. Skip the rides, the games, etc. Just go for the SPLASH WORKS. Take the family with you!

The Splash Works does include rides and other fun things to do, but you will also get a good deal of swimming done while you are having fun. My favourite is White Water Bay, Canada's largest wave pool.



#2. Take up archery and visit the Toronto Archery Range!

The Toronto Archery Range is free to use, but you will need your own equipment.

Go buy 2 or 3 wooden longbows (don't buy the crummy fibreglass bows or cheap Canadian Tire bows). Just get some light poundage wooden longbows that are good for children / youths, 10 to 12 arrows, armguards, fingergloves, etc. If longbows are not your thing recurves are slightly more expensive, but are great for beginners. Expect to spend about $300 to $400.

However once you have the equipment, you can go do archery every weekend (or even on weekdays) until it starts getting too cold in November. Then just store your equipment for the Winter and resume in April. (Or sign up for indoor archery lessons for the Winter.)

I do not recommend compound bows (compound bows have pulleys on the top and bottom of the limbs) for children or beginners.


#3. Toronto Beaches and Public Pools!

Toronto has many great beaches and public pools you can use. Some of them do require a fee to use, but browse the list on toronto.ca to find one which is close to you.

#4. Toronto Rivers - Swimming and Canoeing!

If the beach or local swimming pool is too crowded, don't forget Toronto has many rivers you can also swim in. Just be careful to pay attention to which ones allow swimming and which do not.

Also Toronto rivers are a great place to go canoeing - and there are companies out there who rent canoes by the hour if you want to try it out.

Or go purchase your own kayak or canoe.


#5. Cycling and Off Road Cycling!

Toronto has many great off road trails designed specifically for cyclists (and people who like hiking). To get the most out of them you will need a mountain bike or hybrid mountain bike. Then just go and explore Toronto's Don Valley, High Park, and many of the bicycle trails around the city.

#6. Windsurfing!

Windsurfing is not for everyone, but it is certainly fun to do. If you haven't tried it and always wanted to try, now is your chance.



#7. Yoga in the Park!

For those of you who love yoga, there are numerous groups out there that practice weekly or bi-weekly yoga events in public locations. They're free and anyone can join.


#8. Local Non-Professional Sports Teams and Clubs!

Toronto has many local sports organizations that are always looking for new members. eg. The Toronto Archery Club, The Toronto Soccer Meetup, Toronto Tennis League, Co-ed Ultimate Frisbee, Ashbridges Beach Volleyball, GTA Golf Meetup, Toronto Touch Rugby, Toronto Baseball Meetup, or even the more generic "Toronto Sports Group".

8 Fun Exercises for Cottage Country

The start of Spring and eventually Summer means more time for the family to spend at the cottage. Your weekend getaway does not have to be all about beer, BBQs, and pretzels. As the weather gets warmer, the great outdoors becomes more tempting, and that easily translates into FITNESS opportunities for the whole family!

Eight Fun Cottage Activities

1. Frisbee on the Shoreline

Kick off your sandals and go ankle deep into the lake. Running with sand and water resistance will add to an already great cardiovascular workout. Frisbee is also a good activity for working on your hand-eye-coordination and agility!

2. Swimming

The ultimate cardio and strength exercise, swimming is a no impact and challenging workout that is great for people suffering from sports injuries / back problems. If you're a jogger / runner, go for under water sprints to work on your leg strength / speed.

3. Cycling

Rent a bicycle or bring your bicycle from home along to the cottage, and spend a day seeing parts of the cottaging community you may not have had the opportunity to discover by car or foot. Make a day of it by packing healthy snacks, and bringing a friend or family members with you.

4. Canoeing

Paddling a canoe is so Canadian, but it can also be hard work. Paddling can be easy if you want go slowly, but for fun you can also have canoe races and give yourself a challenge.

5. Shoreline Activities

Whether you're building sandcastles, throwing around a football or simply walking the shoreline, being active at the cottage makes the after sunset barbecue and campfire so much more satisfying.

Sitting in the sun all day is tiring, and you're bound to get bored, and overdo the junk food. So get up, be active, and make fitness a part of your cottage plan this summer.

6. Bowfishing

All you need is a fishing license and a bow to try this fun activity. You can get a bowfishing kit from a fishing/hunting store (eg. Bass Pro) or you can make your own bowfishing kit. I recommend you learn how to do archery FIRST before doing bowfishing.

7. Snorkeling

If the water is clear and easy to see through snorkeling is a fun activity to try out. For children who have fears of water snorkeling can also be a way to get around their fears and overcome them.

8. Hiking

Don't forget to take the dog with you. A simple hike into the woods to explore is a great way to exercise, see some beautiful sights and come back with a camera full of memories.

Happy Cottaging!

Archery Lessons for Kids in Toronto

So your kids want to learn archery eh?

And you live in good ol' Toronto, Canada? Even better because this city has many excellent people and places where you can learn archery.

But the problem is do they cater to kids?

The truth is most places that teach archery do NOT cater to kids - or worse, have no experience teaching kids.

So what are your options?

#1. Personal Trainer / Sports Instructor.

I have been teaching archery for 3 years now and I have loads of experience teaching archery to children as young as 10. I provide all the equipment, and instead of being a glorified babysitter I actually do teach your kids how to do archery - which at times is a bit like trying to teach them patience and concentration skills, since archery does require a lot of patience and concentration. A difficult task to teach children, but one which I have been doing quite well.

I teach "Traditional Archery" which is really a method of aiming used by many of the great archers of history. Tried and true techniques to gain accuracy and power in your shots. And it isn't beyond the ability of children to learn if they have a degree of patience.

There are a few other sports trainers in Toronto who provide private lessons for archery - including former Olympian Joan McDonald who coaches Olympic archery (which is expensive and not ideal for kids just learning archery).

The problem with teaching kids archery is that they lose / break arrows a lot. So it becomes expensive to be constantly be buying new archery equipment. (If I was teaching Olympic archery instead of Traditional archery I would need to dramatically raise my prices.)

Another problem is that your kids probably want to shoot a bow similar to the girl Katniss in the Hunger Games or Merida's bow in the Disney movie Brave. (Both are traditional wooden recurves, which fortunately is what I teach and what the kids are looking for.)



#2. Find a place that teaches archery.

Well there you have several options. They include:

Scouts Canada... No seriously, enroll your kid in Scouts. They have their own private archery range in north-west of the GTA. They don't do archery all year round, but each scout group usually does it once per year. However this might not be enough. The first time I did archery myself was in scouts when I was about 10 years old. I was hooked after that.

Don't expect their bows to be spectacular however. When I learned archery in scouts they gave us compound bows we could barely pull. Many Scouts groups use cheap fibreglass bows that are shoddy at best.

Note! You don't have to be a boy to enroll in scouts. Girls are equally welcome, but rare since most girls join Girl Guides instead (which sometimes offers archery too, but less often).



The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, located near the Ontario Science Centre, they teach Japanese Kyudo on Saturday mornings and Monday evenings. All the basic equipment for beginners is provided by the JCCC. Monthly fee is $50 which is pretty reasonable. However Kyudo is a whole process similar to Japanese Tea Ceremony. It isn't ideal for kids with low patience. Lastly Japanese yumi bows are really big. I don't know if they even have bows small enough for kids at the JCCC so that might not be your best option. More research required.

Hart House / University of Toronto... It is really a club meant for University of Toronto students, but they do have a waiting list for non-students to join. There is no age rule on their website, but they are probably expecting you to be an adult. Besides you will also need to buy your own equipment. So probably not a good place for kids to learn archery.

The Toronto School of Archery, which operates out of an Etobicoke community centre and an East York church gymnasium. You have to sign up for a minimum of 4 lessons and they are geared towards Olympic archery - which means really expensive equipment. (Getting your kid into Olympic archery is a sizable investment.)

Casa Loma, 1 Austin Terrace, Toronto. They do offer archery lessons ... but according to the Casa Loma website it is only for adults. Hmm. I guess they don't cater to kids.

YMCA Day Camp Archery Toronto
#3. Archery Day Camps in Toronto / GTA.

If you are looking summer day camps that provide archery lessons for kids they are few and far between - and often fully booked by March of each year. That means if you want to enroll your kids in a day camp that provides archery lessons that you really need to book really far in advance.

The day camps that provide archery as part of their activities in Toronto are...

Humriva Day Camp (Humber River)

Claireville Day Camp (Steeles and 427)

Mooredale Day Camp (Rosedale)

Toronto YMCA (various locations)

If you know of any more day camps in Toronto that provide archery please email me at cardiotrek {atsymbol} gmail dot com so I can add it to the list. Or just leave a comment below.

Advice on choosing a day camp. Honestly, ask what kind of bows the camp uses? Longbows, recurve, compound? What is it made of? What is the company brand? If they don't know it is probably a bad sign, but ask if they could find out for you.

#4. Summer Camps outside the GTA.

There is a lot of summer camps where kids can go for a week or two and do archery. Many of them are north of Barrie, in the direction of Algonquin Park. Just a few hours drive north of Toronto and they have less enrollment in comparison to day camps in the city.

There are many others east of Toronto as well. The camps are basically a dime a dozen, but it does mean sending your kid away for a week or so and making the trip to pick them up. However having a week alone without the kids might seem like heaven to some parents.

#5. Teach Your Kids Yourself.

Ah, the old Do-It-Yourself approach! Well then I have some advice for you.

More is more, and it gets expensive. This is not a less is more sport when it comes to teaching kids. Archery tends to be expensive sport, especially for beginners who lose and break a lot of arrows. And children break and lose arrows more than adult beginners.

With probably zero training yourself you will be trying to teach your kid how to do archery. This is a bit like the blind leading the blind, and this will lead to a lot of lost and damaged arrows. Thus I have a number of tips for you.

1) Buy lots of cheap arrows. Fibreglass and wooden arrows are very cheap and ideal for kids learning. By lots I mean 10 or more because you are going to lose them anyway.

2) Find a safe place to practice where your kids won't hurt anyone or even pose a danger to anyone. Failure to do this could result in legal repercussions as doing archery in your backyard is "reckless endangerment" and can lead to criminal charges.

3) Make sure that your kids understand that they can only do archery when you are watching them. Parental supervision at all times must be respected otherwise the archery equipment gets locked in a closet.

4) If you do intend to do archery at home your basement or garage is your best option. Make sure you clear any breakables out of the way. If you have a relative who owns a farm however that would much better.

5) Make a trip to the Toronto Public Archery Range at E.T. Seton Park in Toronto. It is just south of the Ontario Science Centre. It is an ideal location to practice and one of very few free archery ranges in all of North America.

6) Buy a decent bow for your kids size. The little kids bows from Canadian Tire are designed for 5 to 8 year olds. If your kid is 9 or older they are going to need a better starter bow. I recommend a Ragim Matrix bow, 18 lbs to start. Cost is approx. $130 + tax if you buy or order one from Tent City in North York, Toronto. Arrows are $70 for 10, plus you will also need an arrow-rest, fingergloves and an arm bracer. Expect to spend about $300 to $350 on equipment.

7) Make sure you know if your kid is Right Eye Dominant or Left Eye Dominant.

8) Read everything you can about archery form, archery aiming techniques, etc. I have lots of that information here in my archery section of this website. You will be trying to teach your kid to do archery with no experience yourself so it will help if you have lots of helpful information at your disposal.

9) Brace for complaining. Honestly. Kids trying to learn archery with no one to coach them on what to do are going to make lots of mistakes. Even adults make mistakes and it is my job as an archery coach to get them to unlearn their bad habits and learn good habits that will make them a better archer. Kids are slower at picking up these good habits because they lack patience and need to be taught patience during the learning process. Without someone to properly coach them they will complain about the quality of their shots constantly because they don't understand what they are doing wrong - which is why having a coach is important for archery because they can recognize all the mistakes you are making.

10) Try to have fun. Honestly, isn't that the point? Try to motivate the kids by giving them a fun target to shoot at. Make the target a dragon, a zombie or even a Donald Duck poster. So long as they are feeling more motivated to hit the zombie in the nose.

BONUS! Learn archery yourself and you will be better equipped to try and teach your kids. If you live in Toronto let me know if you need archery lessons.

Exercising while Watching TV

The average American spends less than 30 minutes daily exercising, but spends 3 hours watching television.

This means that if the average American simply exercised while watching television they would increase the amount of exercise they get by 700%.

With that in mind here is 10 Tips for Exercising while Watching TV...

1. Fidget while you watch your shows. Science has proven that people who fidget even while sitting down can burn up to 350 more calories per day. If your body is in motion, it is burning calories. (Note that this also can be done at work at your desk.)

2. Move your exercise equipment in front of the TV. If you have a treadmill stuck in the corner doubling as a clothing hanger, now is the time to dust it off and move it right in front of the TV. You cannot see around it, so you’ll be forced to get on and walk while your favorite shows are on. Keep some dumbbells / etc in the same room as the TV so you have something to do with your arms while you watch.

3. Set up a circuit training route in front of your TV. If your living room is large enough, you can set up “stations” that you go to in order to perform cardio routines while your shows are on. You can jump rope, walk in place, or use equipment like dumbbells, exercise balls or steps to get your heart rate up.

4. See how many pushups you can do during a show trailer or commercial. If you’re just starting out, then you might start with pushups during commercials, but once you become more adept at exercising, see how many you can do during a half hour or hour long show! If pushups are too tiring, do jumping jacks instead.

5. Do lunges while you watch TV. You can do lunges in place or walking lunges around the room while your shows are on.

6. Walk in place as you catch up on your favorite show. Walking in place requires no special equipment and it won’t put a strain on your body while you do it. Just march your legs up and down and rest during the commercials.

7. See how many squats you can do. Squats can be done in place or up against a wall in a sitting position. See how long you can hold it. Can you reach a certain number of squats before the next commercial?

8. Become a commercial crunch Queen (or King)! Crunches take less effort than a full sit up, but they help tone your abs a lot better. See how many crunches you can do during commercials or if you’re brave – during the length of the show itself!

9. Watch exercise shows on TV and move along with them. You don’t have to invest in a lot of expensive exercise videos if your budget is small. There are tons of free cable channels that have daily exercise shows on them for all levels – beginner through advanced.

10. Switch up your exercise routines with your TV watching habits. You do not watch the same TV show over and over every hour, do you? No – you switch it up between the news, a reality TV show, and maybe a sitcom or police drama. So do the same with your exercise routines, too. Switch it up so that you don’t get bored and are more likely to stick to it for the long haul.
Looking to sign up for archery lessons, boxing lessons, swimming lessons, ice skating lessons or personal training sessions? Start by emailing cardiotrek@gmail.com and lets talk fitness!

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