It’s Canada’s 150th Birthday and Participaction is celebrating by encouraging Canadians to get healthy by taking part in the 150 Play List. The 150 Play List is comprised of 150 fun and truly Canadian activities you are encouraged to try this year. Visit the Participaction website to sign-up, track your activities, earn rewards and more.
“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” Michael J. Fox
Next Monday, February 20th is Family Day in many provinces across Canada. Family Day is a great reminder to take time to spend quality moments with those who matter most.
Take a look at our Top 10 Suggestions For Fun Family Day Activities:
During the winter months kids, and adults, tend to be less active as we are often kept inside sheltered from the cold and harsh weather. Keeping active is necessary for your body and mind and can help to ward off Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and the winter blues. Though many activities do exist, it can often be difficult to find suitable activities for children with disabilities. The Canadian Paralympic Committee has launched a site to help families, educators and medical professionals locate activity plans and providers in their area for children with disabilities. Check it out today!
Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)
While I am not a fan of technology (especially for kids), I do like technology that gets people moving. Personally, I am the new owner of a FitBit Blaze and have found that my level of physical output has certainly increased since I can now track and monitor my heart rate, sleep and overall level of activity. I have discovered that my ritual morning dog walk is over 7,500 steps and my preferred bike ride is 30km and keeps my heart rate at an average of 120 beats per minute. That is all great feedback for someone that likes to keep upping the exercise ante.
So, considering my love of all things that encourages mobility, I would like to embrace Pokémon GO, except for the host of challenges this has created since it started. Tabloids have reported that Pokémon GO players have been walking into traffic, falling off cliffs, venturing illegally over the border, and trespassing, all in pursuit of Pikachu. I also know that “text neck” is becoming increasingly problematic the more we are all looking down constantly at a screen and interacting with that instead of the world in front of us. Toronto is looking to make “texting and walking” illegal due to the inherent risks this causes with people not paying attention, veering into others, and generally being oblivious to their surroundings. If we need to make laws to stop people from looking down while walking, how can Pokémon GO be a “good thing”?
Yet other data has indicated that people playing walk 30% more than “most people” (not sure how they figure out how much “most people” walk, but regardless…) and in some cases the game can be used as a helpful parenting and family tool to get outside, connect, play a virtual game of “hide and seek” and learn about road safety, property boundaries, and how to respectfully interact with strangers who might also be playing. I also hear that the game has a way of keeping you playing (like all addictive games) in that the more you walk, the more Pokémon you can locate. This might be a good addiction (encourages exercise), provided of course, it is safe. So, I am still unsure whether “to Go, or not to Go”.
As an occupational therapist that helps people who are injured by or in cars, or who break bones falling, I am concerned about the aftermath of obsessive and oblivious Pokémon play if this leads people into unsafe territory. So, whether I decide to “Go”, or decide to let my children “Go”, I have created this list of safety suggestions to consider:
- Always be aware of your surroundings and play in groups.
- When watching your screen and walking, try to stop when looking down, see what you need to see, then look up and continue. If you need to look down and walk, try to look out in front of you, not at your feet. Look on the horizon like people do when driving. That way you can reduce the risk of text neck and have a better visual of your path.
- Always pay attention to road and traffic signals.
- Drivers, be aware that kids may be playing and that kids are carefree, not careless, and that they may wander in front of a moving car if their game is leading them somewhere exciting. Make eye contact with the player, or slow down the car if eye contact does not occur.
- Don’t trespass. That upsets people and not everyone is going to be thrilled that you are standing on their lawn chasing a virtual gremlin.
- Watch for pets and signs that warn of animals that might not be friendly. Dogs are not going to know what you are doing, and may see anyone on their property as a threat.
- Stick to daylight. It is always safer to walk when others can see you, but if you must be out at night, wear light or reflective clothing and carry or wear a bright light.
- Bring water and perhaps a snack. People can lose serious track of time when gaming is involved.
And remember, that even without a device, you can still “Go” or create outdoor games for you and your children. All Pokémon GO essentially is, is a virtual Scavenger Hunt. So, really there is little difference (minus the text neck) between finding Pikachu and friends, and looking for a feather, rock in the shape of an arrow, or an Oak tree. Keep it simple and remember that you don’t need technology to go for a walk.
It’s important to keep your body moving throughout a long day at work to reduce the risk of sitting disease and help prevent illness and injury. Check out the following from The Active Times which gives you some ideas for quick and easy physical activity you can do on your lunch breaks.
Take a look at some of our additional posts on workplace wellness in our Healthy Workplace page.
Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)
While anti-smoking campaigns have been in effect for decades, more recent health promotion efforts are being directed at preventing obesity, heart disease and the detrimental effects of prolonged sitting, now called “sitting disease”. As society experiences this paradigm shift away from sedentary activity, employers too need to be on board with solutions on ways to keep employees active when the job demands require continuous desk work.
If you are concerned about the effects of sitting disease and are looking for ways to increase health and wellness at work, the solution is actually simple. Just start by getting moving! If you are an employer and are not ready or able to invest in a comprehensive wellness program, or you are an employee and these are not offered where you work, start with some simple team-building challenges. Consider the following:
1. Stair climbing. Try to challenge workplace to at 30 day “Climb It Challenge” where everyone takes the stairs. Or if your office is too high up, no problem, take the elevator 5 floors below your level and walk the stairs from there.
2. 30 day squat challenge. This is easy, requires no equipment and won’t leave your office team with the need to shower following. Have those interested meet for 5-10 minutes a day and complete each day’s challenge. This 30 day squat challenge has a daily plan you can follow.
3. Bike or walk to work month. This is easier to do in the warmer weather months, so try to challenge your team to walk or bike to work each day. If you are in a remote location, or if employees commute, ask employees to park a couple of blocks away and walk or ride from there.
4. Get your yoga on. Each day with your team, take 10-15 minutes to run through some easy yoga poses to help boost posture and strength. Check out some of these beginner poses to try.
5. Organize a walking lunch group. Each day with your team take a 30 minute power walk at lunch or break time. Walking is great for cardiovascular and bone health and will help to prevent the negative effects of sitting all day.
Working together with a team dedicated to improving health and wellness will help to keep individuals motivated and on track. In the end, don’t forget to celebrate your success and keep the momentum going!
Check out more on staying healthy at the office on our Healthy Workplace page.