Tag Archives: physical activity

Free YMCA Memberships to Grade 6 Students

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YMCA Calgary and the Flames Foundation for Life are excited to announce a partnership to provide free YMCA memberships to all City of Calgary youth registered in Grade 6.

Grade 6 Membership Benefits:

  • Free membership for grade 6 school year
  • Access to all 5 city-wide YMCA Calgary locations
  • Access to no-cost programs such as Adventurers (leadership training including character development, communication, volunteerism, and fundraising) and Active Y Kids (physical activity, nutrition, and goal setting) and Flames Friday & Teen Night activities
  • Advanced registration and discounted fees for programs

Why Grade 6?

Studies have shown grade 6 is the age in which a child is faced with many decisions, often with two options – a healthy one and an unhealthy one.

At YMCA Calgary, we believe youth need a place to belong, to feel safe, and to explore and grow during the important developmental stage of their grade 6 year. We want to support our youth in this critical time as they:

  • age out of traditional care models
  • develop new interests
  • prepare for junior high

We intend to give grade 6 youth opportunities around leadership, recreation, and holistic health. Our ability to promote and build healthy relationships will help the youth

  • expand their pro-social networks
  • have opportunities to build healthy relationships with peers
  • establish relationships with positive, adult role models

Why is the Flames Foundation for Life partnering with the YMCA?

The Flames Foundation want to make Calgary the healthiest City in Canada and this is a step. We want youth to not only be active but to become educated in a healthy lifestyle. This includes teamwork, leadership, social skills, goal setting and positive decision making. We hope that this age group is exposed to elements of a healthy lifestyle and will have the education required to motivate healthy choices moving forward in their physical and mental development.

How does a Youth get a Grade 6 Membership?

Drop in to any YMCA Calgary location to complete a membership form for your youth (parent/guardian signature, proof of child’s grade required).

When does it start?

The Grade 6 Membership program will officially launch September 1, 2014. Students in grade 6 will be able to get a one year membership valid September 1, 2014 to August 31, 2015, with the program continuing for new grade 6 students in September 2015.

Exercise and Wellness for Women with Breast Cancer

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Coming to Saddletowne YMCA September 2014!

This FREE program aims to empower women to regain control of their life through physical activity. Offered in partnership with the U of C Health & Wellness Lab, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and Wings of Hope, participation includes:

  • A personalized fitness assessment
  • An individualized exercise program
  • Group exercise and healthy lifestyle education classes

Eligibility: Currently undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment or within three months of treatment completion
Call (403) 210-8482 to enroll
Email: wellnesslab@kin.ucalgary.ca
Web: www.thriveforcancersurvivors.com


Using exercise to overcome depression

In recent years a strong connection has been observed between physical activity and depression with multiple studies extoling the benefits of combining regular exercise with antidepressant medication, or replacing it completely.  As a result, exercise is now included in the American Psychiatric Association’s treatment recommendations (5).

“When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain.” States the article ‘What are the psychological benefits of exercise with depression’ on WebMD reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD (1). “Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. For example, the feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as ‘euphoric.’ That feeling, known as a ‘runner’s high,’ can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life.” (1)

That positive feeling alone can often be the catalyst that draws someone out of a depressive “funk” and, with consistency, steer them towards a more affirmative self-image overall. As expressed by renouned researcher Dr James Blumenthal in his landmark 1999 study published in the Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, “One of the positive psychological benefits of systematic exercise is the development of a sense of personal mastery and positive self–regard, which we believe is likely to play some role in the depression–reducing effects of exercise.” (6)

In this study, 156 men and women with depression were divided into three groups. One group took part in an aerobic exercise program, another took the SSRI sertraline (Zoloft), and a third did both. At the 16-week mark, depression had eased in all three groups. About 60%–70% of the people in all three groups could no longer be classed as having major depression. In fact, group scores on two rating scales of depression were essentially the same.

A follow-up to that study found that exercise’s effects lasted longer than those of antidepressants. Researchers checked in with 133 of the original patients six months after the first study ended. They found that the people who exercised regularly after completing the study, regardless of which treatment they were on originally, were less likely to relapse into depression. (3)

In fact, in the medication only group, 38% of patients relapsed into depression; in the exercise and medication group, 31% of patients relapsed into depression; and in the exercise only group, only 8% of patients relapsed into depression.

What role can you play

Take the time to listen to your family members, friends and yourself. If you feel comfortable doing so, spark up a conversation with them about any of these observed or potential symptoms (10):

  • Irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Changes in appetite — depression often causes decreased appetite and weight loss, but in some people it causes increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Indecisiveness, distractibility and decreased concentration
  • Fatigue, tiredness and loss of energy — even small tasks may seem to require a lot of effort
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself when things aren’t going right
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide
  • Crying spells for no apparent reason

Get moving!

In one 2005 study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise five days a week reduced symptoms of depression by nearly half after 12 weeks (2).

As for intensity, researchers who published their findings in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice recommend achieving a heart rate of 50 to 85 per cent of maximum heart rate for aerobic exercise. And for resistance training, a variety of upper and lower body exercises is best with three sets of eight repetitions done at 80 per cent of the maximum weight that the person can lift at one time (4).

If you’d like a hand getting started, book yourself in for a complimentary Wellness Appointment with one of our trained coaches, sign up for a registered class or come in and chat with a member of our personal training team.
Geoff Starling
Strength & Conditioning Director
YMCA Eau Claire

The Importance of Physical Activity for Children in the Winter

As the snow falls and the temperature drops it may seem difficult to keep children physically active.   Check out this article by Scholastic for seven tips on how to keep kids active without leaving the house.


Feeling a touch of cabin fever?  Register your child for an exciting Youth or Preschool class, or contact me at selliot@calgary.ymca.ca regarding our Preschool Drop-in Gym times at the Saddletowne YMCA!

Ideas for Staying Active at a Desk

For many people, a day at work means a day sitting at a desk. Sitting for long periods of time can cause bad posture, discomfort, numbness. Holding the body upright also increases tension and sore muscles and joints.

Find a Good Chair

A good chair can do wonders. Your shoulders should not be slouched, your back should be straight and the top of your computer screen should be level with your eyes. If you cannot work without looking up or down, then you need to adjust the height of your screen. Feet should be flat on the floor.

Stretching Exercises

Every so often, make sure you stretch your arms, legs, neck and torso while sitting. This will help prevent you from feeling stiff.

This article by Work Awesome has some great stretching and exercises to do while sitting.

Stand up Take a Walk

Continuous blood circulation in your body will keep it from discomfort or from getting too strained. If you can, take longer breaks such as a short walk outside and get some fresh air. Don’t forget to use the stairs.

Give your Eyes a Break.

Looking at a computer screen all day can also strain your eyes. Give your eyes a break by looking around the room every so often. If you’re lucky enough to work near a window, even better! This can help lower the chance of eye irritation and headaches. Another technique is to rub your hands together, then place your cupped hands over your eyes.

Convert to a Standing Desk

If your work allows it, a standing desk could help keep your body active. This article by Smarterware explains the benefits of a standing desk.

Other tips to keep your body moving throughout the day:

  • Park farther away.
  • Stand up and walk to the file cabinet instead of rolling your chair.
  • Don’t email but rather walk over and talk to a coworker.
  • Take the scenic route to the bathroom.
  • During lunch, go outside and take a long walk.

Summer Series #5: 2012 Olympics in London

Written by Social Media Youth Volunteer: Sheriza Jiwani

Start from the beginning of my Summer Series.

I’ve got to say, I just love the Olympics. There is such a positive vibe around them and I feel like we are all united in Canada. It is so inspiring that countries from around the world can come together and take part in this amazing event. The Olympics showcases the talents of a variety of sports that do not always get the most attention from the media. Some Olympic sports like handball and basketball are offered at YMCA Calgary, so you can also play these sports in a friendly environment.

The first recorded Olympics was in 776 BCE, although it is believed that they have been going on for even longer. According to mythology, Heracles, (the Roman Hercules) founded the Olympic games. For the next 1200 years, these games would take place every fourth year. During the Roman Empire, an emperor decided to get rid of the Olympics because of its pagan influences. It wasn’t until approximately 1500 years later that the Olympics were brought back; after studying German, British and American Students, a French aristocrat decided that a well-rounded person had sports in their life. After much convincing he created a sports organization, and so came the revival of the Olympic Games.

I look forward to cheering the athletes on and participating in the international community encouraging on the teams. The opening ceremonies were phenomenal and so far, all the athletes have been performing really well.

Go Canada, Go!

Click here to read all my Summer Series blogs.

Pre & Post Exercise Fluid Intake

Now that summer is finally here, many people are heading outside to take part in their favorite physical activity such as running, walking, playing sports or joining in other organized physical activities.

It is very important to maintain optimal hydration levels when participating in physical activity. Even slight dehydration can hinder your performance.

If you are outside playing, you should be constantly drinking water to replace fluids lost to perspiration. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink. By the time you become thirsty you are already dehydrated and your performance will suffer.

You should drink at least 500ml of fluid 2-3 hours before activity, and another 250ml 10-15 mins before your activity. This fluid is needed to achieve optimum hydration prior to exercise.

Be sure to maintain a regular intake of fluid during activity around 250ml every 15 minutes. For re-hydration after your activity, weigh yourself before and after and for each kilogram lost consume 1 litre of fluid. Many people mistake the weight lost during exercise as fat loss when it is actually fluid loss.

Water is the best choice for most people participating in regular physical activity, but I do often get questions about sports drinks. Sports drinks are good for activities that are longer in duration. If you plan on doing physical activity for more than 60 minutes you may want to consider taking sports drink to help replenish the carbohydrates and electrolytes lost during the activity.

Summer Series #3: Ringette

Written by Social Media Youth Volunteer: Sheriza Jiwani

Start from the beginning of my Summer Series.

Have you wanted to play hockey, but maybe it was a little bit aggressive for you? Try Ringette. Ringette is similar to hockey (played on ice, uses similar equipment) except instead of a puck, you use a blue rubber ring, a stick without the blade on the end and different rules.

Ringette is a girls-only sport that was created in Ontario by Samual Perry Jacks. Interestingly enough, it has modified a lot from the first ringette game played in 1963. One thing is for sure; the pace is a lot quicker than it was 49 years ago. Jacks created ringette in the hopes that girls would have a chance to play a game that was similar to hockey, but unique to girls.

I have been playing ringette for the past 8 years and I have loved every moment of it. . I have made a lot of friends through ringette and I feel like this a great way to stay in shape.

This sport is open to individual of all ages. In fact, in my first year of ringette, there was a four year old on my team. Ringette has been a great source of pleasure and exercise for me. Explore the links below for more information on this great sport.

Interesting facts about Samual Jacks:

  • He was an assistant physical director at the West End in Toronto YMCA from 1935-1940
  • He also created floor hockey
  • He had three sons who played hockey, but he wanted to create a game that would give girls more opportunities.

Ringette Links

Ringette Canada

Ringette Calgary


Click here to read all my Summer Series blogs.

Summer Series #2: Zumba fitness

Written by Social Media Youth Volunteer: Sheriza Jiwani

Start from the beginning of my Summer Series.

Zumba is the latest fad in the fitness world right now. Zumba is a hybrid of fitness and latin dance creating an altogether new type of fitness. You could say that the creation of this fitness-dancing was sort of an “accident.”

In the mid 1990s, Alberto “Beto” Perez, an aerobics teacher in Cali, Columbia, forgot his traditional aerobics music. Due to the fact that he needed some music for his aerobics class, he was forced to improvise. Lucky enough for him, in his backpack, he had salsa and merangue music. Thus Zumba was born. His workout that day focused on moving to the music. His students loved this variation to their regular aerobics class and demanded more.

Zumba is a lot of fun. You get your workout while dancing, and does it ever use your muscles! You can find yourself feeling like you’ve had an intense workout afterwards, without running on a treadmill for an hour.

When I tried Zumba, I found it to be a great alternative to a workout. I loved the spontaneity of it. It was like an organized workout that continually changed and worked different parts of your body. Give it a try!

I will post new summer activities and sports for you to try all summer long! Keep your eyes peeled on the blog to read about new sports and activities to try.

Click here to read all my Summer Series blogs.

Importance of Outside Play

Importance of Outside Play by

With Spring in the air, and the weather warming up, it is a great time to try and get children playing outdoors once again. In today’s society, video games and computers have taken the place of playing outside for many children. Lack of physical activity can lead to obesity and a number of other health problems and children who do not spend enough time playing outdoors are typically deprived of social interactions and natural stimulation.

Recent research has found that children who play outside for an average of 90 minutes per day in good weather have less risk of heart trouble later in life. Playing outside not only makes children healthier, there are a number of other benefits to a child’s growth and development provided by outdoor play.

Through physical play, young children discover the things their bodies can do. As they increase their skills of running, climbing, or throwing, children gain confidence in themselves and become more motivated to try new things. Playing outside is one of the best ways to boost self-esteem in young children.

When a child feels sure of himself and his abilities, he is more likely to interact with other children. Playing outdoors gives children a chance to play with others and develop healthy social skills. A child learns to share and to take turns outside. Qualities of leadership and cooperation may also begin to emerge in outdoor play events.

Cooperative play situations that occur quite often in outside play give children opportunities to work in groups. Children will work together to create the ideas they have imagined and when conflicts surface or problems arise, they will combine their efforts to resolve them. Playing outdoors can mold a child’s social confidence and abilities for the future.

Playing outside also allows children to understand and appreciate the natural world around them. Exploring nature and the elements is a child’s first contact with science. All five senses can be expanded through outdoor play. The sounds and sights of nature, along with the smells and the feeling of a spring breeze, are relaxing and enjoyable even to a small child.

Children are likely to make up a number of their own games to play outside. Unstructured play allows children to develop their own styles of play and enhances their creativity and imagination. Large muscle skills can be developed with a variety of balls, ride on toys, or swing sets. Assorted wood scraps and a few construction vehicles can turn the backyard into a building zone while promoting problem solving and logical thinking.

Outside play has always been an important influence in a child’s development. Children learn to play together as they develop a number of other skills. In today’s technological age it is more important than ever to encourage children to play outdoors, not only for their social and physical development, but for their healthiness.

Through the introduction of the television, computers and the Internet, games consoles, and portable video games, children are learning from a very early age that sitting in a chair staring at a screen is a great way to play. However there is a huge difference between talking to a fellow team mate through the Internet and a microphone and actual face-to-face contact.

It is vital that during these warm Summer months, children make the most of being able to go outside. This allows them to properly stretch out their muscles, breathe in the fresh air and get some vitamin D from the sunshine. Vitamin D encourages the absorption of calcium in the body which, in young children is essential for the development of strong bones and teeth. During the Winter, most children will not be exposed to enough vitamin D so it is vital that they get as much as they can during the warmer months to counteract this deficit.

There are also several social benefits of children playing outside. Outside games are often much louder and more energetic, allowing children to gain important physical skills and because there is usually less direction from adults, children learn skills such as negotiation and compromise. For example, getting children to build a sandcastle allows them to learn how to co-operate and work together to achieve something. When playing outdoors, a child is also exposed to completely different textures, sounds and smells which they would not otherwise experience indoors. They are often allowed more freedom to explore and discover things for themselves, building their independence and their confidence.

The playground at school is the perfect environment for learning these skills and gives children an allotted amount of time each day to let off some steam and interact with others. This highlights the importance for stimulating outdoor playground equipment. The equipment children use both individually and as part of a group activity, can be extremely beneficial in their development. For example using musical playground equipment can teach a child co-ordination and rhythm simply through dancing along to the music and playing the instruments.

So now that the weather is beginning to allow for outdoor play, we should encourage children to put away the game consoles and experience more of the environment for themselves and make the most of it.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/3890145