Physiotherapy Toronto Blog 

7 Ideas To Get Kids Interested In Fitness Early

By Athlete's Care on November 24, 2021

The sports medicine specialists at our Toronto physiotherapy and chiropractic clinics field many different kinds of questions about exercise, from amateur fitness to professional level training. Sometimes, that advice isn’t just for our clients – it’s about their families too. Many parents have questions about their kids.

  • How do I get my kids interested in fitness early in life?

Fitness and the path to lifelong good health is one of the best gifts a parent can give. Here’s a look at some ideas on how to do that.

1. Be the example you want them to model

It’s not enough to point to videos or TV personalities – or even their favourite cartoon superheroes – for examples on the value of fitness. They’re looking at the people they see everyday to model the behaviour they’ll follow, and that includes making fitness part of their lifestyle.

  • Make fitness a daily habit – an ordinary part of every day.
  • Kids under the age of six should be encouraged to enjoy unstructured, natural activities like running, skipping, jumping.
  • From age 6 to 17, make sure they get at least one hour of activity, five days a week.
  • Use every opportunity to include more activity, such as walking instead of driving when you can.

2. Join a group

At any age, we tend to follow fitness programs that are social more than solitary activity. That can mean getting the whole family involved, or inviting friends to a group hike or game of soccer.

  • Group lessons are an alternative to organized sports that lets kids learn and stay activity in a social environment.

3. Make it fun

Turning fitness into a chore is a mistake. Insisting on specific activities that kids may not be very enthusiastic about is one thing, but nowadays, fitness also has a lot of competition from things like video games and TV.

  • Ideally, you want fitness to be one of their first choices – not the one leftover when nothing else is available;
  • Limiting screen time can prove crucial – why not organize their time early between activities, turning fitness into daily/weekly/seasonal rituals they’ll treasure?

4. Customize it for your kids

Every child is different, and has their own personality. It's natural for parents to want to pass along their own passions, but it's important to make it about the child, and what suits them best.

  • Do they prefer team sports, or individual activities like swimming or martial arts?
  • Do they enjoy competition, and handle the roller coaster of winning and losing? Everyone should know how to deal with failures, but not everyone is suited to building that into their chosen activities.
  • You can introduce the idea of competition as a motivator – who can do the most sit-ups this week? Be sure that whoever is competing is on an equal footing.

5. Give them gifts that promote activity

There are many gifts that can help promote activity for kids, from the latest gear for their favourite sport to trendy sports shoes.

  • Make it into something they'll really want to receive;
  • You're essentially building in a reward for physical activity.

6. Plan vacations with a view to active fun

Vacations with the kids can be challenging. Focusing the fun around an activity everyone can enjoy answers the question of what everyone will do for the duration, and leaves kids with a sense of adventure an a welcome break from the everyday.

  • It can be as exotic as a surfing vacation in Zanzibar, or a budget-friendly hiking jaunt not too far from home;
  • Learning a new activity can be part of the plan, like a skiing vacation with lessons.

7. Above all, keep it positive

They key to instilling a lifelong love of fitness is to make it a positive experience, and one they'll maintain out of preference and not just because someone's nagging them.

  • Especially with younger children, keep it playful before you introduce the idea of competition;
  • Be sure to offer lots of positive feedback, both on progress and participation.

Multiple studies suggest that keeping your kids active can also boost their grades at school. It's a win-win-win situation when you can start their fitness habit as early as you can.

If you have any questions about fitness and your family, don’t hesitate to contact one of our Toronto physiotherapy and chiropractic today for a consultation.          

5 Exercises to Improve Balance

By Athlete's Care on November 08, 2021

The sports medicine specialists in our Toronto physiotherapy and chiropractic clinics treat a wide range of issues that have to do with the musculoskeletal system. Many of these individual conditions, from muscle strains to torn ligaments, chronic back pain and more, often boil down to a central issue: a lack of balance.

An imbalanced posture, and impaired sense of balance, can affect you in many ways.

  • It can lead to uneven use of muscles, and lack of proper support for your back, shoulders, and other body parts;
  • It can lead to improper form when performing sports or other activities, which in turn can cause strains and even injury;
  • Over time, a lack of balance can lead to muscle strain and issues like chronic back and shoulder pain;
  • Lack of balance can contribute to slips and falls, easily one of the most common causes of injury overall, and particularly worrisome as we age.

What is proprioception? It’s your ability to feel where you are in space, particularly relative to other objects or people. Improving your balance with exercise will improve this ability, and correct the issues mentioned above.

Exercising for balance

Exercises that focus on balance will work with specific muscle groups. These include:

  • Core (abdomen, sides)
  • Lower back, glutes (supporting the upper body)
  • Diaphragm and pelvic floor
  • Lower body strength training

The most important principle to keep in mind with balance exercises is consistency. It’s not about getting spectacular results; it’s about being able to reproduce those results reliably in any situation.

Here are five you can practice everyday.

1. One Leg Lift

  • Slowly lift one leg straight back, keeping your foot at a right angle, facing ahead. Hold for one or two seconds, then slowly bring it back down. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
  • Repeat to the side, and to the front. Now, change it over to the left leg.
  • Beginner: Use a chair to help you out at first.
  • Increase difficulty by adding reps, and more time to the hold in position.
  • You can also add arm movements that mirror the leg raises, and hold your toes when you raise the leg to the front. 

2. Tightrope Walk

  • Just like it sounds, this is a heel to toe walk in a straight line.
  • Place your heel directly in front of the toe of the front foot to step forward.
  • It doesn’t sound like much, but is surprisingly challenging to do slowly, in control of each step.
  • Try it for 20 steps to start, increasing the number as you get stronger.

3. Rocking the Boat

  • Stand with your feet directly underneath your hips, and your spine straight.
  • Transfer your weight to the right, lifting your left left off the ground as you do.
  • Raise your left leg to the side as high as you can, and hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Begin with five repetitions per side.
  • To start: use a chair to help if you need it.
  • Advanced: To take this to another level, get a Bosu, a piece of equipment that has an inflatable dome, on top of a circular platform. Just standing on the platform is a challenge.

Noon To Six (Clock) Reach

  • You will probably need a chair to start out, holding it to the left.
  • 12 is the position directly in front of you, 3 to the right, and 6 directly behind you.
  • Raise your right arm and right leg, and point to the 12, then the 3, then the 6, holding each position for at least 10 seconds.
  • Shift the chair to the right, and then cycle with your left leg and arm raised from the 12 to the 9 to the 6 position.
  • Let go of the chair as your balance improves.

The Plank

  • Take the position as you would to do push-ups, up on your toes, and with your arms directly below your shoulders.
  • Lower your upper body down so you are resting on your elbows.
  • Keeping your body as straight as you can, hold the position for at least 10 seconds.
  • Increase the time of the hold as you get stronger.

Working on your balance can be a productive addition to your existing workout, and it also makes a great stepping off point if you are new to exercising daily. If you need any advice about injury avoidance, or exercise in general, don’t hesitate to contact one of our Toronto physiotherapy and chiropractic clinics today for a consultation.


Why Does Exercise Make You Happy?

By Athlete's Care on October 14, 2021

Our Toronto physiotherapists, chiropractors, and other sports medicine specialists know, and can see through their clients that exercise doesn’t just have physical benefits, it can work to improve your mood.

Here’s a look at why.

  • Exercise increases the level of serotonin in the blood, a key hormone that regulates mood, along with sleep and appetite.
  • It also increases the level of endorphins, hormones that help you deal with stress, and even reduces the levels of pain you feel.
  • It can help you get a better night’s sleep, which also plays a key role in helping to regulate mood.

How does it work exactly?

The exact mechanisms at work are not yet known, and there are research studies looking into this phenomenon currently.

Some of the research findings so far:

  • In one study of older people who were just starting an exercise regimen, 16 weeks of regular exercise produced about the same results as anti-depressant medication.
  • For patients with depression, adding exercise to an existing medication regimen improved results.
  • Both aerobic exercise and strength training seem equally effective at helping to treat mild to moderate depression.
  • Exercising outside – even just taking a good brisk 20 to 30 minute walk – seems to have an added effect. In one study, people who exercise outdoors reported being more likely to exercise again than those who worked out indoors.
  • British researchers have found that exercising in a natural environment for even five minutes can improve mood.

The Harvard Study

Running for just 15 minutes daily, or walking for at least an hour, is associated with a reduced risk of major depression, according to a study published online January 23 by JAMA Psychiatry. If you’re unsure of where to start or how to ramp up your exercise regimen, our Toronto physiotherapists, chiropractors, and other sports medicine specialists are available with answers and advice.

"We saw a 26% decrease in odds for becoming depressed for each major increase in objectively measured physical activity," says study author Karmel Choi, a clinical and research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "This increase in physical activity is what you might see on your activity tracker if you replaced 15 minutes of sitting with 15 minutes of running, or one hour of sitting with one hour of moderate activity like brisk walking."

But, is exercise the catalyst – or is is that, when we feel better, we exercise more?

"We wanted to see if there might be a causal connection, in either direction, between physical activity and depression," says Choi. "Does physical activity protect against depression? Or does depression simply reduce physical activity? Our study allowed us to untangle those questions in a powerful new way using genetic data."

The study noted that the type of movement didn’t actually matter.

"What our study would say is that any kind of movement can add up to keep depression at bay. I think that's why our study findings were especially appealing. It didn't say you have to run a marathon, do hours of aerobics, or be a CrossFit master just to see benefits on depression," says Choi.

Regular exercise is the key to a healthy lifestyle at any age, and whether you are a professional athlete or retiree, it has benefits beyond just the physical aspects. If you have any questions about exercise, don’t hesitate to contact one of our Toronto physiotherapy and sports medicine clinics today for a consultation.


Six Exercises You Can Do On Your Stairs At Home

By Athlete's Care on August 31, 2021

Our Toronto physiotherapists and sports medicine specialists field a lot of questions about exercise and how to stay in shape. Our clients include professional athletes, but they also include people whose work life involves many hours sitting at a computer.

The question becomes: how can I stay fit with limited time and resources?

The answer is easy: work out at home, using stairs to add to the impact.

The Stair Advantage

Stairs give you a way of adding variations and more challenging levels to your home workout routine. Here’s why.

  • Taking a flight of stairs (10-12 steps), up and down, at a brisk pace, burns 2 to 5 calories.
  • For a person weighing about 55kg, climbing stairs for 30 minutes will burn about 235 calories.
  • Climbing up and down a 10-storey building five times burns about 500 calories.

When it comes to form, remember to:

  • Keep your eyes ahead, not down at your feet;
  • Lean a little forward;
  • Pump your arms to add momentum;
  • Drive your knees up.

Note: It’s probably best to do stairs at the beginning of your workout rather than at the end.

Exercising With Stairs

Running or walking the stairs is one simple way to use them in your workouts. Alternating 2 to 5 minutes of stair running with 30 to 60 second rest periods for five to ten iterations will give you a great workout. 

Note: Before you begin any new exercise regimen, it’s a good idea to check with your Toronto physiotherapist or other medical practitioner to ask about how it might affect any existing conditions.

Here are some other stair exercises you can try:

1. Stair Push-up

  • Take a plank position with your hands on one of the stairs. Your hands should be placed right under your shoulders.
  • Inhale as you bend your elbows and lower your body down.
  • Exhale while straightening your arms until your body is back at the start position.

2. Stair Crawl

  • Start in a crawl position with your arms under your shoulders and knees below the hips, with your hands and feet on the ground.
  • Crawl up the stairs by moving your opposite arm and leg forward at the same time.

3. Side Steps

  • Stand parallel to the stairs, with the right side of your body closest to the staircase.
  • Keeping your core muscles taut, slightly bend your knees and hips.
  • Step up the stairs sideways, one foot at a time, starting with the right.
  • Avoid crossing your feet.

4. Crab Walk

  • Sit on the top stair with both feet two steps below you and slightly apart.
  • Place your hands behind you on the step.
  • Raise your hips off the step by tightening your glutes.
  • Crawl down the steps, moving opposite arm and leg at the same time.
  • Avoid raising your shoulders.

5. Stair Hops

  • Stand on the lowest step, and lower your hips into a squat position.
  • Jump forward off the step and onto the ground.
  • Control your landing by bending your knees.

If you have any questions about exercise or getting in shape, our Toronto physiotherapists, chiropractors and other sports medicine specialists are available with answers. Don’t hesitate to contact one of our Toronto physiotherapy clinics for a consultation.