Healthy Abbotsford Blog

How do Breathing Exercises Work to Relieve Stress?

We often hear that breathing can help reduce stress. But how exactly do you do that type of breathing? Obviously it is different from our everyday breathing, so how do you do it? This is a great article from Dr. K (Dr. Anthony Komaroff is a practicing physician, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Editor in Chief of Harvard Health Publications) where he teaches you why this breathing works and then a really simply way of doing it.

Stress reduction techniques definitely can reduce your level of stress. The best-known technique is the “relaxation response” first popularized by my colleague here at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Herbert Benson. These techniques have given all of us a weapon against stress.

That’s valuable because stress can take a toll on body and mind. Over time, stress can contribute to high blood pressure, depression, diabetes and other health concerns. The good news is that by regularly practicing relaxation techniques such as breath focus, you can reduce the negative effects of stress.

Breath focus is a simple yet powerful technique that can elicit the relaxation response, a state of profound peace and rest. Breath focus depends on learning to breathe deeply and properly.

picture of the lungs inhaling and exhaling

To read the rest of the article click here.


Is This the Worst Breakfast you Could Ever Feed Your Child?

Dr. Yoni Freedhoff writes a blog called “Weighty Matters”. One of the staples of his blog is the “Badvertising” series. In this series Dr. Freedhoff looks at foods that are labelled as being healthy to see if they actually are. The results are often really surprising.

In this article he takes on Carnation Breakfast Essentials. To read the article, click here.

picture of a boy and girl in a school hallway


5 Minutes Outside Each Day = Decreased Depression

This article, from ParticipACTION is a quick read on the benefits of being outside, even for just 5 minutes a day.

When it comes to exercise, there’s more good news! In addition to all of the physical benefits, exercise can be very helpful for those suffering from anxiety or depression.

Exercise helps the body release mood-enhancing compounds while reducing the depression hormone, cortisol, in the blood. This promotes a feeling of confidence, accomplishment, enhanced self-esteem, and increased serotonin levels (serotonin is a neurotransmitter found to be key in the development of depression).

Exercise also helps people to focus on things other than their worries. Even a walk several times a week, for 20-30 minutes, can help in the treatment of anxiety or depression – and it turns out that green space is important for our mental health too.

Researchers believe that just five minutes outdoors can boost our mental health. I enjoy indoor and outdoor physical activity all year round but nothing beats a natural and green environment with ever-changing scenery. Give it a try for your physical and mental health! Several months ago, I read a brief feature from The You Docs, Mike Roizen and Mehmet Oz in the Toronto Star. It read: “physical activity is the “intelligent man’s antidepressant. It’s a cheap, safe, fast alternative to drugs that acts on the brain’s neurotransmitters to improve your mood. Drugs usually take six weeks to start working. A walk takes 20 minutes.”

With more than half of all Canadians considered inactive, committing to a brisk walk every day is a terrific way to increase your physical activity. Still, if you think you’re suffering from depression or anxiety, it’s best to start with a visit to your physician.

Catherine Cameron
Ambassador, Active Living

To view the original article click here.

Participaction logo


Zumba Fitness: Is it Effective?

The American Council on Exercise recently did some research looking at how effective Zumba Classes are. Here is the short version of what they found:

Zumba fitness has quickly grown to one of the most popular group exercise classes on the planet. In fact, the Latin-dance inspired workout is reportedly performed by more than 12 million people at 110,000 sites, in 125 countries around the world.

Just because Zumba fitness is fun, however, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an effective workout. Despite its immense popularity, to date very little research has been done to document the potential benefits of this form of aerobic dance. So the American Council on Exercise, the nation’s Workout Watchdog®, commissioned Dr. Porcari and his team of exercise scientists to determine whether Zumba fitness provides a workout, a party or both.

The Bottom Line

Zumba fitness may feel like a party, but this research suggests that it’s also a highly effective workout.

“It’s a total-body exercise—a good, high-energy aerobic workout,” explains Dr. Porcari. “Zumba fitness is also good for core strengthening and flexibility gains because there are lots of hip and midsection movements.”

With subjects burning an average of 369 calories per class, Zumba fitness is also a fine choice for those who are looking to drop a few pounds or maintain their current weight levels. In comparison with other exercises tested in the past by the University’s Department of Exercise and Sport Science, Zumba burns more calories than cardio kickboxing, step aerobics, hooping and power yoga.

To read the entire article, click here.

To check out when Zumba classes are happening in Abbotsford click here.


Kids in the Kitchen: Vegetable Art

Here is a neat idea to have some fun with vegetables from Better Together BC! Depending on the age of your child they could help prep the vegetables and/or help make the art (and then of course eat the art).

A cat made out of vegetables

To read the instructions click here.


Are Your Kids Being Ripped Off?

Did you know that kids today are being ripped of in terms of their life expectancy? What would kids do with an extra five years? Watch this 1:48 minute video and be amazed at the answers.

This video is from Designed to Move: A Physical Activity Action Agenda. More than 70 experts from a wide range of disciplines contributed to the development of the fact base and this framework.


9 Ways to Get Indoor Kids Outdoors

This article, from Childhood 101, has nine great tips on how to encourage inside kids to play outside.

Growing up, I was an indoor kid. Severely lacking in any form of physical coordination (can you say ‘last girl picked for school sporting teams’), I would rather curl up with a good book or direct my younger siblings in a theatrical performance than hit a ball or climb a tree (which I had a propensity to fall out of anyways!) Most kids have a natural inclination for particular types of play and while this is not necessarily a bad thing, I do believe it is important to encourage children to engage with other playful activities, especially when it comes to spending time outdoors.

And if a call of “Just go outside and play” doesn’t work in your house, here are nine ideas for encouraging your indoor kids to play outside.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

child playing outside


Dressing for Outdoor Activities

While this post from ParticipACTION is talking about kids, as adults the same information applies. While we may not have snow on the ground yet the days are definitely cooler. One of the best ways to enjoy being outdoors is to be dressed properly. It is hard to have fun when you are cold and/or wet.

Having proper clothing can be expensive when buying new. Consider checking your local Value Village, Thrift Store or Salvation Army. You will be amazed at the quality of outdoor clothing (and pretty much everything else) you can find at a price that you can’t beat. There are also a number of Facebook Swap pages  and Craig’s List where people are selling used items.

Winter is on its way! I say, bring on the snow and let’s bring back active outdoor play for our kids. When we were their age, a little snow didn’t keep us indoors. Quite the contrary! There were forts to make, snowballs to roll, and backyard skating rinks awaiting.

A winter wonderland provides the perfect playground for kids and adults alike. Dressing for winter weather is essential and since many kids won’t admit to being wet or cold since they don’t want to miss out on the fun, it’s a parent’s responsibility to provide winter clothing that is appropriate.

Dress in Layers

Dressing your child in layers allows warm air to get trapped between them, creating an insulation effect. I recommend a triple layer approach to keeping kids dry and comfortable.

To read the rest of the article click here.

Boy making a snowman