Healthy Abbotsford Blog

Why Your Kids Should Walk to School

This post comes from Active for Life.

When Jennifer Keesmaat was a kid, she walked to school. It would take her 15 minutes to get there and sometimes 1.5 hours to get home, but that was okay because the journey mattered. It mattered to her sense of self, her health, and her understanding of the world. She had exploring to do, chances she wanted to take. Walking to school helped shape her worldview.

As chief planner and executive director for the City of Toronto, Keesmaat uses the below TED Talk to question what happened to this free, simple adventure that all parents ought to offer their children.

Keesmaat points out that in 1969, only 12% of the population was driven to school. Today, only 12% of the population walk to school. In one generation we have completely inverted the way we get to school, and that matters for three reasons:

  1. Walking to school is a rite of passage. By doing so, children begin to understand who they are in relation to their neighbourhood, their community, their world. The walk provides trials to be overcome. If we prevent children this chance to develop autonomy, we put the future of our society at risk.
  2. As walking has decreased, obesity has significantly increased. Obese children face the obstacle of not being able to participate in day-to-day activities taking place at school, which can have a psychological impact. Children who walk to school are more likely to be active throughout the day.
  3. We need to live more simply. We’re taking more from the Earth than the planet has to give, and creating more waste than it can assimilate. What’s more simple – and green – than strapping on your shoes and walking to school?

As Keesmat says, kids don’t need permission to walk to school. They don’t need a license. They can do it right now. Exercise before school improves attentiveness in class, and leads to better grades. Plus, it provides an important opportunity for them to become independent.



Artificial Flavouring – You Have No Idea!

In this 16 minute video, Stephan Guyenet talks about the history of food. There are a number of really interesting things that he shares. Did you know that in 1822 the average person consumed the amount of sugar that’s in a 12 oz can of cola every 5 days? That’s about 10 teaspoons, or 10 sugar cubes every 5 days.  Today, the average person consumes 10 teaspoons of sugar about every 7 hours! He also talks about an ingredient that is found in most packaged foods, an ingredient that by law, the manufacturer doesn’t have to explain to you. It shows up on the food label as “artificial flavour”. And by law, artificial flavour is considered to be proprietary which means the people who make it don’t have to tell you what’s in it.

In his presentation, Stephen shares the ingredient list for a shake. And he is able to give the list of all the things that go into that ONE ingredient labelled as “artificial flavour”. Take a look at all the ingredients that make up the artificial flavoring in this product:


So, next time you are at the store buying a packaged product, check the ingredients list and if you see “artificial flavoring”, put it back.

ONE Step to Better Grades and Better Self Esteem

Here is a great video from the CBC program “Live Right Now”. The video was all about the physical and emotional benefits of eating together as a family. The physical benefits I had heard before, but this was the first time I had heard about the scientifically proven emotional benefits.

Children who come from families who eat together:

  1. More likely to get better grades
  2. More likely to have better language skills
  3. More likely to make healthy food choices
  4. Less likely to be overweight
  5. Better self esteem
  6. Less likely to experience depression
  7. Less likely to develop eating disorders
  8. Less likely to use drugs or alcohol

The dietitian in the video emphasizes that the most important thing that you need to do for family meals to happen is to plan ahead and be organized. Click here for information that will help you create a weekly meal plan for your family.



15 Salads Worse Than A Big Mac

Many people assume that if it’s a salad,  it’s healthy. Believe it or not, this article has a a list of 15 salads that actually have more calories than a BIG MAC!




Don’t Make These Mistakes When Running Outdoors

This is a great article from Shape magazine. Click here to access the original article.


Five mistakes you don’t want to make when hitting the trails

Warmer Spring weather inspires many to ditch the gym and run outside in the fresh air and on open roads. Before you make the switch from treadmill to street, avoid these common mistakes that could lead to injury.

Doing Too Much Too Soon

Between the steep hills, wind factor, uneven or slippery terrain, and not having a belt propelling you forward, running outside is harder than running on a treadmill. And since it’s more taxing on your muscles, you are more prone to shin splints and other pains. Start off with shorter distances on flat roads or trails, and as your endurance improves, gradually increase your mileage and hill work. If you experience shin pain, take a few minutes to walk and stretch out your lower legs. Don’t run through the pain because it may cause further injury, preventing you from running at all. When you’re not running, strengthen your shins with this exercise.

Trying to Maintain a Constant Pace

The treadmill belt keeps a consistent pace for you, so it’s easy to get into a rhythm. Outside is a whole new ballgame since you’re in charge of maintaining your speed. Aside from using your own muscles to propel each step, the steeper inclines, road obstacles, and uneven terrain make it harder to run fast. Don’t feel compelled to push yourself to run at the same pace you did on the treadmill you may end up falling or pulling a muscle. Run at a moderate and comfortable pace that allows you to run safely, and gradually increase your speed over several weeks. Check out these tips on how to become a faster runner.

Running on Pavement

Although easily accessible, pavement is a hard, unforgiving surface. Abruptly switching from a soft treadmill belt to a stiff road can be such a shock to the muscles and joints; some may find it hard to run half a mile without stopping in pain. Ease into running on the pavement by starting on the grassy areas between the sidewalk and the road, or better yet, stick to dirt roads or woodsy trails. Here are even more trail-running tips for the beginner.

Wearing the Wrong Shoes

A regular running sneaker was perfect for the flat, predictable surface of a treadmill, but once you head outdoors, make sure your sneaker’s tread can handle the gravel, dirt roads, and slick trails. You want a sneaker that supports your feet and offers a grippy sole so you feel confident moving over uneven surfaces.

Getting Lost

It’s easy to hit the ground running, but if you’re not paying attention, you may end up in an unfamiliar neighborhood or woodsy trail, with no clue as to how to get home. The adrenaline that builds from a panicked feeling of being lost can often make you run faster without paying attention to where your feet step, increasing the likelihood of tripping. Prevent getting lost by planning new routes before you head out the door. Always bring your phone along and try one of the many iPhone running apps that use a GPS to keep track of your location (I use the Nike+ GPS app). Taking a running buddy is also a smart idea, and get in the habit of telling someone where you’re going before you head out, just in case you get hurt or lost.