By Melissa Lafrance on June 4, 2019
Looking to boost your endorphins, add more movement to your day or connect with your colleagues in a fun and active way? Participate in the 2019 Pick Your Peak Stair Challenge from June 17 – July 12.
Open to all UBC staff and faculty in the Okanagan and Vancouver, the Stair Challenge spans four weeks and is a free, easy, accessible way to get active or keep fit – no matter your motivation or ability. You can participate as an individual or make it social and register as a team. There will be weekly random prize draws, photo challenges, social meet-ups, and an overall prize for both the top team and top individual.
Register by June 12 at 4:00 p.m. For more information or accessible participation options, visit our Stair Challenge page.
How it works:
- Register as a team or as an individual and receive your registration package.
- Pick your peak based on your personal fitness goals. Choose from Diamond Head (232 metres) to Mount Everest (8,848 metres).
- Log your inclines, including the flights of stairs you climb indoor or outdoor and the elevation you gain during hikes, step classes and stair climbers. A Daily Step Tracker and Team Tracking Sheet are provided.
- Participate in the various activities for a chance to win prizes.
- Submit your grand totals at the end of the four weeks to see if you’ve captured the top individual or team prize!
If you’re unable to climb stairs, you can still participate and track points by converting your walking steps or wheelchair travel distance instead. Visit the website for full details.
Get Inspired by our 2018 Participants!
We had a terrific group of participants last year who decided to boost their wellbeing when they stepped up to the Stair Challenge. Here’s a summary of the benefits they gained:
- Top two reasons for participating: increased social connections and physical fitness
- Over 80% reported that the challenge contributed to their overall wellbeing as well as their physical fitness
- 83% of participants felt confident in their ability to embed active breaks into their day with some reporting a 42% increase in their stair climbing/physical activity after the challenge
Visit the Pick Your Peak Stair Challenge page for a photo gallery of last year’s participants and to learn more about this fun annual event for UBC faculty and staff.
Photo Credit: Martin Dee, UBC Brand & Marketing
By Miranda Massie on April 2, 2019
The nature of working and learning on university campuses often promotes sedentary behaviour, from sitting in classes, meetings and offices to working on computers with few breaks for physical activity. In addition to the effect on physical wellbeing, high levels of sedentary behaviour and low levels of movement also impact mental wellbeing and academic and professional success.
Emerging research suggests that prolonged sitting can lead to physical states of “exercise resistance” where the body stops producing the typical metabolic benefits that accompany physical activity.
This month, we’re sharing ways to fit more movement and activity into sedentary periods of your day.
Week 1: Register for Staff & Faculty Sports Day
Infuse some movement and fun into your work day by participating in this university-wide event. There are numerous activities to enhance your mental and physical wellbeing and to suit any ability. Gather your colleagues and make it an exciting, active, team-building afternoon. Register now.
Week 2: Fun and funky office exercises
To break up long periods of sitting, try doing one or more of these suggested exercises (Washington Post).
Week 3: Walk it out
Week 4: Perfect your Posture
Learn how to move and protect your body by incorporating posture exercises and stretching into your daily routine.
For more ideas and inspiration, check out Move UBC’s Make Your Move page.
Let us know your favourite tricks for breaking up sitting time throughout the day!
Photo credit: UBC Recreation
By Miranda Massie on March 4, 2019
Interesting new research out of UBC Okanagan and McMaster University supports the benefits of integrating short periods of activity throughout the day. Just three short bursts of physical movement, like taking the stairs, has been shown to improve cardiovascular fitness. It’s like food snacking, but you’re on the move!
This month, try exercise snacking with these bite-size suggestions:
Snack 1: Take the stairs
Try climbing three flights of stairs, three times per day.
Snack 2: Jumping jacks
Start and end your day with a set of 30 jumping jacks. Have a spare moment at lunch? Add another set.
Snack 3: Walk it out
Take a 10 to 12-minute walk after each meal. For example, walk outside, on a treadmill or on the spot.
Snack 4: Just dance
Pick three of your favourite songs and just dance. Space them throughout your day to provide both a brain and a body break!
The best part about this approach to exercise? All of the above are easy on your schedule, as well as your wallet. For those with differing abilities or limited mobility, feel free to replace any of the snacks with aerobic activity alternatives (e.g. rowing, water sports, dancing, seated sports, hand-pedalled biking, etc.)
Let us know if you try exercise snacking or already do some form of it. Have fun!
Photo Credit: UBC Communications and Marketing
Posted in Fitting In Fitness, Physical Health | Tagged dance, exercise snacks, exercise tips, fitness, fitting in fitness, jumping jacks, movement, physical activity, stairs, Walking | Leave a response
By Miranda Massie on February 5, 2019
Looking to reap the mental benefits of your movement this month? Discover ways to enhance your mental fitness while being physically active. To inspire you, check out these previous guest articles by Wendy Quan (The Calm Monkey) and Dr. Thara Vayali.
- Try a Walking Meditation: A how-to-guide for trying a walking meditation
- 3 Secret Stress Senses: Innovative body movements to combat stress
- 3 Walking Meditations for the Summer: Still perfect to try in the early spring or in rain-proof gear!
Remember, a mindful moment doesn’t have to lack movement. Enjoy!
Photo credit: UBC Thrive
By Melissa Lafrance on February 5, 2019
Has your physical wellbeing taken a back seat? Whether you have some personal fitness goals or an ailment you should pay attention to, remember that UBC has lots of resources to offer – from extended health benefits to ergonomics. Read on to learn more about the services available to support your physical wellbeing.
Jason’s Challenge: When the path to good physical health becomes a pain
Jason recently decided to start a new training regime to enhance his ability to run a marathon in four months. Since increasing his running schedule to three times a week, Jason has found that the pain in his right calf has returned (the injury was initially brought on by a fall.) The pain is causing him to adjust his daily physical activities. Jason realizes he needs expert advice and treatment to help reduce the pain and prevent further injury.
How to access paramedical coverage through Extended Health benefits:
The UBC Extended Health benefits plan supports employees like Jason in their continuing health and wellbeing. Jason’s benefits include coverage for a wide range of services from paramedical practitioners such as physiotherapists, registered massage therapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, podiatrists and more. Learn about your coverage for paramedical services.
How EFAP can be a coach for improving physical health:
Morneau Shepell, UBC’s Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provider, can also support Jason’s training. When he calls the Care Access Centre at 1-800-387-4765, Jason can book a health coaching consultation, which can motivate him to make changes to be well and stay well.
Morneau Shepell offers an online hub of resources with articles to improve and maintain physical health (e.g. putting the fun back into fitness, fitness at work, and climbing back on the fitness wagon.) (Note: Please enter “University of British Columbia” as your organization to access these articles.)
How mindfulness can provide focus:
Training the mind is also an important part of any fitness goal. If Jason is looking to strengthen his mental resolve, he can sign up for the 30-Day Online Mindfulness Challenge. Using evidence-based curricula, this mindfulness training, which begins every Monday, can be a simple yet powerful tool in honing mental wellbeing.
Jocelyn’s Dilemma: How to get back to active
Jocelyn has been experiencing increasing back tension and discomfort. It might be caused by a variety of factors, including feelings of anxiety which seems to add to her physical tension and using a new desk and chair in a new office environment. The discomfort has caused her to skip out on her favourite yoga classes, which she knows are beneficial for general physical health. Jocelyn wants to address this appropriately and return to her usual, active self.
How EFAP can help:
To address her feelings of anxiety (but to avoid aggravating her back), Jocelyn could use EFAP’s confidential video counselling service from the comfort of her own apartment. A professional counsellor can provide appropriate strategies and tools to help manage anxiety. If the situation requires specialized care or long-term counselling, Morneau Shepell will find resources that best meet individual needs and budget.
How to access paramedical coverage through Extended Health benefits:
Similar to Jason, Jocelyn can access UBC Extended Health benefits that cover paramedical services like physiotherapy, massage therapy, chiropractic treatments, acupuncture and more. Find out about your coverage for paramedical practitioners.
How ergonomics can help:
UBC Ergonomics can help ensure that the design and arrangement of Jocelyn’s workstation allows for optimal use and prevents the risk of musculoskeletal injuries. She can access an online Ergo Your Office Guide, a tool for setting up a workstation ergonomically, or sign up for an upcoming Ergo workshop or training.
By Miranda Massie on January 8, 2019
Set yourself up for success this year by rethinking the way you approach your fitness goals. Discover great tips and tricks for staying on track, feeling confident and building lasting habits.
Week 1: Assess your goals
We often look to the end results when determining the progress and achievements of our fitness goals. Instead, try asking yourself why you want to achieve your goals. How will the end result impact your life or benefit your overall wellbeing? This article from Greatist.com describes how to assess and re-set your goals. Level up for success!
Week 2: Mix it up
It can be difficult to stay motivated if we’re not enjoying the activities we take part in. The best way to resuscitate a fitness plan is to make it fun! If you don’t enjoy running, then don’t make this a resolution. Try UBC Recreation’s Free Week to discover what gets you excited to work out.
Week 3: Go social
Consider gathering a group of colleagues to join the annual UBC Walkabout. This nine-week step challenge is a great way to stay active, motivated and accountable. Attend the Jan.16 Kick-off Event or register now.
Week 4: Try low or no cost
It can be easy to pass on a fitness activity, especially if it comes with a price tag. But with the number of free apps, YouTube videos and open-sourced fitness classes available, there are countless low and no cost ways to stay active. Try exploring this list of 18 YouTube Channels to Get in Shape (Goodful by Buzzfeed). Or, read up on the best free fitness apps out there:
- 7 workout and fitness apps for tracking and planning (TheSportsEdit)
- 8 fitness apps that can help you get in shape — and what they’re best for (Business Insider)
By Miranda Massie on October 23, 2018
How do you like to Thrive?
It’s nearly Thrive Week at UBC and I’m excited! An award-winning and nationally-recognized initiative, Thrive invites the UBC community to explore diverse and unique paths to mental health.
While there are many relevant ways to foster and maintain good mental health, research consistently points to five actions that can help.
We call these the Thrive 5:
1. Thrive by moving regularly: Moving regularly can help you manage stress and feel more positive.
2. Thrive by resting up: Spending time without screens before bed can help you sleep better and feel more rested.
3. Thrive by eating to feel nourished: Adding more veggies to your diet boosts the health of your mind and body.
4. Thrive by giving back: Helping others and giving back can give you a sense of purpose and connection.
5. Thrive by saying hi: Checking in regularly with family, friends and colleagues builds supportive relationships.
These five actions seem intuitive and simple enough, but in practice, they can seem like daunting tasks. I know that exercise, fruits and veggies, a full night’s sleep and social time are good for my health. But sometimes, all I have energy for is takeout and the couch, which leaves me feeling guilty or disappointed about my inaction.
What I’ve realised is that another critical part of my mental health is understanding my limitations and being self-compassionate. If we learn how to cut ourselves some slack, perhaps it will create the space needed to use the Thrive 5 more effectively.
This month, while I encourage you to use the Thrive 5 as ways to explore mental health, I also encourage you to listen to your needs. If all you feel like doing is going home and zoning out in front of the TV or going to sleep, do it. Enjoy the mental rest, forgive yourself and move on. There is always tomorrow.
And if tomorrow you’re looking for ideas to help you explore your own path to mental health, check out the Thrive Calendar for a range of engaging and diverse events, activities and experiences. Happy Thrive Week!
All my best,
Photo credit: Student Communications and UBC Thrive
Posted in Editorial, Mental Health, Miranda Massie | Tagged connection, eating, giving back, healthy diet, helping others, movement, physical activity, resilience, rest, sleep, social connection, thrive, Thrive 5, Thrive week | 1 Response
By Miranda Massie on October 3, 2018
Social connection is not just great for enhancing our overall wellbeing: it can also help boost our physical activity. Grab a friend or family member and find new ways to move this fall.
Week 1: Partner-up
Need a bit of extra motivation? Find a workout buddy and try these great exercises designed for two. FitnessBlender’s Total Body Partner Workout offers information on calories burned and a printable workout sheet.
Week 2: Make it a family affair
Check out these suggestions from Tourism Vancouver to get your family active and moving (includes both indoor and outdoor activities).
Week 3: Maximize your tech
Looking for some friendly competition? Many fitness apps and trackers have options that let you follow your progress or compete against friends or members of your online community using the same fitness technology. Read more about tapping into the power of friends (CNN.com).
Week 4: Stretching for two
Stretch, tone and boost your relaxation with this set of partner yoga stretches (FitnessBlender).
Photo credit: UBC Brand & Marketing
By Miranda Massie on September 13, 2017
Week 1: Don’t miss Free Week!
UBC Recreation (September 11-17) and BodyWorks Fitness Centre (September 11-16) invite you explore as many classes as you like at various Vancouver campus locations. It’s a great opportunity to try different types of activities before registering for a full program. If you’re in the Okanagan, check out the Campus Rec Open House (September 14).
As UBC staff and faculty, you have access to a wide range of corporate health, fitness and family discounts that will help you fit in fitness without breaking the bank. Check back as the list is updated and expanded regularly.
Week 3: Drop-in for a twoonie!
Looking for a cost effective workout plan? Staff and faculty can drop-in to the BodyWorks Fitness Centre Monday to Friday from 1-4pm for only $2!
Week 4: Stay in shape while on the move.
Looking for ways to incorporate more walking into your day? Park on the top level of the parkade, get off the bus 1-2 stops early, or cycle to meetings across campus. Another free alternative is to take the stairs to your classroom or office.
People who use active transportation to commute to work and school (by bus, bike, or foot) tend to be more active in their day, and have more positive lifestyle attributes [Source].
By Miranda Massie on August 3, 2017
Spending time outdoors during the summer months is a great way to enjoy the weather. It is also the perfect time to sneak in some physical activity. Check out this month’s tips for making the most of your time outside.
Week 1: Take a hike!
Walking on an incline means you have to work harder to move the same horizontal distance, but you also put less stress on your joints than the up-and-down motion of running. Bonus: the scenery is typically beautiful and often shaded.
Week 2: Make the most of a trip to the beach.
Discover six sneaky, calorie-burning activities to stay active while having fun at the beach.
Week 3: Stay seated.
If you are looking for something more gentle and low-impact, try these leg exercises that you can do while sitting in a chair – perfect for both sunny and rainy summer days.
Week 4: Get strong outside the gym.
Check out these nine great ways to strength-train outside of the gym. No weights? No problem.
Photo credit: UBC Communications and Marketing
By Miranda Massie on February 2, 2017
The ice has thawed and the days are getting longer. It’s a perfect time to check back in with your fitness goals and stay motivated. Discover new ways to support heart health and your fitness goals!
It’s #MoveUBC month on campus. Participate in a wide variety of activities and events that encourage moving more and sitting less!
Week 2: Cardio on Demand
We have a list of five Youtube channels that offer fitness videos on demand. Looking for inspiration to get moving? Look no further.
Week 3: Take a Heart Health Assessment
Explore a variety of self-assessments and tools related to blood pressure, diabetes, general heart health and more.
Week 4: Just Jump!
Bring back the nostalgia of gym class and get your heart pumping with this take-anywhere, cardio alternative.
For more even fitness tips and inspiration, visit our Fitting in Fitness page.