By Miranda Massie on May 2, 2019
The spring edition of Healthy UBC is always my favourite because I get to talk about a subject I’m passionate about: sex. As a community sexual health educator and health promoter, I see the critical importance of unbiased education, inclusive health care, and safe spaces for discussing a topic that’s often kept behind closed doors.
This month, I’m sharing some helpful hints, tips and information to support your sexual and reproductive health journeys.
Check under the hood regularly
Whether you’re sexually active or planning to conceive, regular checkups are important. Annual physicals or sexual health screenings help ensure that you’re free from health risks associated with your reproductive system, like infections or cancer.
To find a comfortable, supportive environment for all your needs, check out this list of sex-positive sexual health service providers across the province1. Click here to explore transgender and gender-affirming health care services in BC. (learn more about sex positivity and how to tell if your health care provider is sex-positive here).
Know your rights
Historically, many aspects of sexuality have been controlled, limited or prescribed by law. Supporting sexual health can sometimes involve knowing your rights and understanding how to advocate for them. Check out the following resources:
- Rights critical to the realization of sexual health (Action Canada for Sexual Health & Rights)
- Understanding abortion law in Canada (Options for Sexual Health)
- Sex Discrimination and Sexual Harassment (Human Rights in BC)
Avoid Dr. Google
The internet can be a scary place, especially when you type “sex” into the search bar. For accurate and unbiased information, try going directly to one of the following sources:
- Sex&U (The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada)
- Options for Sexual Health (BC member of International Planned Parenthood)
- Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
- Sexual and Reproductive Health Week
- Sexual Violence Prevention and Response (UBC resource)
The body-brain connection
Mental health can impact our ability to lead the sexual lives we want (both positively and negatively). Conversely, difficulties like illness, injury and challenges with conception or sexual function can take an emotional toll on our wellbeing. The following resources explore the connection between the brain and sexual health:
- UBC researcher Dr. Lori Brotto’s work on mindfulness and sexual pleasure
- Sexual Health and Disability (Action Canada for Sexual Health & Rights)
- Pregnancy Loss Resources (BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre)
Learning is a lifelong process
It’s never too early or too late to learn more about sexual health. Body science is a great way to teach young children about consent and prevent abuse. Older adults might try dating again, or learn about the physical changes that come with age. Regardless of age, there is always more to learn!
- Sex-Ed: What is it and why does it matter? (Action Canada for Sexual Health & Rights)
- Understanding your child’s sexual development and information and resources for children with differing abilities (Alberta Health Services’ teachingsexualhealth.ca)
- Sexuality and Aging (Centre for Sexuality)
- Sex and Seniors (Canadian Public Health Association)
- Why we need to talk about menopause — candidly (Globe and Mail)
I encourage you to consider one thing you might do to support your sexual or reproductive health. Have fun exploring what sexuality means to you and how it connects to your overall sense of wellbeing.
Don’t forget to “heart your parts”!
All my best,
Posted in Editorial, Mental Health, Miranda Massie, Physical Health | Tagged age, ageing, brain, care, editorial, mental health, physical health, reproductive health, rights, Safety, sex, sex positivity, sexual health, sexuality, Support, transgender | Leave a response
By Miranda Massie on May 2, 2019
We all know that exercise is good for our physical health, but did you know that it can benefit our sexual health too?
This month, we’re sharing cardio, endurance training, muscle isolation and flexibility exercises to boost reproductive wellbeing and sexual satisfaction.1
Week 1: Take a brisk walk (cardio)
Ten to 30 minutes of brisk walking 3-5 days a week supports healthy cardiovascular functioning. Improved blood flow and circulation support erectile function while the release of endorphins enhances relaxation and overall sexual satisfaction.1, 2, 3
Week 2: Dive in (endurance)
An overall increase in physical stamina can also improve sexual stamina, and swimming is a wonderful, low-impact way to build endurance. Looking for a place to start? Check out the new spring schedule at the UBC Aquatic Centre.2
Week 3: Exercise incognito (muscle isolation)
Kegels improve the body’s pelvic floor muscles, which help to support bladder, bowel and sexual function. Read this helpful Kegel How-To-Guide from the Harvard Medical School. This simple and quick exercise is free, doesn’t require any equipment, and can be done without anyone knowing.4, 5
Week 4: Strike a pose (flexibility)
Practicing certain yoga poses and exercises can also support the development and maintenance of the pelvic floor muscles.4, 5 Check out the workouts below to get started:
- Ultimate Pelvic Floor workout video (Canadian Living)
- Best Pelvic Floor Exercises (Core Exercise Solutions)
Photo credit: VPFRO Communications
By Miranda Massie on March 4, 2019
Nourishment goes beyond nutrition, beyond food labels, calories and superfoods. Nourishment is a mental, physical and even spiritual state where we feel fulfilled, satiated and whole. Our modern lives often have us running to and from commitments, engaging with fast-paced technology and navigating personal and professional demands. This leaves little time to think of food as anything but the fuel to help get us there. In the spirit of Nutrition Month, I’m providing a little ‘food for thought’ (pun-intended), some simple steps to support feeling nourished.
1. Practice gratitude
At the start of a meal, take a quick moment to consider where your food came from. Picture who had to work in order for the food to land on your plate. In that moment, pause and say thank you.
Why: Gratitude supports mental health and wellbeing, and slowing down supports healthy digestion.
2. Don’t forget your liquids
The body needs food to function, but it needs hydration to survive. To ensure that you are hydrated throughout the day, try water tracking and reminder apps, incorporating beverages into your daily routine (before breakfast, before bed, with all meals), and using a favourite water bottle.
Why: 60% of our bodies are made up of water, which needs to be replenished in order to support many important health functions.
3. Prioritize sleep
Set up a sleep routine and do your best to keep it consistent. Try setting a reminder to go to bed at the same time each day, invest in comfortable sheets, limit caffeine consumption and avoid technology before bed.
Why: Sleep and nutrition go hand in hand. Our diet can positively or negatively impact our quality of sleep, and our sleep patterns can result in irregular or overindulgent eating habits.
4. Identify what brings you comfort
For me, comfort food includes cheesy pasta, salt and vinegar potato chips and wine. We all deserve to indulge once in a while: it’s important. However, we should also be aware that we define these foods as ‘comfort’. We often use these foods as a way to avoid dealing with challenging people, situations or emotions. By identifying the foods that you crave the most, it brings awareness to the emotions driving the eating.
Why: Being more mindful of why and when we reach for certain foods can interrupt habits and enable portion control and increased self-awareness.
5. Listen to your body
Pay attention to subtle signs your body might be telling you about your diet. Consider writing them down or tracking them over time. Have a headache? Your body might need more water or perhaps you’ve been drinking sugary beverages. Experiencing a gastro-intestinal issue? This could indicate an allergy or a need for more fibre-rich foods. Skin inflammation? This might indicate a food intolerance.
Why: Getting to know your body’s rhythms can help catch an issue, challenge or allergy early, leading to increased physical comfort and piece of mind.
This month, I encourage you to look beyond nutrition and reflect on what helps you feel nourished. This may mean eating meals with friends, establishing a new bedtime routine or even indulging in your favourite comfort foods (just to make sure they’re still as delicious as you remember).
You can also read more about strategies to help you feel nourished.
All my best,
Posted in Editorial, Miranda Massie, Nutrition | Tagged comfort, editorial, gratitude, mental health, nourishment, Nutrition, nutrition month, physical health, sleep, tips, tricks, UBC, water | 2 Responses
By Miranda Massie on February 5, 2019
February is the month to celebrate movement at UBC! Move UBC is a UBC-wide campaign to increase physical activity and celebrate the diverse ways we can move on campus.
We already know that physical activity is important for our health, so why not join the movement? Move UBC connects staff, faculty and students with a variety of free and low-cost opportunities to be active on campus. There are options for everyone — no matter your fitness level or ability. So gather a few friends or colleagues and try something new this February!
Below is a selection of fun and inclusive Move UBC events to check out. See the Move UBC Events Calendar to find many more activities.
- Feb.11 to Mar. 8: Explore the campus and nourish your body by joining the UBC Wellbeing Challenge
- Feb. 28: Celebrate your month of movement with Wear Your Active Wear Day (participating locations)
- Free Brain BodyFit classes at Bodyworks all month long
- Feb. 18-22: Free access to all group fitness classes at The Hangar
Photo credit: UBC Recreation
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 August 7, 2018
Spending time outdoors is a great way to make the most of the sunny weather. It’s also a perfect opportunity to sneak in a little extra fitness. This month, give your fitness a boost and maximize your time outside.
Week 1: Get Strong Without a Gym
Discover nine sneaky ways to strength train outside of the gym (Greatist.com). No equipment required!
Week 2: Immerse in Nature
Have you heard of forest bathing? Soak in the benefits of this Japanese practice from simply being in nature and letting nature guide your walk. Learn the simple steps here. (Time Magazine)
Week 3: Give Your Legs a Low Impact Workout
Looking for something quick and easy? These seated leg exercises (Livestrong.com) can be done indoors or outdoors in less than five minutes.
Week 4: Take a Mindful Moment in a Beautiful location
Feeling good is about more than just our physical health; mental fitness is just as important. Make the most of a few quiet moments outside: pause, think and reflect. Need inspiration? Check out these hidden gems of UBC.
Photo Credit: UBC Communications & Marketing
By Miranda Massie on March 7, 2018
Posture is an important part of our overall fitness and comfort. Learn how to protect your body by incorporating posture exercises and stretching into your daily routine.
Week 1: Try a Midday Desk Workout
Check out the 10 Easy Stretches You Can Do at Your Desk in this Chatelaine.com video.
Week 2: Stretch It Out!
Print these handy ready-to-use stretch guides and post near your work station or around the office.
Week 3: Ergo your Lab or Office
Proper ergonomic design can minimize the risk of a wide range of injuries – from eye strain and carpal tunnel syndrome to persistent neck or back pain. Follow these easy step-by-step guides (office or lab) to set yourself up for comfort and success.
Week 4: Cultivate Your Core
Don’t forget your core. This six-minute workout from Fitnessblender.com requires no equipment and will help you build strength and achieve perfect posture.
Photo credit: UBC Communications & Marketing
By Miranda Massie on February 5, 2018
February seems like the perfect time to focus on fitness that is good for the heart. Protect your heart by exploring ways to keep yourself motivated and moving.
Week 1: Take Part in Move UBC Month
Move UBC encourages us incorporate more movement into our daily lives. By sitting less and moving more – and getting your colleagues to move along with you – we can improve our mental, physical and social health and reduce the risk of many preventable diseases. Get inspired to move by checking out the Move UBC events calendar.
Week 2: Jump Around
Bring back the nostalgia of childhood and get your heart pumping with just 15 minutes of this fun and easy cardio alternative. Or, follow along with this 6 minute video.
Week 3: Book a Heart Health Assessment
UBC’s annual Travelling Health Fair may be booked up, but faculty and staff can still get a heart health check-up in these two ways:
- February 26 – March 9, contact the UBC Pharmacists Clinic at 604-827-2584 to request a free heart health assessment, the same screening offered through the Travelling Health Fair this year.
- Visit our online Virtual Health Fair, where you’ll find over 20 different screenings, tools and resources to help you assess your current status and make improvements towards a healthier self.
Week 4: Get Your Cardio on Demand
Looking for inspiration to get moving? Look no further than the following list of YouTube channels that offer fitness videos on demand.
Photo credit: UBC Communications and Marketing
By Melissa Lafrance on January 11, 2018
This month’s newsletter is all about helping you forge your path towards improved physical health. UBC employees have access to a wide range of services, information and perks to support physical health.
Taking the time to improve our physical wellbeing is time well spent. Evidence shows that increasing physical activity by moving more and sitting less leads to many health benefits, including improved physical and mental health, a greater sense of social wellbeing, and reduced risk of many preventable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and mental illness.
Also, the importance of remaining physically active during stressful times was examined in a recent study done by Dr. Eli Puterman (et al), a professor in UBC’s School of Kinesiology. The findings demonstrate that negative affective reactivity, which is associated with long-term mental and physical health problems, is less pronounced if individuals are physically active, thereby resulting in them having a greater ability to manage daily stressors in a more effective way .
The best physical activity is actually doing physical activity. If you find yourself unmotivated, not sticking to your physical activities or maybe just plain dreading it, you likely haven’t found the right fit for you or perhaps you need to try it out a little longer. Don’t give up and keep trying new things. Find what you enjoy and what makes you feel good, both physically and mentally. You’ll also likely feel more energized by it!
Here are ways you can build up your physical wellbeing in 2018:
1. Book an appointment for our Travelling Health Fair
The much-anticipated Travelling Health Fair is coming up February 13-23. The fair is open to all UBC staff and faculty. This year, we are focusing on heart health, so sign up to get assessed and learn how to maintain heart health and prevent heart disease. Registration is now open. Visit the Travelling Health Fair page to learn more and reserve your appointment time now.
2. Stay active with Fitting in Fitness
Find all the inspiration you need to improve your overall health with our Fitting in Fitness articles. With tips, guides and videos, you’ll discover ways to fit fitness into your schedule.
3. Get inspired to cook with Healthy Recipes & Tips
Discover tasty recipes and helpful tips to improve your nutritional health with our Healthy Recipes & Tips articles.
4. Explore our Virtual Health Fair & Online Assessments
On the Virtual Health Fair webpage, you will find 20 different screenings, tools and resources to help you assess your current health status and make lifestyle improvements.
5. Optimize your working posture and practices with UBC Ergonomics
Proper ergonomic design and set-up of your workspace can minimize the risk of a wide range of injuries: from eye strain and carpal tunnel syndrome to persistent neck or back pain. The UBC Ergonomics program offers a range of services to promote optimal working postures and practices to reduce workplace musculoskeletal injuries.
6. Join the 12th Annual UBC Walkabout from January 22 to March 25
Registration is now open for UBC’s 12th annual Walkabout!
Walkabout is a nine-week health and wellbeing challenge promoting regular exercise in social settings. Everyone at UBC is welcome to create teams of five or register as an individual. Cost is only $10 per person.
Here’s how the Walkabout works:
- Form a team of five members. Individuals can also register and will be teamed up.
- Set overall team and individual goals for the nine-week walkabout
- Register online at http://walkabout.educ.ubc.ca/
- Registration fee: $10 per person (optional pedometer: $15)
- Record daily steps (or exercise equivalent steps) on the Walkabout tracking spreadsheet using pedometers/apps/Fitbits etc.
- At the end of each week, the total number of steps walked by the team are submitted through the website and the distance walked is calculated (e.g. 1,300 steps = 1km)
7. Take advantage of Health, Fitness & Family Discounts
As a UBC employee, you and your family are eligible for many discounts at organizations on and off campus. Visit the Health, Fitness & Family Discounts page for a full list of offers or check out the ones highlighted below:
- UBC Recreation’s Free Week is January 8-14. Try out any instructor-led classes including yoga, Pilates, dances, boot camps and aquatics classes. View the schedule and plan your visit (first-come, first-served).
- Discounts at the Student Recreation Centre (including drop-in lunchtime volleyball and tennis clinics) and at the BirdCoop Fitness Centre
- UBC BodyWorks Fitness Centre offers personal training for as low as $37/session and memberships from as low as $35/month plus a 10% discount on annual basic memberships for UBC staff and faculty. Fitness Centre drop-ins are only $2/person from Mondays to Fridays between 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
- Free trial week pass and $17.99 bi-weekly for a 12-month membership at Gold’s Gym University Market Place
- 25% off adult Park Board Flexipasses at participating Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation facilities
- Take your first Hot Box Yoga class for free with your UBC employee ID card and get a monthly pass for $66/month
- 15% off YYoga 5 and 10-class passes, 1-month passes and annual passes
- 15 – 25% discount on monthly continuous memberships at the Richmond Olympic Oval
8. Participate in a Standing Desk Study through UBC’s Population Physical Activity Lab
Many office workers spend a high proportion of their work day sitting, often in prolonged unbroken bouts. The Population Physical Activity Lab in the School of Kinesiology at UBC is conducting a workplace intervention aimed at reducing employee sitting time through the provision of a low-cost standing desk.
If you are interested in trying out a standing desk, aged 18-65 years old, and sit at a desk at least three days a week, then you are invited to participate.
This study involves wearing an activity monitor and completing a few surveys – three times over a six-month period. You will receive $60 for your participation and be offered the standing desk to keep.
Click here for more information or if you’d like to sign up for this study, please email Dr. Guy Faulkner, CIHR-PHAC Chair in Applied Public Health, or Katie Weatherson, Research Assistant at email@example.com.
9. Book the MoveU Crew for your next class or meeting and get a fun movement break!
The MoveU Crew is a group of students who offer interactive breaks such as stretching, dancing, cheering, or other fun ways to give your body a break after long bouts of sitting. Book them now for free!
Stay tuned for more information on #MoveUBC month happening in February. Become a partner with Move UBC 2018 and share a space, spread the word or plan an event. Please complete the online form by January 12.
10. Walk around and discover campus
We are very fortunate to have such a large campus with many walking routes and nature trails.
Learn more about trails on the Okanagan campus.
Photo credit: UBC Communications and Marketing via UBC Thrive
- Puterman, E., Weiss, J., Beauchamp, M. R., Mogle, J., & Almeida, D. M. (2017, October 9). Physical Activity and Negative Affective Reactivity in Daily Life. Health Psychology. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/hea0000532
Posted in Healthy Path | Tagged Ergonomics, Healthy Path, participate, physical activity at ubc, physical health, Research, Travelling Healthy Fair, UBC, UBC Recreation, virtual health fair | Leave a response
By Miranda Massie on June 7, 2017
Where in the grown-up handbook does it say that we have to take ourselves seriously all of the time? Aside from the very obvious benefit of play (it’s fun!), there is a growing body of research linking play in adults to increased creativity, stress relief, positive relationships and increased co-operation.
Week 1: Go play outside
Grab a Frisbee, bocce set or soccer ball and venture outside. Take a 30-minute break to kick a ball around or enjoy a quick game with colleagues outside the office. These are great and inclusive low- or no-cost activities.
Week 2: Make it a family affair
Try exploring new ways to incorporate fitness into family time. You can play outdoor games, go on beachfront or neighbourhood explorations or play fitness games like the one shown in the video below. You can also take full advantage of walks and play time with pets. It can be exercise for you too!
Week 3: Explore the outdoors with lunchtime bootcamps
Enjoy UBC’s campus, beaches and trails while increasing your cardio, strength, core and flexibility. Start dates: June 21 and July 24.
Week 4: Find your friends
Want to explore the BC wilderness, but don’t know who to go with, where to go or what to do? Consider joining Wanderung, an email-based mailing list that helps connect you with others across the city to organize or join hikes and cycle trips.
By Miranda Massie on May 4, 2017
If someone had told me a few years ago that I would eventually be writing articles about sex for work, I probably wouldn’t have believed them! It was a common belief at the time (and for many still is), that it was okay to talk about certain aspects of health at work, but sex was definitely not one of them.
Personally, I don’t see how I can honestly and authentically do my job without acknowledging all of the facets of wellbeing that contribute to overall health. I may be biased by the fact that I have a background as a sexual health educator, but I like to dedicate at least one editorial a year to my often underrated, overlooked and sometimes stigmatized friend: sexual health. (Bonus: I get to come up with catchy, tongue-in-cheek titles!)
My top tips for getting re-acquainted with your sexual health
If you don’t use it, you might lose it.
As comical as it sounds, when it comes to sexual health, research says it’s true. Regular use and care for our reproductive parts and sexual organs helps to keep them, and their owners, healthy. Click here to learn more about the health benefits of keeping sexually active.
Parents: It’s going to be ok!
When you’re a parent, talking about sexual health with your kids can add another layer to a tricky topic, one that can provoke both anxiety and stress. For any parents or guardians out there looking for tips on how to talk about this topic with your kids, consider registering for our upcoming workshop:
Find study buddies
There’s a lot of research going on at UBC that relates to sexual health. One example is the UBC Sexual Health Laboratory. Consider signing up to take part in a study – the topics are varied and there are a range of participation options (online, in person, solo, with a partner, etc.). These are often wonderful opportunities to contribute to learning and research while discovering new things about yourself and your sexual health.
Avoid Dr. Google
When it comes to a topic like sexual health, my advice is avoid Google. Not only is there a lot of misinformation on the Internet, but search results can often be unreliable. Learn more about the dangers of Dr. Google here and see the suggestions below for more accurate online sources.
Seek out the right sources
As an alternative to Google, I recommend checking out the following resources for unbiased, non-judgmental sexual health information:
- SexandU: Rated one of the top 10 health websites in Canada, this site is run by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
- Options for Sexual Health: Educational resources for all ages and services available for free to all residents of BC.
- Scarleteen:Don’t be fooled by the teen/20’s label: This site has accessible information and advice for all ages.
- Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights:Like the World Health Organization, but for sexual health in Canada. Policy, research, advocacy and information.
- Experiencing a non-consensual or unwanted sexual experience can have negative impacts on your mental health and physical health and wellbeing. If you need to speak with someone, you can contact your EFAP at 1-800-361-5676 or learn about sexual assault resources at UBC. Information related to UBC’s new Policy on Sexual Assault and Other Sexual Misconduct will be disseminated in the coming weeks.
Sexual health is a broad and diverse realm of our wellbeing that can include intimacy, relationships, sexuality, gender, safety, reproduction and personal values. This month, I encourage you to have fun exploring what sexual health means to you.
All my best,