What a great month to celebrate physical activity! May is often the kick off to summer. People make plans to open cottages, go camping and we start to think more about how to spend our time outside, starting with the first long weekend of the season.

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. The campaign is to encourage physical activity and healthy habits. It works to engage, educate, and empower everyone to embrace a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity. Physical activity is important for one’s health, and it can be more fun than you think!

Currently, 59% of adult Canadians are either overweight or obese. Not only is obesity a problem with adults, but also children. Approximately 26% of Canadian children are currently overweight or obese.  Therefore, having a regular exercise routine is as important as eating well.

Physical Activity and Nutrition

In order for your muscles to grow and to improve your strength, you need to feed them the right balance of macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) so they can effectively repair and recover from the strains placed on them during exercise.

Pre workout

Muscles need to be ready to work before vigorous activity. To help prepare muscles, before-workout you should be well hydrated (water) and your snack/meals should contain carbohydrates and some protein. Carbs in fruits, vegetables and grain-foods are important because they convert into muscle glycogen. Glycogen is the energy that keeps you from “hitting the wall”. Meals should also include protein, preferably animal source proteins such as meat, eggs, or milk.

How to start your early morning workout?

One hour before have 60g (2 oz) of whole grain cereal, 250 ml (1 cup) of milk and ½ banana with 250 ml (8 oz) of water. If you have less than one hour before work-out time, try one portion (175g)  of fruit yogurt and 250 ml (8 oz) of water.

Post workout

Drink (water, naturally sweetened juice, coconut water and/or milk) until you’re no longer thirsty to replace the water loss during activity. To re-energize after a workout, feed your muscles within 30 minutes. Carbohydrates help replenish energy reserves, while proteins repair the muscles used in exercise and it makes you feel full. A snack is the best way to get the carb/protein combo into your body in this short time period.

Easy to prepare carb-protein recovery meals include:

  • Fruit smoothie made with yogurt or milk
  • ½ turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with a piece of fruit
  • Chocolate milk and a small handful of trail mix (almonds, walnuts and dried cranberries).

Keep in mind, it is better to consume smaller portions of protein throughout the day and with each meal, rather than consuming a large amount of protein before or after exercise.

What nutrients do these foods have for you post workout?

  • chocolate milk (for post workout snack for the water, protein, electrolytes and carbohydrates)
  • oatmeal (for the post workout morning meal for the carbohydrates, fibre and B vitamins)
  • salmon (for the post workout evening meal for the protein, iron, vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids)

The Happy Triangle for Health – Exercise, Nutrition and Sleep

Exercise, nutrition and sleep make up a healthy triangle to prevent lifestyle diseases such as obesity. Obesity and sleep deprivation are concurrent issues; lack of sleep has been shown to be a risk factor for obesity. Why? When people are tired, grehlin (the hormone that makes us feel hungry) can become more active and we feel ‘hungrier’. Therefore, we can easily overeat as that mechanism to say “you’re full, stop eating!” may not be functioning as well when we have had adequate sleep. Fatigue can enhance symptoms of depression and when our energy levels drop, we often reach for something extra sweet or with extra caffeine to give us a boost. This will cause our energy to spike and subsequently plummet which is not a good pattern to develop. Have a few healthy carb/protein combo snacks and lots of water on hand for days when sleep has been limited. Stay tuned to this interesting research.

Remember

  • Healthy nutrition, regular exercise, and enough sleep leads to improved brain health balance and can help increase your metabolism.
  • This improves your ability to burn calories and reduce excess body weight.
  • Keep the triangle on track, enjoy and have fun during (and after) physical activity month!