Sledding Safety

Sleds

So have you had enough snow yet? We’re forecasted to get another winter storm this Sunday, are you planning to snuggle up inside, or get outside with your family? Sledding has always been a huge favourite of kids and adults alike. Like many outdoor activities, there are some precautions that kids should take to ensure a fun and safe day on the hill!

 

Choosing the hill:

  • Select a hill that is not too steep and has a long flat area at the bottom for you to glide to a stop.
  • Avoid hillsides that end near a street or parking lot, near a pond, fences, trees, or other hazards.
  • Make sure the hill is free of obstacles such as jumps, bumps, rocks, poles, or trees before you begin sledding.
  • Choose hills that are snowy rather than icy. An icy slope makes for a hard landing if you fall off your sled.
  • Sled during the daytime, when visibility is better. If you go sledding at night, make sure the hillside is well lit and all potential hazards are visible.

 

Dress for winter:

  • Wear appropriate winter clothing — hats, gloves or mittens, snow pants, winter jacket, snow boots — that is waterproof and warm, and change into something dry if your clothes get wet. Bring extra mittens, as the hands tend to get the coldest and wettest, and mittens tend to be the first thing to get so wet that they become useless.
  • Wear a helmet designed for winter sports. If you don’t have a ski or winter sports helmet, at least wear the helmet you use for biking or skateboarding.

 

The Right Sled:

Try to choose a sled that can be steered and has brakes. Avoid those that can’t be steered, such as tubes, saucers, toboggans, or crazy carpets and never use a sled substitute like a cardboard box. Good sleds are relatively cheap to buy and are well worth the extra money.

 

Follow These Simple Safety Rules

You are dressed warmly, helmet has been adjusted, sled in hand, and you found that perfect hill. You’re ready to go. Here are some more safety tips to ensure a safe experience:

  • Assign an adult to be in charge in case of injury.
  • Always sit face-forward on your sled. Never sled down a hill backwards or while standing, and don’t go down the hill face-first, as this greatly increases the risk of a head injury.
  • Young kids (5 and under) should sled with an adult, and kids younger than 12 should be actively watched at all times.
  • Go down the hill one at a time and with only one person per sled (except for adults with young children).
  • Never build an artificial jump or obstacle on a sledding hill.
  • Keep your arms and legs within the sled at all times, and if you fall off the sled, move out of the way. If you find yourself on a sled that won’t stop, roll off it and get away from it.
  • Walk up the side of the hill and leave the middle open for other sledders.
  • Never ride a sled that is being pulled by a moving vehicle.

We want to hear from you: Where is your favourite sledding hill?

Ice Safety

One of the most popular winter activities is ice skating. Here in Halifax there are lots of options for skating: indoor arenas, outdoor rinks, the Oval, and ponds and lakes. Staying safe when skating on frozen bodies of water means being prepared for the cold, knowing the environment, and knowing what to do if an emergency arises. Cold-related injuries like frostbite and hypothermia are usually preventable, especially if the proper precautions are taken.

ice-hockey

A few things to do to be prepared for a cold day on the ice:
1) Know how to stay warm:

Dress in warm layers. Your base layer should be a sweat-wicking material like wool or synthetic materials like polyester or microfiber-based fabrics. This base layer will keep your skin dry, which helps to keep you warm. A mid layer should provide additional insulation and warmth, like fleece, down, or synthetic filler. Wool works well as a mid-layer as well. An outer layer should be water and/or windproof to keep you warm and dry.

Another thing to keep in mind when dressing for the cold is to keep your major heat-loss areas covered. This includes your head, neck, armpits and groin, so don’t forget your hat and scarf!

2) Check the thickness of the ice:

Ice needs to be thick enough to hold your own weight, or the weight of a group of people. The thickness of the ice will vary throughout the winter, and will depend on the body of water (depth, size, movement of water, any chemicals in the water like salt), and the changing air temperature. If you see gray ice, stay away—this indicates that there is water in or just below the ice surface.

Luckily there’s an easy way to check the thickness of the ice in our local lakes and ponds: the city of Halifax regularly checks the thickness and posts online at: https://apps.halifax.ca/icethickness which can be referred to before any outing onto the ice. The ice should be at least 15 cm for walking or skating alone, 20 cm for a group skate or game of hockey, and 25 cm or more if you’re planning to use a snowmobile on the ice.

3) Make sure everyone knows what to do in case of emergency:

a. In case of hypothermia, call for help, and get the person to warmth and get them out of wet clothing as soon as possible.
b. If you fall through the ice, kick your legs to push your torso onto the ice, avoiding pushing down on the ice as much as possible. Crawl on your stomach with your weight distributed as much as possible, and move quickly towards safety.
c. If someone else falls through the ice, move away from the broken ice and towards shore. Call for help, and try to reach the person with a branch, hockey stick, or length of rope. Have them kick their feet while you pull them out.

For more information, check out the red cross website at: http://www.redcross.ca/what-we-do/swimming-and-water-safety/swimming,-boating-and-water-safety-tips/ice-safety or consider taking an emergency first aid course.

Spending time outdoors skating and playing ice sports is a great way to keep yourself and your family active this winter. Take the proper precautions and have a great time this winter!

How to Properly Fit Goggles

The holiday season is in the air—are you looking for one more great gift? Or are you looking for one last stocking stuffer?

For the adult who loves to travel south to participate in water sports, consider a mask and snorkel! They can always use those from the resort, but how many peoples’ mouths have been on that snorkel? For the kids, a pair of goggles that don’t cover the nose can make swimming lessons much less of a struggle. A pair of simple goggles is best for kids still taking lessons because it helps them learn proper breathing patterns. A mask that covers the nose disrupts the pattern and makes it harder for kids to get the proper body positioning in the water.

OceanPro Bat mask and snorkel set

Everyone’s facial structure is different; we all have different eye and skull shapes and sizes. They make a ton of different types of goggles, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find a properly fitting pair. It takes a bit more time to get a proper fit, but it pays off when you don’t find yourself constantly having to readjust or empty your goggles in the pool. When fitting goggles bring them to the face without putting on the strap. You should be able to press them into your face and let go, and the goggles should not fall off right away. The longer they stay on when you’re not holding them, the less chance there is of them leaking when you get in the pool.

fit goggles

Once you have goggles that fit your face, you need to adjust the straps properly. Adjust the nose strap first. The nose strap should fit fine if you can put the goggles on your face as discussed above. Tighten the strap around the head so that it is firm, but not too tight.

Trouble-shooting your goggles: if your goggles are leaking, or if they are giving you a headache, then they don’t fit properly. Leaky goggles mean that your strap is too loose, the nose strap is too wide or too narrow, or they don’t fit your face shape. Goggles that give you headaches mean that your strap is too tight.

goggles

One more word on goggles: if your child is young and doesn’t mind the water on his or her eyes too much, send them to swimming lessons without their goggles. Too often they spend far too much time fussing with the goggles and not enough time learning to swim. If you child swims with you and doesn’t fuss at all with their goggles, it’s probably fine to go to swimming lessons with the goggles. And by the time kids start doing distances of 4 lengths of the pool or more (100 metres or more), you should think about getting them goggles so that they don’t start swimming into walls.

Fitness Trends in 2015

Have you been thinking about your New Year’s Resolutions yet? Is getting fitter or healthier on your list? If you’re looking to start or change your fitness routine, take a look at this list of the top twenty fitness trends for the coming year. Maybe you’ll find some inspiration for a new way to fit fitness into your healthy lifestyle. This list is compiled from the survey done annually by the American College of Sports Medicine.

bodyweight-training

image source

  1. Bodyweight Training: as people are concerned about how much they’re spending on fitness, it’s no surprise that bodyweight training is topping the list this year. Bodyweight training requires little or no equipment, and can be the least expensive way to improve your fitness. Though bodyweight training has been around forever, it has seen a resurgence in popularity thanks to new classes and clever marketing. This is definitely more than just push ups and pull ups!
  2. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): Possibly last year’s most popular fitness trend, High-Intensity Interval Training is a fast-paced workout that mixes short bursts of high-intensity exercise with short recovery times. HIIT is shown to be highly effective at burning calories and building muscle.
  3. Highly Qualified and Experienced Fitness Professionals: As the number of available fitness professionals increases, interest is high in those professionals who have earned a certification in the field of fitness and have a proven track record of getting results.
  4. Strength Training: Strength training has dropped down from the number two position since the 2013 trends list, but it is still a major trend in the fitness world. Everyone is encouraged to do some strength training, men and women of all ages from the very youngest to the oldest. Strength training can build stronger bones, help control weight and increase energy levels. It can also be worked into any sort of comprehensive fitness routine, regardless of preferred style of training.
  5. Personal training: What works for one person does not work for everyone, and more people are taking note of this. Hiring a personal trainer to develop a custom fitness plan that is tailored to your personal fitness preferences and needs can make a difference in achieving your goals. Having a personal trainer means there is also someone there to cheer you on and keep you accountable, two things that can also make a huge difference.
  6. Exercise and Weight Loss: The trend of emphasizing weight loss with specific exercise programs and diet plans is alive and well. Look for programs that balance sensible exercise with a sensible, sustainable diet plan, and diet plans that don’t restrict calories below what is necessary to fuel your exercise.
  7. Yoga: Not a surprise to see yoga on this trends list, as it continues to be a favourite within the fitness world. Yoga brings benefits to mind as well as body, and can help reduce stress, as well as build strength, flexibility, and balance. There are also many types of yoga to take advantage of, such as the traditional vinyasa or hatha yoga or the newer aerial or hot yoga.
  8. Older Adult Fitness: Though here at the Sportsplex we have been covering the older adult crowd for a long time, it seems more and more people in the 60+ age bracket are looking to get fit. Many places are now catering to those adults who don’t want to be in a class full of 20-somethings.
  9. Functional Fitness: functional fitness is meant to improve balance, coordination, strength and endurance for day-to-day life. This type of fitness is meant to duplicate the movements performed throughout the day, in order to make these activities easier as fitness improves.
  10. Group Personal Training: It has become more popular to hire a personal trainer as a group of 2-4 people. This reduces the cost for each person, but allows for the trainer to still provide individual attention.
  11. Worksite Health Promotion: As the cost of healthcare increases, and the effects of inactivity become more apparent, many employers are looking to reduce costs for sick leave and long-term absences by providing more health and wellness guidance at the workplace.
  12. Outdoor Activities: Spending time outside will never go out of style! Many fitness enthusiasts are spending time in the great outdoors doing such things as hiking, canoeing, kayaking, surfing, skiing, snowboarding or playing games or sports. Best of all, being active in the great outdoors can be done anytime, anywhere, and by yourself or in a group.
  13. Wellness Coaching: Wellness Coaching has seen a large increase since last year, where it was #17 on this list. This incorporates a look at the whole body-mind connection, and integrates behavioural science with promoting health, disease prevention and rehabilitation. Coaches provide support, guidance and encouragement, and focuses on the client’s values, needs, and goals. Wellness coaching is often incorporated into personal training services.
  14. Circuit Training: This style of training is where one performs 6-10 exercises in sequence, one after another. Each exercise is done for a certain number of repetitions or for time before moving on to the next exercise. Circuit training can be similar to HIIT training, but is usually performed at a lower intensity.
  15. Core Training: This training is focused on building strength in the muscles of the core, which includes the abdomen, thorax, and back. This improves the stability of the core, which makes many activities of daily living easier to perform. Equipment commonly used in this type of training includes stability balls, bosu balls, wobble boards or foam rollers.
  16. Sport-Specific Training: This style of training is kind of like functional training for sports. This style of training can be a way to improve performance in a specific sport. This would include improving throwing accuracy and speed for a baseball player on the off-season, or a hockey player doing some speed skating work in the off-season.
  17. Exercise for Children: with the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity, there is a trend towards providing exercise and activity opportunities for youth.
  18. Outcome Measurements: One thing you’ll probably see a lot of is the emphasis on doing measurements before training and after to see definite progress or result. This is largely increased with the prevalence of technology that can track data on exercises completed, heart rates, calories burned, and more.
  19. Worker Incentive Programs: Along with worksite health promotion initiatives, employers are providing incentives for their employees to engage in health-promoting activities. This is geared towards helping employees create healthy sustainable lifestyles.
  20. Boot Camps: this trend seems to be on its way out, but the premise of boot camps is to simulate a military style workout that includes cardio, strength, endurance and flexibility drills. This type of training is great for those who love intense, structured workouts.

What are your thoughts on this list? Is there anything you think it up-and-coming that this list missed? Let us know!

Sleep Well… Every Night!

Beautiful woman sleeping in bed peacefully at home in bedroom  Do you have problems falling asleep at night? During the hectic holiday season, getting enough restful sleep is essential. Rather than reaching for sleep aids try just 5 minutes of stretching before bed. Focusing on breath while stretching allows your body to relax and sheds unnecessary muscle tension.  You may also find that you sleep better though the night!

 

  1. Lay on your back. Take a deep breath out and draw your knees into our chest. Hold for three deep breaths, and release your knees. Repeat this a few times.

Back Stretch.gif

  1. Sit crossed legged. Rotate your torso to one side, and take a deep breath out. Roll your body down, aiming your forehead to your one knee. Stop once you feel a gentle stretch and hold for three slow breaths. Repeat towards the opposite side.

 

  1. Lay on your stomach with your forearms and hands on the ground beside you. Take a deep breath out, push from your forearms and arch your back. Hold for one breath and lower. Repeat three times.

Cobra pose

 

Practicing good “sleep hygiene” is important for getting a restful sleep every night. In addition to doing some light stretches and deep breathing, there are a few things that you can do to improve your sleep:

 

  • Avoiding stimulants like caffeine, alcohol and nicotine in the hours before bed.
  • Use the bedroom only for sleeping—watch tv, use the computer and do other activities in other rooms as much as possible. Avoid using the bedroom to do work-related activities.
  • Establish a pre-bedtime routine: try to do the same few things before you go to bed, such as a quick tidying of a room, preparing lunch for the next day, reading a book, or doing some journaling. The routine creates an association in the brain between those activities and sleeping.
  • Maintain a consistent schedule: as much as possible go to sleep and wake up at the same times each day. This will set your internal clock so that your body can learn when to start making hormones that make you feel sleepy.
  • Keep the bedroom cool and dark. Your body has a set temperature that is slightly lower when you sleep, and if your room is too hot your body has trouble getting to that point, and can make sleep difficult. A dark room helps the body to send sleep signals as well.

 

Sleep well!