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Articles & Workshops

How to Live Heart Healthy

Your heart is a muscle and needs to be worked, just like your other muscles, to make it stronger. When it comes to heart health, prevention is key. 8 out of 10 cases of premature heart disease can be prevented through lifestyle behaviours. Exercise is one of the key factors of heart health, and as a physiotherapist this discussion comes up daily in my practice. We all know that exercise is good for us, but did you know that it can:

Love Hormone (and Heart Rate Variability)

Have you heard about the love hormone? It’s called oxytocin, and research correlates high levels with being in-love, mother-infant bonding, trust, and empathy. Most research focuses on your brain as the production site of this hormone, but your heart actually produces and stores a significant amount of it. Your heart also produces other critical hormones, such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and Atrial Naturietic Peptide. The old idea that the heart is just a “pump”, has not served us well in medicine.

The heart has a direct connection to the brain via the Parasympathetic Nervous System, which some people refer to as the “Rest and Digest” state of the body. In fact, there are more nerves carrying heart signals to the brain than vice versa. What kinds of signals do you think it’s sending, and how much are these affecting your health? Your behavior? Your thoughts?

Your Limitless Living Community

Here’s the online community you’ve been searching for to support and encourage you to be the best you can be. Annual membership includes weekly coaching videos (intuitive eating, movement, motivation, strength training that makes sense), all designed to help women feel stronger, happier, and healthier. Their tool kit includes dozens of perks and offers from local businesses with mandates that align with these ideals. Limitless Living has only recently launched in Kingston and we’re so happy to be a part of this passionate, inspiring, and genuine community. Please check out their website or Facebook page.

Why Not to Make New Year’s Resolutions. And, what to try instead.

I don’t like to sound like a downer, but only about a quarter of Canadians who set new year’s resolutions will actually keep them in the long-run, according to a recent Ipsos poll. That means that if you’re one of 77% of people who make a resolution come the new year, then statistically, you’re more likely than not to keep it.

I’m personally not a fan of new year’s resolutions.

Unlikely Inspiration For Meaningful Change

In a few weeks I’ll be speaking at the South Eastern region Hospice Palliative Care conference about the value of integrative medicine for people who are dying. To help me prepare, I’ve been reading Die Wise by Stephen Jenkins, a philosophical and critical exploration of the phobia our culture has about death. This manifesto (as he calls it), would seem the least likely place for inspiration for New Year’s resolutions! In fact, of all the happiness and change-your-life books I’ve come across, this one offered me the deepest motivation and inspiration for making meaningful change in my life.

Get More this Christmas by Giving Less

The holiday season is officially upon us. We can’t deny it any longer.

For some people, this stirs up feelings of stress and anxiety.

The pressure is on to get the shopping done, put up the tree, hang the lights, decorate the house, prepare baking, wrap the presents, send out cards, attend work parties, visit the in-laws, keep the kids entertained, shovel the driveway, make the perfect dinner, travel, and, oh yes, if there’s any time left over, actually enjoy the season!

“Should I Get the Flu Shot?”

It’s a question asked of me frequently, and not an easy one to answer. A review of recent research suggests a decent 42% effectiveness for last year’s vaccine[i],[ii], but also with little to no impact on days of work lost, hospitalizations, or complications from influenza in generally healthy people[iii]. A review last year even noted lack of benefit to the elderly in long term care facilities when healthcare workers were routinely immunized [iv]. Despite the confusion, prevailing medical opinion continues to promote the flu shot as the best way to protect ourselves and the vulnerable members in our community. So, while I struggle to offer clear advice regarding the flu vaccine, here’s what I can tell you about the flu virus:

Food Drive for our Neighbours

Our neighbour, the Kingston Alliance Church, has very graciously shared their parking lot with us since we opened in 2009. Please help us thank them, by contributing to their weekly food community outreach program. Bring 3 or more soup food items to your next health appointment, and we’ll offer you a reuseable KIHC tote bag in exchange.

In particular, they’re in need of soup broths or stock (canned or tetra packs), soup started kits, and canned or dried vegetables or legumes (e.g. tomato, lentils, beans, peas).

The Big Three to Relieve Low Back Pain

Back pain plagues four out of five Canadians at some point throughout their lifespan. It can be quite debilitating, and affects basic tasks throughout your day. Often clients describe how their back pain started, perhaps by reaching down to grab something off the floor or by twisting and reaching. This is often the straw that broke the camels back, however the true problem likely started many years before. We are very good at creating compensations and moving to get away from a problem. Over time compensating can create more wear and tear somewhere else in the body. Therefore, it is essential to have a look at how people are moving as a whole while comparing their movement to the local pain and dysfunction. This comprehensive view will give a clear picture as to larger movement problems or compensations that may be contributing to the acute problem and pain.

Recently, on CBC radio, a story featured Stuart McGill’s Big Three exercises to relieve back pain. Clinically, I use these exercises very frequently, even for people that may be having shoulder pain or even knee or ankle pain.

Mindful Forgiveness: Finding Peace in the Hurt

 

For many, forgiveness is viewed as a way of giving in, making allowances or excuses, letting another person “win,” or showing weakness.

For the unforgiving, grudges are held, intense emotions are clung onto with a sense of desperation, for the purpose of fighting back, trying to obtain justice, or somehow attempting to prove a point or change what was done in the past.

However, resisting forgiveness in this way is exhausting, defeating, and ultimately, a way of letting the other person take control over you.