Nothing puts the spring back into my step quite like a pristine pair of sneakers. The only problem? Every time I step inside one of those mammoth, barn-like sports stores to invest in some fancy new footwear, I’m utterly overwhelmed by the options. Should I get toning shoes or trainers? Runners or walkers? And how about those high-tech bells and whistles that put the meagre features of my mobile phone to shame?
To help take some of the guesswork out of shoe shopping, I asked Canadian Living readers from across the country to give me a hand (or should I say foot?) in taking some of the industry’s best-selling options for a trial run.
After pounding the pavement (and hitting the gym!), here’s what we found!
The buzz: These ultra-flexible running shoes (designed as Nike’s answer to the burgeoning barefoot-running trend) feature a multi-layer mesh upper for a lightweight fit.
The review: “Far and away, the coolest shoe I’ve ever worn. And I mean that literally: the breathable mesh construction delivers natural air conditioning – you can actually feel the breeze – no matter how hot and heavy your workout. That same mesh construction means these shoes are incredibly lightweight, lending a ‘barely-there’ feel without sacrificing the support you need from a running shoe.” - Brett Walther
The buzz: These toning shoes bring an element of resistance training to your run, targeting calf and gluteus medius muscles. Wedge-shaped rocker bottoms help create a more fluid stride and reduce impact on joints.
The review: “Stylish enough to wear with casual clothes – and not just when working out – these are comfortable once you get used to the elevation: the soles are much taller than any other runners I've owned. I definitely felt the resistance in my calf muscles on my morning runs, and just by having them, I feel motivated to work out more.” – Erica G.
The buzz: These toning shoes are suited for gym-based exercise and feature air-filled pods at both heel and toe that alternately inflate and deflate when walking, working leg and buttock muscles.
The review: “As a certified Zumba instructor, these shoes were great for the high-energy, high-impact classes I teach. I also got lots of compliments on how stylish they were from the girls in class! Probably the best athletic shoe I’ve ever had.” – Lisa G.
The buzz: It’s impossible to miss the ZigTech running shoes, with their patented lightweight foam cushioning system. These runners also boast SmoothFit smooth-seamed comfort with moisture-control inner lining.
The review: “I was in a bad car accident two years ago, and it’s been hard to find the right shoes since. One of the things I’ve found is that chronic body pain means never buying cheap shoes again and these are well worth the investment - comfortable and supportive for my feet and lower-back, too. And I got lots of compliments on them – super-sporty, of course, but the splash of pink on black is really cute paired with black leggings.”– Jenny W.
What shoes get you most geared up for a summer workout?
Heart disease and stroke are one of the leading causes of death for Canadian women—and risk factors, symptoms and even treatment might vary by age. Here's what you need to know.
It was Dec. 13, 2014. I was getting ready to go out for dinner when suddenly everything went wrong. I lost coordination, almost like I was drunk. I went numb, as if the local anesthetic that dentists use had been applied to half of my body. My arm went limp, I could barely walk and, out of the blue, I got a raging migraine. At 31 years old, I was in the midst of a transient ischemic attack, often called a ministroke, but I had no idea.
It wasn't until the next day, when I was feeling only slightly better, that I realized something was really wrong. I didn't want to wait for an appointment with my family doctor, so I called Telehealth Ontario, the provincial service that connects callers to a registered nurse via telephone. In the very back of my mind, I wondered if I'd had a stroke—but I was too young, or so I thought. But when I described my symptoms, it became clear that I wasn't too young. In fact, the nurse who took my call was worried enough to send paramedics to my house. Soon, I was in the back of an ambulance, rushing through Toronto's busy streets on the way to the hospital.
The statistics Luckily, my stroke was mild, and, in July 2015, I underwent surgery to have a patent foramen ovale closure device inserted to close the hole in my heart. But, to this day, I'm still shocked at how little I knew about the risks associated with stroke and heart disease, or just how common they are. As I soon learned, about 1.6 million Canadians—557,000 of them women over the age of 24—report having cardiovascular disease. And, according to a study looking at factors and behaviours affecting cardiovascular health published in 2013 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, fewer than one in 10 adult Canadians were in ideal cardiovascular health from 2003 to 2011, which means 90 percent of us are making choices that are increasing our risk for a cardiovascular event. In fact, heart disease and stroke is one of the leading causes of death for Canadian women, and most of us have at least one risk factor.
It's a club that I didn't particularly want to be a part of, but having joined, I began wondering what other women's experiences had been like.
Unlike me, when Victoria resident Carolyn Thomas started having a range of symptoms— crushing chest pain, nausea, weakness, sweating and a persistent ache down her left arm—on her 58th birthday, she immediately thought it could be a heart attack and went straight to the ER. But when she got there and told the doctor on duty about her symptoms, he said it was just acid reflux. "I remember exactly what he said," she recalls. " 'You're in the right demographic for acid reflux. Go home and call your family doctor for a prescription for antacids.' " Embarrassed and apologetic, she did just that. But her symptoms persisted for two more weeks. She eventually went back to the hospital, and this time, she was told she was suffering from what was actually one of the most serious types of heart attacks—a complete blockage of her left anterior descending artery, which is often referred to as the widow-maker.
Since then, she has recovered, but it's far from full—she had to retire early and continues to see a specialist at her regional pain clinic.
Irmine MacKenzie also went to the hospital immediately. It's been 35 years since the New Waterford, N.S., resident lost the use of her left arm and leg after suffering a stroke caused by carotid artery stenosis, narrowing of the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the brain. She was 61 years old and, having just finished eating breakfast with her husband, John, she headed to the kitchen to tackle the dishes. Suddenly, plates started dropping from her hands, shattering as they hit the floor.
After a six-week hospital stay and a three-month stint in a rehabilitation program in Halifax, she eventually learned to walk again. Her ability to manage quite well over the past three decades is clearly a testament to her grit— and maybe some kind words from a stranger. "I won't ever forget the ambulance driver who took me to the rehabilitation centre," she says. "He told me, 'We're taking you by stretcher now, but you'll be walking out of there with a cane.' " Sure enough, that's exactly what she did.
A better understanding It has now been two years since I suffered my transient ischemic attack, and I feel like I'm still learning about heart health. I now understand the importance of cardiac rehabilitation, for one thing. When I had my stroke, I didn't know this kind of program existed—my cardiologist didn't refer me to one, but having access to dedicated professionals in a safe, encouraging environment could have helped me navigate the health-care system and guided me toward healthier choices.
One thing I found myself, Carolyn and Irmine echoing is how, as women, we must advocate for ourselves in the health-care system, ensuring that our voices are heard and our health is looked after. We need to put ourselves first, without shame or guilt. As Dr. Paula Harvey, director of the cardiovascular research program at Women's College Hospital in Toronto, says, "It comes back to education and partnership with your health provider. Don't be afraid to ask questions and be informed."
Heart health by the decade Nearly two-thirds of all heart attacks and strokes occur in Canadians 65 or older, but younger Canadians are increasingly at risk. Here's what you need to know at every age.
In your 20s and 30s: Young people with heart-health issues are part of a growing minority. A study published in 2012 out of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine found that, over a period of 12 years, strokes among people aged 20 to 54 made up an increasingly greater proportion of strokes across all age groups, growing from about 13 percent in 1993–94 to 19 percent in 2005.
Closer to home, the Heart and Stroke Foundation says several studies predict that the rate of strokes among younger adults will double in the next 15 years. The main reason? According to Dr. Tara Sedlak, a cardiologist at Vancouver General Hospital and clinical assistant professor at The University of British Columbia, it comes down to lifestyle—high stress levels, poor eating habits, lack of exercise and smoking. Research bears this out: The University of Cincinnati study suggested that a rise in lifestyle-related risk factors (such as diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol) may contribute to a higher incidence of stroke.
But there is a way to turn the tide: As with other age groups, simple changes such as exercising regularly, quitting smoking and eating healthily could see the rates of cardiovascular disease—and, more specifically, stroke—decrease, says Dr. Paula Harvey, director of the cardiovascular research program at Women's College Hospital in Toronto.
In your 40s and 50s: Cardiovascular disease is less common among younger women, in part because of their higher estrogen levels; the hormone offers some protection to the arteries. But as women approach menopause and their estrogen levels drop, the incidence of stroke and heart attack increases.
Unfortunately, broad knowledge of their increased risk may not protect perimenopausal women from misdiagnosis. According to research by the Canadian Medical Protective Association, which provides advice, legal assistance and risk-management education to 95,000 Canadian physicians, doctors are missing the signs of stroke in patients nearly 10 percent of the time, largely because symptoms are often nonspecific—patients often complained of headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.
And women, who have historically been less inclined to advocate for themselves, are particularly at risk. Research out of the University of Leeds in England showed that, between April 2004 and March 2013, 198,534 heart attack patients at National Health Service hospitals in England and Wales were initially misdiagnosed—and most of them were women. During that time, women suffering a heart attack were 50 percent more likely to be misdiagnosed compared to men.
It might be difficult to challenge doctors who tell you nothing's wrong, but Dr. Sedlak encourages women to listen to their bodies and to be firm with health-care providers about what they're experiencing. "If you feel there is a real problem, be persistent," she says.
In your 60s and beyond: Women over 65 have the most strokes of all age groups, but they still have fewer strokes than men the same age. However, a Danish study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in 2015 found that, after 60, women tend to have more serious strokes than men—and they're more likely to survive, which can have serious repercussions on quality of life.
John Sawdon, the public education and special projects director of the Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada, explains that cardiac rehabilitation programs, which are free with a referral from your doctor, are the perfect next step for recovering cardiac patients of all ages, but they're particularly important for older Canadians, who tend to live more sedentary lives. These programs are supervised by a cardiologist and, after an assessment, are tailored by your cardiac rehab team, which usually includes nurses, physical therapists, kinesiologists and social workers. They can provide exercise training, education on heart-healthy living and stress counselling—all of which can contribute to the health and well-being of people who have heart problems. And they're effective, too: "Research has shown that those completing cardiac rehab live seven years longer than control groups," says Sawdon. It also "reduces incidence of another heart attack by 50 percent."
What's your risk? Ninety percent of adult Canadians have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. But while factors such as obesity, hypertension, alcohol abuse, family history and ethnicity increase everyone's risk, regardless of gender, the following three are particularly relevant to women.
Smoking: While we all know that smoking is seriously unhealthy, it can be especially damaging to women's cardiovascular health. Smoking when taking the oral contraceptive pill can drastically increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. But quitting can cut your risk within a year.
Diabetes: According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, people with diabetes are at a very high risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In fact, "they may develop heart disease 10 to 15 years earlier than individuals without diabetes."
Mental illness and stress: "Women have a higher frequency of stress-induced heart disease, and women's hearts are affected by stress and depression more than men's," says Dr. David Fitchett, a cardiologist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto and associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto.
Heart health dictionary
Atherosclerosis: When arteries narrow and harden due to plaque buildup.
Cardiomyopathhy: Diseases of the heart muscle, which cause it to become enlarged, thick or rigid.
Cardiovascular disease: A broad term for problems with the heart and blood vessels, often due to atherosclerosis. These conditions can lead to heart attack, angina or stroke.
Heart attack: Also known as a myocardial infarction, these attacks happen when the flow of blood to a section of the heart is blocked, preventing the muscle from getting oxygen.
High blood pressure: Also called hypertension, this is when the long-term force of blood against artery walls is elevated, requiring the heart to work harder, which may eventually lead to heart disease.
Microvascular angina: A disease of the small coronary artery blood vessels. Many angiograms do not view the small blood vessels, so this can be difficult to diagnose.
Spontaneous coronary artery dissection: A tear in the coronary artery wall. Physical or emotional stress appears to play a role. Most cases (around 70 percent) occur in women under 50—and a third of those are pregnant or postpartum women.
Stroke: When the blood supply to a portion of the brain is interrupted. This can happen when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain either bursts or is blocked.
Want an in-demand job with a healthy future? Look no further than the skilled trades in Canada. "There is an incredible amount of opportunity in the trades industry in Canada right now," says Peter Harris, editor-in-chief of Workopolis, who reports on trends and changes in the Canadian job market.
"Trades workers need not be subject to the boom-and-bust cycles of provincial economies, because trades jobs are evergreen and also come with a great deal of freedom of mobility," he says. For example, in every city across the country, homeowners are always looking for reliable, affordable work on their homes: renovation, plumbing, electrical, roofing and more, says Harris.
Positions in the skilled trades offer another bonus: These roles are far more insulated from being sent offshore and to automation, says Harris. "[These are] the two biggest threats to many career paths," he says. Furthermore, Canada faces a shortage of one million tradespeople by 2020, as many people in that field will be retiring, he says. "The average age of welders is 57, and large numbers of trades workers across the board are also into their 50s."
Defining the "best" trade is highly subjective; it depends on where you live and what you consider most valuable: lots of demand, high pay, flexibility to set your own hours or whatever you feel is vital to a good job. That said, based on the job opportunities being posted online in the skilled trades, Harris says the most sought-after employees are in these five vocations.
1. Construction workers Whether it be working on new home construction, infrastructure (like roads) or commercial enterprises, construction workers are in high demand in Canada. Construction is considered a cornerstone of Canadian industry and it represents about seven percent of the Canadian workforce, according to the Canadian Construction Association. While positions may be plentiful, construction work is often seasonal and contract-based.
2. Vehicle repair In the past year, the number of job postings for the mechanic trades has spiked 94 percent over June 2013, says Harris. As anyone who has ever owned a car knows, auto mechanics tend to be perennially busy. According to Human Resources Skills Development Canada, this job is also called automotive service technician, helpful keywords if you're searching for post-secondary education programs, which tend to use this title instead of "car mechanics."
3. Maintenance worker Although maintenance work comprises a very broad array of specialties, these jobs are in high demand across the country, says Harris. Not just hands-on repair (although it can include these skills), maintenance work encompasses operations, planning and information management skills as well. These jobs are posted under a variety of names, such as maintenance technician, maintenance mechanic, maintenance specialist and, of course, maintenance worker.
4. Electricians Electricity is vital to life as we know it in Canada. Licensed electricians lay out, assemble, install, test, troubleshoot and repair electrical wiring, fixtures, control devices and related equipment in buildings and other structures, according to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. Electricians are highly sought-after in commercial, industrial and residential spheres. There are many positions open with electrical contractors, maintenance companies and industries, and there are also ample self-employment opportunities.
5. Heavy machinery operators (such as a backhoe, bulldozer) Wherever there's a freshly paved road or newly built construction, a heavy machinery operator isn't far behind. Operators work backhoes, bulldozers, graders and other heavy-duty construction vehicles. Another term that describes this trade is heavy equipment operator, which is the terminology post-secondary schools and colleges use to designate program offerings. Like construction work, these roles can be plentiful across the nation, but also tend to be seasonal.
Materials:â€¨ • 4 balls (100 g/83 m each) KPC Yarns Novomerino Chunky in Wicker • Set of 7 mm needles (or size needed to obtain tension) • 1 double-pointed needle (DPN) • 2 stitch markers • Scrap yarn • Crochet hook • Tapestry needle Tension: 6 sts = 2.5 cm/1 inch in twisted rib stitch using 7 mm needles.
To save time, take time to check tensions.
Pattern Notes: Twisted rib stitch (worked over an even number of stitches): Row 1 and Row 2: *K1 tbl, p1 tbl* repeat to end of row. Repeat Rows 1 and 2.
Casting on: The Honey Stitch Cowl is cast on using the provisional cast on, which leaves the cast-on stitches "live." Because they're "live" and not closed off as with a regular cast on, we can later pick them up and seam them together with the stitches on the needle. There are several ways to work the provisional cast on. My favourite method involves using a crochet hook and a scrap piece of yarn to make a crochet chain. The cast on stitches are then knitted directly onto the crochet chain, which acts as a holder for the cast on stitches. Once you've finished your cowl you can unravel the crochet chain, which reveals the "live" cast on stitches. These are then picked up on a needle and seamed together with the other stitches on your needle using the three-needle bind off.
Three-needle Bind Off: This bind off joins two sets of "live" stitches together in a neat, secure seam. As the name suggests, it requires three needles: one needle holds the cast on stitches, the other holds the stitches at the end of the cowl, and the third needle is used to knit the stitches on both needles in order to bind them off into a seam.
• With the two needles clapped together and the right sides of the cowl facing each other, insert the third needle into the first stitch on the needle closest to you as if to knit. Insert the third needle into the first stitch on the needle in the back. There are now two stitches on the third needle. Bring the working yarn around the third needle as if to knit and bring the yarn through both stitches on both needles. * There is now one stitch on the third needle. â€¨â€¨Repeat the instructions between * and * until you have two stitches on the needle. Then, using your fingers or one of the needles holding the stitches, bring the first stitch on the third needle over the second stitch. One stitch has been bound off. â€¨â€¨Continue to knit one stitch through two stitches on your needles and bind off on the third needle until you have one stitch left on your third needle. Cut the yarn and weave through the last stitch. Notice that you have created a nice, sturdy seam that joins your cast on stitches with the last stitches on your cowl.
Abbreviations: k = knit k1 tbl = knit 1 through the back loop p1 tbl = purl 1 through the back loop sl = slip sm = slip marker st(s) = stitch(es) * * = Repeat instructions between * and * the number of times indicated
Directions: Using provisional cast on, cast on 40 sts.
Count 12 sts from beginning of row and place marker. Count 16 sts from first marker and place second marker.
Row 1 (wrong side): Sl1 purlwise, *k1 tbl, p1 tbl* repeat until you reach 1 st before the first marker, k1 tbl, sm. Purl across sts to second marker, sm. *K1 tbl, p1 tbl* repeat to end of row.
Row 2 (right side): Sl1 knitwise, *p1 tbl, k1 tbl* repeat until you reach 1 st before the first marker, p1 tbl, sm. *Slip 1 st to DPN and hold in back, k1, k the st from the DPN. Slip next st to DPN and hold in front, k1, k the st from DPN* repeat until you reach the second marker, sm. *P1 tbl, k1 tbl* repeat to end of row.
Row 3 (wrong side): repeat Row 1.
Row 4: (right side): Sl1, *p1 tbl, k1 tbl* repeat until you reach 1 st before the first marker, p1 tbl, sm. *Slip 1 st to DPN and hold in front, k1, k the st from DPN. Slip next st to DPN and hold in back, k1, k the st from DPN* repeat until you reach the second marker, sm. *P1 tbl, k1 tbl* repeat to end of row.
Repeat Rows 1 to 4 until cowl reaches 128 cm/50.3 inches or desired circumference.
Finishing Transfer 40 cast-on sts from scrap yarn onto tapestry needle. With right sides facing together, bind off using the three-needle bind off.
Weave in all loose ends and enjoy!
Note about yarns: Unfortunately, KPC Yarn is only available online. It's stocked in a retail store in Hong Kong. However, there are a number of other yarn options for Canadians; look for a chunky weight yarn. Berroco Vintage Chunky and Debbie Bliss Rialto Chunky are very similar to the KPC chunky in gauge. Alternatively, consult your local yarn store.
Davina Choy reluctantly picked up knitting at 14, under the instruction of a family friend. Learn how an afternoon of knitting turned into a lifelong passion for Choy.
On those cold, wintry days when you need somethingwarm around your face, grab your knitting needles, hibernate for a weekend and knit up The Stone and Arrow Winter Set. Designed in bulky yarn, The Arrow Headband and The Stone Scarf come together in a snap. And with simple repeating patterns, they're perfect for confident beginners looking to expand their knitting skills.
The Stone Scarf got its name from its 3D texture, created by alternating knits and purls, that resembles a stonewall. The quirky stone-like bumps are tempered by a garter-stitch border and a slipped selvedge for a tidy edge.
• 2 balls (each 150 g/225 m) Schachenmayr SMC Tweed Montage* in Dusty Ranch (actual amount used for scarf: approx. 322 m)
• A 7-mm knitting needle
*If you are having difficulty finding the Schachenmayr SMC Tweed yarn, try Noro Obi or Noro Kama. Both are available online and can be shipped to Canada. Both give very similar stitch gauge and have a nice gradual colour change.
Lana Gross Medio is also very close in colour. This yarn can also be purchased online, but be advised that the shipping costs may be hefty. Lana Gross Medio is thinner than what the pattern calls for, so if you decide to use this yarn you should cast on 34 sts instead of 24, and follow the pattern exactly as it’s written. The width will be roughly the same.
14 sts/25 rows = 10 cm/4 inches in Basket Welt Stitch
Basket Welt Stitch:
Rows 1 and 2: Sl1, k1 *p5, k5* repeat to last 2 sts, k2.
Row 3: Sl1, knit all stitches to end of row.
Rows 4 and 5: Sl1, k1 *k5, p5* repeat to last 2 sts, k2.
Row 6: Sl1, k1, purl to last 2 sts, k2.
Repeat Rows 1 to 6 for pattern stitch.