It’s one of the most common tips you hear about how to squeeze a little more physical activity into your day: Take the stairs. With all we now know about the “sitting disease,” you’d think we’d all step to it. And, yet, taking elevators and escalators can be one of the most difficult habits to break.
If you’ve ever wondered why you made a snap decision to get on an escalator when you could have taken the stairs right next to it, a new study might shed some light. It turns out that if the escalator is very far away from the stairs—100 percent away—you’ll take the stairs.
If, like many North Americans, you come up woefully short of the recommended 10,000 steps a day we should all be taking, giving up escalators could really make a difference to your health.
Researchers from Montreal’s Concordia University and Beijing’s Peking University wanted to test the theory that side-by-side escalators and stairs tend to funnel pedestrians away from the calorie burning option, the stairs.
They set up shop in seven shopping centres in downtown Montreal and monitored 13 stairways and 12 pairs of escalators, according to a press release. They counted a total of 33,793 pedestrians over 35 days during two time periods, 10:30 a.m. to noon, and 12:30 pm to 2:30 p.m., according to a press release.
Out of sight, out of mind When the escalator was far away from the stairs, shoppers were more about 70 percent more likely to take the stairs going up. And about 20 percent more likely to take the stairs going down, according the study, recently published in the journal Environment and Behavior.
Senior author John Zacharias, who conducted the study while a faculty member in the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment at Concordia and who is now a professor at the University of Peking, suggested that architects and builders could create real health benefits by taking these findings into account.
In the meantime, it's something to consider the next time you're about to step on the escalator. Look for the nearest stairs, of course.
For the baseball buff
If your partner already has a Blue Jays hat and jersey surprise him with this handsome—and darn right cute—blue jay pin. This tiny treasure will allow him to sport some pride on the lapel of his jacket or event suit.
For the Clean Freak
If the smell of synthetic pine won’t cut it for your man (you got a keeper) gift him with a car smell that's more refined, and customizable. Infuse his vehicle with his favourite essential oil blend to feel soothed, uplifted and refreshed while you're on the road.
For the gym rat
Do you lift bro? Well if your man does then headphones, sans strap, will make all the difference while he’s pumping iron. These wireless Jaybird in-ear bluetooth sport headphones are sweatproof, which means no slipping our of your ears, and offer a long battery life, eight hours, before it needs a charge.
For the coffee addict
Does your main squeeze appreciate a strong cup of coffee every morning? Buy him this french press with a cute little message, he’ll be sure to think of you fondly before he starts his day.
Brewed with love french press, $39.50, indigo.com.
For the fitness fanatic
This stylish little band automatically tracks steps, distance, calories and sleep. If your man is a triathlete this fitness tracker is swim proof and it also uses a replaceable battery (that lasts up to six months), so you'll have no hassle with daily charging after a training session.
For the fragrance aficionado
If your man has more than five fragrances, that he actually alternates between, that means he’s a fragrance guy. Try gifting him with the newest scent from Clean; Black Leather. The juice is a spicy blend of smoky musk, bergamot and black peppercorn.
For the bearded hipster
A freshly laundered man is something any woman can get behind, so consider this gift a win win. Give him this trio of male grooming essentials: facial cleanser, beard conditioning shave lube and beard oil.
For the music man
If your paramour is into his beats and always on the move gift him with this retro looking amp shaped portable speaker, the smallest from the music minded brand. It’s got a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that will allow him to blast his tunes for a solid 25 hours before needing a charge.
Oversized blanket scarves are the best winter accessory you can have in your closet. They are versatile and stylish, all while keeping you warm when faced with cold winter temperatures. Here are 15 soft blanket scarves add style to your cold weather ensembles, all under $100!
Your body needs some sugar to function, but Canadians, who consume the equivalent of 26 teaspoons of the sweet stuff every day, are probably overdoing it. We break down what too much sugar does to your body, and how you can cut back.
Good news for those with sweet tooths: Glucose is our main source of fuel, so, yes, we actually do need sugar in our diets. But don't get too excited— they're not all alike.
"All carbohydrate-containing foods, whether candy, pop, fruit, vegetables or grain products, break down into glucose in our bloodstream," says Patricia Chuey, a Vancouver-based registered dietitian. "But our bodies respond differently when we get sugar from nutrient-dense, fibre-rich foods, eaten as part of a balanced meal that contains protein, compared to 'empty' calories from zero-nutrient, fibre-less foods."
Those carb-heavy, low-nutrient foods cause our blood-sugar, or glucose, levels to spike, triggering the release of insulin in response. One of insulin's jobs is to move glucose from the blood to our liver, muscle and fat cells for storage, and when there's more in our bloodstream than what our bodies need for energy, it can end up as stored fat—"even though fat, per se, wasn't consumed," says Chuey. That's partially why excess sugar consumption is linked to fatty liver disease, as well as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Fibre-rich, nutrient-dense foods, on the other hand, break down more slowly, so they don't cause as much of a blood-sugar spike, or the resulting weight gain.
That doesn't mean you have to skip your favourite sweet indulgences entirely. What we know today is that moderation is key—a little sugar won't hurt you.
But, for the most part, Canadians are not consuming a little sugar. According to Statistics Canada, on average, 22 to 26 percent of our total daily caloric intake consists of sugar. Put another way, that's an average of 110 grams, or 26 teaspoons, per day. And it's not just how much; experts are also concerned about where it comes from.
"Whole foods that are sweet, like fruit, can be good sources of vitamins, minerals and fibre, which can contribute to overall health," says Gita Singh, a research assistant professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Boston's Tufts University.
It's added sugar, regardless of the source, that's the problem. You'll find it in processed foods, such as many breads, soups, salad dressings and pasta sauces. And then there's pop, sports drinks and fruit drinks, which experts collectively refer to as sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). These drinks are among the top causes of obesity and its attendant ailments, which include heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer and other chronic diseases. In fact, Singh coauthored a report published in the medical journal Circulation that estimates SSB consumption is partially responsible for the diabetes-, cancer- and cardiovascular disease–related deaths of 1,600 Canadians each year.
The fact that SSBs are a leading source of excess sugar in our diets is galling but encouraging. That's because the solution is straightforward: Stop, or at least cut back on, drinking them.
Chuey says you can further reduce the added sugar in your diet by avoiding convenience foods that list sugar (or maltose, corn syrup, cane sugar or honey) among the first three ingredients; swap your caramel macchiato for a latte; and top plain yogurt with fresh fruit. The less sugar you consume, the less you'll end up craving.
But when you do indulge, go all in. "Apply the pleasure maximization principle," says Chuey. "Make it really worth it! Not in terms of quantity, but the kind of quality that will really satisfy." So skip the soda fountain. But those homemade cookies? Enjoy!
YOUR BODY ON SUGAR
Click on image for larger view. Illustrations, thenounproject.com.
There are lots of table sugar subs on the market, but how do they stack up, health-wise?
Stevia: Zero calories per teaspoon
Stevia is a zero-calorie, fructosefree option.
Date sugar: 11 calories per teaspoon
Date sugar contains all the fibre and nutrients found in the dried fruit.
Coconut sugar: 15 calories per teaspoon
Made from the sap of coconut-tree flowers, coconut sugar has the same calorie count as table sugar, but it's lower on the glycemic index.
Agave nectar: 15 calories per teaspoon
Agave nectar is about 1 1/2 times sweeter than refined sugar, so you can use less. But it's high in fructose (hello, blood-sugar spikes!).
Chocked full of vitamins and nutrients, adding kale - both raw and cooked - to your snacks and meals can provide you with great health benefits! Find out which ones:
Although kale seems like just another trend that people are going crazy over, and looks like any other leafy green in the stores, you shouldn't pass it up! Kale contains multiple vitamins and all the good stuff to keep your body happy and healthy when incorporated into a well-balanced diet.
1. It's good for your bones.
One of the vitamins in kale is vitamin K. Deficiencies of this vitamin, or even just low intakes of it can be linked to a higher risk for bone fracture. According to Medical News Today, when you get enough vitamin K in your diet, it acts as a modifier of bone proteins and helps your bones absorb calcium. You get the most out of this vitamin if you pass on cooking up your kale and consuming it raw, like in a salad or smoothie!
2. It promotes heart health.
Kale contains fibre, potassium and vitamins C and B6 which all are good for your heart health. If you increase the potassium in your diet, while keeping up healthy eating and reducing sodium intake, you can reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases according to Mark Houston, M.D., M.S. The intake of potassium is also super important for lowering blood pressure (almost just as important as reducing sodium consumption)!
3. It helps move you along.
Digestion health is a big benefit of kale. It is full of fibre and water content that both prevent constipation and keep you on track in terms of digestion. The B vitamins in kale also are essential for the release of energy from food, which also helps you keep good digestive health.
Note: Those who's kidneys are not fully functional and have a hard time removing extra potassium from the blood should enjoy high-potassium foods like kale in moderation. Always consult your doctor if you have concerns about adding foods to your diet.
Check out these recipes that feature the leafy green as it's main ingredient: