Our editors share their best health tips.
The magic number
You already know skimping on sleep is bad for you, but were you aware sleeping too much is no good, either? According to Harvard University's Nurses Health Study, women who slept too little (five hours or less) or too much (nine hours or more) scored lower on brain and memory tests and, by researchers' estimates, were mentally two years older than those who slept for seven to eight hours a night.
If you have a serious sweet tooth that's always getting you into (dietary) trouble, try to follow this very simple healthy-eating rule: Save the calories for the really good stuff. It's worth indulging in a favourite dessert or a special treat, but if you're feeling tempted to snack on something just because it's there, skip it.
To replenish your sodium levels after an intense workout—think hot yoga or a long run—add a pinch of salt to a glass of water.
Tools of the trade
Three must-have items for your healthiest year yet.
1. Skipping rope Even a short skipping session can deliver major cardio benefits. Plus, a jump rope is inexpensive, easy to use and—dare we say it—kinda fun.
2. Mini blender Prep a smoothie the night before, give it a quick whirl in the morning and dash out the door, healthy breakfast in hand. Single-serve blender, $27, hamiltonbeach.ca.
3. Sports bra No one wants to exercise without the right support. A good sports bra will feel snugger than your regular bra, but it shouldn't cause chafing. If you're big-busted, look for one that comes in actual bra sizes.
The hardest part of exercising is getting started. So when you don't want to head to the gym, make a 10-minute commitment to being active. If you want to stop after your time is up, that's fine—at least you'll have done something. But it's more likely you'll end up finishing your workout! — Kathleen Trotter, personal trainer
Research shows deep breathing reduces your heart rate and blood pressure, relieves stress and can even boost productivity. But those studies say we're all really bad at breathing properly. To do it right, try a free app like Breathing Zone (iOS) or Paced Breathing (Android). Or go the wearable route; new Fitbits and Apple Watches have built-in apps.
Photography by Jeff Coulson Image by: Photography by Jeff Coulson
From breakfast to pre-workout snacks, we reveal what Canadian Olympic athletes eat
You've likely heard about the insanely high-calorie diets of Olympians. American swimmer Michael Phelps consumed 12,000 calories a day during his Olympic training, while Jamaican runner Usain Bolt chowed down on his favourite food—Chicken McNuggets—before every race at the Beijing Olympics.
But the Games aren't a food free-for-all—they're actually about dietary discipline. Bobsledder Kaillie Humphries can attest to this. "The first couple months of training, I eat no carbs and no sugar," she says. Instead, she focuses on high-fat foods such as meat and full-fat dairy, which help her stay lean while still providing energy.
Breakfast is important to all athletes. Skeleton racer Jon Montgomery starts his day with something he calls "bulletproof coffee"—a cup of joe combined with a medium-chain triglyceride like coconut oil, butter or heavy cream, which his body can readily use as fuel. Montgomery also has a smoothie made of kale, beets, carrots, spinach, low-sugar fruits such as blueberries and blackberries, an amino acid protein powder and a whey protein isolate.
Hockey player Sidney Crosby is all about a healthful breakfast, too. "He cooks things like egg-white omelettes, turkey bacon, steel-cut oats and some greens, like spinach or asparagus," says Crosby's trainer, Andy O'Brien.
Snowboarder Maëlle Ricker makes sure to have healthful snacks throughout the day. "Wherever I am in the world, I try to make sure I get my hands on a banana. It's such a quick, easy thing to eat while I'm out on the slopes," she says. Other healthful snacks she loves include yogurt, dried fruit and nuts.
Para-alpine skier Kimberly Joines says that the timing of her meals is really important. "The bulk of my protein and carbs are consumed within close proximity to my hardest training hours, and I generally taper my calories toward evening, with a focus on a variety of nutrient-rich vegetables," she says.
Sledge hockey player Greg Westlake has a similar approach. "I have to eat a good meal within 30 minutes of a workout," he says. He eats a slow-burning carb like quinoa or whole wheat pasta with a bit of protein an hour and a half before a workout. Westlake is also big on staying hydrated. "The first thing I do when I wake up is drink two big glasses of water, and I continue to drink water throughout the day. Water is like liquid gold."
None of this is to say that athletes are averse to treats. O'Brien says Crosby has a serious sweet tooth. While he acknowledges that athletes need a little more sugar to replace glycogen stores, he says Crosby has to really make an effort not to eat too much candy.
Figure skater Tessa Virtue says she has to allow herself treats, especially post-competition: "You're a person, too, not just an athlete."
— With files from Jill Buchner and Day Helesic
Check out how you can workout like an Olympian.
Salt and Pepper Steak Rub
Photography by Ryan Brook Image by: Salt and Pepper Steak Rub <br /> Photography by Ryan Brook
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