Food & Fitness: The Fundamentals
There is so much information out there about what to eat and do to get and stay healthy. I’m here to simplify your life and break down the basic fundamentals of food and fitness!
Canada Food Guide
In 2019 Health Canada introduced the new and improved Canada Food Guide. It consists of a plate that is made up of ½ vegetables and fruits, ¼ protein foods and ¼ whole grain foods with the drink of choice being good ‘ol water (no more sugary fruit juices or milk!).
I was thrilled to see their recommendation to choose protein foods that come from plants more often as they contain more fiber and less saturated fat. A total win for vegans!
When thinking about what to put on your plate or in your glass, focus more on adding whole foods and water and less about what to avoid or deprive yourself of.
The Four Fitness Concepts
Fitness is comprised of: cardiovascular, strength, endurance and flexibility.
Cardiovascular is defined as the ability of the heart and lungs to supply oxygen-rich blood to the working muscle tissues which is pretty important if you want your body working efficiently!
For adults aged 18-64 the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) recommends 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week in bouts of 10 minutes or more.
Some ideas might include hopping on a stationary bike, rowing machine, swimming, skipping rope, speed walking or jogging… the important thing is to get your heart pumping and do something you enjoy!
Strength is defined as the greatest amount of force muscles exert during a single maximal effort. This comes into play when you’re carrying your groceries or lifting your kids. It’s something we rely on every day and can be a huge factor when it comes to ease of living.
The CSEP recommends bone and muscle strengthening exercises using major muscle groups at least 2 days per week.
A basic strength routine would involve:
1 compound exercise per major muscle group
3 sets of 8-12 repetitions
1-3 minutes of rest between each set
48-72 hours of rest for each muscle group trained
Endurance is the ability of the muscles to work for an extended period of time. This will naturally increase as you continue to add new exercises, up the frequency, duration, distance or intensity of your favorite activities! Start slow and gradually work your way up.
Flexibility is the range of motion (ROM) at a joint and is influenced by the shape of your bones, muscle elasticity and myofascial elasticity.
Muscular elasticity can be improved through:
Static stretching: lengthening the muscle to the point of gentle tension and holding either actively or passively
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF): the same as static but includes concentric contractions usually performed with a partner
The key is to hold the stretch for at least 20 seconds in order to bypass the stretch reflex whereas myofascial elasticity can be improved with foam rolling and should never be done on the joints.
It’s easy to get caught up in the details but the most important thing is to get up, get moving and eat more whole foods that are in their natural state for a happier healthier you!