Fit Tips

Every month our fitness specialists will provide you with advice on how to get the most out of your workouts and reach your goals towards a healthier lifestyle. Check back regularly for updates, or subscribe to the Recreation and Culture News e-newsletter to get information about fitness promotions and events delivered directly to your inbox.

Please remember that the Town of Oakville does not have the expertise to determine the suitability of any program or activity for participants vis-à-vis their health or fitness level. You should consult with a medical doctor before trying something new. Especially if you haven’t been active for a while.

Making Time for You and Your Workout

Over the years I’ve had many clients and friends ask how I could possibly drag myself out of bed at 5 a.m. to work out? Truth be told, it’s my favourite time of the day. It hasn’t always been that way. But since children, work and life got very busy, I’ve had to find time that was all about “me.”

There are also countless reasons why waking up at the crack of dawn to exercise can be beneficial:

  • Exercise makes you happy. It’s no secret, endorphins released after exercise make you feel amazing. Not only are you more energized, you feel mentally alert and focused. It’s a great way to start the day and results in a better mood throughout the day.
  • Studies have shown that people who train in the morning are more successful at sticking to their workouts. Evening workouts can be much easier to skip, especially after a long day at work. Best of all, you won’t spend the day dreading having to hit the gym at the end of it.
  • It’s a great kick start! Because of the boost to your metabolism at the beginning of the day, not only do you burn calories while exercising, you continue to burn more calories throughout the day.

If you’re finding it difficult to drag yourself to the gym or a fitness class after a long day, try morning workouts instead. Whenever my resolve waivers when the alarm goes off, I remind myself how good I feel afterwards and how cranky I can be when I don’t. When that alarm goes off and I smell the scent of coffee brewing, I know it’s going to be a good day!

But, the most important thing is to find a time and activities that work for you. Make a commitment by registering for a class or a group sport that you enjoy and will keep you engaged. Need more flexibility? The Town of Oakville also offers memberships and drop-in opportunities, so that you can get active when it suits you best.

Tracey Almeida (OFC, BCRPA)
Personal Trainer, Glen Abbey Community Centre

Visit the Fitness Centres page for more information about our memberships, facilities, and wellness services.

Missed a month? More Fit Tips follow.

Boost Your Workout and Your Brain with a New Skill

“Use it or lose it” is a phrase we’ve all heard before. People often do crosswords or puzzles, but learning new patterns in a choreographed fitness class is another example of brain stimulating exercise. Plus, physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, which can also help with brain function.

Challenge yourself to join a class that is unfamiliar and mentally challenging! Enrol in a “Learn to Swim” program offered at one of our pools or pick up a racquet and drop-in to use the squash courts. Your skills will improve with practice! The important thing is to just get out there and try something new.

The Town of Oakville offers many opportunities to explore new challenges, whether you’re walking a trail that’s new to you or trying a class you are unfamiliar with. Stop in at a community centre near you, check us out online, or pick up your copy of the Fall & Winter program guide today. Your brain will thank you!

Sue Borg (PTS, FIS)
Personal Trainer, River Oaks Community Centre

Why should I drink water?

You hear it every day: don’t forget to drink water, be sure to get eight glasses of water per day, make sure you stay hydrated. We hear it, and it’s true, but do you know why?

Water is one of the most important components of the human body. 60% of our body is composed of water. We can’t live for more than a week without it! So just imagine its importance while breaking a sweat during exercise. No matter what your exercise of choice is, your body demands hydration to function at its optimal level.

The benefits of staying hydrated are endless:

  • Water promotes healthy skin, blood flow, strong teeth and bones, and a healthy digestive system.
  • It also helps with weight loss and reduces fluid retention.
  • As a major factor in athletic performance, it helps to build muscles and reduce the risk of disease.

It is especially important to get enough water when the weather is warm! When we neglect to keep our body well hydrated we risk the chance of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, muscle fatigue and cramping, as well the breakdown of our muscles.

Signs of dehydration may include chills, clammy skin, nausea, headache, fatigue, dry mouth and shortness of breath. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty! Drink water before, during and after exercise. In the warmer months when we tend to sweat more, so hydration is even more vital to regulating your internal body temperature.

Tracey Almeida (OFC, BCRPA)
Personal Trainer, Glen Abbey Community Centre

Now is the time to find your favourite fitness routine!

Sometimes the hardest part of a journey is taking the first step. When it comes to working out or becoming more active, there are lots of reasons you may be hesitant to get started or try something new. But it doesn't really matter WHAT you do, as much as it matters that you DO something.

Regular, moderate physical activity is good for your heart. Health Canada's Physical Activity Guide recommends at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity (such as brisk walking) on most or all days of the week. Sixty minutes of activity can be accumulated in shorter sessions, such as three 20-minute walks per day.

The secret to success is to find something you like, and will stick with! Choose activities that you enjoy and can do regularly.

The summer is a great time to add more physical activity to your daily routine! Not only is the weather getting better, but the Town of Oakville offers many opportunities to get active for FREE. Here are a few suggestions:

  • FREE Tim Hortons Swims at select times and locations throughout July and August.
  • Pick up a copy of the Cycle, Walk Oakville map and explore Oakville's more than 150 kilometres of trails at your own pace.
  • Try some of the free fitness classes offered from time to time, or take advantage of our FREE four-visit fitness centre pass offer to try all four facilities and a variety of drop-in fitness classes.
  • Play tennis on one of the town's 64 public courts.
  • Check out the Summer Cultural Connection page for FREE activities in Downtown Oakville, every Saturday from June 26 to October 31, 2015.

Don't be afraid to shake things up a bit, too!

Boredom can quickly affect your motivation. More ideas to help you get active your way, every day can be found on the Make Your Move page, or drop by your local Town of Oakville Fitness Centre for more information about our programs and services.

Components of a good workout

A good workout has four parts. Each of them plays an important role in helping you get the most out of your workout and avoid injuries!

Warm up

The warm up serves to gradually increase your heart rate, increase perspiration, circulate blood to the muscles, and increase joint movement. This prepares your body for the hard work you are about to do, reduces the risk of soft tissue injuries and helps improve the quality of your workout.

Cardiovascular or aerobic exercise

Cardiovascular or aerobic exercise is a sustained activity that works your heart and lungs to increase stamina. Using a treadmill, bike, or elliptical, etc. will improve your body's ability to get sufficient oxygen to your muscles and use energy efficiently during (and after!) your workout.

Cool down

The cool down phase allows your body to gradually return to its resting state. If you are jogging, for example, you should slow down to a quick walk for a few minutes and then a slower walk for a few more minutes, before stopping. It is an important step because a sudden drop in blood pressure could result in dizziness or muscle cramps.

Static stretching

Static stretching is one of the most important parts of a workout. Unfortunately, it is also the most overlooked. While repeatedly contracting your muscles during a workout, they shorten and get tight. Stretching helps your muscles to slowly return to their original length and improves your flexibility.

Want help getting started? Contact one of our community centres to see how you can incorporate fitness and physical activity into your day. Or, book a session with one of our certified personal trainers to find out how you can make the most out of your workout or embark on a physical fitness routine.

Sue Borg (PTS, FIS)
Personal Trainer, River Oaks Community Centre

Benefits of Regular Physical Activity

Regular physical activity is essential for everyone. This month, we’re providing you with guidelines for all age groups, based on recommendations from the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. Usually, these are minimum goals and more daily physical activity provides greater benefits.

0-4 years

Infants less than one year old should be physically active several times per day through interactive floor play (e.g. crawling, reaching for toys, rolling on the floor). Toddlers and preschoolers should aim to accumulate a minimum of 180 minutes of physical activity throughout the day (any intensity level). Through these activities, young children can develop self-confidence, improve their movement skills, and build healthy hearts.

5-17 years

To obtain health benefits, it is recommended that children ages 5-11 accumulate a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity daily. Activities may include riding a bike, playground activities, and swimming.

The recommendation for youth ages 12-17 is a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity daily physical activity. Examples include ice skating, rollerblading and running.

By participating in physical activity, children and youth can improve their health, grow stronger, do better in school, and learn new skills.

18-64 years

To achieve and maintain health benefits, it is recommended that adults ages 18-64 accumulate a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week. This can be achieved in blocks of 10 minutes (minimum). Bone strengthening and muscle exercises should be performed at least two days per week.

Try walking briskly, jogging, and cross-country skiing to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, premature death, stroke, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and obesity.

65 years and older

Older adults can improve functional abilities and achieve health benefits by accumulating a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity, and incorporate bone strengthening activities and muscle activities a minimum of two days, per week.

Activities can include bicycling, walking briskly, and swimming. In addition to the benefits for all adults, seniors can help to maintain their mobility, bone health, functional independence, and mental health.

Why not incorporate fitness in your family’s routine?

Register for one of our recreational programs or join a drop-in class for a guided experience. The Town of Oakville offers drop-in programs, including recreational swimming and skating, for the whole family. Pick up a Cycle, Walk Oakville map at one of our facilities and head outside.

Want help getting started? Contact one of our community centres to see how you can incorporate family fitness and physical activity into your day. Or, book a session with one of our certified personal trainers to find out how you can make the most out of your workout or embark on a physical fitness routine.

Sue Borg (PTS, FIS)
Personal Trainer, River Oaks Community Centre

Which cardio machine or activity is the best?

Cardiovascular exercise is an excellent way to improve your athletic performance, tone up your body, and to trim those extra pounds. We're often asked which cardio machine/activity is the best? But, the answer can be a bit tricky.

Yes, some cardiovascular activities can be considered better than others from a calories burned per hour standpoint, but the best cardiovascular activity is the one that you enjoy doing the most.

Whether it's cycling, running, jogging, brisk walking, getting together with friends for a pickup game of basketball, swimming, using an elliptical, playing squash or taking a Zumba class, the key aspect of an effective cardio routine is working hard while also having fun. Enjoying exercise will dramatically improve your ability to adhere to a fitness program.

Remember: time flies when you're having fun, and pounds melt away when you're doing cardio - so combine the two, and you'll be on your way to achieving your fitness goals!

Chase Nguyen (BSc, BA, OCGC)
Recreation Coordinator, Fitness, Glen Abbey Community Centre

The Do's and Don'ts of How to Get a Flat Belly

One of the most common goals of fitness goers is to reduce their waistlines and flatten out the belly. It's possible, but you'll have to use the right combination of full-body muscle building (resistance training) and cardiovascular exercise (jogging, treadmill, sports, biking, etc.).

Contrary to popular belief, doing hundreds or thousands of sit ups, crunches, and other abdominal exercises won't necessarily give you a flat stomach! Doing those exercises will certainly improve your abdominal strength and endurance, but to achieve a slimmer waistline you'll need to employ a broader approach.

Don't:

  • Just do abdominal exercises. Unfortunately just working out the stomach does not equal weight loss.
  • Try to lose too much too fast. It's not sustainable or healthy!

Do:

  • Incorporate resistance training for the full body into your routine. Don't worry, unless you eat and train like a body builder, you don't need to be worried about "looking too bulky".
  • Try different equipment and find out what exercises you enjoy. For a workout to work, fitness has to be fun!
  • Get regular cardiovascular exercise. Whether it be running, using a bike, playing squash or basketball, taking an aerobics class, or whatever, get out and do something! Aim to get 20-minutes of continuous movement and then continue to build up from there!
  • Make healthy food choices when it comes to meals, snacks, and beverages.

Be mindful, too, that although weight can be put on very easily and quickly, it can be difficult and slow to take off. The key is to be patient! Keep doing the right things, and over time you'll gradually get to your fitness goals. To learn more about getting in shape and becoming the shape you want to be, speak to one of our qualified Personal Trainers at your local Fitness Centre.

Chase Nguyen (BSc, BA, OCGC)
Recreation Coordinator, Fitness, Glen Abbey Community Centre