When I read the morning paper, I often brace myself for the two pages in the middle section where every story seems to be more tragic than the last, until I can get to the latest sports scores, movie and book reviews. If like me, however, you also look at life as a glass “half-full,” you understand that for every tragic story, there are just as many positive, uplifting ones waiting for your attention.
Since I am writing this on Canada Day, I thought that I would lighten things up with stories from the worlds of health and fitness, sports, nutrition, medicine and research that are uniquely Canadian from the past year or two that I found this past week. I hope that they put a smile on your face and make you feel proud to be Canadian.
1. Research: McMaster University has become internationally renowned for its research. In particular, it has been a leader on the cutting edge of exercise and nutrition science. Some of the studies coming out of the university have examined the relationship between strength training and aging, the value of protein supplementation and the advantage of extremely brief, high intensity, training sessions when compared to long duration workouts.
In June of this year, Dr. Stuart Phillips, Director of the Centre of Nutrition, Exercise and Health Research at McMaster received a Sports Medicine citation award for his research contributions from the American College of Sports Medicine.
2. Selflessness: Laurent Duvernay Tardif is a professional football player from Montreal, currently playing with the New York Jets of the NFL. His professional career began in 2014 when he was selected in the NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs from McGill University. While it is virtually unheard of for a Canadian college player to be selected to play in the NFL, Tardif is also a medical school graduate, an equally rare achievement for players in the NFL. After becoming a Super Bowl champion with the Chiefs in 2020, he opted out of playing the next season to stay in Quebec to help fight the COVID pandemic by working at a long-term care facility in Saint-Jean-sur-Richilieu. As a result, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was awarded the Sportsperson of the Year from Sports Illustrated magazine before returning to the NFL where he played for the Jets last season.
3. Community Spirit: Hamilton’s favourite hometown rock band Arkells spearheaded a fundraising drive in 2022 to refurbish the rundown basketball court at Woodlands Park in downtown Hamilton. The upgrades include glass backboards, bleachers and a new court surface. The court, known as The Rally Court, will be a source of pride for the lower city neighbourhood where it is located and will provide kids and adults the opportunity to play in a world-class facility right in their own backyard.
4.Sporting Heroes: Canadians had the opportunity to cheer for Olympic Gold at the Beijing Olympics in 2021 as our women’s hockey team won their 11th gold medal and we will have the chance to follow the men’s soccer team competing at the World Cup in Qatar in November for the first time since 1986 and only the second time ever.
5.Mindfulness: Bell Let’s Talk Day experienced a record setting day in 2022. The program, spearheaded by the telecommunications company encourages Canadians to support themselves and each other by texting, calling and posting on social media to raise awareness of/and support for Canadian mental health programs. In 2022, interactions increased by 3.2 per cent over the previous year representing over 164 million messages sent.
6.Fitness: Exercise (especially outdoor exercise) and physical activity has been well-documented in its ability to help people manage anxiety and depression while building physically fit and resilient bodies. This fact became especially apparent during the COVID lockdowns of the past two years as we all moved less and stayed inside more. In an effort to combat the challenges of isolation and lack of movement, on June 4, 2021 National Health and Fitness Day was celebrated across Canada as trainers, instructors, recreation centres and fitness facilities of all sizes offered free outdoor and online group workouts. The initiative was launched as a way to motivate Canadians of all ages to stay active and was powered by the Canadian Fitness Professionals (CANFITPRO) certifying body and led by certified professionals. It was repeated last month on June 4th.
Further information about National Health and Fitness Day can be found at www.gympass.ca
7.Food Activism: Toronto Chef Joshna Maharaj is on a mission to bring better, fresher, tastier meals to institutional settings like hospitals, schools and other institutions. She’s determined to bring health and humanity to institutional food while supporting local economies and reinvigorating front-line staff serving these meals. Her book “Take Back the Tray” is a manifesto for taking back control from corporations with brutal bottom lines. She is on a mission!