Does Physical Activity have an Impact on your Mental Health or is it just a Myth? 

Written by Turja Chowdury 

It’s not a surprise that exercise helps to reduce several health risks, but is it all talk or is there truly science behind it all? Exercising in any form can have tremendous impact on your mental health and this does not mean that you need to be a gym fanatic to receive the benefits.

By staying active, you are giving your body the chance to become stronger and combat the issues that may come your way. There are countless ways that exercise can profit your mental well-being and here are a few:

  • Decreases Depression
  • Reduces signs & symptoms of postnatal depression
  • Improves self-esteem & cognitive function in young people
  • Reduces psychological distress

In recent years, mental health is a topic that has gained enormous traction because of its valued importance. We have begun to acknowledge the value of mental health and its correlation to our overall health.  The issues that arise from the psychological and emotional well-being can be caused by several factors depending on the person. This means that everyone has their own battles in life and we constantly seek ways to adapt and reduce the issues that may arise. This is why we search for the kryptonite.

Let’s make it clear that it isn’t easy – especially if you’re not an active person. But the first step is always the hardest, so you have to trust the process. Exercise will help to shrink the negativity and give you the strength to develop. But the question remains – where’s the science and how much exercise are we talking?

Physical activity has a direct relationship with the brain as it improves neuronal health, increases neurotrophic factors and neurohormones – an overall boost to the brain. These positive changes lead to improvement in your mood, self-acceptance and many more. The body will gladly accept the increase in dopamine – a neurotransmitter and hormone. This increase is only unique to you and your happiness, so your brain will understand when you’re physically active and how to react to it.

The amount of exercise depends on you and your personal goals. It’s up to you to decide the activity you want to do and how you want to approach it. However, its crucial to show up. Consistency of your physical activity can guarantee that positive benefits are extended throughout your journey.

Optimity understands the value of mental health and we want to encourage personal growth. Engage in your community by posting your workouts and meals, track your progress over the weeks and gain rewards for your accomplishments.

Establishing New Habits can be difficult and lengthy. However, small lifestyle changes and being persistent with your goals can have the biggest positive impact on your health. Reach out to us at engage@myoptimity.com for information on how Optimity can help you!

An Upstream Approach for a Healthy Heart

HeartHealthy_Header.jpg

Posted by Tasneem Panchbhaya

In honor of heart awareness month, we will be discussing why it’s important for employers to focus on an upstream approach to a healthy heart.

Screen Shot 2018-02-14 at 2.43.45 PM.png

Heart disease is costing companies billions of dollars in loss of productivity and absenteeism.

Workplace wellness program can help prevent heart disease for their employees and in return bring down cost.

It’s essential to understand that heart disease can easily be prevented by making small behaviour changes.

See what can you do to prevent heart disease:
desk-stretching-1511869475.jpg

Physical Activity

  • Physical activity elevates your heart rate, which is essential for keeping your heart in shape.
  • Something as simple as taking the stairs, does wonders for your heart. To read more on helpful tips on how to get physically active, especially in the colder months, check out our blog post here on exercise.

Woman making chicken dish-1.jpg

Nutrition

  • Nutrition is key to a healthy life.
  • Some helpful tips in eating healthy is avoiding the foods that are big contributors to heart disease. Processed foods are high in sugar, fat, and sodium, so these should be kept to a minimum.
  • Cook your own food, it allows you to eat as clean as possible when using raw ingredients to make your meal.
  • Eating with others makes you more mindful of what you’re eating, and how much you’re eating. For more information on healthy eating for employees, check out one of our popular webinars on nutrition and mindful eating the workplace for more insightful tips.

office-meditation-yoga-at-work.jpg

Stress Less

  • Identify your stressors in order to avoid them or create coping mechanisms that work for you.
  • Physical behaviours such as stretching and yoga can help relieve stress.
  • Change your thinking: see if your stressor is actually rational or if you’re just blowing it out of proportion. Try to make your thinking more positive.
  • Meditation is a great technique that can be done just about anywhere, and is proven to reduce stress. Here is another great webinar we’ve done on mindfulness and meditation in the workplace.

It’s cheaper to prevent heart disease than to treat it! Simple lifestyle changes can have the biggest positive impact financially and on the individuals health. Reach out to us at engage@myoptimity.com for information on how Optimity can help you!

Or sign up here to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

iOS | Android

HeartHealthy_Header copy.jpg

2-Minute Meditation for a Positive Attitude

Meditation

Posted by Abena Osei-Kwabena

From cultivating greater awareness of self to relieving stress, meditation has numerous physical and mental health benefits. The practice conjures a sense of something related to spirituality, but is actually an extreme form of concentration that tones and strengthens the mind. It promises to promote inner peace and a positive outlook towards life.

Given the countless problems that work and life hurl at us on a daily basis, and the impact they have on our minds, meditation can be an excellent way to appreciate promote inner peace and living in the moment. Even a few minutes of meditation regularly can be transformative. Here is a 2-minute meditation routine for beginners.

  1. First, find a quiet and peaceful place in your home or outside, where it is easy for you to shift your focus inwards. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine in a straight but relaxed position. When you sit in a peaceful space with good posture, you will be able to enjoy the process more freely and have a deeper sense of calmness and tranquillity.
  2. Concentrate on your breathing. Try to take long and deep breaths while you focus on slowing down your breath. You can also chant an uplifting phrase or word like “relax” while breathing in order to center your attention. Try to block all distracting sounds, paying full attention to your your breathing and the word you are chanting.
  3. Next, try to enter into a quiet state of mind, while remaining relaxed and mindful of your centre of gravity. Observe any feelings, thoughts, or physical vibrations that arise in your consciousness. Eventually, you will be able increase your concentration one session at a time.

There is no set time to meditate, so you can start with 2 minutes daily and progress slowly. Let your comfort level decide what amount of meditation is right for you, but stay persistent in order to witness results.
Abena is a Client Services Associate at Optimity. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a BSc in Global Health. She is passionate about human rights and health education, and hopes to develop tailored interventions to combat health inequities around the globe. Her interests include story writing, camping and exploring different cultures on her travels.

 

Sign up for Optimity to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

iOS | Android

The Benefits of Eating Pumpkin this Fall

Now that the Fall is in full force, pumpkin has made its long awaited comeback, and while you may only be familiar with delectable pumpkin treats such as pumpkin pies and pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin has far more to offer that just its sweet desserts. Its vitamin-rich flesh also has an abundance of health benefits, including better quality sleep, weight loss, and increased vision.

If cooked correctly, pumpkin is actually one of the healthier foods of the season, which is why we’ve noted some amazing health benefits of pumpkin to kick start your obsession this fall.

 

images-4

Weight Loss

Mashed pumpkin has only 50 calories per cup and 3 grams of fiber, whilst pumpkin seeds have about 1.7 grams of fiber per ounce. Fibre helps you to feel fuller for longer which will assist in the prevention of over eating.

 

Increased Vision

Just one cup of pumpkin contains almost twice the recommended daily intake of vitamin A. Vitamin A improves your vision and has also been found to slow the decline of retinal function in those with retinitis pigmentosa, an eye disease that can eventually lead to blindness. Vitamin A has also been proven to help maintain healthy skin, teeth and bones.

tracey-hocking-729612-unsplash
Better Sleep Quality

Have you ever wondered why you feel so sleepy after a big slice of pumpkin pie at thanksgiving dinner? Well, pumpkin seeds are rich in tryptophan, which is the amino acid that contributes to sleepiness. It also helps the body make serotonin, which assists in feeling a sense of relaxation. So not only will you be sleeping better, you will also experience and improvement in mood.

 

 Heart Healthworld_heart_day

With pumpkin’s high fibre content, it also helps to protect your heart. A recent Harvard study of over 40,000 male health professionals found that those who ate a diet high in fibre had a 40% lower risk of coronary heart disease, compared to those who ate less fibre.

 

                                                      Boosts your Immune System

boost-immune-systemPumpkin can help you fight off that pesky cold or flu that often comes hand in hand with fall. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than 11 milligrams, or nearly 20% of the 60 milligrams the IOM recommends women need daily, whilst men should aim for around 75 milligrams.

 

Want to start leading a healthier life and win FREE rewards? Sign up here to start!

iOS | Android

Optimity_-_Trista.jpg


Trista Chan is a Client Services Associate at Optimity.  She leverages her education in nutrition and experience in corpoate health to guide organizations in building healthy, engaged employees.  Her “me-time” activities include yoga, reading health blogs, cooking….did she mention she likes wellness?  Her passion for all things health-related shines through in both her work and personal life.  

How Optimity Helped Me Lose Weight!

I got in touch with one of our Optimity users over the week and asked how Optimity has played apart in their life. Today I’m joined by Stephanie, who has been an Optimity user since early 2017, to share her user experience.

Hi, I’m Stephanie, and I’m really happy to be able to share my health journey with everyone.  I’m 24 years old and Optimity helped me get healthy during my last year of University! Growing up I’ve always been a little bit “bigger”. It was normal for me to think being overweight was genetics and there was no way around it. So I ate the same food my family was eating, which obviously didn’t help because they were on the heavy spectrum. It wasn’t until I was in middle school that I realized that I was heavier than my other friends.

I went through some high and lows throughout my teen year because of my weight, I always felt a little insecure about the way I looked. It also didn’t help that my relationship with food wasn’t all that great. I had tried different dieting techniques, and weight loss programs but would just give up easily and the weight would come back on. I have unhealthy parents and I could see their health deteriorating as they got older with their unhealthy habits.   

I decided it was about time I did something about how I looked, but more importantly, how I felt inside. I didn’t want to get old and regret not trying to improve my overall health when I had the opportunity. I’d tried a lot of fad diets and the newest gadgets and they were great at first, until I would quit or stop using them. My biggest problem was about keeping a sustainable healthy lifestyle, with constant tips and reminders to stay on target with my goals. I was in this for the long run and I needed something that would help me continuously improve my health.

It was about a year ago when I had a friend introduce me to Optimity, I never took it seriously at first, it was just a great tool that provided me with useful notifications to help me build healthier habits and had a huge library of content. It wasn’t until a quarter way through the year that I noticed I developed a lot of new habits and I was actually losing weight! I was sitting in the library one night studying when I got a sudden urge to get a snack, and the old me would have went straight to the vending machine but instead, I walked to the nearby cafeteria to buy myself a yogurt parfait and some water! Who would have thought that I would one day walk right past the vending machine. It was then that I realized all those small quick activities I was doing from the Optimity app actually helped me develop new nutritious habits and help curb my usual unhealthy snack cravings. Thanks Optimity!

Tasneem: Wow! That honestly so amazing I’m so happy for your healthy progress and that Optimity was able to help you on your journey. Can you share some of your top activity packs that really helped you get to where you on now?

Stephanie: Ya for sure! So time was a big issue for me, I was still in school and working at the same time so I really utilized the activity packs that I could have done from anywhere and that were quick. My top 3 activity packs that I would highly recommend is: 60 Second Workout, Eat well, and Energize With food. These 3 are my holy grail activity packs, they made me squeeze in quick workouts literally anywhere, even when I was sitting in one of my lectures, I would do seated leg raises. The last 2 activity packs really helped me improve my relationship with food, I no longer looked at unhealthy food as “bad” it just became high calorie, low nutritious food. This outlook helped me figure out which food worked for me and when.

Tasneem: Thanks so much for all that Stephanie, I’m really happy you’re in a healthier place now and are happy with your experience with Optimity!

 

We’d love to hear from you! If you’d like to share your experience with using Optimity and how it impacted your life, please reach out to us at engage@myoptimity.com.

Group 2

Not yet a user? Sign up now to join people like Stephanie and the rest of the Optimity Community to start getting healthier and claiming free rewards along the way!  

Exercising in the Fall

Keep up your exercise routine when the weather gets colder

Posted by Jeff Cai

TIME STAMP: 2 MINUTE READ

The summer months make exercising enjoyable and definitely a lot more motivating, but as soon as the weather start to plummet we often just want to head inside in front of the fire and curl up. Unfortunately, this isn’t the best for our health or exercise routine.

Exercising in the fall isn’t all bad, and can actually be a nice change compared to the warm summer months. The fall is the perfect time to ramp up your exercise routine with the holidays approaching, which can be perfect for your motivation levels. To inspire you to keep up your exercise routine in the fall, here are 4 tips to help.

1. Start walking everywhere

Fall weather, whilst a little colder is the perfect time to take in the scenery, colours and smells of nature. If you’re only a few blocks away from your destination, opt for taking a walk rather than driving. Once you start walking, you’ll not only warm up, but you will be so distracted by your surroundings that you’ll forget you’re even exercising. You could even carry around a spare set of shoes for if you choose to walk to or from the office.

2. Dress for the weather

When the weather gets colder it can deter you from going outside, let alone exercising! But there’s an easy fix for this. Invest in some new, warmer exercise clothes and dress in layers. The new exercise clothes will motivate you to exercise more frequently, and keep you warm at the same time. Items such as gloves or a scarf work wonders in keeping you warm, and are easy to take off and carry when you start to work up a bit of a sweat.

3. Turn your house work in to a workout

According to a study done by Harvard Health, a 155-pound person can burn 149 calories just by raking leaves for 30 minutes! By turning your indoor and outdoor chores in to a workout, you can burn fat without even knowing it. Put on some music, some workout clothes and start cleaning!

4. Exercise Inside

If you really don’t want to go outside in the cold, or you have a few rainy days, why not bring your workout inside? There are so many fat burning exercises and workouts you can do from the comfort of your living room. Invest in a set of workout DVD’s or search YouTube for a workout that interests you. There are so many workouts available online that you can do in a small space, you just need to find what you like.

Sign up here to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards:

iOS | Android

Train At Home With World Cup Athletes!

Posted by Tasneem Panchbhaya

With the world cup upon us, it is very easy to slip into unhealthy habits with eating, drinking, and physical inactivity as you watch the game.

Soccer players are actually some of the fittest athletes, running over 7 miles in a game while using extremely intricate footwork. Even if you don’t have the time to train like a soccer player, these simple workouts can help you stay fit while watching the game!

wellness.jpg

Soccer workouts consists of heavy cardiovascular and strength training. Here are some activities you can easily emulate without any equipment:

Pre-game Warmup

As the soccer players make their way onto the field and the anthem is playing, take this time to warm up. Warming up helps get the blood flowing and your joints moving. You can do some simple exercises such as rotating your ankles, hips, and arms in circular motions or slowly jog in place to loosen up.

Strengthening Training

In the first half  of the game, use this time to get some strength training in. Do the following sequence of exercises for 15 reps each, followed by a 5 minute jog in your spot. That’s 1 cycle! Repeat for up to 4-5 times.

Squats

  • Start with your feet a little wider than hip width and your toes pointed straight ahead.
  • Push your hips back into a “seated” position (90 degrees) as you keep your knees wide and your chest up.
  • Press into your feet and return to the standing upright position, squeezing your glutes at the top.

Lunges

  • Step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle. Make sure your front knee is directly above your ankle, not pushed out too far, and make sure your other knee doesn’t touch the floor.
  • Keep the weight in your heels as you push back up to the starting position. Repeat with the other leg.

Step up

  • To start, place your entire right foot onto a bench or chair. Press through your right heel as you step onto the bench, bringing your left foot to meet your left so you are standing on the bench.
  • Return to the starting position by stepping down with the right foot, then the left so both feet are on the floor.

Bridges

  • Lay on your back with your hands by your sides, your knees bent at a 90 degree angle and feet flat on the floor.
  • Tighten your abdominal and buttock muscles and raise your hips to create a straight line from your knees to shoulders.
  • Squeeze your core and try to pull your belly button back toward your spine.
  • Lower yourself back to the floor and repeat.

 

Cardiovascular Training

Soccer players have to do a lot of running and jogging on the field, which is key if you want to outrun the other team and make goals. For both soccer players and non-athletes, cardiovascular training is great for preventing chronic illnesses such heart diseases, diabetes, as well as boosting your mental health. During the second half of the game, use this time to get your heart rate up by jogging around your house, skipping, doing squat jumps, and any other exercise that’ll help with bringing your heart rate up.

Post-Game Cool Down

In the last ten minutes of the game, take this time to relax and stretch. Stretching will help prevent injury, muscle tension, and will ease any potential soreness you may feel after the workout. Here are a few stretches you can try after your workout:

Reclining Twist

  • Lie on your back and draw your left leg into your chest and keep your right leg straight.
  • Exhale and twist the bent knee across the center of the body. Then press the opposite hand onto the bent knee and extend the other arm.
  • Hold for 30 seconds on each side.

Quad Stretch

  • Standing, bend one leg and hold on to your ankle to get a stretch through your quadriceps.
  • Hold for 30 seconds on each side.Repeat on the other leg.

Hamstring Stretch

  • Stretch out one leg in front of you, with your other leg bent and the foot close to your groin. Bend forward over your outstretched leg, reaching for your toes.
  • Repeat on the other leg.

Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 10.08.46 PM

Your workout is complete and so is the game! Feel rewarded for getting a workout in, while still enjoying the game. Let us know down below who you’re rooting for this world cup! If you want to learn more about building stronger healthy micro habits, reach out to us at engage@myoptimity.com to learn more.

Sign up for free to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

iOS | Android