​​​​​​ Paul Smits, Wellness Coordinator at UHN
Paul Smits, Wellness Coordinator at UHN, created five steps to help you stay healthy while watching the Olympic Games. (Photo: UHN)

It only happens every four years – the Olympic Winter Games. And when the long-awaited celebration of sport finally arrives, Canadians across the country don't want to miss a thing.

But – as they watch their fellow Canucks pushing themselves to the limit on hockey rinks, bobsled tracks and ski jumps, they're often missing out on being active themselves.

Sidelining fitness

Indeed, for the athletes, the Games are about being in top physical condition – but for fans, it's easy to get glued to the tube with a bag of chips in hand.

It's a sure-fire way to break fitness goals set in the New Year.

Paul Smits, Wellness Coordinator at University Health Network, said it's not a winning combination.

While nutrition, fitness and sleep are essential components of overall well-being, Smits said during the Olympics, "Sometimes people deprive themselves of all three."

But many dedicated fans couldn't imagine missing the gold medal game or figure skating final in order to hit the gym.

Some even think, "I get a free pass for the Winter Olympics because it only comes once every four years, right?"


Smits says you can still watch your favourite events and stay on track with your 2014 wellness goals – it just might take a little effort.

"There are a few simple things you can do to make sure you take care of yourself while watching the games," he said.

Smits outlines five easy steps for achieving a gold medal in healthy choices while watching the Olympics.

Smits' Spectator Guide to a Healthy Olympic Games:

Work out while watching TV

The key is moving your body every 20 minutes to stay active. Otherwise, you could find yourself sitting for hours on end, which can be harmful to your body and mind.

Commercial breaks can be utilized for stretching, walking or even lunges in the living room. You can use a break to take a family stroll around the neighbourhood, play road hockey or a game of catch.

Drink lots of water

Dehydration is a huge issue when people watch sporting events. If alcohol is consumed, make sure it's in moderation and you are drinking full glasses of water in between.

Having guests over for an event? Put cucumber slices, or lemon and lime in the water to give it an extra kick.

Plan out sleep schedule

With the time difference between Ontario and Sochi, some of our favourite events might take place in the middle of the night or early mornings. Plan out a sleep schedule so you get a full eight hours of sleep each night - even if it means 'hitting the hay' earlier than usual to catch an early morning event.

Substitute chips for healthier snacks

Forget snacks full of salt, preservatives or sugar and swap them for something healthy and homemade.

UHN Chef Geremy Capone from ELLICSR Kitchen pulled together some great recipes that will satisfy any Olympic spectator:​

Caramelized Onion & White Bean Hummus with Honey Roasted Carrots
Caramelized Onion & White Bean Hummus with Honey Roasted Carrots

Crispy Chiva Snack (South Asian Snack Mix)
Crispy Chiva Snack (South Asian Snack Mix) (healthy fats)

Kale Borani Dip
Kale Borani Dip (healthier dip for your veggies)

Puttanesca Pizza Pockets
Puttanesca Pizza Pockets

Find your inner athlete

Think about how much determination, strength and tenacity it takes to become an Olympian athlete. Do you find this inspiring, motivating or exciting? If so, use this energy and apply to your workout routine. Can you run that extra kilometre or lift that extra weight?

Perhaps after watching your favourite event, you spend some time working out, or use the event as a reward for after a long workout. Either way, use the Olympics as a tool to accomplish your personal wellness goals.

Paul Smits is The Wellness Coordinator at UHN's Oasis Centre.



For more information, visit UHN's Wellness Blog: http://livingwellatuhn.com/


For information on upcoming events and fitness classes, visit the Wellness intranet page: http://intranet.uhn.ca/home/wellness/

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