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Paul Smits is a Wellness Coordinator at UHN. He has a few tips to ensure that personal wellness stays a priority during the Games. (Photo: UHN News)​
​​This story is part of a UHN News series on summer health. Stay tuned for more tips for a fun and safe summer.​

Toronto is watching as athletes from over 41 countries compete in various sports during the Pan Am and the Parapan Am Games.

Most Torontonians won't be able to catch every event in person, and watching on T.V. is a great alternative. While watching our fellow citizens of the Americas compete for gold, it's important not to sideline personal fitness.

Paul Smits, Wellness coordinator at UHN's Wellness Centre, has a few tips to help ensure personal wellness comes first during the Games.​

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  1. Plan an active commute
  2. Over 10,000 athletes and team officials participating in the Games means much more traffic congestion for Toronto.

    "Luckily we live in a city with many opportunities to incorporate physical activity into our commute," says Paul.

    "With just a little bit of planning, we can easily incorporate walking, running or cycling into our daily trips.  What better way to enjoy the beautiful weather while avoiding expected congestion on the roads?"

    To learn more about UHN's Green Team and how they can support your active commute, please visit their blog here.​

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  3.  Stay social
  4. Social health is an important part of our overall wellness, Paul explains.

    Social wellness can be described as the ability to relate to and connect with others.  Creating and fostering healthy relationships with family, friends and colleagues can have a significant impact on our well-being.  

    When planning to catch an event on T.V., invite your friends over or plan an evening at a restaurant televising the games. Being around people will rejuvenate you during an activity that can be very low-energy, such as watching T.V. or streaming the Games online.​

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  5.  Plan some 'me time'
  6. While staying social can help maintain your wellness, it's also important to make time for yourself.

    The city comes alive during events like the Games, but try not to overbook your schedule while catching up on the sporting events.

    "Incorporating mindfulness into our day and making time for ourselves, even if only for a moment – during the Games or at any other time – can help us achieve balance and put everything into perspective," Paul explains.

    Beginning early in September, UHN employees will have an opportunity to participate in a study examining mindfulness and personal resiliency.  Stay tuned for more information. ​

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  7.  Show gratitude.
  8. Toronto and its surrounding area are being showcased on an international stage, which serves as a fantastic reminder of how fortunate we are to live and work in such an amazing city.

    "Practicing gratitude daily, or taking a moment to reflect on the things for which we are thankful, can have a profound effect on our perspective and overall well-being." Paul says. 

    Paul recommends pausing to think about and list several items, experiences and/or people you are thankful for everyday in a gratitude journal. 

    "I have found this practice to be essential in remaining present and maintaining a positive state of mind," he explains.

    For more information, or for a free gratitude journal, contact the UHN Spiritual Care Department.​

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  9.  Incorporate wellness into work
  10. Another great way to avoid a summer slump during the Games is to incorporate more physical activity into the workday. This can free up evenings to enjoy the competitions.

    The UHN Wellness Program offers employees opportunities to stay fit during the workday through daily Group Exercise Classes, Wellnes​s Walks and a chance to incorporate play into the day.

    During the summer, the team at Wellness is inviting all staff to meet up for a lunch hour stroll every Wednesday. Each week, there's a different path and more of the city to discover.

    New this summer, hoola hoops, hopscotch and jump ropes are back in style at UHN. Through 'PLAY@UHN,' Wellness is giving employees a chance to relive their childhoods while staying active.

    "On Thursdays, UHN employees are invited to join the Wellness team to play games that aim to rejuvenate the mind and body.  If you are not able to join us on Thursdays, feel free to stop by the TGH Oasis Wellness Centre to borrow equipment," Paul says.

To learn more about Wellness Walks and PLAY@UHN, please visit the Living Well @ UHN blog.

Whether you choose PLAY or Pilates, there's always a way to add activity to your day. For a full schedule of classes and wellness opportunities at work, take a look at the Wellness site here.

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