By Jon-Erik Kawamoto, MSC, CSCS
Q: What are some ideal sources of fuel to keep your stamina up during a hike?
A: When on a challenging hike, pack snacks that are easy to digest yet energy-dense. A blend of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit makes for a great snack (they don’t call it trail mix for nothing!), as does a homemade protein or energy bar. I prefer homemade bars to most store-bought bars because the latter tends to have too much sugar, preservatives, and fillers. You can easily Google a no-bake protein bar recipe — my favourite ones include protein powder, peanut or almond butter, quick oats, almond milk, and cinnamon. Easy, delicious, and it will keep you going!
Q: When barbecuing, are there any hints or tips I should keep in mind to make my grilled meal as healthy as possible?
A: Nothing smells better (or tastes better) in the summer than the smell of meat cooking on the BBQ. However, regularly eating charred meat can be very harmful to your health. Charred meat contains chemicals called HCAs (heterocyclic amines) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), which have been shown to be carcinogenic. Flip your meat frequently, and if the meat becomes charred, trim off the blackened pieces before consuming that tender steak.
Q: What are some easy ways to get more water in throughout the day, and are there other ways for me to stay as hydrated as possible?
A: Along with the awesomely hot summer weather and more access to outdoor activities, we also have more opportunities to sweat and potentially overheat. Drinking enough water throughout the day might be tricky for some, but all it requires is a little planning. If you know you won’t be near a source of water for a while (like when hiking or biking), bring a water bottle partly filled with ice and mostly water. The ice will keep the water cool by the time you’re ready to drink it, and will melt to provide more hydration as the day goes on. Remember, drinking tea or coffee will contribute to your water intake for the day, even though you may pee some of it out. Lastly, don’t drink too much, as you do run the risk of being overhydrated, leading to low levels of sodium in your body, which is called hyponatremia — just drink until you are satisfied.
Q: I really want to exercise outdoors more. What are some great outdoor structures and features that I can use to get in a good, no-equipment workout?
A: Exercising outdoors can be so much more enjoyable — breathing fresh air and getting your daily dose of vitamin D beats a stuffy gym any day. If your city isn’t equipped with an “adult” playground (chin-up bars of various heights, dip bars, sit-up benches, etc.), a children’s playground will do. Gymnastic-style calisthenics, box jumps, and other body-weight exercises can be performed on monkey bars, park benches, and open grass, respectively. If you’re keen, you can always bring a suspension system (e.g. TRX) or a kettlebell to up the ante. Don’t worry — people will only stare out of jealousy!
Q: My hips always hurt when I’m running uphill. What could be the problem, and how can I prevent it?
A: Running with pain is never favourable. Hip pain can be a sign of a muscle imbalance, joint pathology, or biomechanical inefficiency somewhere in the body. A misaligned pelvis, sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction, or even a stiff ankle can result in an altered running gait that can place stress on different muscles or ligaments in your feet, legs, hips, or low back. Running is all about efficiency, so ensure your joints have appropriate mobility and your muscles have appropriate flexibility. Strengthen your hips and lower legs with squats, deadlifts, and single-legged exercises to build a more resilient body.