Tips from a retired CFLer on how to fit in exercise when life gets in the way

Tips from a retired CFLer on how to fit in exercise when life gets in the way

CFL alumni Joe Sardo shares a family man’s trick to keeping active

For some professional athletes, saying goodbye to the game can lead to a sense of loss of self-esteem and identity, as well as the close-knit camaraderie that unites team members.

Leaving the Toronto Argonauts in 1995, after four years as a pro linebacker, was tough, admits Joe Sardo of Hamilton, Ont. “The people and the relationships, the locker room, the coaches, the guys — you miss that,” says Sardo, who today is Vice-President and Portfolio Manager with RBC Dominion Securities. Another thing Sardo misses is the level of fitness that the game requires. Still, he says, becoming “an investment advisor was a good move for my family.”

Finding time as a dad is challenging

You’d think that staying fit would be a breeze for Sardo following years as an elite athlete: a football scholarship to the University of Hawaii, followed by a four-year career that included the Ottawa Rough Riders. It wasn’t. For Sardo, life’s demands took over, as they do for many Canadian men. Sardo’s wife, Arlene, who he first met in Hawaii, had two sets of twins — three boys and a girl — within three years. Months of sleepless nights, then chaos as the babies grew into rowdy toddlers, and “we both got a little bit heavier than we would have liked. Physical fitness took a back seat.”

Exercise is important for your mental health

“The biggest thing I learned is that you need to schedule,” says Sardo, whose dad, Joe Sr., played for the Argos and Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the late 1950s and at 80 is still physically active.

The importance of exercise for mental health should not be overlooked. Fitness, says Sardo, should be approached the same way as your finances, the golden rule being “pay yourself first as a way of saving. Take that same approach and put it into a physical and mental health perspective. Whether you’re an athlete, a businessman or a stay-at-home mom, you need to build fitness into your day.”

Being active also doesn’t have to mean logging hour-long Crossfit sessions. A workout can be 20 minutes, half an hour, or even 45 minutes of just walking, says Sardo, a volunteer linebacker coach with the University of Guelph Gryphons. What’s important is “getting off the couch.”

What’s important is just “getting off the couch.Joe Sardo, Retired CFLer

This is often easier said than done. It requires discipline, or what Sardo calls “good mental health. To exercise, you have to be mentally strong.” If the sofa beckons, nurture mental toughness by becoming involved with community and bonding with family — “thinking about other people and how your decisions affect them.”

Don’t forget this amazing tip

Being mentally strong and having discipline doesn’t mean turning into a drill sergeant, for yourself or the family, Sardo adds. “Decompression” — the ability to have fun and embrace “cheat days” — is all part of maintaining good mental health and long-term physical fitness. “A couple times a month we’ll make a run for some junk food and have a couple bags of chips and some popcorn with a movie,” Sardo says of his active family. “I define it as our decompression time.”

How does your family like to get active? Trips to the park? Epic games of tag? Share the fun in the comments below!

This article was originally published on October 10, 2017.

Photo credit: Lisa & Karen of Twintage Photography

In partnership with the Canadian Football League Alumni Association

Canadian Football League Alumni Association
These super-corny ‘dad jokes’ deliver when it comes to getting active with your kids

These super-corny ‘dad jokes’ deliver when it comes to getting active with your kids

Do you have a favourite “dad joke”? You know, a punny zinger that’s really corny? Like, a-maize-ingly corny?

As corny as they may be, dad jokes often contain kernels of wisdom (sorry, couldn’t resist). The five listed below, for instance, all reveal easy tips for dads to improve their health and the health of their loved ones by finding fun physical activities for the whole family on Father’s Day.

All these tips will also help you succeed in the 10 Minute Men Workout Challenge. As the video below explains, this new Facebook Group is for dads who want to challenge themselves to commit to being active for just 10 minutes per day to build a healthy habit over time. Join now, and you can take part in fun challenges, track your progress, and cheer on other guys like you!

The 10 Minute Man Workout Challenge

Starting this Sunday, May 24th, join Toby for the launch of the 10 Minute Man Workout Challenge! Sweat 10 minutes a day for 7 days to shed the stress of COVID. Come join our Facebook Group:

Posted by Don't Change Much on Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Who’s up for the world’s first 10-minute fitness challenge?

And if you want to share a truly horrendous dad joke with the other guys, all the better!

Walk the dog

Q: What do you call a dog that can do magic?
A: A Labracadabrador.

Man’s best friend gets so fired up about walks that dog owners often have to spell out W-A-L-K-I-E-S. As in, “Hey, feel like taking Rover for W-A-L-K-I-E-S?”

An invigorating family stroll or hike is a great call with or without a furry family member. Walking briskly for 10 minutes burns around 100 calories, with men who walk five city blocks a day, lowering their risk of heart attack by 25 percent.

Family walks are also great for getting from A to B: from your home to the supermarket, from the supermarket to the park, from the park to the vet (just don’t tell Rover), you get the idea. On that note…

Hit the Park

Dad lying on the grass lifting his baby

Q: Why is it so easy to have a stir-fried picnic?
A: It’s just a wok in the park.

Make the most of all that fresh air and grassy open space by playing a 10-minute game of tag or hide and go seek. Pro tip: Rover is amazingly good at hide-and-seek. The nose knows!

If your kids aren’t quite walking yet and looking for some fun dad and toddler activities, lie back on the grass and use them as adorable dumbbells. While little Johnny smiles and giggles, you count off three sets of 12 bench presses.

Get sporty

Father and daughter playing basketball

Q: Why are basketball players such messy eaters?
A: They’re always dribbling.

What’s the best cure for cabin fever? Active games for kids outside! If there’s a basketball court at the park, play a 10-minute game of horse or 21 with the brood. If there’s a parking lot near your house, bring a few sticks and a tennis ball for some road hockey. Public tennis courts nearby? Scour local garage sales for some racquets and play doubles.

Game on

Dad, mon, and son playing an active video game in the living room

Q: Why are cats so good at video games?
A: Because they have nine lives!

Video games don’t have to be couch-potato material. Thanks to an explosion in exercise gaming, interactive dance parties and sports are super-easy and are super-easy, and can be a fun indoor physical activity for kids. If you own a Nintendo Wii or similar system, try something like “Just Dance” or “Dance Dance Revolution.” Two or three dance tunes later, you’ve hit your 10-minute goal. If your kids are more into sports, try EA Sports for everything from 10 minutes of shooting hoops to mountain biking. You don’t need the latest versions of these games — anything from the last decade works just fine.

Active screen time

Q: When is the new Netflix documentary on constipation coming out?
A: It’s never gonna come out.

Rainy days don’t have to be lazy ones. By working some easy fitness moves into your screen time, your whole family can benefit. Every time a character on your show of choice asks a question, for instance, get the whole gang to run on the spot as fast as they can for 30 seconds. When anyone gets into or out of a car, break off 10 burpees. When characters kiss, hug or shake hands, break off 15 bicycle crunches. The brood picks the show, the parents make the rules (or vice versa), and you all have a blast. Didn’t hit your 10-minute goal by watching one show? Watch another! Now that’s a win-win. Plus, physical activities for kids make everyone sleep like champions.

On that note, what’s the best way to become an online fishing champion?
A: Live streaming.

Got any choice dad jokes to share? Let us know in the comments below!

If you’re thinking about fitting more easy exercise into your day, we’ve got your back.

Download “The 10-Minute Man Workout” ebook right now.

This article is made possible by the support of generous sponsors.

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Why fight traffic when you can harness pedal power?

Why fight traffic when you can harness pedal power?

Raise your hand if you just love the rush-hour drive to work. No hands? Thought so. We all know the terrible feeling of banging your head against the steering wheel during another traffic jam. 

Now, imagine replacing that tiresome, expensive commute with something cheaper, healthier, and fun! What is this amazing form of transportation? Turns out it’s been around for more than a century: It’s the bicycle.

Bike boom

There’s never been a better time for Canadian guys to take up cycling. Cities and towns across the country are spending millions of dollars a year on adding bike lanes and other cycling infrastructure, which in turn leads to faster, safer excursions and commutes. Workplaces are adding bike lockers and showers. The equipment is becoming more accessible and economical too — gone are the days of having to choose between a Tour de France speed machine and something grandma would ride. Click here to find the type of bike that suits you best.

So what can cycling do for you? Plenty, it turns out:


Get fit…for life!

A leisurely bike ride burns more calories than walking, 280 versus 175 per hour, give or take, and typically gets you where you’re going more than five times faster. Pedal more quickly or climb a hill, and the fitness benefits only increase. In addition, cycling gets your legs and heart pumping without pounding your joints. This reduces the risk of injury and as a result, cycling becomes a lifelong activity. That’s why cycling is so good for you!


Save money

Not including the value of the vehicle, driving costs around 50 cents per kilometre when you factor in gas, insurance, maintenance and other fees. So if you live within biking distance of your workplace, do the math: If you cycle 10 kms instead of driving twice a week, you’ll save around $520 per year. 

Improved fitness may save you, and every Canadian, even more in the long run if this recent Canadian Men’s Health Foundation Study is anything to go by. Giving up a car entirely can be tough, but many people combine car-sharing and cycling to cut back on costs and help the environment. 


Reduce stress

Exercise of any kind reduces stress, but cycling has been shown to be especially beneficial. A recent New Economics Foundation study revealed that bike commuters report lower stress levels than drivers and transit-takers, while a 2006 report by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute found that a much higher rate of bike commuters say they like their commute, compared with those using other vehicles.

So let’s follow the lead of Freddie Mercury when the Queen frontman sings, “I want to ride my bicycle!”

This article was originally published on July 21, 2016.

Top 5 Fitness Apps for Beginners

Top 5 Fitness Apps for Beginners

You know those annoying motivational gym posters? The ones with words like “SUCCESS” and “ACCOMPLISHMENT” splashed across a cheesy photo of some dude sprinting along a beach at sunset? That kind of tackiness is disappearing fast thanks to the motivational power of fitness apps.

That’s great news, but there’s another reason why fitness apps are so effective: They make it easier than ever to track and monitor your fitness goals. In fact, there are so many free (or really cheap) fitness apps out there that we thought we’d save you some time by hand-picking our Top 5:

1. Johnson & Johnson Official 7-minutes Workout (Free; Android, iOS)

This app gets top marks for providing easy-to-follow workouts that can be done at home (think push-ups, burpees and jumping jacks). Routines vary in duration and intensity and the short videos and countdown clocks keep you motivated. The app also lets you control your music folders to create heart-pumping playlists.

2. Nike Training Club (Free; iOS and Android)

With more than 100 workouts crafted by professional Nike trainers, this app is a powerhouse of useful (and dare we say, sexy) videos to light a fire under your couch-locked butt. Beginners can set specific fitness goals, like strength, toning or weight loss, and use the tutorial library to get each exercise right and avoid injuries. Feeling competitive? Link your profile with your buddies for extra accountability.

3. FitBit Coach (Free; iOS and Android)

Getting kudos for working out feels great, to be sure, but there’s more to wearable fitness tech than showing off your new exercise regime. Using a wireless FitBit device you wear on your wrist, this app recommends walking, running and bodyweight exercises tailored to your daily activity levels. The workouts are shared on your smartphone or computer and range from 7 to 60 minutes depending on the time you have. Step-by-step videos show you how to do all the moves and provide plenty of fun motivation and easy tips, while Fitbit Radio offers a variety of music stations to groove to while working up a sweat.

4. CARROT Fit ($2.99; iOS)

We can all use a bit of a laugh when we’re starting out on a new fitness regime. CARROT Fit brings that gut-busting hilarity using a 7-minute workout routine that kicks a few spurs into your saddlebags. Power through your workout with tasks like Celebrity Face-Punching, and plank with new perspective using the Dragon Mating Dance. The app does number-crunching for you and syncs with Apple’s Health app, so you can save your workout data in the HealthKit database. If you can handle a bit of sadistic mockery as motivation, CARROT Fit is for you.

5. Strava: Run, Ride, Swim (Free; iOS and Android)

This is the ideal app to track you through the urban outdoors. It has a simple display chock full of data like running pace, distance travelled, and calories burned. You can also use Bluetooth add-ons to collect heart-rate and other bio-data as you progress. Find friends and motivate each other with comments on workout summaries, or explore the best running, cycling and swimming options for beginners in your city.

Remember, workouts don’t have to be motivational-poster-worthy. Walking five city blocks a day can lower your risk of heart attack by 25% – it’s that simple and easy!

This article was originally published on July 11, 2015.

Long life, good sex, and other reasons to care about self-care

Long life, good sex, and other reasons to care about self-care

You’re assembling a shiny new barbecue, and what happens?

All the guys on the block crowd around to offer “helpful” advice. You start fixing the fence, and again, the not-so-useful tips come pouring in. Working on the car, climbing ladders, using power tools — men are instinctively drawn to these activities wherever someone else is doing them.

But what about when you’ve got a nasty cough? Or your back is sore? Or when it burns to pee? Fixing your own health doesn’t get the same kind of attention — sometimes even from you! When illness or injury strikes, guys often like to play it tough and ride it out. Does “suck it up, buttercup!” sound familiar?

That’s where the idea of self-care comes in. It’s vitally important to look after yourself in order to feel healthier, reduce the chances of illness or injury, enjoy life more, and live longer. It’s true what they say: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Since today, July 24, is International Self-Care Day, let’s look at three key ways to give yourself some TLC:

Get some exercise

There are so many health benefits to getting your heart rate up. One of the biggest: only a half hour per day of brisk walking is associated with an 18% risk reduction in heart attack. Oh, and speaking of getting things up, at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week cuts the risk of erectile dysfunction in half.

Eat right

Filling your plate with fish, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and plant-based oils like olive oil lowers your risk of heart attack by about 30 per cent. Eating plenty of veggies, meanwhile, lowers the risk of colon cancer by 50 per cent.

See your doc

Sometimes you do everything right and still get sick or hurt. That’s when it’s time to see your doctor, especially if you’re experiencing any of these five conditions:

  1. A flu with chills, fever and body aches.
  2. Chest pains.
  3. Blood in your stool.
  4. Erectile dysfunction.
  5. Dizziness or vomiting after bumping your head.

Oh, and here’s one more benefit to seeing your doctor: He or she (probably) won’t weigh in on how to use a socket wrench…

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