Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Archive for the ‘Health & Fitness’ Category

Guest Post: If hockey is our national game then Canada is in serious trouble.

Posted by auroracitizen on March 15, 2011

I was about 10 years old when I sat in Maple Leaf Gardens for the first time, beside my father, in the reds. The Detroit Red Wings were in town that wintery Saturday night, and even though blue was, and still is, my favourite colour, for some reason I became attached to the team from the motor city. I can still close my eyes and here the dull rumble of the crowd, and then an occasional roof-splitting roar when a Toronto goal was scored and the sighs when the Wings put one in the net. My father once threw me out of the living room when the two teams were in the Final and I was cheering for Detroit.

What impressed me most that first night was the speed at which the players moved, their stick handling and passing skills, and the accurate shots that bounced near or into the net.

So far as I know the size of the ice surface that was used in those far away days of hockey’s greatest years has not changed materially. What has, and dramatically, are both the number of NHL teams, from the original six to a figure I don’t even know, and the size of the players.

Back in the 1950’s the majority of players might have ranged between 5’8” and 5’10” in height and 160 – 175 pounds. In today’s league these then super athletes, many among the greatest in all sporting accomplishment, would be looked upon as midgets and would be rejected. It’s hard to believe that Henri Richard, who won 11 Stanley Cup rings, was 5’7” and160 pounds soaking wet and played for 20 years.

What has changed in hockey is that for the most part skill is no longer the prerequisite that it once was. When you have 10 men on the same relatively small ice surface, many of whom weigh over 225 pounds and stand 6’ 5” in their skates, you must by necessity sacrifice the passing and stick handling and instead get physical – there isn’t enough room on the ice for anything else. I know – this might be a bit extreme, but where I am going requires extreme.

I no longer watch hockey unless it is international play on the larger surface. That provides the opportunity for players to demonstrate that they can still use the old skills.

The point of all of this is the destruction that is being wrought on far too many hockey players, with no apparent response from the NHL hierarchy, which I suppose is not surprising when one considers who comprises this and the general lameness of their approach to the entire game.

The man who brought Canada a moment of great golden glory is presently gone – out to concussion; will he return? None of us knows. The most recent revelations about a former player suffering from a degenerative brain condition following repeated concussions should not just be alarming, but also should serve as scientific proof about the possible long-term consequences of head shots.

Consider the Lindros brothers, two physical giants, both with careers cut unnecessarily and prematurely short, both victims of concussion. Consider that millions of Canadian girls and boys play hockey, from coast to coast. Consider that our young men and young women have brought home World and Olympic gold medals in our national sport. Consider that all of us who are parents with children who play hockey can make known the way we feel about needless physical aggression, to our children, to their coaches, to the leagues in which they play and to the governing bodies of the sport. In The Globe and Mail sports section dated March 10, 2011, the front-page article headline reads: “Shock Waves reach Parliament Hill.” Aggressor receives “10-minute game misconduct, no further penalty.” This for what in civilian life would have been a criminal act, probably assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Hockey is a very physical game, but I suggest that being able to take a one or two minute shift and skate up and down the ice, passing, stick handling and taking the occasional shot on goal is far more physically demanding then jumping out onto the ice and 15 seconds later crushing an opponent head first into the boards.

It is time that real hockey fans start to express themselves in order to preserve the game, and our children, from the carnage that is happening weekly before our eyes.

Posted in Community, Discussion Topic, Health & Fitness | 3 Comments »

Is Our Children’s Health At Risk?

Posted by auroracitizen on March 14, 2011

The following was received from one of our readers.

To Aurora Citizen re suggestions: I would like a dialogue on the health of our children related to the obesity epidemic and related medical conditions being found in children, e.g. type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

Your suggestions for future topics are encouraged. We have received a number of suggestions and will publish them over the coming weeks.

You can either send your ideas as a comment (marked clearly that it is a proposed post) or via email to



In response to the above suggestion, we reference the following website

Currently, 59% of adult Canadians are either overweight or obese.

There has also been a dramatic increase in unhealthy weights in children. Obesity rates in children have almost tripled in the last 25 years. Approximately 26% of Canadian children ages 2-17 years old are currently overweight or obese.

The latest Canadian Community Health Survey indicates that children who watch more than 2 hours of screen time (i.e. TV, computer, video games) per day have double the incidence of overweight and obesity when compared to children who have lass than 1 hour per day.Obesity rates continue to increase into adulthood.

If this trend continues, in 20 years we can expect 70% of the 35 -44 year olds in Canada to be overweight or obese vs. 57% who are currently overweight or obese.

As a result of obesity it is possible that for the first time in history our children may have a shorter lifespan than their parents.

Obesity in childhood may result in serious medical problems in childhood such as:

  • type 2 diabetes
  • high blood pressure and elevated blood cholesterol
  • metabolic syndrome: a number of conditions that are all associated with high blood insulin levels including type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure
  • liver disease
  • bone and joint problems
  • respiratory problems such as asthma
  • sleep disorders such as difficulty breathing while asleep (sleep apnea)
  • earlier than normal puberty or menstruation
  • eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia
  • skin infections due to moisture from sweat being trapped in skin folds
  • fatigue

Overweight or obesity in childhood can also result in serious psychological difficulties.

Overweight or obese children:

  • are more likely to be teased and bullied
  • are more likely to bully others
  • may have poor self-esteem and may feel socially isolated
  • may be at increased risk for depression
  • may have poorer social skills
  • may have high stress and anxiety
  • may have behaviour and/or learning problems as a result of psychological difficulties related to childhood obesity

Unfortunately most obese children and youth do not outgrow their weight problem. In fact, most people continue to gain weight as they age.


On the other hand, there has also been considerable coverage about the issue with body image — particularly among females — as a result of the unrealistic role models we see in the media. This has led to eating disorders. Because of the media coverage, some progress has been made in this area (i.e. Dove) — but is it enough?

So do you agree or disagree? Are the school systems doing enough to address these issues?

Is it too easy to opt-out of physical activities? Should pop and snack foods be banned from schools — at what level?

Can our government legislate good nutrition and exercise? Tax credits? Subsidized activities?

What role are parents playing to support healthy eating and levels of activity? Does the double income family — who often must drive long distances each day to/from work which leaves our kids to fend for themselves for longer periods — to blame?

How do we change our sedentary culture so our children — and ourselves — start to value a healthy body?

Posted in Health & Fitness | 5 Comments »