Who else is tired of hearing about how we’re not getting enough exercise and how our quality of life in the city is declining? So, what are you doing about it? Too busy? I know, me too. But we’ve found someone who totally “gets” our busy lives and can offer really great advice to living healthier!
Dr. Yu is a chiropractor, acupuncturist and a health and fitness enthusiast. He got his first taste of fitness at age 14 when practicing martial arts, followed by weight training from the age of 16. These days Dr. Yu runs, rock-climbs, cycles, practices hot yoga and even hosts free community boot camps.
Working out of Royal Care Rehab (295 College Street), Dr. Yu motivates his clients to take preventative measures to avoid health issues and injury later in life. He’s also a big time foodie! He caught my attention lately with his site thechirojunkie.com that I can relate to. His mission? Taking a new approach to living healthy everyday, using social media to make information more accessible and enjoyable! He’s even got recipes! His vlog lately offered a clip from his recent travels to Paris and eating under the Eiffel Tower (drooling) and another on how to make vegan wonton ravioli!
I had the opportunity to interview Dr.Yu …
What motivates YOU to get moving, especially during the hot weather season?
DR. YU: To be honest, I’m usually just excited to be outdoors and enjoying the sunshine! Some of my favourite activities, like volleyball and stand-up paddle boarding, are only around for the summer so I like to make the most of it.
Lower back pain and tight shoulder muscles are common for us who sit at desks most of the day… any advice on what can help?
DR. YU: Definitely! My advice is to go through these 5 checkpoints: Make sure your feet are flat on the ground with your thighs parallel to the ground; If your chair is too high, get a foot stand or a box so that they sit flat; Arms should be supported with armrests; The back of your seat should have a lumbar support to relieve pressure off the back; Lastly, when you close and open your eyes your gaze should naturally fall on the centre of your screen.
Some offices are taking away the traditional sit down desks and trading in for standing only – are these better for us?
DR. YU: The reason why this is such a big thing now is due to the benefits of not sitting down. Studies have shown that standing increases the amount of calories burned, and that moderate activity throughout the day can reduce the risk of obesity, which is a known precursor to many other diseases. When you stand, you engage more muscle groups, naturally building endurance in the muscles that support our posture. However, whenever you’re working hard you also need ample amounts of rest. What this all means is that a mixture of standing and sitting is both beneficial and ideal. Remember, everything in moderation.
DR. YU: I find that a huge part of having a healthy and active lifestyle is to work on three things: strength, balance, and stretching. Yoga targets all these categories, and so I make it my goal to educate my patients about the benefits that can be gained from practicing yoga.
What are your favourite yoga poses?
DR. YU: My top three poses that I prescribe are coincidentally my personal favourites: Warrior One for strength and balance, Wind Relieving for deep tissue stretching, and Child’s Pose for stretching and relaxation.
What about martial arts and tai chi? any benefits?
DR. YU: There are so many different types of martial arts in the world, from Jiu Jitsu to Muay Thai, and they all have their own unique benefits. Growing up I’ve had the chance to practice several different types of martial arts which are great for improving cardio, strength and balance. However, with such intense physical contact sports, injuries are inevitable. Speaking from experience, I sustained a bad neck injury which now puts me at risk to compete in Jiu Jitsu.
My point is that it’s really important to be careful no matter what you practice. As for Tai Chi, I’d say go for it! There have been multiple studies that indicate that Tai Chi reduces the risk of falls in the geriatric population largely due to the emphasis on balance, and it’s great to do at any age!
DR. YU: If you haven’t seen one yet, you should definitely go in for a consult. We all experience aches and pains, but what most people don’t realize is that pain is typically the final indication that some form of damage has occurred.
A chiropractor will do more than treat you, they will educate you on what your body is experiencing, and that is your ticket to managing and mitigating pain. It’s important to understand how to properly situate yourself when you’re at work, at home and sleeping. Believe it or not, it’s the small things that we can do to change about our day-to-day activities that will have the greatest impact on our health.
What are some common everyday things we do that we shouldn’t?
DR. YU: Sitting for prolonged periods of time. As mentioned earlier, sitting for too long has been shown to slow down metabolism and can lead to countless other issues. Tackle this by getting up from your seat at least every 2 to 3 hours, and use this break to stand, stretch, or even go for a 5-minute walk.
Your favourite chinese proverb?
DR. YU: Dig the well before you are thirsty.
This proverb is the best way to live your life, and coincidentally a great motto for managing your health. If you treat your body like the temple it is, you will live a happier and healthier life!
Your favourite places in the city to get away from the desk?
DR. YU: My favourite place to get away from the city is being on the water by the Lakeshore. Whether stand-up paddle boarding on the water, running or cycling on land, or simply catching the panoramic view from my balcony, nothing relaxes me more than looking out at beautiful Lake Ontario.
Dr. Alexander Yu practices out of the Royal Care Rehab located at 295 College Street in Toronto. Telephone: 416-925-2929. You can also check out his website at www.thechirojunkie.com.