Summer Activities with Colleagues

The summer of 2015 has officially arrived!  Sunshine, warmer weather and extended daylight hours make this season the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors.  There also happens to be an abundance of accessible activities in the summer.  This is the case at UHN, where fun activities with your colleagues are a great way to build relationships and re-energize together.


Physical activity is an excellent way to start the day. However, it is often a challenge to summon the motivation to exercise on your own. You can lighten the burden on yourself by inviting your co-workers to join you:

  • On the commute. Some people ride their bike, run or walk to work during the summer. Ask around the workplace to see if anyone else lives nearby you, and if so, ride, run or walk along with them.
  • At the gym. Become a member of the UHN Employee Fitness Centre @ MedWest, take advantage of the UHN GoodLife Corporate Plan or join a local gym or community centre with colleagues and schedule your workouts together.
  • In fitness groups. Accompany colleagues to a UHN Wellness Group Exercise Class.  Is the Group Exercise Schedule not accessible?  UHN Wellness will arrange group exercise classes for you and your colleagues through a program called Concierge.  Contact us for more information.

During work hours
Some colleagues may have obligations before and after work, such as dropping their kids off at school or continuing education. There are many summer activities for you and your colleagues to do during office hours:

  • Potluck picnic. An outdoor potluck is a wonderful way to enjoy the weather while sharing a meal. It allows you to taste a diversity of foods, learn about your co-workers’ cultures, and give everyone the chance to partake in a team event. Shared contributions are invaluable to bonding and team building.
  • Outdoor meetings. If you have a meeting scheduled with your co-workers and the weather is nice, conduct it outside. Fresh air is a boon for clear thinking and stress-relief. If you don’t need any papers, pens or other utensils, step it up a notch and transform the meeting into a walking-meeting.
  • Playing catch. Rather than take a coffee break, take a ‘catch-break’ with your colleagues. Skill is irrelevant when it comes to throwing around a ball or Frisbee. It is about getting some light exercise, enjoying the fresh air, great weather, and having fun with others.


UHN Wellness announces PLAY, an opportunity for you to connect with your inner child and to participate in games and activities that bring fun and joy. We need to play!

Throwback Thursdays
All UHN employees, physicians, volunteers and students are invited to join UHN Wellness for Throwback Thursdays, where we go back in time to the days of recess and the playground. Visit Wellness on the UHN Intranet for more information.

The Email That Could Help You Live Longer

Research shows that low levels of natural light can affect one’s mood and energy levels. As the shortest day of the year approaches, it is important to remember however, that there are several simple interventions that you can practice that can have a significant effect on your overall health and happiness.

One such example is described in the video below. Happiness researcher Shawn Achor says taking two minutes to send an email praising or thanking someone you know instantly gives you a boost. If you send one email a day for 21 days, he says, it could extend your life. Find out how:

For other video clips describing strategies for improved happiness from the same interview, visit:

Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season!

Warm Up with UHN Wellness – Group Exercise Schedule

Over the next several months, you may find yourself saying “It’s too cold to workout!” or “I’m too busy to think about physical activity!”.  As challenging as it may be to remain physically active during the winter months, there are many ways and reasons for you to continue, or begin to focus on your health and well-being.

Women at health club.

Looking for an inexpensive, convenient and fun way to be physically active?  UHN Wellness offers group exercise classes at various times throughout the week at many of the UHN sites.

For UHN Wellness Group Exercise Classes that are currently being offered, please click on the link below:

Group Exercise Schedule – November 2014-February 2015

With several class formats to choose from, UHN employees can participate in any of the classes on the schedule above, on a drop-in basis, by purchasing a Flex Pass. Passes are available on the eLearning system.

New to UHN Wellness?? Many of the classes are perfect for all levels of fitness.

Please don’t hesitate to contact the UHN Wellness team to discuss your questions or concerns at or Ext. 14-4486.

Exercises for Stress Reduction and Deep Relaxation

Using simple and effective techniques, these sessions will introduce you to the tools that can assist in eliminating sleep disorders and reducing stress and anxiety experienced at home and at work

Breathing Exercise:

Harvard Relaxation Response:

Making your Dream of Better Sleep Come True


For many people, the notion of waking up feeling well-rested is just a vision from a dream. If you’re struggling to get the appropriate amount of rest, you’re not alone. In fact, several North American studies suggest sleep troubles are on the rise. But you don’t have to take poor sleep lying down: the tips below can help you discover simple solutions that’ll get your sleep cycle back on track.

Make your bedroom a sleep zone. Does your bedroom look more like a high-tech electronics store than a serene retreat? Surrounding yourself with TVs, computers, video games, etc., before slumber can all, literally, leave you feeling “wired” or stressed, making it nearly impossible for you to switch off and fall asleep. Remove sleep disrupters and work on creating a sleep-centred room that is comfortable, cool, quiet and dark. If you work shifts and usually sleep during daylight hours, then invest in some blackout curtains, an eye mask and something to generate white noise (e.g., a fan). Is your partner’s snoring sabotaging your snooze? Try wearing ear plugs or sleeping in a separate room. Better still, encourage your mate to consult a physician to ensure he or she is not suffering from sleep apnea—a potentially dangerous sleep disorder that slows or stops breathing for 10 seconds or more at a time.

Stay on schedule. Staying up until the wee hours of the night and sleeping in until noon on weekends might seem like a great idea at the time, but it can seriously disrupt your body’s sleep schedule—especially when it’s time to go back to your weekday, early-to-bed, early-to-rise routine. Whenever possible keep your snooze schedule relatively consistent: try not to go to bed more than an hour past your weekday bed time and limit sleep-ins to an extra hour in the morning.

Exercise (but do it early). As if improved health, weight loss/maintenance and a boost in mood weren’t reasons enough to get moving, several studies also suggest regular exercise earlier in the day promotes better sleep at night. Ensure you finish your workout two to three hours before you hit the sack though, as exercising too close to bedtime can actually “wake up” your body and make falling asleep more difficult.

Steer clear of stimulants and sleep disturbers. Consuming stimulants such as caffeine (found in coffee, tea, colas and chocolate) too close to bed time may cause you to toss and turn or clock-watch in the middle of the night. Depending on your sensitivity, you may need to avoid caffeinated food and drinks anywhere from two to 12 hours before your bedtime. And while you may think that glass of wine or beer will help you fall asleep, alcohol can actually spoil your slumber, so it’s best to pass on the nightcap.

Create relaxing rituals that encourage you to unwind before bed. Whether it’s soaking in a warm bath, reading a few chapters of a novel or meditation, creating a consistent pre-bed routine can help you shed some of the day’s stress (that can keep you up at night) and encourage your body and mind to unwind.

Get to the root of the problem. Insomnia or poor sleep can be a complicated issue caused by a series of factors. Medication, a physical condition—such as chronic pain, pregnancy, menopause and restless leg syndrome—as well as emotional or mental concerns—like depression, anxiety and stress—can all interfere with your ability to snooze. With over 85 different sleep disorders in existence, it’s wise to seek the support of a medical professional. Signs of a sleep disorder may include:
•Frequent trouble falling asleep and/or trouble staying asleep throughout the night
•Difficulty completing or focusing on day-to-day tasks at home, work or school
•Feeling exhausted even after seven or eight hours of sleep
•Frequent forgetfulness
•Mood swings
•Falling asleep while driving
If one or more of these symptoms sound familiar, consult your health professional immediately.

Poor sleep doesn’t have to be a fact of life. By taking a few simple steps, understanding the source of your sleep disturbances and getting the support of a medical professional when necessary, it is possible to make that dream of great sleep a reality.


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