CPA Assist’s Q & A series with wellness expert Matt Cairns

CPA Assist’s Q & A series with wellness expert Matt Cairns

In April, CPA Assist and Lawyers Assist hosted a joint webinar series on COVID-19. The aim of the series was to provide accountants and lawyers with additional information and resources to help navigate the well-being challenges and issues associated with the pandemic.

Our second wellness series presenter and CPA Assist Fitness Consultant, Matt Cairns, is back to answer follow up questions from his presentation Working From Home: Fortify Your Core. CPA Assist caught up with Matt and asked him to share his thoughts on your questions.

Matt has hosted CPA Assist Family Day and Elevate 2019 events, as well as a webinar presentation, Find your Why: A Guide to Active Living and Motivation

Q: What are the best exercises to do if I want to lose weight?

A: Regular exercise is essential for an individual to lose weight and adequately maintain weight loss. Endurance training, resistance training, and high-intensity interval training each have their own role to play in the world of weight-loss exercises.

Endurance exercises are known to be effective and ensure high-energy expenditure, but resistance exercise will also stimulate fat loss and increases fat-free mass, which results in increased resting metabolic rate (Petridou, Siopi, & Mougios, 2019).

​Endurance exercises could include simple cardiovascular activities such as walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, and running. Your goal is to gradually increase the duration (time) of these types of exercises to 45-60 minutes, most days of the week. I recommend working on being consistent with the frequency (number of days per week) that you are exercising. Consistent cardiovascular exercise will help your body become more efficient and be your best ally in reaching your weight-loss goal.

Resistance or strength training exercises can be done using body weight, free weights, and machines. Increasing your lean muscle mass is a great way to improve your body’s metabolism and strengthen your musculoskeletal system. Squats, deadlifts, lunges, bench press, push-ups, and pull-ups are examples of popular strength training exercises. Their effectiveness lies in their use of multiple muscle groups and how they elevate the heart rate. With proper instruction, each exercise can be modified according to an individual’s needs.

Consider both resistance training and aerobic training when looking for the best results related to losing weight. Be consistent (five to six days per week), get your heart rate up so that you’re sweating, and seek advice from a professional to help you stay on track.

Q: What exercises (of the ones presented) are safe to do while pregnant?

A: If you are pregnant it is important to consult with your obstetrician regarding any exercise program. They can provide you with precise direction as to the appropriate type and intensity of exercise for you at each stage of pregnancy.

In most cases, exercising during pregnancy is recommended. This is generally performed at a moderate intensity on a daily basis. Walking is a component of every program I prescribe and is critical in all trimesters. Upper and lower body strength training is also important, but will vary in the type, duration, and intensity depending on the individual. I’m happy to say that all the exercises presented in the webinar are safe to do while pregnant and easy to execute in your home. They are all performed in standing positions and have no relative contra-indications.

Exercises that should be avoided during pregnancy are ones that place excessive focal stress on the abdominal muscles such as crunches, leg lifts, captain’s chair, v-sit (to name a few), and any stomach, back, or side-lying positions for an extended length of time. In general, high-intensity cardiovascular and strength training exercises are not recommended, particularly if you have not been exercising at a high intensity for an extended period of time before pregnancy. A focus on moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise with a variety of standing resisted movements should provide adequate stress on the cardiovascular system and core muscles to meet all physical activity recommendations during pregnancy.

Q: What exercises are the best to do with children at home?

A: Exercising with your children at home is an excellent way to get yourself moving and teach kids the importance of reaching daily activity levels. I have two young kids and understand how difficult finding the time and space to exercise can be. However, it is important for your health and helps teach kids to make healthier choices. Long walks, scavenger hunts, bike rides, obstacle courses, and gardening are just a few examples of activities you can do as a family that can provide health benefits.

Trying to get a decent workout with kids around all day is tough. It also depends on whether you have any exercise equipment at home. A treadmill, bike, or elliptical trainer simplifies the equation as this will provide an excellent cardiovascular component. However, most people do not have access to this in their home, so elevating your heart rate will depend on exercises like stair climbing (or using your first two stairs in a  repetitive motion), skipping, jumping jacks, burpees, or an exercise video.

Research and clinical experience have shown that exercises such as squats, lunges, and push-ups performed throughout the day are effective at increasing both upper and lower body strength. Do not underestimate the benefit of short bouts of exercise throughout the day. This may be 10-15 squats, a plank, lunges down the hallway, lying on the ground to stretch for five minutes—and, the great thing is these short breaks to pay attention to your body are hard to live without once you’ve gotten hooked.

Watch for the next item in our wellness expert series, with answers to your questions from:

For more information about upcoming webinars and events, visit

To book an appointment through CPA Assist call 1-855-596-4222. CPA Assist provides confidential counselling services and 24/7 crisis support to Alberta and Saskatchewan CPAs, candidates, and their immediate families.