Swimmer on blocks

Train Like a Pan American Athlete

Even if you can't reach the same physical peaks as world-class athletes, their training strategies could actually help in your day-to-day life.


As the torch for 2015 Pan and Parapan American Games winds through the streets of Toronto, Canada is a buzz with talk about high performance sport. The amount of training required for these athletes to reach the world’s stage is incredible, but did you know there is also quite a bit of science involved?

The Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education at the University of Toronto recently hosted, From Good to Gold: Science and Technology in High Performance Sport, an interactive symposium highlighting the contribution of its faculty’s research to athletics and sport. Among those featured was Dr. Greg Wells, Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto and Associate Researcher at the Hospital for Sick Children, who demonstrated how bodies respond to the stress of peak athletic performance with the help of wheelchair basketball player, Flavio Pagliero.

But what’s most interesting about Dr. Wells’ research is how he’s applying it to us. It turns out that many of the strategies used by top athletes can be transferred with successful results to other arenas, like the boardroom. Taking the time to focus on a specific activity instead of multi-tasking or adopting a “power pose” before an important presentation can have a significant impact on our performance. Not sure where to start your “training”? Dr. Wells exalts the benefits of incremental improvements and challenges us to be 1% better each day.

Photo by Mike Carbonaro available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) License.

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Allison Guy is a freelance science writer who is passionate about increasing scientific literacy and enhancing scientific discourse among the public. She holds a MSc in neuroscience from the University of Toronto and has been working as a drug development consultant for the pharmaceutical industry both domestically and abroad for the last 5 years. She is also a lecturer at Ryerson University in the Department of Chemistry and Biology and at the G. Raymond Chang School where she teaches pharmaceutical development and regulation.