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The 5-minute workout

Queen’s researcher Brendon Gurd has developed an exercise protocol that requires no equipment, can be completed anywhere, and helps improve muscle endurance in under five minutes a day.

[Woman performing a crunch exercise]
Brendon Gurd’s research has identified a set of whole-body interval training with wide application that can help solve the problems for people with limited time, space, and no access to equipment. (Image courtesy of Unsplash/Jonathan Borba)

With gyms closed and fitness classes cancelled, many of us are experiencing the challenge of exercising within cramped spaces. In fact, for some, it is not unlike the situation for someone stationed on a submarine for weeks at a time.

Queen’s researcher Brendon Gurd (School of Kinesiology and Health Studies), an expert in how exercise improves mitochondrial functions related to health and disease, was originally inspired to discover an exercise protocol that could be performed successfully even in the most confined of spaces, like on a submarine. As Principal Investigator of the Queen's Muscle Physiology Lab (QMPL), Dr. Gurd’s research has come to identify a set of whole-body interval training with wide application that can help solve the problems facing many, particularly now, of limited time, space, and no access to equipment.  

Whole-body interval training incorporates exercises such as jumping jacks and burpees to engage major muscle groups for short periods at high-energy bursts. Most commonly affiliated with routines such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), Tabata, or short-duration interval training, the appeal of this form of exercise is that it can be accomplished in as little as five minutes, requires no equipment, and can be completed in an average-sized room.

“Among the most commonly cited barriers to being physically active in most populations are time and access to equipment,” says Dr. Gurd. “Our research studies demonstrate that whole-body interval training improves aerobic fitness similar to traditional endurance training (such as running on a treadmill for 30 minutes), but provides the additional benefit of improving some strength and muscle endurance outcomes.”

Several of these exercises may be familiar and can be an activity for the entire family. In fact, Dr. Gurd has also been using this training protocol with his family, including his children, to stay physically active and cope with stress during this time.

“Physical fitness is an important determinant of health and disease risk,” explains Dr. Gurd. “Remaining active and fit are two things that we can control. Maintaining some control in our lives through regular exercise, in addition to the direct benefits of exercise on our mental and physical health, may help us to cope with the stress associated with the current environment.”

For those interested in incorporating Dr. Gurd’s whole-body interval training into their health routine for their individual fitness levels, please see the following sample exercises or follow along with Dr. Gurd and his children in the video above.

A complete set includes eight exercise intervals, a combination of burpees, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, or squat thrusts, for 20 seconds each followed by a rest period of 10 seconds. A total workout can be completed in under five minutes. When completed four days a week for four weeks, the added benefit of improved muscle endurance has been found.

For more articles on maintaining health and wellness, see the Queen’s GazetteConfronting COVID-19” series.

Office of Indigenous Initiatives hosts virtual meet-and-greet with Elders

On Friday, April 24, the campus community is invited to join Elders from the Office of Indigenous Initiatives for the first of a series of online gatherings created to explore Indigenous topics and teachings.

The first meeting will run from 12 pm to 1 pm eastern time and serve as a meet-and-greet for the Queen’s community to be introduced to Elders and their roles. It will also be a forum in which attendees can express what they’d most like to learn about the Office of Indigenous Initiatives mission and work.

For more information and to register for the discussion please email the Office of Indigenous Initiatives at indigenous.initiatives@queensu.ca

Connecting in a time of physical distancing

Office of Advancement hosts a town hall featuring Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane and Special Advisor to the Principal on Planning and Preparation for COVID-19 David Walker.

The Office of Advancement at Queen’s University hosted a special online town hall on Wednesday afternoon, featuring Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane and David Walker (Meds’71), Special Advisor to the Principal on Planning and Preparation for COVID-19.

The town hall, moderated by Vice-Principal (Advancement) Karen Bertrand (Artsci’94), reached out to Queen’s alumni, offering them the opportunity to question the university administration on the ongoing response to the pandemic as well as the direction moving ahead. More than 250 people participated in the live town hall.

Following brief introductory remarks, Vice-Principal Bertrand opened the floor to questions, some sent in advance and others sent through the Zoom platform. Queries ranged from the university’s expectations and plans for the 2020-21 academic year to how Queen’s is cooperating with postsecondary institutions around the province and across the country. Other questions dealt with the financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as whether or not Queen’s will be able to maintain its traditions and community spirit.

“This online town hall was a great opportunity to connect with alumni, who are such an important part of the Queen’s community, during a time of physical distancing,” says Vice-Principal Bertrand. “Principal Deane and Dr. Walker provided a valuable update on the university’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and how Queen’s is playing an important role at the local, provincial and national levels.”

Principal Deane explained that he has been particularly impressed by how quickly collaborations have formed with community partners and fellow postsecondary institutions, adding that he will work toward maintaining these connections once we move into the post-pandemic phase.

“In the months before the coronavirus hit we’ve had some extremely positive discussions on campus about the role of Queen’s in our community, and one of the things that I would say about the crisis is that it has deepened those connections,” says Principal Deane. “It’s important for us to think about where we will be when we come out of the other end of this crisis and I hope that what we remember is how important it is to maintain all of those positive connections between the university, the city, social agencies, everybody who is interested in making the quality of life in Kingston as good as it can be.”

Having chaired Ontario’s Expert Panel on SARS and Infectious Disease Control in 2003, Dr. Walker was asked to compare the two outbreaks. He pointed to the university’s steps to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Queen’s administration quickly worked to depopulate the campus in response to the spread of the coronavirus and continues to help frontline healthcare workers through donations of personal protection equipment (PPE) and providing living space at the Donald Gordon Centre, Dr. Walker pointed out.

Visit the Queen’s Alumni website for more articles highlighting how Queen’s alumni are contributing to the effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

Setting up your virtual team for success

Expert advice for workplaces that have had remote work thrust upon them, without a chance to plan for it.

Woman working on comupter at home
More people are working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it's not really a new trend. (Unsplash / Annie Spratt)

Remote work is the “new normal” as businesses navigate the coronavirus situation. But for some, such work isn’t that new. Over the last 10 years, remote work has grown by 91 per cent

More job seekers are looking for opportunities that provide flexibility and work-life balance. Some organizations favour remote work for its cost savings and because it lets them recruit from a wider talent pool. Virtual teams also allow businesses to bring together diverse disciplines, functions and cultures. That said, virtual teams aren’t without their hurdles. 

Smith Business Insight recently caught up with Shawna O’Grady, associate professor of organizational behaviour at Smith School of Business. O’Grady is an experienced team facilitator, formerly serving as director of team facilitation on Smith’s Executive MBA programs for 13 years. She also works with private- and public-sector clients on team building. With so many people now working remotely for the first time, she answers our questions about what virtual teams can expect, and how to make the transition.

What issues do organizations face as their people adjust to working together remotely?

In the best of times, virtual teams face several challenges. With the COVID-19 crisis, many organizations have had to move to remote work without having had the chance to plan its implementation. There’s often a lack of clarity around what people should be doing. The team needs to figure out a new set of norms around how to communicate. Leaders need to act quickly to ensure they connect everyone in the department through clear messaging. They need to help their teams understand the importance of re-aligning to ensure they are on the same page.   

Team members may also not have the right technological tools or skills. The current public-health crisis has many people suddenly working at home and needing to learn new technology in short time spans, with little training and without the traditional forms of support from teammates or colleagues. They may also be contending with the personal and social challenges of feeling isolated and distracted. As employees do their part to stop the spread of the coronavirus, they may also be dealing with the uniquely stressful challenge of having multiple people in the same household all working remotely. Leaders can help with understanding, compassion and empathy, recognizing not all employees face an easy time adjusting to remote working conditions. Providing links to resources available to assist may help employees remain committed to the team during difficult times.

What’s the No. 1 thing managers must do to ensure workplace efficiency?

In any crisis, it’s easy for people to become focused on what’s happening around them. To maintain efficiency, managers need to create a plan for what the department or team will focus on and how to deliver it. Next, they need to help each person understand what their role is in helping the team achieve its objectives. Each person should have a clear set of actions, such as “Maintain the Monday morning team meeting, except run it on Zoom,” or “Complete your one-on-ones bi-weekly by telephone.” Doing this is necessary to ensure employee commitment and results.  

How else should leaders adjust their approach?

Leadership plays a much greater role in this new working environment. Leaders who connect well, and connect often, will have the greatest success. It’s helpful for leaders to meet with employees using overlapping forms of technology. For example, it’s ideal to meet via video to allow for bonding and questions, and then follow up in writing by email to ensure the facts are communicated consistently to all employees.  

It’s also important for leaders to realize that there’s no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to how different employees will respond to their new virtual environment. Leaders who exhibit compassion, understanding and positivity will make their team’s adjustment to remote work much more likely to succeed. Recognizing those who are making progress with appreciation, and providing understanding to those who are struggling, will go far in keeping people united.   

What can individual team members do to stay motivated while working at home?

Employees may appear to lack motivation, when the real issue is that they aren’t clear what they are supposed to do. Or they aren’t trained properly, or they feel blocked because they are isolated and can’t get the answers they need to move forward. That’s why it’s very important for individual team members to “check in” frequently with their team leader and colleagues. If they have any questions or find themselves blocked on a project, they should immediately contact the person most likely to be able to help them. Evidence indicates that people are more reluctant to do this when they are working remotely.

Employees can also help themselves stay motivated and perform at a high level by making a plan and outlining priorities for each workday. They should also get some fresh air and exercise each day, keep the lines of communication—both formal and informal—open with teammates via videoconference, text and phone. Taking measures to limit distractions with a designated workspace or noise-cancelling headphones can also help.

What results can organizations expect in the move to a virtual setup?

The results can be very positive. An increasing number of organizations are already working with virtual teams—with great results. The difficulty in our current environment is that many organizations have had virtual work thrust upon them. They have not had the opportunity to think it through or plan properly. So, we can expect early results may be less than optimal until people learn and adapt. Most employees want to see their organization succeed. If they are given a chance to be part of something, they will jump at the opportunity. These days, it’s a remote opportunity, which is better than no opportunity at all.  

This article was first published by Smith Business Insight.

Recruiting the Class of 2024

Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment is busy making offers to the next class of first-year students.

Aerial photo of Queen's campus.
Queen's campus in the summer.

As Queen’s students are completing the academic year, the university is busy reaching out to potential students that will be part of the Class of 2024. The Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment (UAR) office is currently assessing over 45,000 applications for the next undergraduate class and is working towards having all admissions decisions completed by the middle of May.

“As always, students across the country are showing a strong interest in coming to Queen’s, and we continue to process offers of admission. Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment is moving ahead and we are on pace to admit an exceptionally strong class. Thanks to our admission staff who are working remotely and the strong collaboration with our partners across campus, we have been able to adapt quickly to this changing situation and stay on track with our admission plan,” says Chris Coupland, Executive Director (Acting), UAR.

Many aspects of the recruitment process remain the same, but staff have noticed a heightened interest in their webinars and in prospective students wanting to have video chats with recruiters. These interactions are taking the place of larger in-person recruitment events that typically happen each year, such as March Break Open House and receptions that the university hosts across the country.

Helping prospective students during COVID-19

Given the unprecedented circumstances of this application cycle, UAR is working closely with colleagues at universities across Ontario to help prospective students. Queen’s and other higher-education institutions in the province want to ensure that students are not unduly burdened by the application process due to COVID-19. They are collaborating to develop a consistent approach that provides flexibility for students in submitting documents and completing all aspects of the admission process.

As UAR recruits the next members of the Tricolour community, they acknowledge that many prospective students have questions about the 2020-21 academic year.  

“Usually when we work with prospective students, we’re able to give them a clear sense of what their first year on campus will look like. We know students and families have a lot of questions right now. While there is some uncertainty, we can assure them that Queen’s is committed to offering our incoming class an excellent experience. We’re helping prospective students navigate the uncertainty by keeping them updated and letting them know we’re here to help,” says Coupland.

For more information about how UAR is currently operating, visit the UAR COVID-19 FAQs webpage.

Planning for our future

More Confronting COVID-19 Stories

Principal strikes new COVID-19 steering committee to plan for 2020/21 academic year.

The COVID-19 outbreak continues to pose unprecedented challenges for universities across the world, and the Queen’s community is no exception. Most students, faculty, and staff are learning and working remotely to aid public health efforts, and it is unclear how long the situation could last. In readying to weather this uncertainty, Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane has struck a COVID-19 response steering committee that will focus on planning for the upcoming 2020-21 academic year, ensuring that Queen’s continues to fulfill its academic mission for faculty and students. 

“With the current public health crisis posed by COVID-19 we must not only respond to immediate needs, but must also prepare for what may lie ahead to ensure we can face future challenges and, more importantly, emerge from them as a stronger institution,” says Principal Deane. “Over the coming weeks, the steering committee will identify and analyze a range of potential scenarios, providing crucial insights to Queen’s senior leadership as we navigate what lies ahead and look beyond it to the future of the institution.”

The steering committee will be responsible for oversight and direction of seven sub-groups tasked with developing forward-looking recommendations for key areas of university operations. These areas range from academic regulations to research impacts, and from enrolment to remote delivery. The small, agile teams will include representatives from faculties and shared services.  Some groups will also seek input from students. They will meet regularly throughout April to craft strategic recommendations for the Senior Leadership Team and Principal for review in early May.

“The university must plan for a variety of possibilities over the coming months that will directly affect how we conduct ourselves,” says Principal Deane. “Exceptional times call for exceptional solutions, and I am optimistic for our future having seen both the resilience and the creativity of our campus community in confronting COVID-19. I know the steering committee will bring this same ingenuity to the planning ahead.”

Protect your virtual meetings

As people turn to Microsoft Teams to stay connected and to deliver online classes, meetings, and live events, it is recommended that organizers exercise due diligence to mitigate hijacking incidents or unauthorized access.

Teams Meetings

We recommend these best practices to protect your Teams meetings:

You can visit the Meetings in Teams page for an overview of best practices and detailed tutorials for how to protect your Teams meetings.

Zoom Meetings

You may have heard of Zoom bombing (the unwanted intrusion by an individual into a video conference call, causing disruption). To protect your Zoom Meetings, we recommend the following best practices:

  • Avoid sharing meeting links on social media or public outlets
  • Avoid using Personal Meetings ID (PMI) to host public events - Your PMI is a persistent meeting room and people can pop in and out all the time
  • Manage Screen Sharing - To prevent random people from taking over sharing, restrict sharing to the host
  • Manage Participants
    • Lock the meeting - By locking the meeting after the meeting has started, no new participants can join.
    • Remove unwanted or disruptive participants
    • Disable video – Hosts can block unwanted, distracting, or inappropriate gestures on video
    • Mute participants – Hosts can block unwanted, distracting, or inappropriate noise from other participants
  • Introduce a Waiting Room – The Waiting Room is a virtual staging area that stops your guests from joining until you’re ready for them.

For more information about protecting your Zoom meetings, visit the Zoom security website.

If you have any questions about protecting your virtual meetings, please contact the IT Support Centre at (613)533-6666 or by filling out the Online Help Form.

If you want more information about Connecting, Collaborating, and Teaching Remotely, check out the IT Services webpage.

Queen’s remembers former Board of Trustees Vice-Chair Thomas O’Neill

The Queen’s community is remembering former member of the Board of Trustees Thomas O’Neill (Com’67, LLD’05) who died on Friday, April 3. He was 75.

Thomas WilsonO’Neill was passionate about Queen’s University and served on the Queen’s University Board of Trustees from 1995-2008 and was vice-chair from 2000-2008.

Other positions he held at the university were Chair of the Advancement Committee, Chair of the Campaign for the Queen’s Centre, and Chair of the Queen's Centre Cabinet. He then became a member of the Advisory Council of the Smith School of Business.

“I wish to convey my deepest sympathies to Tom's wife, Susan, and their family,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane. “He will be sorely missed and we at Queen's are immensely grateful for the many ways he contributed to his alma mater during his lifetime.”

Away from the university O’Neill had an illustrious career, serving as Board Chair for Bank of Nova Scotia between 2014 and 2019, after initially joining the board in 2008. During his career O'Neill also served as Chief Executive Officer and Chair of PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting, Chair of BCE Inc., and was a director of Loblaw Companies Limited, Nexen Inc., and Adecco, S.A.

A Celebration of Life is planned in the fall.

A family obituary is available online.

Distinguished Service Awards – Deadline for nominations extended

As a reminder, Queen’s faculty, staff, students, and retirees are invited to nominate candidates for a Queen’s Distinguished Service Award. Inaugurated by University Council in 1974, this award recognizes individuals who have made the University a better place through their extraordinary contributions.

The nomination period has been extended to Friday, May 29, 2020 at 4 pm. 

Guidelines, the online nomination form, and additional information are available at the University Secretariat website.

Please contact the University Secretariat at ucouncil@queensu.ca if you have questions about the Distinguished Service Awards or the nomination process. 

Quiet Queen’s - photo essay

With students, faculty, and staff now learning, researching, and working remotely in response to COVID-19, the iconic Queen’s campus looks like never before.

Come early April, campus typically settles into a quiet study routine. Students attend their last classes and then pack the libraries to prepare for exams. A hushed, focused murmur fills the air, interrupted only by the flipping of pages or the squeak of highlighters, and maybe the last, sputtering sips of a second round of coffee.

Given this year’s exceptional circumstances brought upon us by COVID-19, the campus is a new kind of quiet. Beside essential staff and a group of international students waiting to travel, much of the Queen’s community has returned home to complete the term safely online.

The Queen’s Gazette visited campus to capture the remarkable silence of this unprecedented moment.

The intersection of University Avenue and Union Street. Stauffer Library visible on the corner.

The intersection of Union Street and University Avenue at the heart of the campus is often abuzz, but it is now missing its usual scramble of pedestrians headed to classes. Stauffer Library stands tall on the northwest corner (centre), clad in a banner celebrating its 25th anniversary. It starts its next 25 years behind temporarily-closed doors, and instead remains open online for students and researchers.

View down an deserted University Ave.

A look south down campus’ University Avenue with Richardson Hall on the right and Ontario Hall on the left; Grant Hall’s clock tower in the distance. One of the main thoroughfares, it is now vacant except for a lone dog-walker.

Grant Hall

Every year, Grant Hall hosts dozens of convocation ceremonies, but celebrations for Spring 2020 graduates have been postponed indefinitely. Students have worked hard to attain their academic success, so the university is looking at ways to deliver a special experience for graduates so as to celebrate their achievements.

In the foreground, a Research@Queen’s banner hangs from a streetlamp. Faculty researchers and experts continue to work hard to share knowledge as part of our community’s broad efforts to confront COVID-19.

Closed sign at one of Queen's athletic fields.

Like much of the campus, outdoor recreation amenities have been closed until further notice. The health and safety of the Queen’s community is the university’s top priority, so access to gathering places has been limited to promote physical distancing. For up-to-date coronavirus information from Queen’s University visit our COVID-19 website.

Campus security staff patrols a residence lounge.

Campus security is on-site to keep our remaining staff and students safe. Here, a member of Queen's Campus Security and Emergency Services makes the rounds in a second-floor residence lounge. Only a small group of students are still living in residences; primarily international students awaiting their opportunities to return home, with the support of the university’s international programming staff.

Physical Plant Services (PPS) vehicles.

Many members of Physical Plant Services (PPS) are also present on campus to ensure facilities stay maintained for students and for essential staff, and in preparation for the eventual return of the campus community. PPS’ Custodial Support Services even has a special response cleaning team ready to confront COVID-19.

Chairs stacked for storage at a Queen's cafeteria.

Chairs are stacked and stored in the cafeteria at Leonard Hall. Hospitality services have closed most locations, with Ban Righ dining hall left open to serve remaining staff and students. Left with large amounts of perishable food after the closure of most dining facilities, Queen’s Hospitality Services increased regular food donations to local shelters and organizations in Kingston; organizations that have also been impacted greatly by COVID-19.

Poster for CFRC Pandemic Radio show.

A poster promoting CFRC 101.9’s Radio Pandemic displayed near the entrance of David C. Smith House. The new call-in show on Queen’s campus radio station focuses on crucial news and events related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Posters promoting physical distancing are posted across campus.

Physical distancing signage has been posted widely, urging everyone to maintain two metres between themselves and others, to avoid group gatherings, and to instead try communicating in different ways, such as by video conference, telephone, or online chat.

Squirrel sits atop a colourful bin.

Faculty, staff, and students have been flexible, resourceful, and resilient as campus life has transitioned online, and our sustained efforts at physical distancing will help health care workers curtail the spread of coronavirus. Queen’s looks forward to welcoming everyone back to campus when the time is right, but for now we must be together from afar. Until then, the ever-popular campus squirrels can scurry about in peace.

For all coronavirus COVID-19 information from Queen’s, visit our website.

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