Category Archives: Fitness

To Stretch or Not to Stretch – That is the question….

One of the questions I get asked most often as a Personal Trainer is whether stretching is good before or after a workout. I recently came across an article in the May 2013 IDEA Fitness Journal entitled “Stretching’s Impact on Strength.”  You can interpret the conclusion as you wish, but I thought I’d share the research so you can make an educated decision about your workout and get the most out of your strength gains with a stretching session PRE-workout (it does not examine the post workout stretch at all).

To stretch or not to stretch for improved strength is a question that endures. Some support the practice; others don’t. A new study may have put the debate to rest.

Published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (2012; doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31828054b7), the study aimed to determine what impact – if any – stretching would have on stren01trianlgepose gth production. The researchers employed three procedures: a warm-up plus static stretching before each session; a stretch prior to each training set; and no stretch at all throughout the session. Thirty participants were divided among the three groups for 10 weeks. The strength component featured eight exercise performed at an 8-repetition maximum. The researchers measured strength levels and basal serum insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1 – which is an anabolic agent that is released mostly from the liver, and occasionally from the bone, fat cells, testes and heart to stimulate tissue growth) before and after the intervention. Final data revealed strength improvements across all exercise for the no-stretch group, but only in some exercises for both stretching groups. The no-stretch group also showed increases in IGF-1 post exercise, whereas the others did not.Capture

The authors concluded that strength can improve with a pre-stretch, an in-workout stretch or no stretch at all – but in this study, the most significant impact on both strength and IGF-1 occurred in the no stretch group.

 

Crossfit – Friend or Foe??

OK – Admittedly this the first time I’ve ever really wanted to get on my soapbox and really SCREAM about something.  But this is touching my heart and my passion on such a deep level that I can’t keep my mouth shut and idly sit by.

I’m getting really really tired of all the negativity (social media, as well as closer to home) with Crossfit. Tabata Times has a great Crossfit 2response article to some of the recent negativity that speak so well to what I’m trying to get at.  Read that blog HERE

I don’t care that you don’t like Crossfit or believe in it.  Crossfit is how I’VE managed to improve MY fitness levels, get stronger and have better endurance than ANY other workout I’VE ever done. Yes, I’ve tried the running and training for races – guess what?  I hated it – it became a chore for me –  Something I had to do (And I’m the person who LOVES exercise).  Now Crossfit on the other hand has given ME a true support system, both for enhancing MY fitness and also for finding the accountability to keep going when schedules get tough.

 

Yes – I’ve even gotten injured doing Crossfit (shoulder issues that rest & stretching cured) – but I’ve also gotten injured straight up weight training on my own (pulled hamstring), playing volleyball and basketball (3 knee surgeries from those alone!), running (I twisted my ankle and face-planted in the process -HA!), rollerblading & biking (once again – face-planting on a sidewalk next to a busy street).  Heck I’ve even twisted my ankle walking down stairs (ok – that one is just pure clumsiness!)  Every physically active thing you do sets you up for injury if you don’t pay attention to what you body is feeling or doing – Crossfit isn’t the ONLY culprit.

Carter - 2 Weeks

Hi there!

There are even the articles bashing Crossfitting while pregnant (even exercising in general – calling those women selfish). (Read one here and here and be sure to read comments from those articles as well.)  WOrking out while pregnant is a great thing (if you are cleared by your doc!)- read this article! While I was pregnant with my first child. I did crossfit workouts up until my 9th month (and the only reason I stopped then was because I had TONS of things to complete at work before going out on maternity leave and my workschedule didn’t allow for it).  What people don’t realize is that with ALL workouts, women need to make small changes to their routine, weight and form to accommodate the growing belly and child.  Pregnancy is not a “Get out of Jail Free” card that allows you to sit on your arse and eat bon bons (what are these things anyways??)  Its a time to really get to know your body, what it can do and how it feels.  I didn’t have all those pregnancy “ailments” like swollen feet or aching back. I will also tell you that my labor was not as arduous and traumatizing as some people make it out to be.  Yes, I was in labor for 24 hours, but when it came down to go time – I pushed less then 10 minutes total and I had a very healthy baby boy.  I had an easy & uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery and I completely attribute that to the fact that I did stay physically active for almost the entire time.
I’ve been a personal trainer for 7 years (WOW! Its been that long???) and all I ask as a fitness professional is for you to find what you love to do for exercise and improving your fitness and do it! Don’t go with the flow just because its the trend – what everybody is doing.  Find what speaks to you and excites you and gives you something to look forward to everyday, whether that’s training for a marathon, walking with your family every day, taking Zumba classes or using your exercise DVD’s at home. It really doesn’t matter as long as you are moving and working to improve YOUR health.

regret workoutJust don’t try to make me feel bad for doing what I find fun and enjoyable.

ok…end rant and off my soapbox :)

15 Things you Should Know About Strength Training!

#1: Lifting wimpy weights gets you nowhere. To get stronger, you need to “overload” your muscles with weights that you don’t handle on a daily basis.
Studies show people sell themselves way short when picking their weights—they tend to be 30 to 50 percent lighter than is necessary to build strength and muscle.
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#2: Strength training is the best activity you can do to build bone and reduce fracture risk.
Studies show former athletes who included weight lifting as part of their workouts have much stronger bones as they age. This translates into a 50 percent lower chance of fracture in men, and a 20 percent lower fracture risk in women.
#3: Strength training improves hormone balance and reproductive function.
Besides the well known acute increase in testosterone that men experience from lifting, training leads to better regulation of the hormones related to hunger and energy use. It also improves estrogen metabolism, and balances stress hormones such as cortisol.
#4: Strength training improves quality of sleep so that you wake up fewer times during the night and can go to sleep more easily.
The reason is that training reduces inflammation and supports circadian rhythms. It’s been found to benefit both good sleepers and those with insomnia.
#5: Working out makes you more successful at work and school. Studies show college students who train get better grades, and professionals who lift make more money.
This might be because exercise builds confidence and self-worth. Of course, it also enhances appearance, which is known to correlate with wealth and professional success.
 #6: Strength training helps you be your own champion. It’s the perfect way to kickstart other healthy behaviors.
You start lifting and you get more in tune with your body, which makes you want to eat better so you fell energized when you wake up in the morning. You become one of those people who everyone looks up to because you seize the day.
#7: You can strength train anywhere—you don’t need a gym.
Try bodyweight exercises, sprints, or stairwell runs when you don’t have weights handy.
#8: Strength training has a dramatic effect on insulin health and blood sugar function.
By building muscle, you increase both the receptivity of the muscles to insulin and their demand for glucose. This contributes to better body composition and diabetes prevention, and savvy doctors are pairing weight training with a high-protein diet to cure diabetes.
#9: Strength training is most effective for reducing body fat when you pair it with a smart diet that leads to a reduction in energy intake.
Wellness Center#10: Strength training primes the nervous system so that you react faster and have a quicker first step.
It will reduce your risk of tripping and falling and will increase your chance of avoiding a dangerous situation when behind the wheel.
#11: Strength training has repeatedly been shown to correlate with lower risk of a number of cancers. Might be because your percentage of muscle tissue is a primary predictor of survival from cancer.
Better hormone balance also plays a role. For instance, teen girls who exercise experience the greatest reduction in breast cancer risk later in life because physical activity optimizes estrogen metabolism.
#12: You can’t lose fat from an area like your abs by doing crunches. Same goes for thighs—you don’t directly lose leg fat from squats.
What happens is you build muscle in your abs by doing total body lifts, and in your legs by doing squats. This makes them look firmer and leaner. To lose the fat that covers up the muscle, you train the whole body and optimize your diet.
#13: Kids of all ages (well, over age 6) can train. Workouts should be age appropriate and carefully monitored by a coach with experience training youth.
StrKettleBell2ength training can set kids up for a lean, healthy life and ease the awkwardness of puberty by improving coordination and the experience of being in a changing body.
#14: Strength training makes your brain work better. This means you’ll be smarter, but you’ll also feel happier and have less risk of depression.
In fact, exercise may be just as good as antidepressants for treating mild to moderate depression.
#15: You don’t need a grand plan to start strength training but you do need some simple technique and programming tools. The UND Wellness Center offers a free session to our guests called Intro to Weight Training.  With this you can learn the basics of weight training and start to apply them in your daily workout routine!

 

Spring into Seasonal Fruit and Vegetables

It is hard to believe that spring is here (literally). With the start of a new season means different fruits and vegetables are in season as well. As far as fruits and vegetables go, spring is considered to be March, April and May. When a fruit or vegetable is in season it means is at its peak of flavor or harvest. Not only will the flavor be optimal the price will be the cheapest. Next time you head out to the grocery store be sure to try some of the following items that are in season right now!

strawberriessnow peasmango

Remember, you can enjoy the taste of any fruit or vegetable year-round by using fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and 100% juice – it all counts!

Apricots 
Artichokes 
Asparagus 
Barbados Cherries
Belgian Endive
Bitter Melon
Broccoli
Butter Lettuce
Cactus
Chayote Squash 
Cherimoya
Chives
Collard Greens
Corn
Fava Beans
Fennel
Fiddlehead Ferns
Green Beans
Honeydew
Jackfruit
Limes
Lychee 
Mango
Manoa Lettuce
Morel Mushrooms
Mustard Greens
Oranges 
Pea Pods
Peas
Pineapple
Purple Asparagus
Radicchio
Ramps
Red Leaf Lettuce
Rhubarb 
Snow Peas
Sorrel
Spinach
Spring Baby Lettuce
Strawberries
Swiss Chard
Vidalia Onions
Watercress
White Asparagus
 
limesartichokeswiss chardpineapple

Reference: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.com

 

National Nutrition Month

Coming to the end of February means that National Nutrition Month is just around the corner. Every March is National Nutrition Month and every year UND celebrates March with many nutrition related activities. This year UND is offering a recipe contest, Student Iron Chef, Lunch and Learn, food drive, grocery bingo, and a wellness screening.

NNM 14

The Delicious and Nutritious Recipe Contest will be going on the majority of the month. The recipe submission deadline is March 21; to find out details about this event click on the following link.

http://und.edu/health-wellness/wellness/nutrition/index.cfm

recipes

Student Iron Chef Contest Semi-final dates of the competition are March 3rd and March 4th. The final competition will take place on March 11th. Groups of students will be creating a dish consisting of Alaskan Salmon, YUM.

UND student iron chef

A food drive will take place for the whole month of March. Non-perishable food items and personal care products are appreciated. Donation boxes will be placed throughout the campus.

 food drive

Grocery Bingo will take place on March 28th at 9pm in the loading dock. It is free to all students and it’s a great way to win free groceries and meet students.

 grocery bingo

A lunch ‘N learn will be held on March 26th in Gamble Hall from 12:30pm to 1:30pm in room 225. This event is part of the Deans for wellness initiative; it is open to all staff, faculty, spouses and partners of the College of Business and Public Administration. You can RSVP to this email:

 laura.dvorak@und.edu

The wellness screening will be held at the EERC on March 5th. It is open to faculty, staff, partners and spouses. This is an appointment only event to make an appointment click the following link.

www.und.edu/workwell

Super Bowl Food Makeover

The Super Bowl is this Sunday February 2nd and many of us make it an excuse to eat a lot of snack food. The typical snack foods of the Super Bowl consists of; nachos, wings, chili, chips, dip, and much more. Here are some ways you can makeover these typical high calorie foods for this years Super Bowl.

When making chili or any other dish that calls for hamburger use lean ground turkey or lean ground sirloin. This substitution lowers the saturated fat content.
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When making Nachos use pork tenderloin and bacon- studded beans. As for cheese you should use the fat-free kind. To make these nachos even more flavorful add salsa and chunks of avocado; this way you can skip the sour cream and cheese sauce.

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When it comes to those tasty dips make sure you avoid the mayonnaise and cheese. Creamy dips that contain these ingredients usually have many hidden fats. A way to make a better dip for the Super Bowl is to puree white beans, onions, garlic, black beans, green chilies and parmesan cheese together. You can modify the dips to your liking too.

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To see some great Super Bowl food makeovers check out the following sites.
http://www.cookinglight.com/entertaining/holidays-occasions/low-fat-super-bowl-recipes-00400000063811/page6.html

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20338949,00.html

References:

http://www.cookinglight.com/entertaining/holidays-occasions/low-fat-super-bowl-recipes-00400000063811/page6.html

Student-Athletes and Alcohol Use

Student-athletes may be under more pressure than just the average college student.  Student-athletes are expected to perform well in the classroom, and to perform for their coaches and teammates when it’s game time. Unfortunately, for some student-athletes, this stress is not always handled in the right way. Research shows that athletes tend to overestimate the amount of alcohol that their teammates and friends consume (Martens, Page, Mowry, Dmann, Taylor, & Cimini, 2006). It is proven that athletes often have larger groups of friends than non-athletes which may account for part of the misconception, but it also puts athletes at greater risk for binge drinking behavior (Nelson & Wechsler, 2000). College athletes report a higher rate of binge drinking (57%) than their non-athlete counterparts (48%) (Nelson & Wechsler, 2000).

Consuming 5 or more drinks in one night can affect the brain and body for up to 3 days after consumption, interfering with the athlete’s ability to learn new plays and strategies.  Athletes’ use of alcohol has no direct benefit to their body or training because the high calories in alcohol cannot be converted into energy for the body (Firth & Manzo, 2004). So when athletes of any kind are feeling stressed with school, practice, traveling, and competition, they shouldn’t turn to alcohol as a way to relax. It only will put you more behind.

A workout playlist that’s PROVEN to get results? – Yes please!

If you’re already struggling with your New Year plans to get fit, it may be because you’re listening to the wrong kind of music during your workout.

Sports psychologists from London have discovered that specific genres of music are best suited to specific types of exercise, and listening to the wrong kind of track could hinder your performance. 

They found that rap music provides the best beats per minute for stretching and running, while dance music is more suited to strength training.

Pop music is best used during warm up and cool down, but rock music should be avoided during exercise due to frequent changes in tempo that can affect your rhythm.

The research was carried out by sports psychologist Dr Costas Karageorghis, the Music in Exercise and Sport Group at Brunel University in London and Spotify.

The team analysed 6.7 million Spotify playlists containing the word ‘workout’ in the title and compared the different beats per minute (bpm) to those used in certain workouts.

For example, a person’s typical stride rate while jogging or running is 150 to 190 strides per minute.

If these figures are halved it gives a range of 75 to 95 bpm – the beat range found most commonly in urban music, particularly rap.

Many of the lyrics in rap music also ‘imbue the physical energy’ best suited to running, explained the researchers.

Whereas pop is perfect for slower, more repetitive-type tasks, including aerobic warm up and cool down because many pop songs ‘have regular rhythmic patterns and beats.’

Dance music is best suited to strength and weight training because its ‘fast, rhythmical, bass psyches people up before weight training sessions.

Elsewhere, Dr Karageorghis said that for maximum effect, people should use songs that remind them of their adolescence and early adulthood to make them feel youthful and fit.

He said: ‘A suitably motivational playlist can help to ‘colour’ the symptoms of exercise-related fatigue, like breathlessness and a beating heart, in such a way that they are interpreted in a more positive manner.

‘This means that at the point when your body is shouting stop, the music has the power to lift your mood and beckon you on.’

Celebrity trainer Joey Gonzalez added: ‘During workouts, an hour-long mix of strength training and treadmill-based cardio intervals, we try to match our runs and exercises to the beat of our music.

‘For example, timing the treadmill sprints to the chorus of a track with a great hook, or playing a slower song with bass for incline jogs, and even matching steady consistent beats for long endurance runs are all part of our strategy.’

Whereas rock music should be avoid during cardio and high-intensity workouts because the different changes in tempo can affect a person’s rhythm.

Based on the findings, the researchers have compiled a playlist with song suggestions for cool down, aerobic warm up, varying levels of cardio intensity, strength training and cool down. Music Playlist

Information taken from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2538601/The-workout-playlist-thats-PROVEN-work-Scientists-analyse-beats-songs-reveal-perfect-exercise-tracks.html

Peanut Butter and Jelly Smoothie

Today in the Culinary Corner we made peanut butter and jelly protein packed smoothies! This was for our first Cheap, Fast and Healthy class of the semester and also kicked off the Pursuit of Wellness. We had a great turnout! There was 12 participants. This smoothie is something that is easy to make (if you have access to a blender) and is made with ingredients that are easy to find and are often found in many kitchens! You basically just dump all the ingredients into the blender and mix it up! It is great for breakfast or for a snack. We had a little mishap during the class, the blender cover might have not been secured tightly and the smoothie flew EVERYWHERE! Oops, everyone had a good laugh though! This smoothie has great sources of natural protein, coming from the yogurt, milk and peanut butter. We took the smoothie to a whole new level and added SPINACH! The participants said that they could not tell the difference between the initial recipe and the smoothie with the spinach. This is a great way to add some extra nutrients and get a servings of vegetables. It is also easy to add spinach to other things such as chopped in casseroles. Because spinach doesn’t have much taste it is easy to disguise!

PB&J Smoothie

Peanut Butter & Jelly Protein Smoothie
A thick, creamy, healthy smoothie reminiscent of your favorite childhood sandwich & with 23 grams of pure protein.
Yield: 4 very large smoothie
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Ingredients:
• 4 medium banana, peeled, sliced, and frozen
• 24 oz Vanilla Greek Yogurt
• 4 cup frozen berries*
• 3 cup unsweetened almond milk (or your favorite kind of milk)
• 1/2 Cup peanut butter (any kind you like)
Directions:
Put all of the ingredients into the blender, in the order listed, and blend on high until thick and smooth. You may need to stop and stir/scrape down the sides of the blender a few times.

Stressed by Finals?

If you’re like me with finals right around the corner your stress levels have gone up with studying for test, projects, or papers. DeStress Fest Poster - Dec 2013 (2)However there is a way to help you cope with these added stress levels, exercise.  Aerobic exercise is a great way to help lower your stress levels even if it is a thirty minute quick workout. Usually weekends are my days off from working out but I was starting to get stressed and couldn’t focus so I came to the UND Wellness Center and used the 30 minute circuit (located on the upper level). I felt so much better after that quick workout. I had my focus back and my stress levels I could feel were lowered. I finished my homework stress free and I could enjoy the night, while not having to focus on my homework instead.  stress2Head to the Physical Activity Booth during the FroZEN De-Stress Fest at the Memorial Union Loading Dock this Wednesday (Dec 11th, 2013 11am-2pm) to learn more about how Exercise helps improve brain function & take stress away during stressful times (like FINALS)!

-Kelsey Olson, FLEX Intern, UND Wellness Center

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