Tips of the Week
By Lauren Duffy (B.S. Communication & Journalism '14)
The facts are plain and simple... If you ask any doctor, kinesiology student, nutrition professor, group fitness instructor, wellness center worker, or personal trainer, they’ll all tell you the same thing: the key to being fit and healthy is eating right and exercising. The infomercials we see on television love to tell us that we can become the health and fitness guru that we want to be in a matter of days or weeks just by taking a pill or buying their exercise machine. Iin reality, it’s all a scam. Being a healthy, fit, active and happy individual is a lifetime commitment, not a goal that can be reached in a short period of time.
To live this healthful life, you must understand the dos and don'ts. To execute your workout in the best way possible, you must be knowledgeable about the different exercises you can do and different equipment you can use. To eat right, you must understand what eating healthy really means. So here to help you is the UMass Campus Recreation staff with different weekly tips and ideas that can assist you in living the healthiest lifestyle possible.
Though out one’s college years, it is easy to look past the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Weekend activities, food-filled dining commons, crazy schedules and keeping up with a social life are all factors that can stand between you and your health. But studies have shown that healthier people are happier and more successful than those who neglect their personal wellness.
If you ever walk to the end of the hallway on our ground floor, you’ll often see a Spinning® class being conducted. While many people are die-hard spinners, others may feel intimidated by the exercise class. But hesitant or not, Spinning® is a class that has many benefits and is certainly worth a try!
For more information, visit: http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/fitness/exercises/the-benefits-of-a-spinning-workout.html#b
11/6: Eat more to lose more!
11/6: Overindulge with high protein
10/22: Do you tend to overeat at the dining hall?
10/22: Looking for that magic weight loss pill?
Trying to be healthier this semester? When the academic year kicks off it is easy to set fitness goals you hope to maintain throughout the year, but it is even easier to give up on them once the craziness of the school year begins. But UMass Campus Recreation is here to help keep you on track with these easy-to-follow fitness tips!
Burpees are an excellent exercise for those looking to work the entire body. Doing a series of burpees combines leg work, arm work, core work, cardiovascular work and much more, and it is a great way to burn fat and calories.
To begin, get into a proper squat position (see previous tip). Place your hands on the floor, and in one fluid motion kick your legs backwards so you are in a high plank position (see previous tip). Then, bring your legs back in and do a powerful jump as high as you can. When landing the jump, land in your squat position so you can repeat the exercise. If you want to make these extra challenging, when you get into the high plank position, do a pushup, and then continue the exercise.
With exercises like these, it’s sometimes fun to try to set a goal for yourself. Set a goal of a number of burpees you want to do and/or an amount of time you want to do them for. Working towards a goal can make doing strenuous workouts much more rewarding!
One of the best ways to exercise your body is by doing push-ups. Push-ups work your entire upper body as well as your core. But, while they are a great simple exercise, it is extremely important to execute them properly to maximize results and minimize the potential for injury.
How to: Get into your plank position (see previous tip) with your hands shoulder-width apart, arms straight up, toes on the ground, and body in a straight line. Slowly lower yourself down by bending your elbows and lower as far as you can, then push yourself back up into your starting position. Be sure to keep your body in that straight line.
If you’re new to the exercise, it may take a while to be able to do several of these in a row. Ultimately, you want to work towards being able to touch your chest to the ground when lowering, and then return to a perfect high plank. Do push-ups to build upper body strength and core strength! They can be discouraging at first, but stick with them for powerful results!
In a bad mood? Feeling grumpy, tired, agitated, or nervous? There may be a quick-fix to your mood in that you can find in the food you eat. Studies have shown that certain foods can work with your hormones, blood flow, and vitamins to help you get into a better mood and help you take on your day with your head held high.
So if you’re feeling....
“Stressed: Eat Chocolate
Check out this article for further explanations of how these foods work with your body to fix your mood. http://www.womansday.com/health-fitness/stress-management/7-foods-that-boost-every-type-of-bad-mood-110419
Keep in mind that eating your feelings away is certainly never the answer to your problems, but if you’re in a mood that you can’t seem to kick and you can’t find time to get to the gym to work off your negative energy, try to incorporate one of these 7 foods into your next healthy snack or meal. Success rates of these mood foods change from person to person, but they’re definitely worth a shot!
If you’re trying to strengthen your back muscles, shoulders and abs, doing plank exercises are an excellent way to do so. This exercise can be done in different variations and for different periods of time to get the best results.
Forearm planks: Begin by laying flat on the floor on your stomach and push yourself up on to your forearms so that you’re holding yourself up with your toes and forearms. Hold this position for 30 seconds - 1 minute and repeat as many times as you can. You can also move your feet out and in as you hold this position, or lift one leg or arm at a time for different variations.
High planks: Again, begin on your stomach on the floor, but this time push yourself up on to your hands. This time you’ll be holding yourself up with your feet and your hands. Hold this position for 30 seconds - 1 minute and repeat as many times as you can. You can lift one arm at a time, one leg at a time, or even pull your knee in towards your chest or your elbows for variations.
When planking, be sure to stack your arms. This means that when you’re in a forearm plank your shoulders should be directly over your elbows and in a high plank your shoulders should be over your wrists. Also, make sure that you create a straight line with your body from your legs through your back and try not to have your rear-end too high or too low.
Planks are a wonderful way to sculpt and tone the body and build strength and endurance. Do planks several times a week for the best results!
If you’re looking to give your arms a great bicep-blasting workout and you’re tired of doing countless plain-old bicep curls, try this “7-7-7” or “21’s” workout!
This exercise can be done as many times you feel comfortable with and with as much weight as you feel comfortable with. If you’re looking to tone your muscles, use lower weights and do more repetitions; but if you’re looking to bulk up, use higher weights and lower repetitions.
Struggling to get a good amount of calcium each day? It is common for college students to overlook the importance of taking in calcium for bone strengthening, preventing blood clots, and enforcing normal nerve conduction. But how can you make sure that you get a good amount of calcium each day? If you don’t like dairy products or perhaps you just don’t eat them as much as you should, the best way to maintain a beneficial calcium intake is to take a calcium supplement.
However, on a strict college budget, sometimes calcium supplements can be way too expensive for the average student (some cost $20-$30 per bottle). So next time you are looking for a calcium supplement that is in your price range, grab a bottle of Tums! The one active ingredient in Tums, or any generic brand, is Calcium Carbonate, which is exactly what you will find in any expensive calcium supplement. The only difference is: Tums cost $7 as opposed to $20-$30! Be sure to check the recommended dose on the Tums bottle to make sure that you take the right amount of tablets for the healthiest amount of calcium.
By Stephanie Hill (B.S. Public Health '14)
Eating less can be as simple as not putting the serving dishes on the table. A new study from Cornell University called “Serve Here: Eat There” looked at the eating habits of 78 adults.
Tired? Hungry? No energy? Grumpy? You may just be thirsty.
Water has an incredible amount of benefits for the human body, and it can help fuel your mind and body throughout the day. If you’re not a big water-drinker, you may want to consider a change! You’ll feel better, look better, and perform your day-to-day tasks better if you’re hydrated. Not convinced? Here are 10 reasons why drinking water is so beneficial:
Keeping your own reusable water bottle with you at all times can be a constant reminder to keep hydrating. *Please remember that all water bottles used at Campus Recreation must be see-through and plastic.
If you’re looking to strengthen your core and tighten your abdominals, doing crunches regularly can help you achieve your goal. But, if you’re executing your crunches improperly, you may find that crunches are ineffective and painful on your neck or back. It is crucial when crunching to use proper form and technique:
Crunches are extremely effective if done properly, but they can be even more effective with variations. You can bend your knees and place your feet flat on the ground, put your legs flat out in front of you, or raise one or both of your legs straight up forming an “L” shape with your body.
By Steph Hill (B.S. Public Health '14)
Positive thinking may not only make you feel happier, it may make you healthier. According to the Mayo Clinic, people who have an optimistic outlook tend to live longer and enjoy a higher quality of life. If you have a tendency to look on the dark side, a few tricks may help you find the bright side.
See the Humor
Seeing the humor in situations can put a positive perspective on even the most negative events. When you allow yourself to let go with laughter or a smile, it can lighten your mental load and decrease stress.
Seek Out Uplifting Company
You are the company you keep. Spending time with people who have an optimistic and supportive viewpoint can rub off on you, just as hanging out with negative types can bring you down.
Pay Attention to Your Thoughts
Checking in with your thoughts from time to time throughout the day can help you stop a negative attitude in its tracks and replace it with a positive outlook. Like the late automobile industrialist Henry Ford said,"If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right." The Mayo Clinic advises that you use encouragement and kindness when conferring with your thoughts, just as you would when you speak to another human being.
Live in the Moment
Negative thoughts tend to occur when you dwell on the past or fret over the future, according to Benefits of Positive Thinking.com. When you focus your mind on the present moment, you free your thoughts of nonconstructive clutter and are better able to think positively.
Anticipate the Best
Assuming the worst possible outcome in a given situation can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you've convinced yourself you'll have a lousy time, you probably will. If you plan to enjoy yourself, you're more apt to have a good time. Redirect your train of thought to expect the best.
Bearing in mind that nearly every negative event or situation could be worse compels you to look on the positive side, according to I Love India.com. Be grateful for what you have rather than complaining or worrying about what is missing.
Exercising at least three times a week can diminish stress and have a positive impact on your outlook. Aerobic activities such as jogging, brisk walking or swimming can release feel-good brain chemicals like endorphins that can actually help fight off depression.
Article reviewed by Robert Lothian (last update April 29, 2012)
If you want to complete a thorough and safe workout, you must know how to perform your exercises correctly. Doing any kind of physical exercise with improper form can cause a serious injury, so it is crucial to understand your workout.
If you’re looking to tone up your legs, doing squats and lunges are great ways to do so.
When executing a proper squat, good technique is key. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your toes pointing forward. Then, bend your knees and lower yourself as if you are sitting into a chair. Do not let your knees go past your toes. Stop lowering yourself once your thighs are parallel to the ground, then stand up and repeat.
When lunging, stand with your feet together, then step one foot forward and bend your knees to lower yourself to the ground. Make sure you do not allow your front knee to go past your toe, as this could cause injury to your knee. Before your lower knee touches the ground, step your front foot backwards to a standing position and repeat, this time stepping forward with the other foot. Try to keep your front knee at a 90 degree angle when lowering. You can do this without weights, or you can hold a weight in each hand as you lunge for more of a challenge.
For both exercises, be sure that you keep your back straight and your knees over your ankles (but no further). Your workout should give you a good exercise burn, but should not be painful. Be sure to stop pushing yourself if something begins hurting. Repeat these motions as many times as you want, and be sure to stretch when you are done.
To keep your diet as nutritious and rewarding for your body as possible, it is extremely important to eat clean fruits and vegetables. Eating clean means consuming organic foods while avoiding foods that are highly processed in order to maximize the nutritional benefits and avoid consuming unhealthy toxins.
Fruits and vegetables that are not organic are often sprayed with pesticides or insecticides to kill the pests. These pesticides take away a great deal of the food’s nutritional value. Many pesticides are also known as neurotoxins that can be damaging to the nerves and brain cells. These toxins are not only put on the food that we buy and eat, but if the seeds that grow these fruits and vegetables are modified genetically, they can actually produce their own pesticides -- meaning the pesticides are inside of the food, too.
When organic fruits and vegetables are grown and sold, the use of these damaging toxins is avoided. None of their seeds are genetically modified and nothing is sprayed onto the food to kill bugs. As a result, organic food is higher in vitamin C, calcium, iron, antioxidants, magnesium, and chromium. And, frankly, they taste better than non-clean fruits and vegetables.
So the secret to keeping your diet as healthy and clean as possible? Eat organic! Your body will thank you. You can find these foods at local farm stands and at stores such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
If you exercise regularly, it is important to remember to change up your workout routines. The best way to see a result when working out is to keep your body guessing by introducing new exercises. If you lift the same weight for the same number of sets and reps each day, or you run the same distance on the same treadmill on a daily basis, you may notice that your body gets conditioned and used to that exercise, so no progress is made. That’s when you know it’s time for a change.
How can you keep your routines different and interesting?
If you constantly attend the same group fitness class, try something new that is out of your comfort zone. For example, if you take kickboxing a lot, try out yoga! If you lift weights when you’re at the Recreation Center, either switch up your lifting routine with new weights and equipment, or maybe try jumping on a cardio machine for a while.
Many foods that we commonly eat can be extremely high in fats and calories. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook how quickly these fats and calories add up when we’re making a meal, so it’s important to know where you can cut out some of the unhealthy parts and replace them with nutritious foods!
For example, when making a sandwich, it’s common to add different condiments for flavor. One popular condiment is mayonnaise, which has a lot of fat and is high in calories. To avoid some of the unhealthy substances, try substituting mayo with avocado! You can spread the soft avocado just like mayo, and it’s extremely flavorful but much healthier than mayonnaise.
Also, when you’re cooking out this summer, it’s common to want to grill up some burgers. However, regular burgers from cows are loaded with fat. Instead of group beef, try using the meat from a bison or buffalo for a healthy substitute. Buffalo meat tastes exactly the same as a regular burger but it has less than half of the fat and calories. Next time you’re craving a burger, try this little substitution!
Finally, plain Greek yogurt is a great substitute for sour cream! Sour cream is very fatty and does not have great nutritional value, but Greek yogurt has good nutrients and lots of protein. It’s a great add-on to your favorite healthy dishes!
What healthy substitutions can you find?
Before and after working out, it is extremely important to stretch your muscles to prevent muscle soreness and potential injury. Before you begin working out or after you warm up your body, do a quick and light stretch of your muscles. You should incorporate a deeper and more thorough body stretch into your post-workout routine.
Stretching in general can help you improve your posture, circulation, coordination, flexibility, and joint range of motion. Stretching can also help relieve stress. While stretching, try to hold each stretch position for about 30 seconds to lengthen your muscle tissue. Remember to relax and breathe while stretching, and be sure to stretch both sides evenly.
If you’re looking for different stretch exercises and positions to hold, it’s a great idea to head to one of our yoga classes at the Recreation Center, or head to our wellness center and ask a nutrition advisor for advice.