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Campus Recreation > Fitness & Wellness > Wellness > Tips of the Week

Tips of the Week

More tips, articles and discussion at our student-run blog:

Fitness Tips
Wellness/Nutrition Tips
9/15/14: What Are You Really Weighing?
9/15/14: Stretch!
4/21/14: Balancing Your Lifestyle
4/4/14: Beware of Sugar
3/26/14: All About Iron
1/24/14: Fitness Myths
2/6/14: Ten Ways to De-stress
3/14/13: Burpees
3/8/13: Mood Food
3/13/13: Push-Ups
3/6/13: Planks
10/10/12: Crunches


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. 

Here at UMass Campus Recreation, we are committed to promoting a healthy and active lifestyle both during one’s time at the University and beyond. Our recreational facility is beautiful and comfortable, and it is the perfect place to explore the different dimensions of healthy living. 

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. -- Lauren Duffy (Communication & Journalism '14)

Stretch! - Lauren Duffy (Journalism & Communication '15)

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 ask one of your UFit coaches for help, or even head to one of our yoga classes!
  • Examples of helpful stretches. . .  
  • Bend over at the waist with a slight bend in your legs and try to touch your toes
  • Grab your foot behind you and hold
  • Reach up and bend your right arm so your hand touches your right shoulder blade and hold your right elbow with your left hand, repeat other side
  • Spread your legs, bend one knee and lean in its direction while straightening the other leg

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9/15/14: What are you really weighing? - Lauren Duffy (Journalism & Communication '14)

Does the number on the scale really matter?While the number you see on the scale does reflect what your total body mass is, it does not break down exactly what it is weighing…

  • The scale cannot differentiate between you weight coming from muscle and your weight coming from fat.
    • This is important to realize because muscle weighs more than fat, which many are unaware of!
  • Your body can become more fit and healthy, even if the number on the scale stays the same (or even increases!)
  • Your weight fluctuates daily depending on many factors such as calorie consumption, salt intake, water retention, and hormonal changes.
    • Believe it or not, your weight can fluctuate up to 5lbs daily!

4/21/14: Balancing Your Lifestyle - Steph Hill (Public Health '14)

Wellness is much more than merely physical health, exercise or nutrition. It is the full integration of personal states of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. The model used by our campus includes social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, intellectual and physical wellness. Each of these seven dimensions act and interact in a way that contributes to our own quality of life.

  1. Social: Maintaining positive relationships with the people in our lives, connecting to people within our world
  2. Emotional: Having the ability to understand ourselves and cope with any challenges life may bring
  3. Spiritual: Establishing peace and harmony within our lives
  4. Environmental: Recognizing our own responsibility for the quality of air, water, land, and all that surrounds us
  5. Occupational: Achieving personal fulfillment in our career paths while still maintain a balance in our lives
  6. Intellectual: Opening our minds to new ideas, concepts, and improving our lifelong learning skills
  7. Physical: Maintaining a healthy quality of life to get us through our daily activities without fatigue or physical stress

4/4/14: Run some Trails! - Andrew Mack (Nutrition '15)

Run some trails!  Take a break from the recreation center and run some trails. A great trail network to run is Earl’s Trails in Hadley. Directions: Take 116 at the top of the road up the Notch. There is a reasonably large parking area at the Notch Visitor's center there. Head out of the parking lot, go right towards Amherst then take a quick left on Military Road, a paved road. After a few hundred yards, you'll come to a fence, and the trail entrance is on your right, right before the fence.

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4/4/14: Beware of Sugar! - Lauren Smith (Nutrition '15)

Trying to cut back on sugar? It may be tougher than you think. Sugar has many names and comes in multiple forms. Even natural sweeteners, honey, and syrups act as sugar in your body. When trying to cut back on sugar, avoid the following:

  • Nectars
  • Syrups
  • Any type of sugar (brown, cane, beet, etc.)
  • Caramels
  • Anything ending in – “ose” (Fructose, sucrose, dextrose, glucose)
  • Honeys
  • Cane Juice

For a more detailed list visit:  http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-11314/41-sneaky-names-for-sugar.html

3/26/14: All About Iron - Lauren Smith (Nutrition '15)

Iron is a very important nutrient that can be found in many food sources.  The main function of iron in the body is to carry the oxygen in red blood cells throughout the body to produce energy. Anemia, also known as iron deficiency, is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies and can result in extreme fatigue. Iron can be found in two forms: heme and non-heme. Heme iron is only found in animal sources and can be easily absorbed by the body. Non-heme iron is found in plant sources and isn’t absorbed as easily.  Eating foods high in Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron.  For those who don’t eat meat, it is very important to combine their iron sources with foods high in Vitamin C so their iron will be absorbed.  Cooking in a cast iron skillet can also increase intake of iron.

Sources of non-heme iron include:

  • Dark leafy greens
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Fortified cereals
  • Whole Grains

Sources of heme iron include:

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Fish

The recommended intake for Iron is 8 milligrams/day for men and 18 milligrams/day for women.

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3/10/14: The Truth about Strength Training - YOU NEED IT! - Alyssa Gaudreault (Kinesiology '14)

Strength Training is just as important for women as it is for men. A common misconception is that when women strength train, the result is looking big and bulky as a man would. This is FALSE.


  • Strength training increases the amount of muscle an individual has and elevates bone density.
  • Strength training should be incorporated into any individual’s fitness regimen at least 2-3 times per week.
  • A day of rest should be allowed between each workout, enabling rest and recovery.
  • Initial muscle soreness may frequently occur and is normal. There should be concern only if there is pain.
  • To prevent pain and injury, plan a proper warm up of about 5-10 minutes of cardiovascular exercise such as using a treadmill, elliptical, bike, or running on the track.
  • Make sure you are practicing proper form and technique during your lifts. If you have any concerns or are unsure of how to perform a lift, utilize the internet or ask one of your UFIT trainers!
  • Always remember to BREATHE! Do not practice Valsalva, which is holding your breath while lifting. Breathe out during your work phase where you are pushing against the weight, and breathe in during retraction.
  • A lifting regimen that includes sets of lifting heavier weight with lower repetitions is good for individuals with the goal of gaining muscle.
  • Those that have a goal of toning and sculpting should practice a regimen that includes lifting light to moderate weights with more repetitions.

2/6/14: Ten Ways to De-Stress - Lauren Duffy (Communication & Journalism '14)

It is important to remember that stress is not good for your body and your health. It can make you sleep restlessly or not at all, it can hinder your immune system, it can increase blood pressure, it can negatively impact your mental health, and it can give you aches and pains. It is important to put in the effort to de-stress yourself when you begin to feel a little anxious for any reason.
“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.” – Jim Goodwin

  1. Take a deep breath –  Slow, deep breaths can help the body relax. Inhale through your nose and exhale out through your mouth.
  2. Take a time-out –  Sometimes you just need to step away from what is inducing your stress in order for your body to calm down.
  3. Exercise –  Do a low to moderate work out to relax. A high intensity one can fatigue the body and induce more stress, but a light one will help you relax and cheer up.
  4. Do Yoga –  Yoga is a proven de-stressing activity.
  5. Go into the natural light –  Expose your eyes to natural light to remind your body that it is daytime. Our brains get confused when they don’t know what time it is.
  6. Make a list –  Sometimes seeing the work you need to get done or the things that are stressing you out in a list can help
  7. Eat fish, almonds, or blueberries – these superfoods can help reduce your stress levels.
  8. Drink green tea –  The tea is soothing and has amino acids that calm.
  9. Listen to your favorite music –  Music can be very therapeutic and can help cheer you up and calm you down.
  10. Examine your stress –  Is it worth being stressed about? 

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1/24/14: Fitness Myths - Lauren Duffy (Communication & Journalism '14)

Not everything you’ve heard about exercise is true…

  1. “Sports drinks keep you going through your workout.” FALSE. A sports drink is a bottle full of sugar and chemicals. You are always better off with water.
  2. “I can target where I lose weight.” FALSE. You cannot decide where you want to lose weight, your body will slim itself on its own terms.
  3. “Cardio exercises, not strength training, will help me lose weight.” FALSE. A combination of the two is best for your body. However, cardio exercises make you burn calories for as long as you exercise, but strength training helps you burn fat and calories even after you’re doing working out.
  4. “Exercise will turn fat into muscle.” FALSE. They are two completely different tissues. Turning one into another is impossible.
  5. “Weight training will make women bulky.” FALSE. Women don’t have the testosterone to bulk up. Don’t be afraid of gaining muscle!

For more information, visit: http://breakingmuscle.com/strength-conditioning/the-7-fitness-myths-ie-total-bs-you-need-to-know

1/14/14: All About Iron - Lauren Smith (Nutrition '15)

Iron is a very important nutrient that can be found in many food sources.  The main function of iron in the body is to carry the oxygen in red blood cells throughout the body to produce energy. Anemia, also known as iron deficiency, is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies and can result in extreme fatigue. Iron can be found in two forms: heme and non-heme. Heme iron is only found in animal sources and can be easily absorbed by the body. Non-heme iron is found in plant sources and isn’t absorbed as easily.  Eating foods high in Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron.  For those who don’t eat meat, it is very important to combine their iron sources with foods high in Vitamin C so their iron will be absorbed.  Cooking in a cast iron skillet can also increase intake of iron.

Sources of non-heme iron include:

  • Dark leafy greens
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Fortified cereals
  • Whole Grains

Sources of heme iron include:

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Fish

1/14/14: Reading the Nutrition Label - Lauren Smith (Nutrition '15)

  1. Look at the Serving Size!  You may be surprised at how many servings come in one package.  Compare the amount you’re eating to the amount per serving to figure out how many calories and other nutrients you’re consuming.
  2. Take a Look at the Calories and Fat. If you’re watching your weight, it’s important to understand how many calories are in your food.
  3. Look at the Daily Values.  The daily values are just an average, but they are a good guide to understanding how much of each nutrient you need.
  4. Understand at the Fat, Cholesterol, and Sodium Content. These are all values that you should keep low.
  5. Look at the Vitamins, Minerals, and Fiber. These are all the nutrients that you want to get plenty of!

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12/3/13: Five Simple Ways to Be a Healthier College Student

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.

How can wellness be a part of your busy college life? Here are 5 easy ways to be healthier in college:

  1. Get plenty of sleep: Sleep gives the body time to rest and heal, which positively affects your mental and physical health. It also helps keep your immune system in tip-top shape so you can avoid catching the illness that is circulating your dorm or apartment. Sleep will keep you energized during the day, feel better overall, and retain what you learn in class, among many other benefits. Aim to get a full eight hours of rest, even if it means tweaking your daily routine a bit.
  2. Do not eat too close to bed time:  Eating before bed can interfere with your sleep, your weight-loss goals, and can make you feel sluggish in the morning. Just as a rule of thumb, try not to eat after dinner, or eat dinner too late.
  3. Manage your stress: Try to keep your stress levels low by exercising, sleeping, eating right, and taking time for yourself to breathe. Being too overwhelmed can deteriorate your health and cause even more stress. Stress is unavoidable in college, but it is easy to handle if you put in the right efforts.
  4. Eat right and exercise: These are the obvious ones. By eating healthy foods and healthy portions you can feel more energized and maybe even accomplish a weight-loss goal. And by exercising for at least 30 minutes each day, you can allow yourself to de-stress, feel better, and keep illnesses away. Remember to keep hydrated, too!
  5.  Eat breakfast: Eating breakfast gets your metabolism going and can prevent you from binge eating when you get hungry later in the day. Sometimes it’s hard to grab something to eat when you’re rushing to an early class, so make time for it! Even if it means setting an earlier alarm, you’ll thank yourself later.

11/6/13: The Benefits of a Spinning® Class

            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!

  1. Heart health: Spinning® instructors use intervals to get your heart pumping and to challenge your comfort zone. In turn, Spinning classes build your endurance and cardiovascular strength.
  2. Spin at your own pace: There is no pressure in a Spinning class as you control the level of resistance you are pedaling against. Because of this, you are able to feel in control of your workout and you can push yourself as much or as little as you’d like.
  3. Tone your muscles: Spinning classes can help you tone your legs, arms, and abdominals. Instructors will incorporate pedal resistance for your legs, push-up motions on the handlebars for your arms, and will encourage you to engage your core muscles as you ride.
  4. Stay motivated: Spinning, like all of our group fitness classes, is a group exercise, so you’ll never lose motivation to keep going. With that, plus the instructor’s motivating words and pump-up music, you’ll want to push yourself to the end of the class!
  5. Sweat and feel amazing: After a Spinning class, it is almost unheard of for someone to not be drenched in sweat. When your stretching and putting away your bike you will get a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction with the workout you just executed.

For more information, visit: http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/fitness/exercises/the-benefits-of-a-spinning-workout.html#b

11/6/13: Eat More to Lose More!

In terms of weight loss, the importance of consuming small healthy snacks between meals cannot be overstated. It seems counterintuitive that more food is the answer to your weight issue, but there are plenty of studies that show snacking to have a positive effect on weight loss.  Snacks fill you up, result in fewer cravings, give you more energy, and help with portion control.  Over the course of a day, you may be eating more often, but you’re eating fewer calories which is important to weight loss.  Small healthy snacks like cheese, fruits, nuts, whole grain chips and yogurts are all great options that fill you up but don’t provide large amounts of calories .

Source: http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/082510p32.shtml

11/6/13: Overindulge with High Protein

In a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, subjects were instructed to overeat and avoid exercise, but they were split into different groups with protein intakes of 5% and 25% of total calories. The researchers found those who ate a low-protein diet lost more weight, but also stored more body fat and lost lean muscle mass. In fact, the low-protein group stored 90 percent of their calories as body fat, versus just 50 percent for the high-protein group.  So, if you’re going to overindulge the next time you’re at the dining hall, reach for high protein foods (chicken, pizza, burgers) that will fill you up, preserve muscle mass and minimize fat gain compared to low protein foods.

Source: http://www.nutritionnews.com/food/manage-weight-gain-by-protein-metabolism/

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10/22/13: Do you Tend to Overeat at the Dining Hall?
Try drinking a large glass (12-16oz) of water before you sit down to eat.  Outside of keeping you adequately hydrated, the water also takes up space in your stomach.  This ultimately makes you feel fuller quicker and as a result you end up eating less.  On average about 75-100 calories less per meal which can add up quick!

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100823142929.htm

10/22/13: Looking for That Magic Weight Loss Pill?
Oregon State researchers recently conducted a review of popular weight loss supplements on the market examining clinical trials and reading research articles.  What did they find?  Some of the most popular supplements produce less than a few pounds of weight loss.  And that weight loss isn’t exclusive to the supplements as most of the subjects who experienced weight loss were on reduced calorie diets.  The researchers conclusion was that a diet high in fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy, whole grains and lean meats in addition to exercise is still the most effective way to lose weight.  Long story short, weight loss requires a change in lifestyle, not a gold card at GNC.

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120306131646.htm

10/1/13: Six Tips to Keep you Healthy This Semester!

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! 

  1. Set realistic goals: Take your schedule into account when setting your goals so you can set ones that are actually attainable. Setting goals that are too hard to keep up with when you get busy can lead to giving up completely. You want to set goals that you can still work towards and eventually reach even when your weeks are almost booked solid. 

  2. Set healthy goals: Setting a healthy goal is a key to success. You must consider your abilities, your time, and your health when determining what fitness or wellness goal you want to reach. If you’re not sure about how to set a healthy one, come talk to one of our nutrition advisors in our Wellness Center! 

  3. Follow a routine: Do some research on healthy routines or exercise plans, or create your own! Having a list or a schedule will help keep you accountable and on track! 
  4. Switch it up: Changing your exercises up will keep you excited to keep pushing forward and will help you avoid boredom! 

  5. Sleep and hydrate: Getting enough hours of sleep each night and drinking lots of water can help you stay alert and energized instead of tired and sluggish while working out! 

  6. Be safe while exercising: The worst kind of setback to a fitness goal is an injury. Be as careful and safe as possible while exercising to avoid getting hurt by executing your exercises in the correct form, using equipment properly, and being mindful of your surroundings. 

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3/20/13: Six New Fitness Tips!

  1. Workout body parts in pairs. For instance, when working out biceps, be sure to pair them up with triceps. Some other examples are chest and back and quadriceps with hamstrings. This way, you can circuit train and slash your gym time in half.
  2. If pushups hurt your wrists, then grab a pair of hex dumbbells and place them on the floor horizontally. Grasp the dumbbells handles and keep your wrist straight as you perform the exercise.
  3. It takes 250,000 crunches to burn a pound of fat, according to researchers at the University of Virginia. Working the muscles beneath your gut will not give you a six pack. Your best strategy is to work all of the muscles of your body. The more muscles you work, the more calories you burn.
  4. Wrap a hand towel around the weights-this will increase the diameter of the grips, therefore increasing your grip strength.
  5. Positive self-talk during exercise reinforces your confidence and boosts your energy so you won’t quit when you are tired or challenged. Try repeating phrases such as “I feel good” or “I’m strong” when you run or lift weights.
  6. Dynamic Stretches, or calisthenics, enhance the communication between your mind and muscles, allowing you to achieve optimal performance in the gym. What to do: stretch for about ten minutes before your workout. It will help you burn fat faster!

3/20/13: Four New Wellness Tips!

  1. Glucose fuels the muscle, protein rebuilds it. This means you should be eating carbohydrates before a workout and protein after.
  2. How to calculate your protein needs per day: Take your body weight and divide it by 2.2 (This gives you body weight in kg) and times it by .8 to get protein needs. If you are an endurance athlete, you should be getting 1.2-1.4 grams/kg. Strength athlete should be consuming 1.6-1.7 grams/kg.
  3.  Polyunsaturated fats decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol and HDL (good) cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats decrease serum total cholesterol and LDL levels and INCREASES HDL cholesterol levels. This is why Monounsaturated fat is better that polyunsaturated fats, although both are better than saturated and trans fats.
  4. All animal foods contain complete proteins. Plant based foods contain incomplete proteins, which are proteins that lack one or more amino acids. If you are a vegetarian, make sure you utilize protein complementation. This means you must complement certain plant food with others to attain a balance of amino acids. For example, eat rice with beans, peanut butter with whole wheat bread, rice and lentils, and pasta with beans.

3/14/13: Burpees

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! 

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3/13/13: Push-Ups

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! 

3/8/13: Mood Food

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
Sluggish: Eat a Spinach Salad
Cranky: Eat an Apple with Peanut Butter
Anxious: Eat a Salmon Burger
Angry: Sip Green Tea
Sad: Eat Whole-Grain Cereal with Lowfat Milk
PMS: Eat an Egg-Salad Sandwich”

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!

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3/6/13: Planks

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! 

3/2/13: “7-7-7” or “21’s” Bicep Workout

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!

Beginning at a low range of motion, hold your free weights with your palms facing away from you and have your arms straight down, curl your arms up until your forearms are parallel to the ground, then lower your arms. Repeat this 7 times.

Then bring your arms up so that your forearms are parallel to the ground again, but this time curl your arms up so that the weights are at your shoulders and your elbows are pointing down. Repeat this 7 times.

Finally, bring your arms back to their downward position (where you started the 7s from) and curl your arms all the way up to your shoulders for 7 repetitions at the full range of motion. All three motions done 7 times will give you a total of 21 lifts.

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.

3/1/13: Calcium on a College Budget

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.

With this clever little substitute, you’ll be able to save your money and save your body from the negative effects of low calcium like osteoporosis later in life.

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10/23/12: Keep Serving Dishes off the Table & Lose Weight

By Stephanie Hill (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.

Brian Wansink, the director of the Cornell Food & Brand Lab, said “We looked at whether serving foods from the kitchen counter, instead of at the table, would reduce the number of times a person refilled his or her plate."  The research showed that when serving dishes were kept out of sight and not on the table, women eat 20% fewer calories and men eat 29% fewer calories.

The researchers also pointed out that this strategy can work to increase the number of healthy foods your family can eat, such as vegetables and fruits, by keeping these out in the open and easily accessible.


10/11/12: Ten Reasons to Drink Water

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:

    1. Water can put you in an overall better mood by making your body feel better.
    2. Water flushes toxins and waste from the body, making it easier for your organs to pump blood to the body. Without water, your organs will become exhausted and you will too.
    3. Water fights off sicknesses like flus and colds.
    4. Hydration protects your joints and muscles so you’re not as likely to get a cramp or a sprain when exercising.
    5. Water can raise your metabolism and help your digestive system.
    6. Your skin can be more moisturized, replenished, and elastic when it’s hydrated making you look younger.
    7. Water can clear a headache naturally.
    8. Water regulates your body temperature and keeps you energized while you work out.
    9. Water can nourish your brain, keeping you more concentrated at work.
    10. Water (which has zero calories) can help you lose weight by keeping your appetite suppressed.

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. 

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10/11/12: Crunches

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:

    • Lie down on your back and place your hands behind your head to support your neck (Bring your belly button toward your spine until your back is completely flat on the floor).
    • Contracting your abs, raise your shoulder blades off the ground and exhale as you rise. Be sure to keep your neck straight by keeping your chin up.
    • Hold your crunch in your raised position, then inhale as you lower yourself.
    • Do not relax completely, then repeat this motion for as many repetitions as you’d like.

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. 

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10/2/12: Tricks to Positive Thinking

By Steph Hill (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.

When you are frequently exposed to people who believe they lack control over their lives, you are more apt to doubt yourself and feel stressed.

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.

Express Gratitude

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)

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/129583-tricks-positive-thinking/#ixzz28R12LciQ

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9/25/12: Squats and Lunges

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. 

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9/25/12: Eat Clean Fruits and Vegetables

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. 

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9/18/12: Change Up Your Routine

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.
With so much equipment and so many opportunities here at UMass Campus Recreation, the options are endless! Sometimes even the smallest change in your exercise routine can give you results, so give it a try if you’re feeling stuck. 

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9/18/12: Food Substitutions

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?

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