Author Archives: Rex Healthcare

6 Brain Benefits of Walking

shutterstock_219757786You probably know the benefits of walking for building strong bones, improving heart health and losing weight. But did you know that walking offers benefits for your brain, too? Here are six ways walking can give your brain a boost.

  1. Stay mentally sharp. A number of studies suggest that walking helps ward off age-related memory decline.
  2. Lower Alzheimer’s risk. One study found that older men who walked more than 2 miles per day were half as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia compared to those who walked less than a quarter mile per day.
  3. Boost brain power. Taking a brisk walk not only gets your heart pumping, it may help focus your thoughts, too. In one small study, kids’ brain scans showed more brain activity after a brisk walk, specifically in the areas of the brain responsible for focus and attention.
  4. Lift your mood. Research suggests that fast walking at least 35 minutes a day, five days a week, can improve your mood and reduce mild to moderate depression symptoms.
  5. Spark creativity. A recent study suggests that walking—whether on a treadmill or hiking on a trail—boosted creativity by about 60 percent compared with sitting.
  6. Sleep better. Research suggests that a brisk mid-morning walk can help you get a better night’s rest.

Want to join a walking group or exercise class? Learn more about wellness programs available through Rex Healthcare. Visit to view information about Rex Wellness Centers.


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Summer Breeze Smoothie

CaptureSmoothieThis smoothie is loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals for a low-calorie (and great-tasting) treat.


  • 1 cup yogurt, plain, nonfat
  • 6 medium strawberries
  • 1 cup pineapple, crushed, canned in juice
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ice cubs
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)

Place all ingredients in the blender and puree until smooth. Serve in frosted glass.

Number of servings: 3. Per serving: 121 calories, 0 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 1 mg cholesterol, 64 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 6 g protein, 24 g carbohydrates, 483 mg potassium.

Recipe courtesy of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.


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Wellness Wednesday: Healthy Chicken Tenders

Susan Ramsay (intern)-1Susan Ramsay is a Dietetic Intern at the Rex Wellness Center. She currently attends North Carolina Central University.

Getting kids to embrace healthy food choices can be a challenge! To start the process, try re-making some of their favorite foods with healthy substitutes. When they recognize the food they’ll be more likely to try it and won’t miss the added sugar, salt and fat that is usually added to fast food. These chicken tenders are crunchy and crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. They’re a delicious guilt free version of the classic. The tenders are coated in panko breadcrumbs and baked, instead of fried, which greatly reduces the overall fat and calorie content found in regular chicken tenders. The fiber in whole wheat slows the digestion of carbohydrate and provides vitamins and minerals not found in refined grains. You can serve them with your favorite condiment and kids and adults alike will love this twist on a classic comfort food.



  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs, preferably whole-wheat
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 1/4 lb. (about 8) chicken tenders


  1. Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet lined with foil. Coat with cooking spray.
  2. Place the whole wheat flour in a medium bowl. In a shallow container, whisk together the eggs and Dijon mustard. In a separate shallow container, combine the panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
  3. Working with one chicken tender at a time, dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off the excess. Next, dip in the egg mixture until the chicken is coated. Last, roll the chicken in the breadcrumb mixture, completely coating the outside.
  4. Transfer the chicken tenders to the prepared wire rack.
  5. Lightly coat the chicken tenders with cooking spray. Bake until the chicken is just cooked through and the breadcrumbs are starting to brown, 5 to 6 minutes per side.
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Fiesta Lettuce Wraps and Pepper Boats

Add colorful veggies to your plate with build-your-own lettuce wraps.

Number of servings: 4


  • 6 sweet, mini bell peppers
  • 8 lettuce leaves
  • 1 cup instant brown rice (dry)
  • 1 pound tilapia filets, fresh or frozen (thawed)
  • 2 teaspoons Southwest chipotle seasoning (no sodium)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil (divided)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 limes (divided)
  • ¼ cup reduced-fat sour cream

For the salsa fresca:

  • ½ cup yellow corn (frozen or canned, no salt added)
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (minced)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


  1. Slice peppers in half vertically. Arrange lettuce and 8 pepper halves on a serving platter.
  2. Cook brown rice according to package directions.
  3. To make salsa fresca, dice remaining pepper halves, tomato and onion; mix with corn, garlic, jalapeño pepper, and ¼ teaspoon salt.
  4. Sprinkle both sides of tilapia filets with Southwest chipotle seasoning
  5. Heat 1½ tablespoons canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish to pan, and cook for 3 minutes on each side (cook fish until it is opaque, 145°F). Flake with a fork and place in a serving dish.
  6. When rice is done, stir in remaining ½ tablespoon oil, juice from one lime, and ¼ tablespoon salt. Cut remaining lime into wedges.
  7. To serve, set out pepper-lettuce platter, rice, fish, salsa, fresca, sour cream and lime, and let diners build their own boats and wraps.

Per serving 350 calories, 12 g total fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 28 g protein, 34 g carbohydrates, 5 g dietary fiber, 370 mg sodium.

Recipe courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture,

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13 Ideas for 60 Minutes of Family Fun (and Fitness!)

As few as 30 minutes – 60 minutes for your kids – is all it takes to meet recommended guidelines for daily activity. (Aim for more if you can!) Keep everyone active as you spend some quality time together as a family this summer. Here are some tips:

  1. FamilyFunMake the backyard your playground. Throw a football back and forth, kick a soccer ball around or go running with a rousing game of tug.
  2. Go fly a kite. Find a treeless spot, hang onto the kite string and let your child run with it until the kite is airborne.
  3. Ride bikes. Cruise around the neighborhood together as a family.
  4. Gear up. Keep inexpensive equipment such as balls, jump ropes and hula hoops on hand for active fun.
  5. Get the dirt out. Car not looking so spotless? Instead of taking it to the car wash, clean it together as a family. Or host a dog wash for your street.
  6. Pull weeds. Gardening is great exercise for the whole family. Bonus: Your yard looks great!
  7. Head to the pool. Do laps at the YMCA or a community pool to keep cool and fit.
  8. Scale the walls. A rock-climbing gym can provide a full=body workout the whole family will enjoy.
  9. Have a ball. Organize community kickball, soccer, basketball, volleyball or softball games.
  10. Get your groove on. Put on some music and have a dance party. Or clean the house as a family, with tunes in the background to keep everyone moving.
  11. Create a tournament. Set up a relay race, obstacle course, beanbag toss, etc. Don’t forget prizes!
  12. Hit a bull’s-eye. Fill up water balloons and draw a chalk target ring on the driveway. (Fill a few extra for a game of water balloon dodge ball afterward.)
  13. Be cool. Let’s face it: Sometimes it’s just too hot out there. Head to the mall and walk in air-conditioned comfort.
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Rex NICU Stories: Dad to Dad

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Rex NICU Stories: Mom to Mom

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Recipe: Avocado Melon Breakfast Smoothie

042714_GreenSmoothieGo green with this refreshing concoction of green fruits and veggies!

Number of servings: 2

1 large, ripe avocado
1 cup honeydew melon chunks (about 1 slice)
Juice from ½ lime (1½ teaspoons lime juice)
1 cup nonfat milk
1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
½ cup 100 percent apple juice or white grape juice
1 tablespoon honey

1. Cut avocado in half, remove pit.
2. Scoop out flesh, place in blender.
3. Add remaining ingredients; blend well.
4. Serve cold. (Keeps well in refrigerator up to 24 hours. If made ahead, stir gently before pouring into glasses.)

Per serving: 320 calories, 11 g total fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 170 mg sodium, 46 g carbohydrates, 5 g dietary fiber, 37 g total sugar, 4 g added sugars, 13 g protein, 80 percent vitamin C, 40 percent calcium, 4 percent iron. Percent daily values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Recipe courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture,

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TRX – Fitness Anywhere

LaurenLauren began her wellness journey shortly after having her daughter in 2008. After gaining over 70 pounds with her pregnancy and spending a year working off the baby weight, she decided on a career of helping others reach their fitness goals. Lauren is currently a Wellness Instructor at Rex Wellness Center of Garner. She is an ACSM certified personal trainer and an AFAA certified group fitness instructor.

TRX on the beach

Over the past few years I have been doing quite a bit of business and leisure traveling. With little access to a gym on my trips, I was forced into workouts that usually involved running. As much as I like the versatility of running, it’s not my favorite thing to do. I usually ended my workouts with sore knees, feet, and hips. In addition, my workouts were becoming boring and repetitive. Recently I had the opportunity to purchase a TRX suspension trainer and I have taken it with me on my trips. It has allowed me the freedom to work out on my own terms with the ability to tailor my workout to the intensity that I desire. I can workout for 20 minutes or an hour. I can push myself to the limits or take a leisurely pace and scale it back to a easy to moderate level. I can work out in my hotel room, at a park, or even on the beach. I recently purchased the TRX door anchor which allows me to utilize my suspension trainer just about anywhere that has a framed door.

TRX (Total Resistance eXercise) was born from Randy Hetrick, a former Navy SEAL. It is a full body training system utilizing body weight for a practical, functional, and versatile workout. TRX is literally fitness anywhere. When I travel for business I am able to pack my TRX in my carry-on bag. No more than 1.5 lbs and taking up less space in my bag than an iPad, I was making a promise to myself that I would work out while I was away from home. Without a gym, I was able to ensure that I could have a fun, fast, effective workout by bringing my TRX along with me.

In a nutshell, TRX uses bodyweight exercises to provide anyone at any fitness level a full body strength training and cardiovascular workout. One of the most common questions I get about TRX is “can I really get as good of a workout with TRX as I get with free weights or weight machines?” My answer is simple: yes, you can. TRX provides you with an opportunity to work your body as an interconnected chain of muscles the same way you do in all of your daily activities. Allowing your body to work as a unit allows you greater functionality and provides you with greater performance in just about any activity.

TRX works the core relentlessly: improving flexibility, muscular strength and endurance, and balance. One of my favorite things about TRX is its versatility. I love incorporating different formats to create a new type of workout. TRX allows me to combine movements used in ballet, Pilates, boxing, and yoga generating an even more intense workout. I recently began working on a vinyasa TRX routine that incorporates yoga poses and flows with the TRX suspension trainer. This has challenged my current students and has intrigued those who have not tried it in the past.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to try TRX yet, you don’t know what you’re missing. If you’re new to working out, it provides a great way to initiate yourself into weight training. You control your pace and you decide how hard you’re going to make it. For those extremely conditioned individuals, TRX will take your performance to the next level. If you have any interest in trying TRX, check out our Group Exercise Schedule for upcoming classes at our wellness center locations. There is a small fee for these classes, but members and non-members are both welcome!

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Conquering Sleep Problems


If you’ve been accused of getting up “on the wrong side of the bed,” is it because you didn’t get much sleep on any side on the bed? Some simple changes in your daily habits may be effective in helping you rest easier.

Exercise early. Activity too close to bedtime can wind you up and make it difficult to relax. Try to exercise in the morning or early evening—regular exercise at these times may even help you sleep better.

Watch what you eat and drink. Eating a large meal or drinking caffeinated beverages before bed can keep you up, and alcohol, even if it initially makes you feel sleepy, may make it difficult to stay asleep.

Help your mind stop racing. Have too much to think about when your head hits the pillow? Make time earlier in the evening to write down worries and possible solutions or make a to-do list for the next day.

Stick to a sleep schedule. If possible, try to go to sleep and wake up at the same times each day—even on the weekends. This can help your body set its biological clock for regular sleep.

Make your bedroom comfortable. Many people sleep best in a room that is cool, dark and quiet. A comfy bed is also important. A fan or white noise machine can help block out distracting noises or help lull you to sleep.

Focus on your breathing. Take deep breaths—you may even want to count them. Relax the muscles in your body—slowly working your way up from your toes to your head.

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