Wellness

12 Reasons Why Umstead Park is Ummm… AWESOME!

In case you haven’t fully delved into the labyrinthine paradise that is William B. Umstead Park, here’s what you’re missing: extensive trails, pristine lakes for fishing and canoeing, campgrounds, picnic shelters, dappled sunlight through trees, breezes over lakes, little turtle and snake friends to say hello to, dog romps in the streams, majestic foliage, and just time away from the day-to-day grind.

umstead park walkway

According to outdoor enthusiast, triathlete, and Medical Director of Bariatric Surgery services at Rex Healthcare, Lindsey Sharp, MD, “Umstead Park, where you can hike, bike, or even canoe, is incredibly valuable to our community from a health standpoint. The health benefits in terms of reduction of stress, improvement in cardiovascular fitness, improvement in the management and maintenance of weight loss, et cetera, cannot be overstated.”

But the real testament to the value of Umstead Park is in YOUR photos.

Here’s what William B. Umstead Park means to you.

Read more…

Leave a comment

8 Surprising Health Benefits of Gardening

Little Girl Gardening

According to the World Health Organization, good health means more than just the absence of bad health symptoms. It means the presence of positive emotions, quality of life, sense of community and happiness.  (WHO 1948)

Read more…

Leave a comment

The Return of the Downtown Raleigh Farmer’s Market

man at raleigh farmer's market flipping grilled sandwiches

Ten years ago, the pulse of downtown Raleigh was sluggish. Now it’s vital. Concerts, festivals, movies, food trucks and even ice skaters congregate in City Plaza, surrounded by boutiques and restaurants.

But spring and summer belong to the innovative Downtown Raleigh Farmers Market. At least on Wednesdays between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

What’s so innovative about the Downtown Raleigh Farmer’s Market?

Read more…

Leave a comment

Gift Yourself a Sprint Distance Triathlon (GROUP LEARNING SESSIONS)

Post by Rodney Jenkins, a Group Exercise Instructor at the REX Wellness Center of Garner. He is also a business teacher with the Wake County Public School system.

REX Triathlon Raleigh

Eight years ago, I started my own triathlon journey, struggling because I knew nothing about preparing for the sport. Thanks to friends in the triathlon community, I eventually found my way and learned how to properly train. Since then, I have completed 3 Iron Distance Triathlons. It is now my goal to make sure Rex members do not follow the same arduous path I took.

There is a correct way to prepare and I can show you how. Read more…

Leave a comment

Health Benefits of Ice Skating

Ice Skating for HealthThe brisk air on your face and in your lungs. The sense of flying as you glide across the ice. It’s easy to appreciate the sensation of ice skating, but are you aware of its many mental and physical health benefits?

Some may surprise you.

Read more…

Leave a comment

Take Advantage of Winter Exercise Options in Raleigh, NC (Video)

When winter comes to Raleigh, exercising on outdoor trails remains an option for much of the season. Sure, some cold, nasty days make the gym the only option. But plenty of mild days make winter in the North Carolina Piedmont pleasant. Outside activity remains a viable way to keep your heart healthy.

Certified Trainer and REX Wellness Coordinator Logan Johnson agrees, saying, that “Regular aerobic exercise is important during all months of the year. It improves cardiac and pulmonary function, leading to a reduction in long-term stress on the heart.”

Logan offers the following tips for winter exercise in Raleigh.

Tips for Winter Exercise in Raleigh, NC

  • Plan your outdoor activities around the forecast.
  • Dress in easily removable layers.
  • Protect your head, hands, feet and ears from heat loss.

Stretching in Park in Winter

Read more…

Leave a comment

Pumpkin is the New Black


Jayne VecchioJayne is a graduate of Virginia Tech and is currently a Dietetic Intern through Meredith College, working with REX Nutrition Services and REX Diabetes Education Center.

Pumpkins are nutrition-packed vegetables that seem to be underrated for the majority of the year- until fall rolls around. As you may have noticed, pumpkin is currently taking over grocery stores and coffee shops and the smell of pumpkin spice lingers in the air.  It is high in fiber, low in sugar and fat, and contains many micro-nutrients the body requires to function.

Here are some of the main nutrients pumpkin provides:

  • pile of pumpkinsVitamin A – aids in vision (1 cup mashed pumpkin contains more than 200% RDI)
  • Vitamin C – can help boost immune system
  • Beta carotene – a powerful antioxidant that helps fight disease
  • Fiber – keeps you fuller longer and can aid in weight loss
  • Phytosterols – Can reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels
  • Tryptophan – an amino acid that helps calm and relax body

One of my favorite ways to get in the fall spirit is incorporating pumpkin into baking.  Simply adding of a cup of pumpkin puree to recipes is as a more nutritious way to enjoy a sweet treat (in moderation)! Pick up a can of pumpkin (or a pie pumpkin to steam if you prefer the old-fashioned way) at your local grocery store and try this recipe this weekend:

Pumpkin Banana Muffins

pumpkin banana muffinsIngredients:

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ½ teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 425° and line a muffin tray with liners.
  • In large bowl microwave butter until melted, about 15-20 seconds, then add the bananas and mash. Add the sugar and pumpkin. Stir well.
  • Stir in the egg and vanilla.
  • Mix in pumpkin spice, cinnamon, flour, salt, and baking soda.
  • Spoon evenly into a muffin tin

Bake for 5 minutes at 425°, then reduce the heat to 350° and bake for 15-16 more minutes. Baking them at the higher temperature at first helps them rise and gives a nice rounded top.  Remove from tin and allow to cool then enjoy!

Leave a comment

Lessons from a Mock Triathlon

Post by Rodney Jenkins, a Group Exercise Instructor at the REX Wellness Center of Garner. He is also a business teacher, a soccer coach and an athletic trainer with the Wake County Public School system.

On September 4,  seventeen determined athletes participated in the Knightdale Wellness Center Mock Triathlon. Over the past few years, we have held this event at our centers to help members prepare for race day.

Participants have an opportunity to participate in the entire swim, bike and run course without the pressures associated with an actual race. We start in the pool with staggered swim starts (every 30 seconds a swimmer begins), we have a transition area and we cycle and run the entire course. New cyclists and runners are partnered with experienced triathletes so we run a very safe event.

However, the Knightdale event was a little different. Instead of being the instructor, I became the student because several members taught me something new about the sport of triathlon. As we started the swim, I asked each person about themselves and this is what I heard:

  • Swimmer #1:“I was recently in the hospital for a month.”
  • Swimmer #2: “Cancer survivor.”
  • Swimmer #3: “I was in a serious automobile accident but I’m back.”
  • Swimmer #4: “I’ve never done this before so I want to see if I can do this. I’m not even registered for the race.”

So what did I learn? The triathlon can be so much more than an athletic event. It can be a reaffirmation that life’s challenges may cause one to stumble but not fall. Thanks all for sharing your stories and I can’t wait to see all of them again on September 19 at the Rex Knightdale Triathlon.

Rodney and fellow participants in the Knightdale Mock Triathlon

Rodney and fellow participants in the Knightdale Mock Triathlon

The REX Wellness Sprint Triathlon- Knightdale is on Sunday, September 18.

Leave a comment

Napping: Is it good for everyone?

woman napping hammock

Everyone knows long hours of sleep are essential for small children to grow up strong and healthy. But what about adults? A brief nap during the day can be the perfect solution for some. Dr. Adnan Pervez, a sleep medicine physician at REX Pulmonary Specialists answers four key questions about the health benefits and risks for taking a quick daytime snooze.

1. What are the benefits of napping?
Taking a short nap can offer health benefits such as:

  • Improved mood
  • Increased relaxation
  • Increased alertness
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Improved performance
  • Improved memory

“Memory consolidation is one of the major benefits of a good long night of sleep,” Dr. Pervez says.

2. Who should consider taking a nap and why should they?
Depending on your daily schedule, napping can be beneficial under certain circumstances.
Habitual napping
occurs when you take a brief snooze at the same time each day. “People who are consistently unable to get enough sleep at night would benefit from a habitual nap, taken at the right time and for the right duration,” says Dr. Pervez.

Planned napping is particularly useful for night shift workers. “For many people a nap before they depart for their night shift, or during a break in the early part of the shift, in combination with strategic exposure to light and use of caffeine at the right time can help them cope with an unusual schedule,” Dr. Pervez says.

drowsy drivingEmergency napping is advised when you’re too sleepy to continue a crucial activity, like if you feel drowsy while driving. “If drivers are feeling sleepy, they are typically advised not to rely upon extraneous measures like rolling down the window or turning up the music. Instead, we advise people to park at a rest stop and take a short nap before continuing,” says Dr. Pervez.

3. When and how long should you nap for?
For people who would benefit from napping, Dr. Pervez recommends a 10 to 20 minute nap in the early afternoon. At the most, try limiting your naps to no more than 30 minutes. “The longer or later we nap, the greater the chances that it may prevent us from going to sleep at a decent hour at night,” Dr. Pervez says.  Napping for longer periods can also cause sleep inertia (a state of feeling groggy and disoriented when awakening from a deep sleep) which may interfere with functioning in the period immediately following the nap.

woman_nappingIt is also important to remember that while short naps may be beneficial for some individuals, excessive napping may be a sign of serious medical conditions like sleep apnea or narcolepsy. Establishing consistency in your sleep habits is key to a healthy lifestyle. Both sleep deprivation and excessive sleepiness can have serious health consequences.

The recommended amount of sleep at night depends on a person’s age.  For example, adults between the ages of 26 and 64 should be getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night. View the National Sleep Foundation’s recommended sleep times chart for more details.

4. What kind of environment should we nap in?
Protect your time and environment; sleep in a dark and quiet area. Resting in a tranquil and dark room will increase your chances of falling asleep faster. Powerful sources of light in a room can have an impact on the quality of your sleep.

Light and darkness are strong signals that let your body know it’s time to rest. Your brain continues to process sounds while you’re sleeping. Noise can interrupt your dozing, leading you to wake up and shift between stages of sleep.

Learn more about our sleep services offered at the REX Sleep Disorders Center. Plus, find out if you’re at risk of a sleep disorder by taking our Sleep Aware health assessment.

Leave a comment

Making the Gym Part of Your Lifestyle

Post by Rodney Jenkins, a Group Exercise Instructor at the REX Wellness Center of Garner. He is also a business teacher, a soccer coach and an athletic trainer with the Wake County Public School system.

After one of my recent water classes in Garner, I had an opportunity to speak to some of our members about our July 10 Garner Sprint Triathlon. Ultimately, the question of training for a triathlon came up and after a short discussion about the training program that many of our participants used, I made the statement that there is a difference between simply working out and training. They asked me, ”what do you mean?”  My response was pretty simple. Working out does require a commitment but it is a commitment that can easily be broken. But training has purpose and requires a commitment that cannot easily be broken.

For various reasons, people walk away from working out at the gym every single day with seemingly no consequences. Some return while others do not.  However, if you’ve ever taken that leap of faith and trained for an event, you know what it feels like to find purpose in the workout. It’s called Race day. Race day is the ultimate reward where you prove to yourself that all of the training was worth the time and effort.  Without race day, it is easy to fall into the Doldrums. (aka, inactivity which I blogged about back in 2012).

Let’s use the Rex Wellness Sprint Triathlon in Knightdale as a perfect example of an opportunity for commitment and purpose. Race day is Sunday, September 18 (purpose).  As of today, the cost is $ 65.00 but after September 14, it goes up to $75.00 (procrastination fee) eventually going up to $85.00. So let’s say you sign up (commitment) and use an 11 week Sprint Training Program. You grab a calendar and count back 11 weeks from September 14. You begin reading the program and you start training. Week 1, you are excited. Week 2, you realize that this is hard work but you have made a commitment so you keep training. Week 3, you ask yourself, what have I gotten myself into?  I can miss a workout or two but I can’t stop and certainly cannot quit going to the gym (purpose and commitment). Week 4, you start to feel stronger and your confidence grows, you begin to understand what training is all about and start to see real purpose in swimming, cycling and running. Before you know it, September 14 has arrived and thanks to the training program you committed to 11 weeks ago, you are ready. Will you be successful? Until you sign up, the end of the story cannot be written.

It was not at all difficult to create this scenario because I see it played out over and over again. When members sign up for an event and find purpose in their training, the gym becomes part of their lifestyle and they are less likely to walk away. Purpose in your gym routine seems to make the commitment to a gym membership all worthwhile. So how do you start? Talk to a runner or triathlete at your wellness center. If you are in Garner, talk to me and I will be happy to show the path toward finding your Race/Reward Day.

Here are a couple of pictures from the Garner Triathlon.

Garner Triathlon

Leave a comment