Wellness

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.

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Napping: Is it good for everyone?

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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.

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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

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5 Reasons Teens Should Limit Caffeine

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that teenagers consume no more than 100 mg of caffeine a day. (See a chart from the Center for Science in the Public Interest that shows how much caffeine is in popular drinks.) Why? Consuming high amounts of caffeine can cause irritability, nervousness, rapid heartbeat and anxiety.

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Here are five more good reasons to help teens limit their daily caffeine intake.

  1. Empty calories — many caffeinated drinks also have lots of sugar and fat. Drinking too much soda may rob teens of valuable nutrients like calcium.
  2. Dental problems — drinking coffee or tea can stain teeth. The sugar in many caffeinated beverages can lead to cavities.
  3. Trouble sleeping — caffeine can make it hard to fall asleep at night, which could lead to insomnia and daytime sleepiness.
  4. Heart and head — large amounts of caffeine can raise blood pressure in some people. It can also cause headaches.
  5. The cost — caffeinated beverages can be expensive, especially when you buy coffee drinks from popular coffee chains. Think about how much money you could save if you didn’t spend so much on caffeine!
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Pokémon Go Safety Tips

Pokémon Go surpassed Candy Crush Saga to become the most popular mobile game of all time with the highest amount of active users ever recorded. Here are some tips to keep in mind while playing:

  1. Like the game says, be aware of your surroundings. Don’t play while driving or walking around roads or parking lots. Also, be mindful of your own hiking skill level if you take on challenging terrain while trying to catch that elusive Dratini.
  2. If you plan to play for an extended period, prepare yourself! You should always stretch before exercising. Also, consider taking water with you, it’s hot out there.
  3. Be respectful of real world locations like museums, hospitals, or churches. Some public spaces may take exception to random trainers walking through checking in at a Pokestop. Use your best judgement.
  4. Be careful late at night or visiting remote locations. There have been some reports of robberies. Don’t put yourself in dangerous situations.
  5. Encourage others to play with you. It is more fun to play with other people, and they can get some exercise too!
  6. Volunteer! Some local animal shelters encourage the community to take their dogs for walks. Why not stop by and walk a dog while you play?
    1. Saving Grace Animals for Adoption
    2. Wake GOV Animal Center
    3. SPCA of Wake County 
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Exercising Safely with Asthma

More than 20 million people in the United States suffer from asthma, the lung disease caused by narrow or blocked airways. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America estimates that 80 to 90 percent of people with allergic asthma also experience symptoms of exercise-induced asthma, such as coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath during physical activity. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid exercise—quite the opposite!

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Regular activity can help strengthen your heart and lungs, relieving asthma symptoms. Follow these steps to exercise safely:

1. Take your medication. Your doctor may prescribe two types of inhalers: one that’s used just before exercise and one for long-term asthma control. Medication is one of the best ways to treat an asthma attack. Long-term-control medicines control asthma by reducing inflammation that are taken every day. The quick-relief medicines relax and open your airways at the first sign of an attack. Discuss treatment options with your doctor to keep your asthma under control.

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2. Warm up. Take about 10 minutes to warm up before working out.

3. Exercise in moist air. Breathe through your nose to humidify air before it enters your lungs. If it’s cold and dry, wear a mask or scarf over your nose and mouth.

4. Avoid allergy triggers. For instance, exercise indoors when pollen counts are high. Find out what things make your asthma worse and do your best to avoid them. Asthma cannot be cured, but is manageable with the right treatment. Knowing what triggers your asthma can help keep your symptoms under control.
Common triggers include:

  • Cold air
  • Perfumes and other strong smells
  • Smoke
  • Pet dander
  • Dust
  • Mold
  • Pollen
  • Pollution

To learn more about treatment options for your asthma symptoms or other pulmonary conditions, visit: rexpulmonary.com.

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How Obesity Hurts Young Hearts

With school still in session, often times our attention towards outdoor activities and healthy eating tends to shift to a less active lifestyle for children. According to the American Heart Association, one in three American children are overweight or obese.

Every year, on the last week of April, Action for Healthy Kids launches Every Kid Healthy Week to emphasize the link between nutrition, physical activity, and learning. When kids are healthier, they learn better!

Children who are 100 pounds or more overweight may face greater heart disease risks than previously thought, says new research. While obesity has been increasing among U.S. adolescents, there’s been some research previously done for heart disease risk factors in this group.

In the study of more than 240 very obese teens, 95 percent had a least one risk factor for heart disease. Half had high blood pressure, half had high cholesterol and almost 15 percent had diabetes. Boys were more likely than girls to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

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Keep your family on track to a healthier life with these four tips:

  1. Make healthy eating a family focus. No one wants to put his or her child on a diet. Instead, focus on nutritious meals as a family.
  2. Include protein in meals and snacks. Lean protein, like eggs, chicken and beans, helps promote satiety.
  3. Encourage activity. Limit screen time and put the “active” back in family activities. Think bowling on the weekend, riding bikes after dinner or a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood.
  4. Get cooking! Kids are more likely to try new foods if they’ve had a hand in making them. Teach your kids how to make healthy meals and ways to reduce the amount of fat, salt, and sugar in everyday recipes.

If you’re concerned about your child’s weight or general health, visit Find a Doctor to choose a pediatrician.

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Aging well: 4 simple ways to stay fit

Getting and staying physically active doesn’t mean becoming a superstar athlete. It can mean just moving around a little more throughout the week. Staying fit becomes especially important as you get older because it can help you stay healthy and independent.

Health experts point to various long-term benefits of exercise, including:

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  • Enhanced focus, planning and working memory
  • Improved conditions in those with diseases and disabilities such as arthritis and diabetes
  • Prevention or delay of many diseases and disabilities. For example, exercising may lead to lower blood pressure, which can help you avoid damage to your brain, eyes, heart and kidneys.
  • Reduced stress and improved mood

You might understand why it’s important to exercise, but feel like you’re physically unable or don’t have the time. But there are ways you can fit activity into your day.

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  1. Start slow and easy. You can always work your way up to more difficult activities.
  2. Exercise when you wake up. This creates a habit and prevents other distractions from getting in the way.
  3. Break it into chunks. If you can’t dedicate much time at once, get 10 minutes of exercise several times throughout the day.
  4. Find something you enjoy. It’s easier to make exercise a habit if you enjoy it.
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Staying Active During Pregnancy

shutterstock_271083656Taking it easy during pregnancy may seem like a good idea for you and your baby’s health, but staying active could be beneficial too! Unless you’re experiencing serious complications, adding exercise to your daily routine (or continuing your exercise routine) can help in many ways.

Exercise during pregnancy can:

  • Ease or prevent back pain and other discomforts
  • Boost your mood and energy levels
  • Help you sleep better
  • Prevent excess weight gain
  • Increase stamina and muscle strength

Exercise during pregnancy may also help reduce your risk for gestational diabetes, pregnancy-related high blood pressure and having a baby with larger than average birth weight. Some studies also show that exercise during pregnancy, particularly during the third trimester, may lower your risk or lessen symptoms of postpartum depression. If you’re worried about your unborn baby’s safety, take heart. Physical activity during pregnancy doesn’t increase your chances for low birth weight, early delivery or early pregnancy loss.

Keep moving
Adding movement to your day can be as simple as going for a walk. Choose exercises that place minimal stress on your joints. Swimming, cycling on a stationary bike, low-impact aerobics and prenatal yoga are all good low-impact activities to try. Avoid exercises with jumping or jarring movements, or quick changes of direction that could throw off your balance. As your pregnancy progresses, you may need to take your exercise down a notch or take days off when you feel tired.

Exercise safely
Be sure to heed your doctor’s recommendations for exercise during pregnancy. Avoid any exercises that involve lying flat on your back after your first trimester.

Paying attention to your body is very important, especially while pregnant. As you exercise, you should watch for signs that everything might not be OK. Stop exercising and contact your doctor if you experience pain, bleeding, fluid leaking from your vagina, faintness or dizziness, uneven or rapid heartbeat, or if you notice the baby stops moving.

REX Women’s Center offers comprehensive obstetric care, covering all aspects of pregnancy and childbirth. To learn more, download our Pregnancy Information Packet.

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Winter-Proof Your Workout

Working out in the winter can give you more energy and improve your overall mood. Some research even suggests that moderate exercise could give your immune system a boost and keep you from catching every cold virus you encounter.

shutterstock_161970656Here are five tips to get started:

  1. Recruit a workout buddy. Finding a friend to regularly exercise with can help you get those running shoes back on even when you don’t want to.
  1. Get the right winter gear. Dress in layers that you can remove as you start to sweat, and avoid cotton, which stays wet next to your skin. A layer of fleece or wool topped by a waterproof layer helps to insulate. When it’s cold, you should be sure to protect your head, hands, feet and ears from frostbite with a hat, gloves and extra socks.
  1. Find a fun winter activity. Get excited for winter weather by taking up an exercise hobby that you can only do in the winter. Try ice-skating, curling, broomball, snowshoeing and skiing (if there’s snow!).
  1. Set a goal. Want to fit into a great new swimsuit next summer? Set a new personal record in your upcoming half marathon? Use the winter months to get you there.
  1. Consider moving your workout indoors. Try a new activity that you can do indoors, such as fencing, dancing, yoga or swimming.
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