Tag Archives: exercise

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.

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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

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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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Wellness Wednesday: All About Cross Training

jenn_foggianoJenn Foggiano coordinates and leads the group exercise and health promotion programs for Rex Wellness Center of Garner. Jenn graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Kinesiology. She earned a master’s from Slippery Rock University and is certified through the American College of Sports Medicine.

Spring has kicked off with gorgeous weather!  As long as you can make it through without allergies, you have probably gotten a good start on all those outdoor activities like gardening, home projects, landscaping, and even exercising outside.  Although exercising outdoors is a great way to enjoy walking, running, biking and hiking, don’t drop your wellness center/gym membership yet!  When we move all of our exercise outdoors, we may likely fall victim to mundane and repetitive workout habits. Cross training should be incorporated into your year-round routine.

What is cross training? It’s a training routine that involves several different forms of exercise. It limits the stress that occurs on a specific muscle group because different activities use muscles in slightly different ways.

Here are some reasons to bring your workout inside a few times per week:

  • Injury prevention Using one set of muscles repeatedly can increase your risk for repetitive injury. It is important to give them a break.  By mixing up your routine, you will give your overused body parts a chance to rest and the under used a chance to strengthen. Try lap swimming or a Yoga class in place of your normal cardiovascular exercise.
  • 051115_crosstrainingBetter overall fitness You faithfully run several times per week and occasionally add in a fun run on the weekends and feel pretty fit, right?  But, a friend asks you to go paddle boarding and suddenly you can’t keep up and find yourself with muscle soreness for several days later.  By incorporating several different modalities in your fitness routine you can increase your performance and overall fitness.  Try adding a day of core work, some strength training and some different forms of cardio to mix it up!
  • Reduces exercise boredom  Doing one thing day after day, whether in your daily life, or in this case, your exercise regimen is sure to get old over time.  By incorporating a variety of activities you’ll keep it interesting, keep your body guessing, and will be more likely to adhere to a healthy lifestyle.  As the old saying goes, “variety is the spice of life” even when it comes to exercise!  So why not commit to trying a new group exercise class?
  • Strength training Some of the benefits of strength training include disease prevention, increased stamina for activities of daily living, and an increased resting metabolism just to name a few. So needless to say it is very important to incorporate into your routine.  Maybe you have some strength training equipment at home?  Maybe a few dumbbells, or bands, but most of us do not have the wide array of equipment provided in a facility.  And let’s be honest – most of us with equipment at home do not use it at home.  It more often than not becomes a dust collector.The American College of Sports Medicine recommends strength training at least two days per week.  So, bring your workout inside and lift!  Not sure how to get started? One of our nationally certified personal trainers would be happy to help you!

Rather than canceling your gym membership for the next 4-5 months because the weather is beautiful, keep it!  You will truly find value in your membership by cross training with equipment and classes you won’t have access to outside.  And remember, there will always be rainy days.  With a gym membership there are never excuses!

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Fitness Trackers: Which One Should I Choose?

AllyAlly Setliff coordinates and leads the group exercise and health promotion programs for Rex Wellness Center of Raleigh. Ally graduated from East Carolina University with a B.S. Health Fitness Specialist degree. She is also an registered clinical exercise physiologist through American College of Sports Medicine and has experience with cardiac and pulmonary rehab. She holds her primary group exercise certification through AFAA, and personal training certification through National Strength and Conditioning Association. She loves to share her passion for exercise and creativity in every class that she teaches. Her main goal is to make others enjoy exercise as much as she does. Ally enjoys every type of dance, sprint triathlons, running, road cycling, and barre is her newest passion.

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Technology is a great way to keep us on track with exercise and healthy eating. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular activity trackers, mobile apps and websites that monitor your workouts and can help boost your motivation.

  • Fitbit: This is the most popular fitness tracker on the market. Fitbit offers different types of trackers that can be worn as either a pedometer, activity wristband, or even embedded into a high-fashioned bracelet. Depending on which device you purchase, you may be able to track steps, distance, calories burned, or sleep patterns. You can set daily goals, earn badges, and challenge friends. Newer Fitbit devices have GPS capabilities that track elevation, pace and heart rate. Some also have music capabilities. Be wary! A few trackers that attach to clothing may be easily forgotten and accidentally laundered. I’ve done it at least 5 times already. I recommend purchasing a wristband style instead. Other options in this style include the Jawbone© or Nike + FuelBand. These devices are very comparable to Fitbit, with similar aesthetics and capabilities.

Don’t want to spend the money on a device? There are several free apps or websites that also measure progress and keep you motivated.

  • MyFitnessPal: This is one of my favorite mobile apps. If you do not own a smart phone, you can track your information through their website at myfitnesspal.com. The app makes it super easy to track daily calories, water consumption, exercise and weight. There is also a social component that allows you to challenge and encourage friends. Progress is shown in easy to read charts. The app and use of this website are free. You need to take time to enter your food intake each day. Research shows that those taking the time to track their food intake are more successful in their weight loss/healthy eating journey than those who do not track their food. Be as accurate as you can about portion size when tracking your calories for each meal. You’ll be surprised how quickly calories add up! Other free apps that have similar capabilities as MyFitnessPal are Fitocracy, Challenges, Fleety, and Lose it!
  • RunKeeper: Training for a race? The best tracker I have found for racing is RunKeeper. Whether you are training for a 5k, sprint triathlon, or marathon, this app does a great job with goal setting and providing training plans. It has GPS capabilities to track distance traveled, pace, and speed for running outdoors. It also has capabilities to track indoor workouts on the treadmill. You can track other non-running activities that you do during the week such as Zumba, Barre, or strength training. The app also helps you motivate your friends. It alerts you when you have reached a personal record and it sends push notifications if you have gotten off track that week. Another personal recommendation: Be smart about free training plans provided for long distance races. If you are inexperienced in long-distance running, don’t forget your rest days! You don’t want to suffer an injury by pushing too hard, too fast. It is also important to include core and strength training in your weekly running plan. Other popular apps for race training are Mapmyrun, Nike + running, and PUMATRAC.
  • Heart rate monitors: Your heart rate can provide a more detailed measurement of exercise and can be monitored in several ways during your workout. How do you know if you are working hard enough during exercise? Exertion and heart rate are the main ways to measure how intense a workout it. Some may be familiar with the “talk test” and RPE scale as common ways to assess how hard you are working. You can always track heart rate by manually taking your carotid pulse, but there are several devices that will track heart rate for you. Polar Heart Rate Monitors come with a sports watch that shows current heart rate, max heart rate, and also summarizes your workout. Some devices go as far as telling you how many calories were burned during your workout. There is a free app that can measure your heart rate on smart phones now called Instant Heart Rate. With this, you just touch your finger to the camera lens on the smart phone to gauge pulse with real-time charts. How cool is that?

Bottom line? There are several different ways to track important info from your workout, and you don’t need to get top of the line equipment to do so. Finding something that gives you a way to measure progress is the biggest factor in staying motivated and seeing results.

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Wellness Wednesday: Safety Tips for Exercising in the Cold

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The cold weather is here!

If you plan on exercising outdoors, keep yourself safe by following these simple tips:

  • Check the weather report before going out. Watch out for weather advisories and consider your safety in the event ice is present.
  • Wear layers of clothing and keep your head and hands covered.
  • Stay hydrated, even when in the cold. Hydration is necessary in order for your body to regulate temperature.
  • Check in with your body as you exercise. Don’t let those ‘endorphins’ numb your awareness. Perform a quick, mental, body scan every 10 minutes. That way you can pick up on signs of discomfort that could signal the beginnings of hypothermia before it becomes a problem.

Courtesy About.com

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