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Archive for September 2011

Achieving R & R, One Meal at a Time

With summer past and winter looming, active people have earned a season of R&R—recovery and rejuvenation. Whether you spent your weekends competing in triathlons or worked long hours keeping clients in shape for summer adventures, your bodies have taken a beating over the past few months.

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burning the midnight oil and poor dietary choices

If you or any of your clients like to stay up late and then sleep in, you might want to consider resetting your body clocks. A Northwestern University study, published in the July issue of Obesity, reports that people with night-owl behavior tend to consume more calories, eat more fast food, and drink more sugary sodas than those who practice an early-to-bed and early-to-rise routine.

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Stroke Survivors Benefit From Yoga Therapy

An 8-week yoga therapy course helped older stroke survivors improve balance, endurance and confidence in a pilot study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine’s 58th Annual Meeting. Researchers from Indiana University–Purdue University and the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center (Roudebush VAMC), both in Indianapolis, sought to explore whether yoga practice would help stroke survivors reduce the risk of falls, since an estimated 80% of people who have strokes also have impaired balance. Poor balance increases the risk of falls and of hip fractures.

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Tips to Improve Mental Wellness

A lot of focus is placed on improving physical wellness, but mental wellness doesn’t always receive equal emphasis. To address this issue, Daniel J. Siegel, MD, clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine and founder of the Mindsight Institute, and David Rock, founder of the Neuroleadership Institute, have created “The Healthy Mind Platter,” a pictorial example of activities that can help people cultivate optimum mental health.

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kohlrabi and red lentil stew

Hearty and filling, this stew is easy to prepare on a busy weeknight with flavors that will brighten an autumn night, as well as pack a good dose of iron and vitamins A and C to rev up your immune system.

The kohlrabi maintains its crispness, providing a nice contrast to the red lentils, which become the consistency of mashed potatoes. If kohlrabi isn’t available, substitute broccoli stem for the kohlrabi and use the broccoli florets instead of the spinach.

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Kohlrabi

When people first see or taste kohlrabi, they commonly react by asking, “What is that?” Sometimes described as octopus-like or as a creature from outer space, kohlrabi has trailing tendrils protruding from a pale-green, softball-sized globe.

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food labels confound consumers

Results of a recent telephone survey commissioned by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) revealed that a significant percentage of consumers seem confused about what constitutes a proper serving size of certain packaged foods.

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high-calorie and high-sodium items most prevalent in kids’ fast-food choices

Kids may like the food, and parents may appreciate the convenience, but are the poor nutritional consequences of fast food worth it? A recent study by University of California, San Diego (UCSD), pediatrics researchers showed that fast-food lunches accounted for 36%–51% of a child’s daily caloric needs, with fat contributing 35%–39% of the calories. The meals also provided more than 50% of the recommended total daily sodium intake for most children—and as much as 100% of sodium levels recommended for preschoolers.

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can most americans even afford to eat a healthy diet?

With recession still threatening and unemployment numbers remaining high, more Americans must make tough choices about the type and quality of food they are putting on the table. A study published in the August issue of Health Affairs underscores this, saying that a healthy diet is expensive and could make it difficult for Americans to meet the new U.S. nutrition guidelines. These guidelines, an update of what used to be known as the food pyramid, call on Americans to eat more foods containing potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin D and calcium.

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Self-Determination Theory: A Key to Motivation

Self-determination theory (SDT) is a theory of motivation that aims to explain individuals’ goal-directed behavior. Motivation resides along a continuum, with intrinsic motivation on the far right, extrinsic motivation in the middle and amotivation on the far left. Intrinsic motivation is ideal; people engage in an activity because of internal factors and are therefore likely to sustain the activity for their own reasons.

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Incorporating Mindfulness Into Your Personal Training Sessions

Teaching clients to calm their minds during movement is essential to helping them fight stress and achieve their wellness goals.

We must not underestimate how much our clients suffer from stress. Sure, it distracts them during training sessions, but it also infects every facet of their daily lives. Fortunately, time-tested yoga techniques for developing mindfulness and flow can help clients focus on their fitness goals and cope with stress outside the gym.

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Employment Opportunities in Senior Living

You’re passionate about the value of fitness in a wellness lifestyle. You’ve educated yourself on exercise science and leadership. Perhaps your training is in yoga, Pilates, tai chi or another approach. Now you’re ready to help others gain the benefits of your knowledge. It’s time to get to work.

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Stability Ball Challenge

You’ve spent a lot of time and energy working on your class, and you’re ready to wow your students with another great workout. But wait: How much effort did you really put into that warm-up? Not only does the warm-up set the stage for what’s to come; it also ensures a safe and effective environment for students. Don’t skim over this crucial opportunity to make a lasting impression. Wake up your warm-up with these fun and functional moves.

Nothing says “creativity” quite like the stability ball, a staple in many group exercise studios. Before you turn the page—or turn up your nose—at the idea of using the stability ball in your warm-up, let’s explore the benefits of the ball and how simple exercise patterns that use it can create a unique and exhilarating prelude to any class format.

More Than Play

The primary benefit of using the stability ball—as opposed to moving on a hard, flat surface—is that the body responds to the instability by trying to remain balanced. This action engages multiple muscle systems. Also, the ball activates the neuromuscular system in a way that not many pieces of equipment can. Finally, the stability ball tends to take the “work” out of working out.

Let’s look at five basic moves you can insert into a warm-up for almost any class.

Basketball Drill
Stand tall, feet hip width apart, and hold the ball at waist level. Bounce the ball with both hands as you try to keep rhythm with the music. Increase the difficulty by adding a step-touch. This exercise elevates the heart rate, develops hand-eye coordination skills and is perfect for any sculpting or boot camp class.

Basic Bounce and Hip Circles
Sit on the ball, feet about hip distance apart, heels down, and bounce up and down. Hold the sides of the ball if needed; otherwise, extend the arms back into a triceps extension on each downbeat. Think of bouncing up—almost off the ball—instead of being heavy and bouncing down “into” the ball. This will loosen up the low-back muscles and get your heart rate pumping. Add hip circles once you stop bouncing (the two moves work well together). Draw a circle with your hips, 8-10 times in one direction and then 8-10 times in the opposite direction. This is a great way to begin any dance-based workout.

Walk Back to Plank
Stand with feet about hip distance apart, holding the ball comfortably at your waist. Place the ball on the floor as you step the right (R) leg back. Steady yourself as you step the left (L) leg back, hold a few seconds and then step the L leg in, followed by the R, and return to standing. This exercise fires up the core and low-back muscles and is a good way to prepare for any sculpting-based routine.

Squat Circles With Side Leg Lift
Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder width apart, holding the ball at your waist. Squat as you make a big circle with your arms, and come back up, completing the circle, to squat once more. Continue circling, but pause as you reach the ball overhead and out to the R, abducting the L leg. Repeat 5 times to the R and then immediately switch to the L. This full-body move works well within a dance-based or conditioning format.

Jumping Jacks
Sit on the ball, feet together in front, arms folded in, knuckles together at chest. Bring your arms out and in as you bounce, letting the legs follow the arms (i.e., as the arms go out, so do the feet and vice versa). This is a surefire way to elevate body temperature; therefore, alternate between jumping jacks and basic bounces. This combination is ideal for interval-based classes because right away you’re implementing short, intense cardio bursts followed by brief recovery periods.

Step up and throw a curve ball (or stability ball) at your students! Give them something different and add a little bounce to your basic warm-up. This simple, versatile piece of equipment will improve functional strength, balance and flexibility and add variety to your existing class protocol.

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Don’t Be That Manager: High-Pressure

Many personal trainers are promoted to manager or director solely on the basis of their success as a trainer and not necessarily because of their management skills. Now it’s your turn: You are the new personal training manager. You’re finding out how different being the manager is from working with clients on the floor.

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