NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Four Reasons to Make Time for a Cool-down after a Workout

cool_down-1.jpgWe know it is encouraged by fitness professionals, and included at the end of group exercise classes, but I want to ask you, personally: how many times after a workout do you actually take the time to cool down?

Many of us tend to finish a hard workout and walk right to the showers or straight to our cars to hurry and get home to the next item on our to-do list. Some of us may not notice much of a difference whether or not we incorporate a cool-down, such as athletes or active adults. However, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, “for the general population, many apparently healthy adults may have heart disease or other diagnosed conditions,” making a cool-down a game-changer for not only everyday movement abilities, but safety.

Here are just a few reasons why you shouldn’t skip out on a few minutes of recovery.

1. Prevent Dizziness

If you have ever felt lightheaded immediately after a hard workout, it could very well be caused from blood pooling. Strenuous exercise causes the blood vessels in your legs to expand, bringing more blood into the legs and feet. After physical activity, your heart is beating faster than normal, and your core body temperature is higher. When you abruptly stop exercising without taking time to cool down, your heart rate slows immediately, which can cause blood to pool into the lower body, causing blood to return at a slower rate to your heart, and your brain. This in turn can cause you to experience dizziness or fainting.

Many accidents in fitness centers actually tend to occur in the locker room from members making a beeline straight to the locker room, steam room, or sauna after a tough workout, without taking adequate time for their body to calm down.

2. Flexibility Is at Its Best

When you finish a tough workout, as stated before, your core body temperature is higher. This means that your muscles are warm and ready for more static stretching. Dynamic stretching is recommended at the beginning of a workout, so static stretching (in other words, taking a deep breath and holding a stretch in a particular position for 15 to 30 seconds at a time) is the next step you can take in maintaining and increasing elasticity in the muscles. This lengthening of the muscles leads to better range of motion and, in turn, improved quality of life for daily activities.

3. Injury Prevention

Tagging onto flexibility, you can prevent yourself from acquiring common injuries with some of this mobility work. One of the most common injuries is in the lower back, which can sometimes be triggered by tight hip flexors and hamstrings. By simply adding some mobility work after you finish, you can not only increase your range of motion, but also increase your ability to catch yourself when you fall or have to react quickly to an unstable surface.

4. Restoration for Your Body

Whether it be simply slowing down to a light jog or walk after some light sprints, or by moving into a savasana pose at the end of a yoga class, a cool-down can have physiological benefits on the body in terms of finality. When we slow down, we feel a “sense of normality” come back into our extremities, and the body begins to restore itself back to a steady state. In other words, it just feels nice!

So whatever you decide to do at the end of your workout, I encourage you to take a moment to think twice for next time. Whether it be adding five minutes of walking to bring the heart rate down, or an extra five minutes to stretch while your muscles are warm, it’s important to note that there are no negative effects to the process. It can only help you in the long run!

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This blog was written by Rebecca Newbrough, Lifestyle Program Coordinator and Health Fitness Instructor. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: yoga injury prevention flexibility stretching workout recovery heart rate cool-down

Caddy Smack Deuce: More Fitness Tips to Improve Your Golf Game

It’s that time of year again. The temperatures are starting to change for the better, and that “itch” to get back out onto the golf course may be starting to emerge. If you are like me, you check your weather app at least four or five times a day to see if the conditions for the upcoming weekend are going to be suitable playing conditions (mid 40s, no wind/rain = good for me).

Iamgolf.jpegMost of us might have been lucky to get out and play a handful of times over the winter, but some might be picking up a club for the first time in almost five months when that first tee time rolls around. Regardless of how many times you have played in recent months, everyone can benefit from improving golf-specific fitness areas before the full-fledged season begins here in Indy in the next few weeks.

About a year or so ago, I wrote a blog called “Caddy Smack” (hence “Caddy Smack Deuce”). Caddy Smack was designed to give you a few starting points on how you can increase one very important aspect of the golf swing, rotational power. Rotational power is a very important force-generating factor and may help you gain a few extra yards off of the tee. But as most of you probably know, there is MUCH more to the golf swing than just power. Follow along as I go over five of the most important fitness areas to improve that can have a direct impact on your swing.

Ankle Mobility

All great golf swings start from the ground up. How the feet are positioned and the movement (or lack thereof) can change a smooth swing into one that looks like a rusted teeter-totter. Lack of mobility throughout the ankles can constrict your range of motion and can also prevent you from using the ground as a force-generating tool.

What can you do to improve it? Do Wall Ankle Mobility Drills: 2 to 3 sets of 10 repetitions per leg

Hip Mobility

As Chubbs from the movie Happy Gilmore once said, “It’s all in the hips.” Well, I’m here to tell you that Chubbs wasn’t lying. A solid portion of the movement that occurs in the swing can be attributed to your ability to achieve a full range of motion within your hips. If you have been around the game long enough, you know the term “hip turn.” This does not happen with poor mobility.

What can you do to improve it? Do Supine Bridge Leg Circles: 2 sets of 5 reps (clockwise and counterclockwise) per leg

Rotational Power

If you have read this blog’s big brother, you know that rotational power plays an important role in your swing. My belief is that if you become more powerful, you will not have to swing as hard in order for the ball to fly the same distance, thus minimizing mis-hits due to being out of control. Essentially, you are generating the same amount of force (or possibly greater) without feeling like you are doing anything different. Seems like a win-win to me.

What (else) can you do to improve it? Perform Standing Rotational Shot Put: 2 to 3 sets of 5 to 8 reps per side

Shoulder Mobility

I know you have done it, watching the slow-mo of one of the tour players’ swings, being enamored by their ability to draw the club back so far (Phil Mickelson goes way past parallel to the shoulders). The next time you hit the driving range, you try to mimic that exact takeaway and the shot is a proverbial dumpster fire. I’ve done it too. You wonder to yourself, “How do they do that”?

Well, for most of them, their swings have been forged since they exited the womb. That feeling is natural to them. But one factor in which they may have a slight advantage over you may be shoulder mobility, or the ability for the shoulder to move freely and under control throughout the range of motion without the sense of constriction. There is no way that you will be able to recreate a backswing of such length if you cannot perform similar tasks without the golf club in your hands.

What can you do to improve it? Standing (or seated) Wall Slides: 2 sets of 10 reps

Single-Leg Stability

My final important aspect to aim to improve for your golf swing is single-leg (SL) stability. SL stability combines other factors that I mentioned previously (such as ankle/hip mobility), but for some individuals, it’s just something that needs to be practiced. After you make contact with the ball in your swing, there is a transfer of weight to your lead foot, which causes that hip turn and allows you to hold the finish pose. Although both feet are still in contact with the ground, the lead leg is providing the majority of the support.

When is the last time you balanced on one leg for 30 seconds? What about balancing for 30 seconds with your eyes closed? What about balancing with your eyes closed, juggling flaming bowling pins, while eating sushi (okay, maybe I’m kidding). That is a good place to start. Feel what it is like to stand without using anything but that plant foot. Do it on both sides. After you have mastered the balance, you can add more elements.

What can you do to improve it? Do Single Leg Balance with Tennis Ball Bounce (against wall): 3 sets of 20 per leg

The golf swing is as unique and complex as any movement that I have ever analyzed. There are so many factors that could make or break your success; however, many of those factors are modifiable. I hope that this spring, summer, and fall golfing seasons are the best you’ve ever had!

Now, watch me hit a ball over the White River bridge!

Golf blog 2

This blog was written by Alex Soller, NIFS Athletic Performance Coach. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

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Topics: fitness balance golf golf swing

NIFS Fitness Assessments: FIT3D

NIFS’ fitness assessments are a great way to track all aspects of the effectiveness your exercise program brings. They are also great for adding internal and external motivation that will keep you striving for the results you desire! Many of us lose motivation and the will power to continue with our exercise program once we do not see improvements with the naked eye. Just because results might not be obvious to the naked eye, doesn’t mean they have not taken place.

Fit3D ProScanner and Web Platform (Short)In order to view results through a perspective other than decrease in body fat percentages, we have added in another element to our initial fitness assessments at NIFS. We will now be offering body circumference testing via FIT3D technology! This new system will make it much easier and more personal to gain accurate and important measurements for tracking progress.

What the FIT3D Proscanner Tell You

NIFS is now offering body circumference testing via the FIT3D technology. This new system will make it much easier to get more personal and accurate measurements that are important for tracking progress throughout an exercise program.

What: Fit3D is a relatively new technology that scans a 360-degree image of the most commonly tracked body circumferences, such as waist, hip, thigh, arm and biceps, and chest.

How: To get started, you will first create an account using the email address you would like your results to be sent to. Once your account is created, you will then step on the Fit3D platform, which takes a body-image scan. Immediately after the scan, a confidential email of the circumference results will be sent for you and only you to assess. If you would like further analysis of your results, you can then invite a NIFS Health and Fitness Specialist to view your results via the website. 

Why: This information can be useful because it allows you to assess the effectiveness of your exercise programs by comparing body circumference over an extended period of time, while also driving motivation to continue on the path of improvement. With these scan results, you will be able to assess where you are more likely to store fat throughout the body, as well as track where you are adding the most muscle and losing the most body fat with your exercise program. Fit3D also places the measurement results in one of three wellness zone categories (Healthy, Needs Improvement, and Health Risk) in order to assess your risk of developing health problems.

Sometimes progress is not always visible to the naked eye or displayed on a weight scale, which is where Fit 3D is very useful because you can visually see changes in your body in a picture and not just numbers. Because this technology has an error rate of less than a half-inch, you will be able to receive an extremely in-depth and accurate report of where your greatest improvements have been over time.

It is important to note that an individual cannot spot-reduce a specific area of the body where they would like to lose weight first, therefore it becomes that much more important to utilize this body circumference technology to help understand where you are making the greatest improvements initially, which will add motivation to continue with the program in order to reach your desired physique. 

Schedule your Fit3D

This blog was written by Darius Felix, Health Fitness Specialist at NIFS. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fitness motivation BODPOD technology assessments

Annual Checkups and Health Assessments Can Save Your Life

As we age, it’s almost inevitable that our bodies are going to age as well. Yes, there are plenty of ways to keep our bodies from feeling like they have aged, and to keep our bones protected, and nutrition and exercise lifestyles go hand in hand to assist that. However, there are certain aspects, such as genetics and health history, that still play a very important role in keeping us healthy.

Pete-Binhack.jpgI sat down with Pete Binhack and his wife, Julie, both active and longtime NIFS members, and listened to them share Pete’s story about making a decision to get a simple $50 heart scan to check his cardiovascular health—a decision that ended up saving his life.

First tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you have been living a healthy lifestyle.

I am currently 58 years old, and have been running regularly for the last 18 years; I made a declaration to myself when I turned 40 that I would start running and have kept it up ever since. Since then I have completed about six full marathons so far, and as of this year I have completed 18 mini marathons. I found that running is what contributed to taking care of my work stress; I have a fairly physical job in the HVAC/refrigeration industry and that has encouraged me to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

Do you normally make sure to schedule annual checkups with your doctor?

Yes, I actually have always kept up an annual checkup with my doctor since the age of 18. I always took advantage of the free annual checkup that I was given from each of my employers when I would begin a new job, and then would make sure to get one every year in between.”

For some of us, an annual checkup is sufficient, and it’s a wonderful start for those of us who do not currently have a doctor that we see annually. Many of us go years without seeing our physician until we find that we have to make an appointment because we just can’t kick a cold on our own or because we are feeling “off our game.” However, when it comes to more specialized appointments to check for a specific disorder (cancers, cardiovascular disease, etc.), many of us tend to not even think twice about getting checked.

What made you decide to get a heart scan?

My brother had major open-heart valve replacement surgery when we were younger, in the early ‘60s. Then I saw it via advertisement last year while visiting a friend in the hospital after having a heart attack. To be honest, I procrastinated on it until after going to a funeral for a 58-year-old high school friend of mine who died of a heart attack. The funeral was on a Wednesday; I called and made an appointment for the following Thursday.”

What were the results?

My doctor called me within two hours of receiving the results to tell me to stop my running. I had a more thorough scan set up and was then recommended to a thoracic surgeon for our next steps.”

“We thought we would be seeing her for medicine options,” his wife, Julie, stated, “We had no thoughts in our heads about surgery.”

“Later after going to the Cardiovascular Center at Methodist to see the surgeon, she showed us a 3D picture of an ascending aortic aneurysm in Pete’s heart,” Julie said. “It was 5½ centimeters wide, which is two times the size of where it should be.”

The results were shocking for both Pete and Julie, and it was crucial to move quickly in their following appointments and surgery.

“If it had ruptured, I would not be here today,” Pete replied. “My surgeon said she was pretty positive that I would not have lived through the rest of the month. Surgery was the only option. Within five days I ended up having open-heart surgery to remove the aneurysm on March 19, 2015, during which they also found a significant amount of plaque on my valve.”

Needless to say, it is important to schedule routine appointments with your doctor—not only a yearly physical or regular checkup, but also more specific appointments to get a deeper look at high-risk areas. This requires us to make sure we have a good understanding of medical history in our families.

Do you have a history of heart disease in your family?

“Yes, so my issue was more of a genetic situation. I have six brothers and sisters, four of whom have heart valve issues that are currently being monitored, and two of whom have gone out and had heart scans done since I had my surgery.”

Now that you are recovered, are you able to continue doing all the things you enjoyed before? Is there anything different?

“Yes and no. Recovery went well, but physical therapy was hard because they wanted to slow me down, while I, naturally, wanted to go faster. However, within six weeks I was able to complete the Indy Mini-Marathon with my daughter, and within three months time I went back to work. Now I am just naturally cautious of things, such as bumping my chest, etc.”

“Sometimes I forget that it has only been one year since the surgery, and I have to remember that,” Julie said. “I also have to make sure to have a little more patience with Pete’s progress. Currently I’m not sure if he’ll be returning back to his original running level, but we are very fortunate to even have him back at 60 percent of what he was.”

What advice do you have for those who haven’t gone to the doctor in a while?

“Make the appointment and sincerely evaluate where you want to be in the future,” Julie stated. “If you have never gotten a heart scan done, or any other assessment, and [certain diseases] run in your family, there’s no excuse. We got very lucky with our doctor and it was a positive influence for the both of us.”

“Don’t be afraid to make that first step and just get it done,” said Pete. “The sooner the better; make the appointment and sincerely evaluate where you want to be in the future. What we thought would be a routine appointment turned into a life-changing one, but it was all for good in the end.”

I know that for many of us, myself included, we often forget about annual checkups and assessments, or simply neglect making the appointment because we are afraid of hearing bad news or having to make changes in our lifestyle that stray from our comfortable routine. But the fact is, the sooner and more often we check in with what’s going on inside, the quicker we can catch the things that can be treated in the early stages. This will help us be better off in the long run, and we can rest easier knowing that we are taking care of ourselves from the inside out!

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This blog was written by Rebecca Newbrough, Lifestyle Program Coordinator and Health Fitness Instructor. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS heart disease cardiovascular assessments

Goal Setting: What’s on Your Fitness Bucket List?

Do you have a bucket list? Your bucket list includes many dreams and aspirations that may be obtainable but take some effort on your part to complete. Items on a bucket list could include (but are not limited to) visiting other parts of the world, furthering your education, and even going to see your favorite musical artist in concert. All of these things are great, but how can you create a bucket list of ideas for your health and wellness? The answer may or may not come to you right away, but given a little thought and strategy, you can begin a good, realistic fitness bucket list.

Setting Your Fitness Goals

ThinkstockPhotos-497641362.jpgMy fitness bucket list was created using SMART goals. SMART goals were first developed in the early 1980s by George Doran in Management Review magazine as a way to be more effective in goal-setting strategy situations. The acronym SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Bound. To tie this in with your bucket list, think about goals that may be a little adventurous or challenging, but not too easy. I would avoid having goals such as “go to the gym” and “stop eating cake” and include goals such as “climb Machu Picchu by the time I’m 40 years old” and “complete a marathon in less than two hours.”

What are your dreams and aspirations? Including fitness and wellness goals on your bucket list can have a positive impact on your health. Keep it fun and don’t forget about your short-term goals as a barometer to determine whether you are progressing toward completing your bucket list objective.

Get Help from a NIFS Personal Trainer

So, create your bucket list today. Refer to a NIFS HFS or personal trainer for assistance in taking the right, necessary steps toward your goals. Although your list can be private, sharing it with others can help hold you accountable. If you are comfortable in doing so, please share 1, 2, or 3 of your bucket list items below.

As always, muscleheads evolve and rejoice.

***

Set your goals and get started! Schedule a free fitness assessment with a NIFS Trainer!

Free Fitness Assessment

This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, Health Fitness Instructor at NIFS. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: NIFS fitness Thomas' Corner goal setting health personal training wellness

A Smartphone App for Health and Medical Emergencies

ThinkstockPhotos-187209893-new.jpgWith the rapid development of technology, apps for our smartphones are grabbing our attention. In the growing world of hands and eyes being permanently glued to the cell phone, I have to admit that it’s not all bad! Some of our staff here at NIFS would add to the list of helpful apps one that could be a potential lifesaver—it’s called ICE.

An App That Gives Emergency Medical Information

ICE, which stands for “In Case of Emergency,” is a smartphone app that allows a rescuer, doctor, or first responder to access helpful emergency information. Even if the screen is locked with a security password or touch ID thumbprint, the ICE information can be accessed. This app was developed following 2005 Vodafone research, which showed that less than 25% of people have on hand any sort of details about who they would like contacted in the event of an emergency. On top of telling responders who should be contacted in an emergency, the ICE app also gives information about medical issues, diseases, allergies, and medications that an individual may be on.

ICE Helps Save a Life at NIFS

bruno.jpgMy first thought after discovering what this was all about was, “Okay, that sounds kind of cool, but that’s a lot of personal information potentially being displayed for all to see if they got ahold of my phone.” But in early February, an emergency event occurred in the NIFS fitness center.

One of our longtime members experienced a cardiac emergency while running on the treadmill. After our staff analyzed the situation and followed emergency protocol, someone saw his phone and decided to take a quick look to see whether he had the ICE app. And sure enough, when our employee swiped across the screen, the emergency information came across, making the responders aware of a previous heart condition and replaced heart valve, which in turn caused his heart to stop. Today, we can gratefully say that after CPR, shocks from the AED, and the help of EMS, this individual is living and well; hands down we can attribute part of that success to knowing his previous medical history because he had the ICE app on his smartphone.

Get the App

If you do not currently have this on your phone, I would encourage you to get it. If you have an iPhone, you can download it through the App Store, or if you are an Android user you can access it through Google Play. Allow your family to rest secure; whether or not you have a medical condition, your emergency contact info can be reached far faster with the ICE app.

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS fitness center health technology medical emergency apps

Nutrition and Healthy Habits: How Much Caffeine Do You Consume?

Many people depend on early-morning caffeine to “jump-start” their bodies. Others consume caffeinated beverages throughout the day when they are stressed or tired to keep their bodies alert and functioning. However, caffeinated foods and beverages should not replace the healthy habits of regular, balanced meals and snacks or adequate sleep.

ThinkstockPhotos-5146474021.jpgAlthough caffeine provides an “energy boost,” the stimulant can also cause anxiety, restlessness, constriction of blood vessels, and an elevated heart rate. For these reasons, limit caffeine to 400mg a day.

Below are some common beverages, foods, and over-the-counter medications that contain caffeine. Caffeine content in coffee varies widely depending on the variety of coffee bean and the method of preparation used.

Caffeine Content in Milligrams (mg) for Common Foods and Medications

Coffee (8 oz.)
(The amount of ground coffee per cup is a key variable.)
Brewed: 65–120mg
Instant: 40–110mg
Decaffeinated (instant or brewed): 2–4mg
Starbucks Coffee (12 oz.): 279mg
Coffee drink with one shot of espresso (12 oz.): 113mg

Chocolate (1 oz.)
Dark: 5–35mg
Milk: 1–15mg

Cola Beverage (12 oz.)
30–60mg

Coffee/Chocolate-Flavored Dessert (1/2 cup)
Ice cream: 18–126mg
Frozen yogurt: 0–25mg

Tea (8 oz.)
Brewed: 20–90mg
(The longer it steeps, the higher the caffeine content.)
Instant: 24–31mg

Cocoa (8 oz.)
Average: 80mg

Chocolate Milk (8 oz.)
Serving: 2–8mg

Caffeine-Containing “Energy Drinks” (8.3 oz.)
Serving: 3–32mg

Caffeine-Containing “Energy Bars” (68g)
Average: 50 mg

Stimulants (per tablet)
Vivarin or NoDoz
Average: 100–200mg

Pain Relievers (per tablet)
Average: 32–65mg

Other Ways to Stay Awake During the Day

If you find yourself reaching for over 400mg of caffeine per day to stay awake and energized, try some of these healthy alternatives to caffeine:

  • Do not underestimate the power of a quality night's sleep. If you generally feel well rested in the morning, you are likely meeting your slumber needs. If not, be sure to turn the TV off before falling asleep and avoid looking at bright devices that can keep your brain waves stimulated. 
  • Another key is to maintain a consistent sleep/wake schedule even on the weekends.
  • Exercise is another way to ensure a good night’s sleep and being more awake during the day.
  • Try more natural ways to wake up.
  • Finally, go outside for brief sunshine breaks. Exposure to bright light helps regulate your body's rhythms.

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This blog was written by Angie Scheetz, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition healthy habits sleep caffeine coffee