ONLY TWO DAYS LEFT: Custom Design New UNC Fitness Spaces

Watch This Video To See the FUTURE of UNC Campus Rec

Next, send us your ideas here: http://campusrec.unc.edu/survey

Tired of crowded weight rooms? Ready to throw in the towel because there aren’t any open treadmills? Looking for a better place to work out? Positive change is coming soon! Read on for the inside scoop of what’s happening here at UNC.

UNC Campus Rec is evolving. More specifically, we are upgrading our on-campus facilities to keep up with the latest in university health and fitness technology. As you saw in the video, this could mean sleeker, larger facilities, brand-new equipment, or a number of other things. It’s up to YOU to tell us what YOU want. The survey is short, but the impact is long-lasting and huge in your life and the lives of your UNC peers.

You will live, laugh, and exercise in these new facilities during your entire college career. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a say in this? Here is your chance – take the survey!

Do not wait – the survey is only live THIS WEEK. Click the link above, and complete it now.

Don’t just ignore this post, because your input will have a DIRECT impact on what you see on UNC’s campus in a year or so. If you want to lift weights, run track, or swim in a new facility, you have to tell us so that we can build it.

OR CONTRIBUTE IN PERSON: Campus Rec staff will have tables set up at the following times and locations:

  • The Pit: 10:30am-1:30pm EVERYDAY
  • SRC and Rams Head Rec Center: 4-7pm EVERYDAY
  • Beside the Agora of Granville Towers: 4-7pm on Tuesday, the 30th
  • The Business School Health and Wellness Fair: 12-2pm Wednesday, the 1st

Come find us and take the survey! You might just get some swag for doing so!

TAKE THE SURVEY. LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD: http://campusrec.unc.edu/survey

Wellness Wednesday: What’s Up with HeForShe and It’s On Us?

by Will McInerney


Recently, two large campaigns have been launched around the issue of violence prevention. The United Nations kicked off the HeforShe campaign, and the White Houses launched its own Its On Us initiative. These two projects are gaining a lot of print and social media buzz.

HeForShe is a UN-led global effort to engage men in violence prevention discourse and action. The project asks men to commit to the idea that “Gender equality is not only a women’s issue, it is a human rights issue that requires my participation. I commit to take action against all forms of violence and discrimination faced by women and girls.” (www.heforshe.org)

UN Flag
“Flag of the United Nations” by dirc, Flickr Creative Commons
White House
“The White House” by Shubert Ciencia, Flickr Creative Commons

Its On Us is a White House-led nationwide campaign that focuses on reducing sexual violence on college campuses. The initiative asks people to pledge to “Recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault. To identify situations in which sexual assault may occur. To intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given. And to create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.” (www.itsonus.org)

Both campaigns mentioned have used celebrity star power to push their messages forward. The UN brought in Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame, and the White House has a long list of celebs including Kerry Washington, Jon Hamm, and President Obama himself. I hope this increased media attention will allow campaigns like these to bring a greater awareness, and a more active resistance, to all forms of violence.

HeForShe
“UN Women’s HeForShe Campaign Special Event” by UN Women, Flickr Creative Commons

Additionally, it is both refreshing and reassuring to see campaigns directly (HeForShe) and indirectly (Its On Us) challenge men to be accountable for the violent patriarchal society we live in. That being said, I hope they continue to push for men’s active participation in violence prevention, men’s active resistance to violent masculinity, and men’s active deconstruction of male privilege. The latter, privilege, is all too easy and convenient for men to forget.

Male privilege must be explored, re-explored, and actively resisted at both the individual and societal levels as we work toward true gender equity and violence prevention. Signing a pledge online is not good enough. Not even close. Those who identify toward the male-identified end of the gender spectrum, especially cisgender men, must be held accountable for the culture and society for which we have both greatly benefited from, and actively and passively constructed.

UN Women's Day 2014
“International Women’s Day 2014: Equality for women is progress for all” by UN Women, Flickr Creative Commons

Although these campaigns are certainly are not perfect and could benefit from constructive criticism and more direct engagement from leaders in the movement, I am encouraged and cautiously excited to see them forming on such large and visible stages. That being said, as more men join this cause—which is fundamentally their responsibility—I hope we keep the conversation about privilege at the forefront. All too often men are over-praised and over-compensated for work they should have been doing in the first place and for work that women, and particularly women of color, have been doing for a long time without proper recognition.

A violence prevention movement with men engaged that does not actively resist and deconstruct male privilege is hollow and ineffective.

HeForShe and Its On Us are a step in a positive direction, but that does not mean we shouldn’t continue to challenge, build, and grow with them. Keeping the deconstruction of male privilege at the forefront is just one of several issues that should and already have been addressed. Some more issues include: How are these movements inclusive to the spectrum of genders outside of the false male-female binary? How are these movements acknowledging the tremendous and courageous work that has come before them? How are intersectionality and identity politics being infused into all of this anti-oppression work? And what about the male survivors of men’s violence—are their voices being heard and included?

UNC Men's Project Logo
UNC Men’s Project. Logo designed by Garrett Ivey.

Let’s continue the conversation and push for holistic, equitable, and authentic violence prevention. If you are a male-identified student and interested in these issues, consider applying to the UNC Men’s Project. The UNC Men’s Project is a campus-wide initiative to increase men’s involvement in gender equity and violence prevention through experiential learning, creative practice, and fellowship. You can find more information with the link below.

Applications are available online at www.uncmensproject.com and are due by Midnight on Friday, October 3rd

Wellness Wednesday blog posts are written by Student Wellness or Campus Health Services staff members. Wednesday blog posts can be found both here and on healthyheels.wordpress.com.

Milkshakes and Ghrelin: A Peek into the Psychological Side of Eating

What if the way you think about food could affect your body’s actual, measurable physical response to food? I recently read an article about a research study done by Crum, Corbin, Brownell, and Salovey that showed evidence of exactly that!

The study focused on a gut peptide (protein) known as ghrelin, which is released in the stomach as a hormone when the stomach is empty and the overall bodily energy levels are low. This hormone travels through the bloodstream to the brain to let us know that we’re hungry and to start the signals that encourage us to eat, such as a growling stomach. As you might expect, once we do eat, ghrelin levels in the stomach are reduced as we become full, letting the brain know that there is now food in the stomach and a sufficient energy source is now available. This helps encourage the feeling of hunger satisfaction known as satiety that allows us to regulate the amount of food we eat and how often we eat it.

If ghrelin levels were affected only by the energy balance in our bodies, then we would expect a basic inverse relationship between the amount of calories we consume and the level of ghrelin in the bloodstream, but Crum et al. didn’t think that the relationship was this simple, and their results prove them right.

The researchers recruited participants for their study through fliers posted at the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation and offered a total of $75 to each participant for completing two 2.5 hours sessions in the lab. All of the 46 participants were between the ages of 18 and 35, 78% of them were students, all had a normal to overweight BMI, and were tested for any major condition that might affect the results of the study, such as diabetes, pregnancy, psychiatric conditions, and food allergies before participation in the study began. The pre-screenings improve the study design by eliminating the possibility that any of the screened-for factors were causing the results, but it is also important to note flaws in any study. I noticed that 78% of participants were students and 56% were white, 12% African American, 11% Asian American, 10% Hispanic/Latino, and 11% other, which shows that one potential flaw of the study before it even began what that the results would be more representative of a white, student population than the population overall due to the characteristics of the sample group.

The participants came to the Yale Clinical Research Center Hospital Research Unit (what a name) for two sessions, exactly 1 week apart, in the morning after an overnight fast. They were told that at each session, they would try a different milkshake designed and produced by the “metabolic kitchen,” and that the goal of the study was to see if the two milkshakes tasted similar and if the body had similar reactions to the two. What the participants weren’t told was that the two milkshakes that they would try were actually identical, even though they were presented with different labels. One milkshake was presented as being “indulgent,” and the nutrition label showed it as being high calorie and high fat. The other milkshake was labeled as a “sensible” shake, and the nutrition label showed it as being low calorie and low fat. In reality, both milkshakes were mid-calorie and mid-fat between the “high” and “low” values reported on the label.

ID-100261182

In each of the sessions, each participant had an IV placed for the purpose of drawing blood and measuring blood ghrelin levels. An initial blood sample was taken before the milkshake was consumed, a second was taken after the participants had been allowed to look at and rate the label of the milkshake, and then a third blood sample was taken after the participants drank the entire milkshake. The participants were also told to drink the entire milkshake within ten minutes so that the rate of consumption would not be a factor affecting results in this study. (Clearly these milkshakes weren’t as thick as the ones at Cookout if they managed to drink them in ten minutes.)

Each participant gave taste ratings, ratings of how hungry they were before each blood draw, and completed a questionnaire to assess their level of “dietary restraint,” which is how often they report restraining their eating, or basically choosing to eat or not eat something based on how healthy or un-healthy they perceive the food to be.

Results

So what did these measurements say about the effect that the “fake” nutrition facts had on the body’s ghrelin response even though the two milkshakes were exactly alike? When the participants drank the “indulgent” shake, they had a much steeper drop in their blood ghrelin levels then when they drank the “sensible” shake! This means that even though the two shakes had the same amount of calories and fat, the participants had a greater decline in the “hunger hormone” when they thought they were eating a higher calorie, higher fat milkshake. This greater decrease in ghrelin may imply that despite the actual nutrition content of a food, when the food is perceived as indulgent, it will produce a higher level of satisfaction and less hunger after consumption than if the food is perceived as “low-calorie” or “sensible.” In fact, the consumption of the sensible shake produced little change at all in blood ghrelin levels, which could mean that the participants’ mindset about the shake could leave them hungry, or more likely to become hungry again more quickly after consuming the shake that they thought was “low calorie,” when in fact it was not any lower calorie than the “indulgent” shake.

It seems that product labeling and our own mindsets about our food have a bigger effect on our bodies’ responses and metabolism than we might think! You might say, “Well, the nutrition labels in this study were altered to be deceptive for the purpose of the research. Nutrition labels in real life are required to be accurate, so we always have the ability to know what we’re eating.” However, the researchers point out in the conclusion of their report that in the “real world,” companies often put claims on their labels that say things such as “low fat!” because the food has less fat than the “full fat” option, even though it still might be a “high fat” food when considered on its own. The relationship between our mindset about food and the “hunger hormone” could also have implications for people on “low calorie” diets and their ability to stick to them over time. More interesting research is being done all the time that shows that the matters of nutrition, metabolism, and weight control are certainly not just matters of physiology, but also matters completely intertwined with the field of psychology. Mindset and milkshakes might be better acquainted than we ever expected; now we just have to figure out how to use that information to our health advantage.

You can read the full study titled “Mind Over Milkshakes: Mindsets, Not Just Nutrients, Determine Ghrelin Response,” by Crum, Corbin, Brownell, and Salovey at http://www.yaleruddcenter.org/resources/upload/docs/what/food-obesity/mindsetghrelinresponse_hp_5.11.pdf. The study was published in May, 2011.

Images from freedigitalphotos.net.

LIVE RIGHT NOW: Contribute to the Evolution of Fitness at UNC

1. Watch This Video Above^^

2. Next, send us your ideas here: http://campusrec.unc.edu/survey

UNC Campus Rec is evolving. More specifically, we are upgrading our on-campus facilities to keep up with the latest in university health and fitness technology. As you saw in the video, this could mean sleeker, larger facilities, brand-new equipment, or a number of other things. It’s up to YOU to tell us what YOU want. The survey is short, but the impact is long-lasting and huge in your life and the lives of your UNC peers.

You will live, laugh, and exercise in these new facilities during your entire college career. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a say in this? Here is your chance – take the survey!

Do not wait – the survey is only live THIS WEEK. Click the link above, and complete it now.

Don’t just ignore this post, because your input will have a DIRECT impact on what you see on UNC’s campus in a year or so. If you want to lift weights, run track, or swim in a new facility, you have to tell us so that we can build it.

3. OR CONTRIBUTE IN PERSON: Campus Rec staff will have tables set up at the following times and locations:

  • The Pit: 10:30am-1:30pm EVERYDAY
  • SRC and Rams Head Rec Center: 4-7pm EVERYDAY
  • Beside the Agora of Granville Towers: 4-7pm on Tuesday, the 30th
  • The Business School Health and Wellness Fair: 12-2pm Wednesday, the 1st

Come find us and take the survey! You might just get some swag for doing so!

TAKE THE SURVEY. LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD.

It’s Up to You to Make UNC Campus Recreation Better!—Take the Facilities Master Plan Survey September 19th- October 3th!

Here at UNC, Campus Recreation has a huge presence. Not only are they the department that employs the greatest number of UNC students, but the facilities range from two fitness centers with weight rooms, cardio equipment, and group fitness studios, to aquatics, fields, and the Outdoor Education Center as well. These facilities have been present on campus for a long time and we love them, but the time has come to do some updates and plan the future of Campus Recreation!

Even though we already have nice campus recreation facilities, there’s an old phrase that goes something along the lines of saying that even if you’re just standing still, if everyone around you is moving forward, you’ll quickly be left behind. Some people at Campus Rec have noticed that around the country, other public universities are making changes to create amazing, beautiful, and extremely modern recreation facilities for their students! Now, this isn’t a matter of keeping up with the Jones’. This is a matter of the people at Campus Rec taking the time to ask us, the students here at UNC, what we think about our current Campus Rec facilities and whether we would like to see changes in the future. Our Campus Rec department has also obtained these photos of other recreation facilities on university campuses in the U.S. to inspire you to dream big and realize what amazing possibilities are out there!

recplan6 recplan5 recplan4 recplan3 recplan2 recplan1

To accomplish this, Campus Rec is completing a survey of the campus community, which includes undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and staff, to hear what you like and don’t like about our facilities and what you would like to change if you could! The survey is extremely short and will require no more then ten minutes to complete, but if everyone gives those 10 minutes to submit their feedback, imagine how much data and information Campus Rec and the partnering architectural company will have to work with!

This survey will be available online for one week, next week, September 29th through October 3rd. You can check out our website when they survey opens to find the link, or you can get more information in the pit from 10:30 to 1:30pm every day next week, in the SRC or Ram’s Head from 4-7pm, and even in Granville Towers from 4-7pm on Tuesday, September 30th. You can even complete the survey right at the information tables in any of these convenient locations on iPads and computers that will be provided for you, and three lucky survey participants will be chosen to win either an iPad mini, GoPro, or FitBit, all of which are awesome! If you’d rather take the survey online, you can take it here when it opens on September 29th.

By taking the survey, you’ll be doing a favor for yourself, the people working hard on designing the plan, and especially for the future students and staff at Carolina. Please don’t just ignore or write off the survey because you’re graduating this year and you feel like the plans won’t apply to you! Being a member of the Carolina community doesn’t just end when you graduate; it connects you to all Carolina students past and future who have loved their time at this university and who will have friends, younger siblings, and even children who will be students here one day. Our campus is the way it is because of the people before us who shaped it into what it has become, and we are the ones who will shape it for future generations.

As a point of clarification, the fact that Campus Rec is working with an architectural company and forming a new facilities master plan does not necessarily mean that we are getting brand new buildings and facilities. The fact that the architectural company does not yet have survey results available to work with also means that neither the financial logistics nor the timeline of the process have been determined. The plan will depend on your feedback and the feedback of others taking the survey to decide what updates are required to make the Campus Recreation facilities more beautiful, more accessible, and more successful at promoting better health and fitness in Chapel Hill.

There is an entire sub-field of the field of public health that focuses on studying and understanding human health behaviors—for example, why people choose to smoke or not to smoke, or why people choose to exercise or not. According to the Social-Ecological Model of health behavior determinants, if people have access to an environment that they feel is safe, enjoyable, and has good equipment, just living in proximity to this building increases their chances of meeting the suggested amounts of physical activity and having lower risks for non-communicable diseases, including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. I think that it is so fantastic that Campus Recreation cares enough about promoting physical activity and health on campus that they are asking for our feedback to be able to create a facility that will create the most comfortable environment for everyone who uses it!

The theme of the new facilities master plan and next week, when the survey is live, is “Be Active. Stay Active. It’s the Carolina Way.” I encourage everyone to take just ten minutes to contribute your opinion and help make UNC Campus Recreation even more fantastic than it already is. Everyone at Campus Rec would like to go ahead and thank you for your feedback and for being an active participant in all things health and fitness on campus!

What Happens In a Boot Camp Class? (Part II)

Earlier this month, we brought you the scoop of what really goes on in a boot camp class. Hint – it’s not as bad as it sounds! While the tendency is to shy away from scary-sounding classes like “boot camp,” you would be mistaken to not look into boot camp. A series of circuit exercises designed to engage the entire body, the boot camp class at UNC Campus Rec is a great investment in your physical health.

I awoke at 6:00 am to prepare for this morning’s boot camp class. Groggy-eyed, thirsty, and a little disoriented, I got out of bed. After drinking bottle of water, I laced up my shoes and was ready to head to this morning’s workout.

Class began at 6:30. The group gathered together with a warm-up to fight off the lethargy. After some basic movements, we were ready to workout, smiles and all. Sabrina, the fitness instructor explained each step of the circuit in simple terms, so we were all clear of the exercise and how it was performed.

And so we began – 25 different stations in the circuit! This was the third week of the boot camp, so we were all prepared for this jump in intensity. From standing squats, to tricep dips, to mountain climbers and pushups, the circuit challenged my whole body. Halfway through the circuit, I was feeling a little worn out. Luckily, Sabrina was there the entire time with words of motivation and guidance. She even made a special playlist for the class with great workout music. I ended the circuit on a strong note, feeling great after the hard workout.

Sabrina

Sabrina Karr, a trained fitness instructor, demonstrates a standing quadricep stretch

The boot camp ended with a relaxing series of cool-down stretches. Sabrina led the group through the movements, so it was easy to understand. When the class finished, I felt invigorated and pumped up for the day.

Does a class like this interest you? Do you like challenging, yet rewarding workouts? Then we have what you are looking for! I really enjoyed this class, and it gave me the workout I was looking for. Click here to learn about all of the workout possibilities through UNC Campus Rec. Physical activity is key to your healthy life – and we have you covered.

Wellness Wednesday: Get In The Flow

Leading Positive Psychology researcher, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, has been getting a lot of attention in pop Painterpsychology media for his concept, “Flow.” Why shouldn’t he? This idea revolutionizes the concept of human fulfillment. Dr. Csikszentmihalyi defines flow as being engaged in, and completely immersed in, an activity for its own sake. Motivation is a key component of flow. Nothing else is encouraging the individual to engage in the activity. The motivation is intrinsic, meaning that engaging in the activity is motivation enough!

 

The activity producing the phenomenon of flow must be completely engrossing. It is generally an activity that is challenging enough to require the highly skilled person’s compleRunte attention. That, in essence, is what allows for Flow. The mind, solely focusing on this singular activity, forgets itself. The ego
is temporarily suspended. The subject is, for a moment, completely free of her or his place in t
he world and all its trappings. In his TED Talk, Csikszentmihalyi discusses how true ecstasy is being engaged fully in a positive activity that precludes any intrusion of negative thoughts.

 

Individuals who experience flow report that the activity involved becomes spontaneous. Writers “loses themselves” in their work as if the words just pour out of their minds and directly onto the page. The individual generally experiences “timelessness,” as hours pass by and feel like minutes.

writer

The graphic below depicts the relationship between a subject’s skill level and the level of challenge
involved in an activity to draw conclusions about the subject’s engagement and the potential for flow. The pursuit of these activities will allow us to experience something so positive for the psyche, that evidence suggests it will enhance our creativity, resilienceflow chart

mood, and productivity.

 

What activities do you excel in? Do these activities completely occupy your mind or do you still worry about paying bills, writing papers, or studying for an exam? What activities might produce a state of flow for you? What might you gain from achieving flow?

 

 

 

 

“Wellness Wednesday blog posts are written by Student Wellness or Campus Health Services staff members. Wednesday blog posts can be found both here and on healthyheels.wordpress.com.”

Isotonic vs. Isometric Exercise: What’s the Difference?

Did you know that you can build muscle strength just by trying repeatedly to lift weights that are actually too heavy for you to move? And what is the point of holding the dreaded “plank” exercise for a minute at a time? The answer lies in the difference between isotonic and isometric exercise, and you’ll want to include both in your strength training routine to receive maximum health benefits!

Many people are aware that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all healthy adults engage in some type of physical activity each week. These recommendations are not just important for maintaining a healthy weight and metabolism, but also for maintaining cardiovascular, muscle, and bone health that are so important for healthy aging, disease prevention, and a long life. Even if you never lose a single pound, exercising regularly in accordance with the CDC guidelines can improve overall health tremendously.

But it’s not just as simple as going for a brisk walk or a jog a few times a week; the CDC recommendation for adults is at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week (or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week) AND doing muscle strengthening activities on at least two days each week.1 These two categories can overlap if you’re doing a Pilates class that uses weights and raises your heart rate, or if you participate in the Absolution or Lower Body Conditioning group fitness classes at the SRC on campus,  for example. But the point is that it’s important to include muscle strengthening exercises into your routine. These exercises help you to maintain muscle tone, which helps to prevent a decrease in metabolism over time, and also increase bone strength and reduces calcium loss and risk of osteoporosis as you age, especially in women.

Now that we know that muscle strengthening exercises are important and recommended by the CDC for all healthy adults, we can talk about the two categories of muscle strengthening exercises: isotonic and isometric exercise.

Isotonic exercise is probably the type completed most often, which is when a muscle faces a resistance that it is strong enough to overcome, so when the person uses their strength to resist the weight, the muscle contracts and shortens and there is motion in the attached joint as it does so. Isotonic exercises build muscular strength and endurance, but they aren’t too hard on the cardiovascular system, so depending on the weight, your heart rate may or may not increase. Simply lifting a bag of groceries is an example of isotonic exercise.

Isometric exercise, on the other hand, is when a muscle faces a resistance that it is not strong enough to overcome, so even when the person uses all of their strength to resist the weight, the muscle contracts but doesn’t shorten, and therefore the attached joint doesn’t move either.2 Think of the feeling when you do squats with the barbell loaded close to your maximum weight, then you do a few and eventually you reach a point when you squat down, but it seems like no matter how hard you push your feet into the floor and engage your legs, you just can’t stand back up and that’s when your spotter steps in. The squats before that one were isotonic exercises, but the last squat was an isometric exercise. If you were familiar with the feeling in that example, you’ll recognize that while isotonic exercises don’t always raise the heart rate, isometric exercises definitely do raise the heart rate, and are therefore more taxing for the cardiovascular system and cannot be done for as long or as often as isotonic exercises.

Here is a 1 minute video that demonstrates the difference between isotonic and isometric muscle contraction if you’re a visual learner:

Here are some examples of isotonic exercises that you can incorporate into your workout routine:

  • Push-ups
  • Pull-ups
  • Crunches or sit ups
  • Triceps and biceps curls with dumbbells
  • Squats (be sure to maintain proper form and keep the knees behind the toes)
  • Russian twists
  • Supermans (where you lay on your stomach and lift your hands, chest, feet, and legs off of the ground; try three sets of 10 or 15 repetitions)
  • Reverse crunches (lay on your back with legs together and pointed straight up toward the ceiling, feet flexed, and use your abdominal muscles to lift the gluts off of the floor and push the feet straight up toward the ceiling)
  • Burpees
  • Bench presses

And here are some examples of isometric exercises that you can incorporate into your workout. Notice that many isotonic exercises engage the abdominal muscles, which is great because they are the ones supporting your spine and trunk all day, every day! This just becomes especially noticeable when you’re holding the position and can actually feel the abs working compared to when you’re just walking around or sitting. If you want to know which muscles an isometric exercise is working, just hold the position for long enough and I promise you’ll start to feel the burn.

  • The humble plank (Can be a full plank, with arms straight, or a forearm plank. Just make sure to keep arms parallel instead of hands clasped together for maximum benefit to the forearm plank. And keep that butt down and in line with the rest of your body!)
  • The dreaded wall-sit (Hold for 1 minute, three times and your thighs will understand the meaning of isometric exercise.)
  • Squat holds (Exactly what it sounds like—squat down and hold it there for at least 30 seconds before you stand back up.)
  • Side plank (Holding a proper side plank, or side forearm plank, with the top arm extended up and held pointed toward the ceiling is one of the most intense and difficult isometric exercises, in my opinion)
  • Abdominal cross holds (Laying on your back, extend one leg out and keep the other knee bent toward the body. Then cross your opposite elbow to that knee, hold for 30 seconds, and switch to the other side. Repeat 5-10 times.)
  • Tree pose (Stand on one leg and cross the other leg so that your food rests right above the knee on the standing leg. Bend the standing leg as much as you can so that you are sitting back with your tush, and bring upper body down with the palms pressed together so that elbows reach the knees if you wish. Hold for 30 seconds-1 minute on each leg.)
  • Yoga warrior two (Feet are spread wide apart, left foot facing forward and right foot perpendicular to left. Bend the right leg until the thigh is parallel to the floor, extend arms straight out toward each side, and look toward the right middle finger as you hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on other side. Almost like a side lunge.)
  • Chair pose (Stand with legs and feet pressing together, and then sit back as if there is a chair behind you. Tuck the tail bone to engage the abs, and extend the arms above the head. Sit as low as you can and hold for 30 seconds)
  • Push against a sturdy wall (This one is super simple: stand with feet hip-distance apart, face a sturdy wall, and push against it as hard as you can for 30 seconds. It seems silly, but it’s a good workout! I say “sturdy” wall because it’s important to choose a wall where you’re not going to push a hole in the sheetrock if you’re strong enough.)

People with high blood pressure should be careful about doing isometric exercises because they can raise the blood pressure while you hold the position. If you have high blood pressure, ask your doctor if purposefully doing isometric exercises regularly is safe. Whether or not you have high blood pressure, don’t forget to keep breathing as you hold the position!! (And remember to include both isotonic and isometric exercises into your strength training routine, at least two days a week! :)

Sources:

  1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/adults.html
  2. Harvard Public Health Glossary of Exercise Terms. http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Health_Letter/2008/September/Glossary-of-exercise-terms

YOU Decide What We Build: The New UNC Campus Rec

Old Well SLIDESHOW

Beginning this year, Campus Rec will be making HUGE changes to our facilities. We’re calling this giant undertaking the “Facilities Master Plan” to figure out the direction of our changes. This could include a brand new gym with updated equipment, better pools, or even a ramped-up outdoor recreation center. The reason we haven’t decided exactly what to build yet…?

 YOU! Tell us what YOU want from a university fitness experience.

If you are a UNC student, faculty, or affiliate, we want to hear your opinion about Campus Rec’s facilities. Imagine the fitness possibilities! Your voice will be heard loud and clear through a survey we have created to hear your feedback.

The survey will be open September 29th – October 3rd. You can share your opinions online through a link, or in-person at the SRC or Ram’s Head Rec Center.

Your homework this week: think about what you like about Campus Rec’s facilities, and what you think could be changed.

And GET READY for the survey next week. You could receive free Campus Rec swag!

“That’s [NOT] So Bad For You!”

Mayonnaise, butter, pizza, and white bread: we’ve all heard it said, or been the one to say, “that’s so bad for you!” The reasoning behind this statement often comes from other common statements and preconceived notions, including “it’s full of fat,” “it’s pure sugar,” and “it’ll go straight to your thighs.” But a little more examination into what these statements and notions imply shows that by saying and thinking these things, we’re really saying “fat/sugar/etc. is a detrimental nutrient” and “particular foods will inherently make you gain weight while others will not.”

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In fact, neither fat nor sugar is a detrimental nutrient; both are necessary for life and health and the key is simply moderation of both. The three macronutrients, or main nutrients that we need in the largest quantities each day, are carbohydrates (sugar), lipids (fat), and proteins. They are called macronutrients to contrast them with micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, which we only need in tiny amounts to maintain our health. Fad diet programs over the years have touted cutting out nearly an entire macronutrient group as the magical secret to losing weight, such as the Atkins diet, which is an extremely low-carbohydrate plan. Often, such plans are either unsuccessful or only successful because of the dietary awareness they promote among their participants that helps them to cut excess calories.

Carbohydrates (sugar)

Carbohydrates are simple and complex sugars from our food and are the body’s main source of fuel. They are easy for the body to digest and use, and if we have a shortage of carbohydrates in our diet, the body will use other mechanisms to convert parts of the other macronutrients, fat and protein, into glucose (a simple carbohydrate) for the body to use to produce energy. Why would the body go through the trouble of converting one macronutrient to another instead of just using fat or protein for energy directly in the case of a carbohydrate shortage? It seems terribly inefficient, but it quickly becomes necessary because some of the most important parts of the body, including the central nervous system, kidneys, brain, and heart REQURE carbohydrates to function. Now we see why that conversion process might be worth our time and effort. Carbohydrate-rich foods also frequently contain a particular type of carbohydrate that our bodies cannot actually digest, but which is necessary proper digestive function and is known simply as fiber. Not only do diets low in fiber cause digestive problems, but they have also been shown to increase risk of certain diseases when compared to high-fiber diets.

Protein

Protein consists of thousands of amino acids linked by peptide bonds. Proteins are necessary for everyone, but are particularly necessary in larger amounts for people who are growing and building new body structures on a regular basis, including children and pregnant women. As I mentioned before, some amino acids from protein are called “glucogenic,”which means that they can be converted to glucose for energy production when carbohydrates are in short supply. Immune antibodies, hormones, and enzymes necessary for every bodily function are also proteins themselves, so consuming protein in the diet is important to replenish the amino acid pool from which these necessary protein structures are built. Protein can come from both plant and animal sources, and in fact, most of the world consumes the majority of their protein from plant sources, even though Americans typically do not follow this pattern. Proteins are also important for maintaining lean muscle mass, which is great for the metabolism, and for tissue repair in times of injury.

Lipids (fat)

Ahh fat, the most hated, misjudged, and avoided of all the macronutrients. Without thinking about it too much, it makes sense that because they share the same name, people would assume that fat makes you fat. However, I’d like to spread the joyful news that this is not the case any more than carbohydrates and proteins will make you fat, and if you decide to cut out all three macronutrient groups, well then you can probably spend the entirety of your next yoga class in corpse pose.

Fat got it’s bad reputation in the 1960s and 70s when the USDA began suggesting that cutting fat was the key to helping Americans reduce their risk of heart disease. Additionally, carbohydrates and protein each provide 4 calories per gram, while fat provides 9 calories per gram, so it makes intuitive sense that if you replace fat with protein or carbohydrates, you’ll cut calories and then lose weight. However, what is usually not discussed is the fact that fat is important to feeling satiety, or a feeling of satisfaction and fullness after eating. A diet extremely low in fat can result in feeling less satisfied after meals and being hungry again more quickly than you might have been had the meal contained some fat. Even though there will be more calories in a high-fat meal, the feeling of fullness can actually help people to eat less overall and require less calories than if they were getting them only from carbohydrates. Interesting stuff! Fat is also just as essential as proteins and carbs for proper growth, reproduction, absorbing the fat-soluble vitamins (which is most of them), and maintaining cell membranes. Considering the fact that every bit of our bodies is made up of cells, I’d say that maintaining those cells if pretty important if we want to keep what is inside our bodies inside and what is outside, outside.

But what about the research, dietary guidelines, and thousands of publications that say fat contributes to increased cholesterol and risk of heart disease? Earlier this summer, June 2014, TIME magazine published an article called “Don’t Blame Fat,” by Brian Walsh. It seems that the war on fat may not be based on research as solid as we would like to think it is and that more research is being done and is needed in the future to prove that there is actually a benefit to the low-fat diet Americans have been told to eat for years. As evidenced by the age-old system that still requires American kindergarteners to learn that there are 5,280 feet in a mile, it will take a lot of work, research, money, and time to change what people have been thinking about fat and food for basically their entire lives.

Warning: This Is Emily’s Opinion

Some foods are high in carbs, some are high in fat, and some are high in protein; it’s just the way things work. Just because a food is high in a particular macronutrient doesn’t make that food “so bad for you,” and we shouldn’t say things and phrases that might make people feel guilty or uncomfortable with what they’ve chosen to eat unless you’re a registered dietician that they’ve asked to tell them such things. It’s true that if you were to eat a diet that consisted strictly of the mayonnaise, pizza, butter, and white bread that I mentioned before, that diet as a whole might indeed be bad for your health. But there is nothing “so bad” about eating pizza every now and then and putting mayonnaise on your ham sandwiches or butter on your dinner roll. I don’t think that people should feel bad about eating the foods that they love in reasonable quantities or avoid foods entirely simply because they’ve been told that that food is “bad.” If a chef never cooked with anything that he or she has heard was “so bad for you,” they would never get a job because the food would be bland and sad. Sometimes the combination of carbohydrates, the texture of protein, and the flavor of fat is exactly what we need to fulfill our body’s requests and enjoy the experience of a delicious meal, and that’s perfectly OK.

Sources

  1. http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu/handouts/macronutrients.htm
  2. Introduction to Nutrition class at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  3. http://www.freedigitalphotos.net
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