Friday, September 27, 2013

September Fit Tip: Fighting the Flu

The temperatures are cooling, the days are getting shorter  and the Cowboys are playing football again.  That must mean that fall is in the air.  Unfortunately, it also means that Flu Season is right around the corner.  It is never too early to start preparing, so follow these tips from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on protecting yourself this flu season:
• Wash your hands often. Use warm water and work the soap into a lather for at least 20 seconds.  If soap is not available, try an alcohol based sanitizer.
• Always wash your hands after using the restroom, before and after preparing food, after coughing or sneezing, after cleaning out a wound, after taking out the garbage.  On second thought, just wash them throughout the day.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.  Germs spread this way.
• Clean and disinfect workplace surfaces, especially the phone, keyboard and mouse.
• Avoid contact with sick people.
• Stay home when you are sick.

Another great way to help protect against the flu is to get vaccinated.  The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated at least once a year.  The flu vaccines will help protect against this season’s most likely flu strains.

Some people should not be vaccinated without consulting a physician.  They include:
• People who have a severe allergy to eggs.
• People who have had a bad reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past.
• People who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever.

If you suspect you have the flu or any of the following symptoms, to include: fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, aches, headache, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea; stay home and avoid contact with people. If you are able to catch the flu in the beginning stages, see a doctor right away so you can be prescribed an antiviral drug that can treat the illness before it gets worse.  Studies have shown that these medications work best when they are prescribed within two days of getting sick.

“What You Should Know for the 2013-2014 Influenza Season.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 2013. Available at: Accessed on September 23, 2013.

Friday, June 7, 2013

June Fit Tip - Grocery Store Mistakes

Grocery shopping may be an activity you thoroughly enjoy or completely despise, but in either case it has a direct impact on your nutrition and health.  Consider the following advice before making your next trip to the grocery store.

Mistake #1: You go to the grocery store hungry.
When you're hungry, everything is more appealing and you'll buy foods that aren't ideal for your healthy eating plan. This happens even if you know better!
The Fix:    Go to the grocery store another time, or at least wait until after you've eaten.  If you MUST go food shopping, plan exactly what you will buy before you enter the store.

Mistake #2: You forgot your grocery list.
This means you no longer have a game plan, which in essence means everything is "game."  Any food item you come across may end up in your cart depending on your appetite and mood.   
The Fix: If you left your list at home, sit in the car (or simply stand at the entrance of the store) and take a couple of minutes to rewrite your list before you start shopping.  By focusing on the foods you need you are less likely to be distracted by unhealthy options.

Mistake #3: You mosey through the store.
Taking your time walking up and down each aisle in the grocery store not only wastes your valuable time, but exposes you to more food distractions that may influence impulsive decisions to purchase unhealthy foods.
The Fix:  Shop quickly and as though you are on a mission. Stay focused on your list so you can get your items and move on. Be sure to shop the perimeter of the store, where you'll find produce, lean meats and the dairy case. For the remaining items, only go down the aisle of the specific item you need.

Mistake #4: You avoid frozen produce and assume it's not as nutritious as fresh.
Despite good intentions to prepare a nutrient-packed meal with plenty of vegetables, you often find rotten or wilted produce in your fridge and your plan is thwarted.
The Fix:  Stock up on frozen produce—it stays good for up to a year! Frozen is just as healthy as fresh and, in some instances, is even healthier and contains more nutrients than fresh because it's frozen immediately after being picked, meaning the nutrients are intact. Fresh produce, on the other hand, may have traveled for two weeks from the farm to the grocery store and lost nutrients over time and during exposure to heat or light.

Mistake # 5: You fall for the claim on the front of the food package.
Have you ever picked up a food because the label on the front says "healthy," "organic," "all-natural" or "low-calorie," but pay no attention to the Nutrition Facts Panel? Often people are duped by clever marketing. For instance, a popular cereal boasts, "lightly sweetened." There's no FDA regulation for this claim. (The FDA regulates the use of "sugar-free," which means the food contains less than 0.5 grams of sugar per serving, and "no added sugars" or "without added sugars," which mean that no sugar or sugar-containing ingredient was added during
The Fix:  Read the Nutrition Facts Panel. It's the only way to know what you're actually getting. And be sure to pay special attention to the serving size on the nutrition label.

Mistake #6: You buy a food simply because it's organic.
This is one of the most common mistakes. Just because a food is "organic" doesn't mean it's healthy or that it's good for you. Organic cookies are still cookies. Organic chocolate…still chocolate. Organic ice cream, well you get it.
The Fix:  Even when you buy an organic food, read the nutrition label. Make sure that food is not loaded with sugar, saturated fat, or excessive sodium.

Mistake #7: You pay no attention to salt.
Salt makes you hungrier, thirstier and it increases cravings. Plus, when you eat a lot of salt, (think soy sauce, deli meats, canned soup, processed foods, restaurant meals, fries, chips) the body responds by holding on to water to dilute the sodium and maintain it at the proper concentration, which is why you weigh more and look bloated with a distended stomach. Plus, too much salt increases your risk of high blood pressure and stroke.
The Fix:  Again, it comes down to reading labels. To help avoid the risk of high blood pressure, keep your sodium intake to 2,400 – 3,000 mg or less per day. (The American Heart Association recommends no more than 3,000 mg of sodium per day for healthy adults.


For more information about all Rec Sports programs, please call 940-565-2275 or 940-369-8347 or visit

Friday, May 17, 2013

May Fit Tip- Core Off The Floor

Not only are traditional abdominal crunches performed on the floor boring and outdated, but they have also been shown to cause spinal injury and have minimal impact on your overall core musculature.  Try some of the exercises below to experience new, more effective, and safer total core work.

AR Press
AR Press
Anti-Rotation “AR” Press
Use either an elastic band or a cable machine.  Set your feet in an athletic stance with knees slightly bent and hips engaged.  Pull the handle to your chest and square your shoulders with your hips.  Resist the force to rotate back.  Now press your arms straight ahead and hold for 2 seconds , then return them back to the start position.  Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions for each side.

Medicine Ball Lift with Rotation “Reverse Wood Chop”
Stand with feet shoulder width apart.  Keeping a tall posture, hold a medicine ball in both hands.  At the same time, squat down and rotate to the right.  Now, again at the same time, stand up and rotate to the left while lifting the medicine ball above your head.  Repeat for 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each side.

Hanging Knee Raises
Using either a Captain’s Chair or hanging from a pull-up bar position yourself so your feet are off the ground.  Tuck your knees to your chest high enough that your pelvis rotates toward your ribcage.  Repeat for 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Shoulder Press
Shoulder Press
Standing Shoulder Press with Rotation
Stand with feet shoulder width apart.  Raise dumbbells to your shoulders.  Rotate to the right and press the right dumbbell overhead.  Bring the dumbbell back to your shoulder and rotate to the left and press the left dumbbell overhead.  Perform each motion with steady control.

Overhead Squat/Lunge   
Hold a weight plate directly over your head.  Stand with feet approximately shoulder width apart.  Maintain a tall vertical posture.  Squat down as low as you can with good form or perform a lunge as low as you can with good form.  Repeat for 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Overhead Lunge
Overhead Squat

*If you have any questions about these exercises please come as a personal trainer at the UNT Rec Center.
**For beginners, or when no medicine balls/weights are available, performing these motions with body weight only can also be beneficial.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Ease your stress with Yoga

By Becca Salsman,
Group Exercise Instructor at the Rec Center

As Denton blooms and the spring semester nears it’s end, the UNT campus seems busier than ever. Priorities change as final exams demand the full attention of students and faculty. During this chaotic period, it can be easy to let our health take a back seat. We sleep less and do more, often swapping breakfast for caffeine. Its easy to get caught up in bad habits when we can’t seem to find the energy, but it’s the little things we do for ourselves than can have the greatest impact on our academic performance and overall well being.

When our bodies are under stress, the heart rate increases, fast acting hormones are released, and our immune and digestive systems are suppressed in order to support all the extra activity. While temporarily efficient, consequences can be found in our diet, sleep, and sensitivity to illness. Fortunately, these autonomic reactions can be combated by a simple activity, time tested by thousands of years and practiced in cultures all over the world.

While different styles promote additional physical and psychological benefits, yoga is known to stimulate proper digestion, release endorphins, relax muscles tension, and promote mental clarity. By slowing the breath and refocusing our attention, we also decrease the heart rate and increase blood flow, allowing the body heal itself. This state of recovery doesn’t end when class is over. Yoga leads to better sleep and concentration upon waking, especially valuable on test day. The physical practice improves flexibility, strength, and balance – a great supplement for athletes or those looking for a holistic fitness experience.

Though the first time seems intimidating, yoga classes at the Pohl Recreation Center are welcoming and inclusive . A non-judgmental atmosphere invites students of all levels to participate at their own pace, with classes offered daily from the early morning at 7:45, to late night yoga at 9:15 for the night owls. Head upstairs to let your stress melt away for a rewarding hour of practice, and leave with a refreshed body, mind, and soul.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Signs of Overtraining

Do you feel like your workouts are getting harder, you are more tired than usual and easily irritable, or are you getting sick often?  You may be overtraining.  Read some of the signs of overtraining below to see if you are being affected by overtraining.

Decreased performance.  Are you seeing a decrease in your strength when lifting weights, or your endurance when performing cardiovascular exercise?  Has your work performance been affected?

Agitation, moodiness, irritability or lack of concentration. Too much exercise and too little rest can wreak havoc on the hormones and cause mood swings and an inability to concentrate.

Excessive fatigue and malaise. A body that never has a chance to fully recover from a previous workout will continue to feel more and more fatigued.

Increased perceived effort during normal workouts. Overtraining takes a toll on the body, and workouts that were once a breeze can begin to feel like a grind.

Chronic or nagging muscle aches or joint pain. Overused muscles and joints can cause constant aches, which may persist until the body is given proper rest.

More frequent illnesses and upper-respiratory infections. Too much exercise taxes all of the body's systems and makes it more difficult to ward off infections.

Insomnia or restless sleep. During sleep the body has time to rest and repair itself. An overtrained body, however, is sometimes unable to slow down and completely relax, making it difficult to recover between workouts.

Loss of appetite. Overtraining can cause an increase in hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine that tend to inhibit appetite. The physical exhaustion and anxiety that often comes with overtraining can also have the same effect.

Chronically elevated heart rate at rest and during exercise. A clear sign of an overworked heart muscle is a chronically elevated heart rate. Also, people who overtrain will often find that it takes longer for their heart rate to return to normal after a workout.

Menstrual cycle disturbances in women. Exercising excessively and not consuming enough calories may disrupt a woman's menstrual cycle. While some may experience irregular periods, others will stop menstruating altogether.

To help counteract the effects of overtraining consider reducing the duration or intensity of physical activity that you perform.  Also, if you are severely affected by overtraining, consider taking time off from training and possibly visit with a doctor to determine if any significant damage has been caused by overtraining.

For more fitness tips and help, please stop by the Rec Center or visit


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Spring Break She Will Never Forget

   It was not an outing that she had planned, but when Rec Center lifeguard Catherine Johnson took a trip to Chicago this Spring Break with her dad, she used a combination of quick thinking, on-the-job training and classroom knowledge to help save someone’s life.

   Johnson, a Junior from Swindon, England, was taking a corner when someone on a bicycle came around too fast in the opposite direction.

   “There was a guy that was riding his new push bike. He came spinning around the corner really fast, and he went head-on into a concrete post. There was nobody around us so I went over and said, ‘Hello, can I help you? Are you ok?’”
   Johnson thought that he had hit his arm and was only going to be bruised.

   “The guy was just holding his arm telling me that he thought he had broken his arm, not aware of the fact that he had a massive laceration to his head.”

   That’s when Johnson sprang into action, using the First Aid skills that she has learned from being a lifeguard for the last 5 years.

   “I just noticed the blood covering him from his head down to his knees. I cleared the area as best as I could to make it a little bit safer for us, and sat him up against the post that he had just run in to. I then took a better look at his head. He had actually cut all of the way through to his skull, so it was a very deep wound.”

   Not only did Johnson have to work on a large head wound and injured arm, the man was also drifting in and out of consciousness.

   “When I explained who I was and that I was a First Aider, he calmed down a little bit and was just very thankful that I was there. I tried to call an ambulance, but he actually wouldn’t let me because he didn’t have any health insurance, so he was begging me not to call. So I just had to respond as best as I could with what I had immediately for resources, which was pretty much nothing.”

   “I tried to stop the bleeding to his head, but with his arm—it was definitely broken and out of place—he couldn’t even hold his hand to his head to stop the bleeding himself. So I tried to merge the two edges of his laceration together so that the skin could kind of try to knit itself back together to prevent him losing any more blood, or any foreign objects from entering his head. “

   After checking on him for a few more minutes, Johnson managed to contact the man’s mother, who came to the situation about 10 minutes later, in hopes that the mom would be able to help assist.

   “When his mom got to the scene she was just a total wreck. She was completely panicking and didn’t know what to do—couldn’t even calm herself down to come have a look at her son’s head. So, as well as the guy that had injured his head and broken his arm, I had to deal with his mom who was a complete nervous wreck which is understandable but a little overwhelming to deal with in the situation on your own.”

   Johnson was finally able to get the mother to calm down, and was able to have her help her injured son.

   “She was actually wearing three shirts, whereas I was only wearing one. So I didn’t have anything that I could help the guy with in terms of a bandage. So I asked her to take one of her long-sleeved shirts off and for her to come hold her son’s head in position so that he could begin to create some kind of bandage.”

   Johnson tore an arm off of the shirt to make a square bandage for his head wound. Then she used the remainder of the shirt to make a sling to keep the man’s injured arm in position to avoid any further injury.

   “When we had to deal with all of that, we managed to find a taxi and get him to a hospital where he was seen by medical professionals because he had such a huge cut in his head.”

   The man was taken to the local emergency room to be treated for his injuries.

   “When we got there, I stayed with him because obviously I was the first responder. I had all of the information for how long he had been bleeding for, when I found him, the direct action that caused the injury, and kind of all of the information surrounding this that I couldn’t have told the mother because she couldn’t focus enough to retain the information.”

   And it was Johnson’s quick response and knowledge of First Aid that really made a bad situation manageable.

   “The emergency personnel were very complimentary of all of the work that I had done and basically told me that I had saved his life because without that bandage and my quick responses, he probably would have lost a lot more blood, possibly gone unconscious,  and not been recognized for a while because there was nobody on the street that we were on.”

   Johnson combined the training that she receives as a lifeguard at the Rec Center with knowledge she learned in her Anatomy and Physiology class to render aid during this accident.

   “Here at the Rec Center we have to do regular weekly inservices, which is very beneficial to our learning and to the upkeep of our skills. Each week we do a different task. So, one week we could be doing CPR, the next week we could be dealing with heat exhaustion, the week after we could be dealing with, I don’t know, somebody falling out of the spa and breaking their leg. So we get to go through a wide variety of scenarios and get to keep on top of our constant training within every aspect in First Aid. So, I feel that doing that, I feel more well-rounded and able to adapt to any situation rather than just being hot on my CPR or whichever.”

   “I was very confident in how I handled the situation. There wasn’t any point in which I second doubted what I was doing. It was just as if I was completing a scenario on pool side.  This semester I’m in a class for Anatomy and Physiology, which enabled me to effectively me talk to the medical professionals when I was explaining exactly where he was injured and exactly how much blood he had lost, and what changes I had noticed in the body whilst he was regaining his composure and his ability to function.”

 This is one example of the great staff at Recreational Sports. If you notice a staff member that goes above and beyond, please do not hesitate to let us know! You can leave a comment in the suggestion box, or e-mail

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Spot Training Myth

Fitness Tip-March 2013
The Myth:   
Doing exercises that focus on a specific part of the body will cause fat to be removed from those parts.
Performing abdominal crunches will reduce belly fat.
The Truth: 
Performing exercises for a specific muscle group will increase the strength and/or size of   the muscles in that body part, not reduce fat in that area. To effectively remove body fat, proper diet and adequate cardiovascular exercise must be done. Strength training is also important because it can build and tone your muscles. Bigger muscles burn more calories throughout the day, making it easier to lose fat faster, and toned muscles give your body better shape once that fat is gone. 
Eating healthy, performing regular cardiovascular exercise, and engaging in total body resistance training will make you lose fat everywhere, tightened up loose body parts, and make you healthier overall.
View past Fit Tips.