Category: UCO – Page 2

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Americans sleep on average five to six hours per night. The average American today works long hours; lack of sleep can be harmful to the body resulting in high levels of stress. Lack of sleep can lead to, or continue to, produce side effects common with sleeping disorders. Under most circumstances, inadequate sleep can lead to headaches, dizziness, reduced mental alertness, and lack of motivation (American Sleep Association, 2017). A deep restful sleep can promote physical health, longevity, and emotional well-being (Harvard, 2007). In results of a good night’s sleep you feel better, your decisions are more accurate, and it gives you the ability to learn and retain more information (Harvard, n.d.)

There are two phases of sleep: Rapid-eye-movement (REM) and non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM). The first phase of sleep is NREM, in this phase brain activity is slow, and the five senses shut down. The NREM phase transitions through four stages and sleep gets progressively deeper making it nearly impossible to wake an individual from sleep. After moving through all four stages of sleep the brain switches into REM. During REM sleep muscles are temporarily paralyzed, and physiological functions may be more active. REM sleep is also the stage of sleep most associated with dreaming. Changes may occur in brain wave activity, heart rate, body temperature, and other physiological functions depending on the phase of sleep (Harvard, 2007).

Adequate sleep is important for good mental and physical health. Studies have shown that inadequate sleep has been linked to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and mood disorder (NIH, n.d.). It is believed that most people need at least eight hours of sleep, but quality of sleep is just as important as quantity. Poor quality sleep reduces efficiency and productivity which can be felt in many ways during our daily lives (American Sleep Association, 2017).


Good quality sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle. Getting adequate sleep is essential for learning, and improving memory function. Exercising in the morning or in the middle of the day can help improve sleep patterns. Effective time management can also help achieve restful sleep. If you can’t seem to “turn your mind off,” reading, writing, and listening to music may be helpful in relaxing your mind. Avoiding caffeine in the afternoon can also help you relax before bedtime. Beginning a consistent sleep schedule may take some time, but it could be helpful to try creating a schedule with your daily task and activities to help assist you with getting everything done in time for a restful sleep.


Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School (2017). The Characteristics of Sleep Web. 16 Feb. 2017. <>.


American Sleep Association (n.d.) Inadequate Sleep Hygiene. Web. 16 Feb. 2017. <>.


National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (n.d.) How does inadequate sleep affect health? Web. 16 Feb. 2017. <>.


Harvard Medical School (n.d.) Healthy Sleep: Consequences of Insufficient Sleep Web. 16 Feb. 2017. <>.


Outdoor Rock Climbing: Getting Fit Can Be Fun

by: Evan Small

When you think of exercise it’s easy to imagine racks of weights, tight spaces and treadmills galore. The grunting sounds of those around you and the always-occupied equipment are encouragement to take the workout elsewhere…to the couch. Your only hope of staying at the gym is the non-existent chance that the next song on your iPod will psych body into completing another set of bench press!

Enter rock climbing as exercise. Outdoor Rock Climbing in its initial form was thought to be reckless and a form of rebellion against authority. In climbing gyms across America today, rock climbing is being sought after for a total body workout that also challenges psychological aspects of its participants. Climbers are being trained at younger and younger ages in climbing gyms with the hopes of competing in climbing competitions and becoming a respected professional in the sport.

These gyms provide a unique experience for all skill levels and can be tailored to your desired experience. It’s like doing yoga on a climbing wall! Climbing gyms have a certain culture that is extremely supportive and inclusive, something that is hard to come by in a fitness facility unless you attend a body pump or Zumba class. If you are looking to put the dumbbells down and pickup something adventurous to challenge all muscles of the body, rock climbing is your answer!


An initial inspection of rock climbing leads you to believe it is 100% an upper body exercise. Upon one visit to the climbing gym, most climbers realize they have to use their legs equally as much as there arms. Large muscles in the calves and hamstrings are under constant contraction during a climb. Because foot and handholds are placed in a certain pattern, climbing offers a balanced exercise and forces you to engage potentially weak muscles that could be avoided in a typical fitness facility. Depending on the climbing routes length and the break taken between climbs, you can obtain a cardio workout as well. Studies have shown that experience climbers have similar body fat content to individuals who participate in regular aerobic exercise such as running or cycling (Macdonald & Callender, 2011)

Participation in rock climbing, especially in gym settings, has grown exponentially in recent years. In 2020, the Olympics will host climbing for the first time. Competitions such as USA Climbing Nationals, Climbing World Cups and climbing’s future in the Olympics are a display of what climbing can do for the body given extreme dedication to the sport.


If going to the gym to lift weights is a burden, try going to the local climbing gym such as Threshold Climbing + Fitness set to open April 1st of this year. Challenge your mind and get a total body workout in, all while having fun and being adventurous!


Macdonald, J. H., PhD., & Callender, N., B.Sc. (2011). Athletic profile of highly accomplished boulderers. Wilderness & Environmental Medicine, 22(2), 140-143. Retrieved from


High Intensity Interval Training

by: Kyna Lewis

It can be hard to find time to meet the 30-60 minute per day requirement for aerobic exercise. What if I told you there could be a more effective and time efficient route to burn fat? High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a form of cardiovascular exercise that involves high intensity bouts of exercise such as sprints, with rest or active recovery cycles. These cycles could include time allotted just for rest or a lower intensity recovery, such as walking. Just like continuous training, HIIT has several benefits. HIIT has been shown to have significant improvements in aerobic fitness, metabolic health, and cardiovascular health.  (Kilpatrick, M., 2014).


When completing an aerobic HIIT training workout, you want to consider the duration, intensity, and frequency of the work intervals and the length of the rest and recovery periods. A HIIT session should consist of a warm up period of exercise between 5-7 minutes, followed by shorter bouts of high intensity effort which typically require you to become breathless during the work interval, and a relief interval such as rest, walking, or moderate exercise such as jogging. The short bursts of high intensity exercise periods may range from 5 seconds to 8 minutes long, and are performed at 80% to 95% of estimated maximal heart rate. The rest and recovery periods should be equal in time of the work intervals or even a bit longer, or double the work interval time usually performed at 40%-50% of estimated maximal heart rate. The sessions continue with three to ten repetitions alternating work and relief intervals, and ending with a period of cool down exercises totaling just about 15-20 minute. (Kravitz, L., 2014).

HIIT training can be modified into exercise sessions below the minimum training threshold for beginner exercisers as well as conditioned athletes who wish to improve aerobic power. HIIT training can be performed in a variety of exercise modes, including bodyweight exercises, cycling, walking, swimming, jump rope, elliptical cross-training, and in group exercise classes. It is also really important to establish a base fitness level before engaging in HIIT training or any exercise training program. Although HIIT training is more common in athletic training programs, there are beneficial results established through published research studies indicating that high-intensity training is more effective and time efficient in improving performance, and it can be modified and used for all individuals who have a base fitness level (exercising 3-5 times a week for 20-60 minutes at a moderate intensity).  If you have not been exercising habitually, one alternative might be to try moderate intensity interval training (MITT), which involves working at a moderate intensity with cycles of rest or low-intensity recovery periods.

Here’s an example of a sample HIIT Program:

  • Warm up for 2 to 5 minutes at a low to moderate intensity.
  • 1-minute high-intensity work interval at about 80%-95% of max effort.
  • 1-minute low-intensity relief interval at about 10% max effort.
  • Repeat the work and relief intervals 10 times for 20 minutes total.
  • Cooldown for 5-10 minutes.

American College of Sports Medicine. High Intensity Interval Training. (2014)

Griffin, J.C. Client-Centered Exercise Prescription. 2015. Human Kinetics. P. 222-223

International Journal of Applied Sports Sciences. Evaluating and Comparing the Effect of High Intensity Interval Training vs. Low Intense, Longer-lasting training on Endurance Performance in Recreational Runners.

(Kilpatrick, Marcus W., Ph.D. “High-Intensity Interval Training.” A Review of Physiological and Psychological Responses 18.5 (2014): 0-5. Web.)




Time and Place for Everything, Rest is Key!


by: Samuel Jenkins

Resistance training or working out with weights may conjure up images of nonstop effort and sweat. This can be true, but a proper training session and program should also look to rest your body and help optimize the actual work done. This will help ensure proper technique, safety, and continued progress overtime. Rest comes in many forms and can be anything from pausing to catch your breath to taking a few days off so your body can recover.

Are you training for walking/running/swimming or to lift weights? Depending on your goals, the amount of rest you give yourself will vary dramatically. If training in a continuous manner, walking/swimming, it is okay to go nonstop at 50-80% of your maximum heart rate as long as your body feels okay. Just remember pacing and comfort are key. It is possible to train every day using a continuous method, but don’t ever push yourself too hard on any given day, this way, you allow your body to recover properly. Short rest durations (30-90 seconds between sets) may be used if you are short on time, this will typically takes the form of lighter weights, or even body weight.  In this instance, a higher repetition count such as 8-12 is a good rule to go by. If you are trying to train for strength/power/muscle size, the more weight will mean less repetitions, think 3-5 repetitions. So the more weight lifted or the quicker the movement the more rest you will need (2-5 minutes of rest between sets). These are good rules of thumb for just one session, but rest on a longer scale should be considered as well. If you have trained extremely hard for a day or had a stressful day at work, it also may be best to build in a couple of days to let your body recover properly.

stress You may feel like the world around you has lead you to believe we must absolutely destroy our body for it to be considered exercise. The fact of the matter is, if you are already stressed out or living off of just a couple of hours of sleep, it may be best for you to just rest for a couple of days. The world we live in today can be very stressful, and stress in its many forms robs us of our energy. This means that if you train on an abnormally stressful day, you are working with half of the fuel you would normally have in your tank. This is not to mention chronic, long-term, stress which can slowly decrease your well-being over time and lead to overtraining.

Training with little rest may also seem like a recipe for quicker fat loss because of the increase in heart rate and immediate calorie expenditure. However, this can be self-defeating, especially if you have had previous experience with weight training. Bigger muscles force your body to burn through more calories at rest, because the relative amount of energy burned within a single workout session is small in comparison to the amount of calories needed to burn 1 pound of fat. One 30 minute workout of nonstop action using circuit training will only amount to 500 calories burned (Walking at a brisk pace for 1 hour, 3.5 mph, or running for 25-30 minutes at 5 mph will burn about 500 calories too), while to lose a pound of fat you need to burn 3500 calories. So for you to lose just 1 pound of fat, you would need to do the same circuit session 7 times or walk/run the equivalent of that.


Now this may leave you feeling daunted and overwhelmed, but there is a way around it. Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? The turtle went slow and steady and the rabbit shot out of the gates, but the turtle ultimately won the race. The same concept is true of your body! If you slowly but surely build a strong foundation of muscle within your body, you will ultimately burn more calories throughout the day than any single bout of exercise could possibly give you. According to a study done looking into metabolic rates of major organs and tissue, 1 pound of muscle burns approximately 6 calories per hour, while 1 pound of fat burns about 2-4 calories. By itself this isn’t a huge expenditure of calories, but over the course of one day, one month, or one year, this extra pound of muscle can make a difference. You can combine this with light physical activity on your rest days. Or you can incorporate an active recovery into your training sessions, which should be in the form of less intense exercise such as a standing instead of sitting, a slow walk, or lifting with light to no weight. With rest and recovery as a key ingredient, we can create a recipe for a more enjoyable workout experience that will make you feel better and will lead to a progressively healthier lifestyle. Let’s build off small positive successes which can ultimately need to profound positive change.

Building an Attitude For Exercise

By Kamiera Jones

Have you been contemplating on exercising but just can’t seem to get started or find the time to exercise? We as people tend to make time for the things we feel are most important or things that are at the top of our priority list. Therefore, we must make exercising important to us. In order to have a motivational drive for exercise one must understand both the physical and mental benefits of exercising. In order for exercise to become one of our daily habits or become a part of our behavior patterns we must first change our thought process. We must build an attitude for exercise and exercise itself will fall into place. Start off by establishing goals. Establishing goals will get you motivated because you start to think about the rewards and gains you can get from exercise. Establishing goals is also an integral part when considering your work out plan.  Your workout plan does not have to be the same as someone else’s it can be solely based around your individual goals and needs. Having a plan for your workout is a vital part to building an attitude for exercise. Next time your contemplating on whether you should exercise write down all the benefits you can gain from exercising it might get you going!

Free Weights vs Machine Weights

By Javier Ibanez

When it comes to new people wanting to do resistance training, usually the first questions they ask themselves is whether to work out on machines or with free weights. There are many great benefits for each type of weight training, but there has always been a debate on which one is better. The only way to get a look at this is to see some of the pros and cons of each.

  • Benefits to free weights:
    • You can do more exercises with less equipment
    • Inexpensive
    • Able to use full range of motion
    • Able to use anywhere
  • Disadvantages to free weights:
    • Greater risk of injury
    • Proper technique takes time to learn
    • Will need a spotter if working with higher weights

Now let’s take a look at machine weights

  • Advantages to machine weights:
    • Usually safer and easier to use
    • Isolate specific muscles
    • Ensure correct movements when used correctly
  • Disadvantages to machine weights:
    • Difficult to strengthen stabilizer muscles
    • Bulky and expensive
    • May have to wait in line to use at a gym

As you can see, there are many advantages to each type of weight training, but it is up to the individual to decide which type they want to do and are best suited for. If you feel like free weights are what you want to do, but you don’t feel that you are ready for them, then it is OK to start off with machine weights first and work your way over to the free weight area. If you know that you are not going to like the free weight area then it is also OK to stick with the machine weights for a while. Personally, I feel like they are both great and they both need to be used for an exercise program to be effective. Something to keep in mind for those that are just getting ready to start but can’t decide which to go with: something is better than nothing, so pick one and get after it. Even if you don’t know which one is better, you will definitely figure out which one you prefer along the way.

Eating Disorders in Athletes

By Kaitlyn Johns

Sports have many benefits to athletes including: improvements in physical health, social connections, and improved self-esteem. Sports can also end up creating a negative body image for young athletes once they begin entering the competition world. Society has such a skewed image of thinness and the pressure of competition on athletes, leading athletes to move towards eating disorders. Most athletes with eating disorders tend to be female, but that does not mean males don’t suffer from this disease as well. Most male athletes suffering from an eating disorder are usually in a sport where there’s a heavy emphasis on diet and physical appearance.

There was a study done on Division I NCAA athletes and over ⅓ of female athletes developed attitudes and symptoms that put them at risk for anorexia nervosa. There are three risk factors that are the main contributors to female eating disorders. This includes: the social emphasis on being thin, performance anxiety and negative self appraisal. These disorders tend to be focused more on sports that are centered around individual performance. Gymnastics is a major sport that suffers from eating disorders. Being a retiree of the sport, I have witnessed first hand on how the pressures of “wanting to be the best” effects the mind and body of young girls. Individual based sports emphasize a single person’s performance rather than looking at the team as a whole. This puts more pressure on the athlete to perform and look their best.

While there is no definitive way to eliminate eating disorders from competitive sports, there are some ways to improve an athlete’s environment to steer them away from believing an eating disorder is their only choice. Ways to help include education from the coaches about positive, healthy lifestyles and communication improvements and focusing more on motivation and enthusiasm for the sport rather than on performance and body weight.

Hydration 101

By Javier Ibanez

When it comes to hydration, many people don’t see how important and how beneficial it is. As many people have heard, the amount of water that is needed to be consumed by an individual is an average of 6-8 cups per day. This is a reasonable amount for people to aim for, but the amount of water needed changes from person to person. Yes, it is good to make sure to always have water around for when you are thirsty, but don’t rely on this too much because what many people don’t know is that thirst is not always the best indicator of hydration. Just because you aren’t thirsty doesn’t mean that your body isn’t in need of fluids.

When staying hydrated, water should always be your go-to choice of beverage. If water is too plain for you then a good solution for that would be to add some fruit, such as strawberries, or even a slice of lemon or lime. Sports drinks are also a good choice when taking part in physical activity because they are full of carbohydrates and electrolytes. Be aware of which sports drinks you reach for because some tend to be high in sugar and sodium.

Some key indications that let someone know if they are dehydrated include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Darker urine color than usual
  • Sleepiness or fatigue
  • Headache
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

So if you ever experience any of these symptoms, just make sure to drink a big cup of water and it may just have been because you were dehydrated.