Category: UCO

Does The Scale Tell You That You Aren’t Making Progress?

Have you ever used a scale to track your progress when making a lifestyle? Did you like what you saw? Did you NOT like what you saw?

So often, we believe that our hard work should be shown on the scale. Sometimes, the numbers go down a little bit. Sometimes, the numbers go up. Sometimes, the numbers don’t move at all.

If this sounds like you, we have good news!

Here are some reasons why we can’t rely on the scale to track our progress:

1. A scale CAN’T tell the difference between fat and muscle

Image result for comparison of 1 lb of fat and muscle

 

 

In this picture, you can see the difference between 5 pounds of fat and 5 pounds of muscle. While you might be losing fat, you are also adding muscle. This results in the scale not showing you the results you have work hard to earn.

 

 

2.  How you are feeling is important too!

Even if you haven’t lost the weight you have hoped, do you like how you look? Do you feel more energized? Do you feel better mentally? Are you sleeping better? If you have answered yes to any of these questions and/or have noticed any other positive changes, then you are on the right track!

3. Remember what matters the most to YOU

Any progress is good progress AND you are creating new habits that will result in a healthier lifestyle! Obsessing over the numerical value of the scale will only distract you from what matters most. Instead of weight loss goals, a good alternative is reaching other goals such as loss of inches or dropping sizes in clothes.

 

 

Machines Vs. Free Weights: Which Should You Use?

Tell me if this sounds familiar; you walk into a gym and just stand there. As you look at all the equipment that that gym offers, you continue to stand there with the one concerning question: which type of weights should I use; the free weights or the machines. Well lucky for you, this article will help you the next time you’re looking lost at the gym.  

 

*Because you’re reading this article, I’m assuming that you know what free weights are, as well as what machines are so I won’t go into that. If you don’t, check out Google, I heard that they know everything.  

 

Why use machines?

Machines are easier to use. It’s hard to use a machine wrong. I thought it was impossible until I trained at the gym at my university. Yikes. Anyways, the way machines are built, it allows you to “stay on track.” What I mean by that is, they have a specific and precise way that the levers are moved. Compare that to a free weight where there is no set path and you have an increased chance of messing up technique. This makes machines a great option for newbies. 

Less likely to get injured using machines. With free weights, you take on the risk of injuring yourself. Things like dropping a kettlebell on your toes or smashing your finger with a dumbbell are all scenarios that happen more times than we would like. If you go on Youtube and search weightlifting accidents, 98.47% of them will be using free weights. Using a machine, you don’t take those chances.  

You’re able to use more weight. This is because the fact that balancing and stabilizing are taken out of the equation; therefore you are able to focus on the muscles that are being worked and less on the ones not being directly targeted. This is perfect for those that are injured in other muscles that won’t allow them to be able balance effectively for the exercise.  

Able to target a specific muscle. This is huge for bodybuilders as they like to be able to isolate and work on a certain muscle that needs specific attention.  

 

Who should use machines? 

Beginners. Until you learn the correct technique for exercises, you’re doing more harm than good. Machines will “guide” lifters through the correct technique majority of the time.  

Injured/Rehabbing. If you aren’t able to walk, chances are you probably wont be able to squat freely either. This is where machines come into play. There are leg exercises that allow you to sit and not have to worry about keeping your balance and standing upright. 

Bodybuilders. Like I mentioned early, machines help you get that better pump and allow for a certain muscle get special attention.  

 

 

Why use free weights?

Able to hit the full range of motion for the muscle and joints involved. Machines are designed for everyone to use, and since we know everyone is different, that is a pretty unreasonable standard. With free weights, you can use them how to where it is more individualized and fit to your body. It is absolutely necessary for full ranges of motion to be hit. This leads to our next statement.  

Build more muscle. Hitting a full range of motion for the muscles is an essential for gaining muscle. When the muscle isn’t pushed and trained at its full range, muscle fibers are being neglected and not hit which leads to less growth all together in that muscle. 

Build strength. Multi-joint movements are great to do when training. They hit multiple muscles and are great for building strength. Machines are not very efficient at these like free weights are.  

 

Who should use free weights? 

Advanced lifters. Safety first. Again, learn the technique before diving. 

Those who want to build strength.  

Athletes. Machines aren’t able to mimic movements that athletes do in their sport. Free weights are able help with balance, stability, coordination, etc.. This is crucial for athletes because sports require a top level in all of those. 

 

Final Verdict 

Which should you use? There are many factors that play into this determining. The main thing is what your goal is. There aren’t any right or wrong choices, just more suitable. Hopefully this helps make your decision a little bit easier the next time you are questioning your choice of equipment.  

 

Why Warm-up before Working Out?

Last week we discussed what benefits are associated with physical activity in general. This lets dive into what you should do beforehand to prepare for a workout routine. One of the most important things you can do to get the most out of your workout is to participate in a warm-up before you begin. Most of us, including myself, want to get in the gym, get the workout in, and get out as quickly as possible. Although it may lengthen the time you are in the gym by 10 minutes or so, there are benefits to warming up beforehand.

 Benefits of a Warm-Up

  • Improved performance
  • reduction in the chance of injury
  • increased range of motion during exercise

So what happens when I warm-up?

Most individuals have heard of the saying “let’s get the blood flowing”, and there is some truth to that typical saying used by most sports coaches. Think of a meal you are about to prepare and you need to boil some water. You light the stove and wait as the water starts to heat up and begins to boil. If you were were to put your meal of choice in the water before it had started boiling it may not be ready to receive it, but if you wait until the water is boiling and at the correct temperature your home cooked meal turns out to be great! Warming up is, in a way, like heating up the muscles and preparing them for the workout they are about to perform which allows us to be able to perform the absolute best we can in any given workout. We all want the best results we can possibly achieve in every workout and warming up beforehand is a great way to start. Next time you are about to workout and are away from your trainer, think about warming up beforehand.

 

 

Information from:

Fradkin, A. J., Zazryn, T. R., & Smoliga, J. M. (2010). EFFECTS OF WARMING-UP ON PHYSICAL PERFORMANCE: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW WITH META-ANALYSIS. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(1), 140-8. doi:http

Benefits of Physical Activity on the Brain

The health benefits of physical activity are seen in EVERYONE!!! From children to older adults, women and men, people of different races and ethnicities, and even people with chronic conditions; the health benefits can be seen in everyone. The benefits of physical activity are completely independent of body weight. The benefits that physical activity have on our physical body are more widely known, but it can also help your brain functions! The benefits of physical activity on the brain are immediate, long lasting and protective.  

3 Ways to Add Physical Activity Into Your Everyday Life

80% of American adults are not getting the recommended amount of exercise (The State of Obesity, 2018). According to the American College of Sports Medicine, you should get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week (ACSM 2014, p.147) There are many ways of achieving this without spending money on a gym membership.

There are many different benefits of staying physically active throughout your life. For example: it improves cognitive functioning, increases energy, decreases stress, and improves cardiovascular health. A lot of Americans today spend over half of their day sitting down. Being sedentary can actually increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and premature death. If sitting down really causes all of these problems, then why is it so prominent in our daily lives?

Most people believe that being physically active means you have to go to the gym and do an extremely hard workout while sweating profusely. This is actually not true at all. Being physically active means that you have found time in your busy schedule to do an activity that isn’t sitting down or lying down. You don’t even have to sweat. To add physical activity into your life, start by laying out your schedule, and finding small increments of time to add different activities. Here are three simple ways to add physical activity into your everyday life:

1. Coffee Walks

Going on a coffee walk is a great way to get in your exercise while doing something you already had planned. If you are meeting a friend for coffee, you can ask them to get their coffee to go and take it with you on a walk. This is an easy way to stay active while still getting tasks done. Sitting down at a coffee shop is something that most college aged students do weekly.

 

2. Walk While You Study

Studying is something that is inevitable as a college student. According to Louis Bherer, Kirk I. Erickson, and Teresa Liu-Ambrose, by doing any form of physical activity it can increase your cognitive functioning and help you focus more on different tasks (Effects of Physical Activity and Exercise, 2013). It is easy to go to the library or sit at home and study, but what if you took your study materials on a walk with you. It is easy to look over flash cards while you take a walk, or have a friend come with you and quiz you. This will not only add physical activity into your life, but it can also help improve your cognitive functioning, which can help you with whatever it is you are studying for.

3. Park farther away

This is one of the easiest ways to add physical activity into your day. For UCO students it is already incorporated in our day, because parking isn’t exactly ideal. However, if you are going other places like the grocery store or to get food, try parking at the farthest spot you can find. This only adds a few extra minutes onto your trip, but can end up benefitting you a lot more. The task does not have to be long or strenuous. Adding little things like this to your day may not seem like much, but over time it will improve your overall quality of life.

References:

ACSM. (2014). Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription.

Louis Bherer, Kirk I. Erickson, and Teresa Liu-Ambrose, “A Review of the Effects of Physical Activity and Exercise on Cognitive and Brain Functions,” Journal of Aging Research, vol. 2013, Article ID 657508, 8 pages, 2013. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/657508

The State of Obesity. (2018). Physical Inactivity in the United States. Retrieved from The State of Obesity: https://stateofobesity.org/physical-inactivity

Benefits of working out with a group.

According to Blackstone et al. (2017) exercise in a group setting can increase enjoyment of physical activity and be a great motivator. Working towards a common goal can help us with reaching our individual goals and hold us accountable. We tend to work harder in a group setting and feel better afterwards. There are several ways to finding a group that you might enjoy staying active with.

Find friends with common goals.

Chances are very high that people enjoy the same activities you do. That does not always mean having to go to the gym together. If you have a friend who enjoys hiking or walking and if that is something you are interested in, make a commitment to each other to take regular trips.

Sign up for a group exercise class.

Group exercise classes are not only a great way to find guidance but they are also a great way to socialize. The combination of being motivated by others and making new friends is great. Working out by yourself can be beneficial for reaching your personal goals but research also shows that group exercise can significantly decrease stress levels and the production of cortisol (Yorks et. al, 2017). The UCO Wellness Center offers a variety of classes you can join anytime.

Find a workout partner.

If you enjoy going to the gym, do not shy away from finding someone who shares your interest. Finding a workout partner can hold you accountable to making your workouts a routine and can increase the overall enjoyment.

References

Blackstone, Sarah R.; Reeves, Dayana; Lizzo, Robin; Graber, Kim C., (2017).  A Qualitative Inquiry of Motivations to Participate in Group Exercise Among Women  American Journal of Health Studies, Vol. 32 Issue 2, p78

Dayna M. Yorks, Christopher A. Frothingham, Mark D. Schuenke. Effects of Group Fitness Classes on Stress and Quality of Life of Medical Students. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 2017; 117 (11): e17 DOI: 10.7556/jaoa.2017.140

 

4 Tips to Help You Get Up and Out the Door and to the Gym in the Mornings

by: Madison Webb, Joshua Holliday, Roxana Gonzales, Alex Buelow, Britney Baker, Victoria Lilly, & Elyse Sicher

Tip #1 Be Prepared

Preparation is the key to successfully making it out of the door and to an early workout. The night before go ahead and lay out all of the stuff that you will be taking with you to the gym. Make sure to pack a gym bag with anything that you might need to have the next morning like resistance bands and a little foam roller. Also layout your workout clothes near your bed. This prevents you from having to spend time trying to find clothes in the morning.

Tip #2 Get Enough Rest

If you are someone that needs a full 8 hours of sleep then try going to bed at an earlier time, if waking up is hard for you. There are people out there who can run on 4-6 hours of sleep and there are others who need 8 plus hours a night. Know which category you fall in because if you aren’t getting enough rest waking up early will be difficult. It becomes easy to just hit snooze and not make it to your workout, so take these tips into consideration.

Tip #3 Put Your Alarm on the Other Side of the Room

In order to get up and physically get out of bed, put your phone or alarm clock on the other side of the room. This will make physically get out of bed to turn the alarm off. If you keep your alarm next to your bed or even within arms reach it becomes much easier to hit snooze. By setting the alarm across the room from you it makes it harder to just snooze it or turn it off.

Tip #4 Treat Yourself

One thing that motivates many people is a treat. If you are able to keep up with the routine of waking up early consistently for a week treat yourself to a new pair of workout pants or maybe even a trip to the movies. Keeping motivation high will help you to accomplish all of your goals.

 

 

Can exercise help you perform better at school and work?

By: Danyelle Dyer

Everyone knows that exercise can help improve your physical fitness and performance but did you know that exercise can also improve your mental performance at work and in the classroom. Exercise can do much more for your body then make you look good. It can also make you feel good.

 

Being active can help improve:

·       Attention

·       Sleep

·       Energy Levels

·       Mood

·       Stress Levels

 

All of these benefits with help you perform better in the work place and classroom. There have been studies done that have found a correlation between physical activity and GPA. They have shown that staying active for 150 minutes per week can not only improve your performance in school and work but also lower your risk of sedentary related diseases.

 

So, next time you feel as though you can’t focus or the stress of school and work is to overwhelming try getting on the treadmill or running around your neighborhood.

 Resource: 

 Whitehead, M., Leath, C., Davis, C., & Drake, S. (2011). Physical Activity, Academic Performance, and Health Status in College Females: 2193. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 43(Suppl 1), 578.