Run Forrest, Run

When thinking about exercising, most people associate exercise with aerobic activity. Some of you may be thinking, what is aerobic exercise? Aerobic exercise utilizes the aerobic forms of our bodies’ energy-producing systems. This means it uses oxygen to allow you to sustain exercise for a longer duration of time by delivering oxygenated blood to your muscles. Just like a car, your muscles need fuel to allow their “engines” to work. Aerobic exercise must be done from low to moderate intensity. If the intensity of your workout becomes too high, your body will switch to anaerobic energy sources (without oxygen).

Now that you know some of the physiology behind your exercising, what does this mean for you? First and foremost, if you are not a frequent exerciser and you want to become more active, it is important to start slowly. You do not want to overdo it and injure yourself. If you have been sedentary for a long period of time or have health issues, you may want to see your doctor before you embark on your exercise program.

Enough of the informational session, we’re all dying to know: how can I get moving?! Too many people think that when they first want to become more active they should start running and run as far as they can because that’s how they will burn the most calories. STOP FORREST, STOP.

Here are some aerobic activities you may not have originally thought of that you can utilize to raise your heart rate, send oxygen to your muscles and brain, and help you become more active.

  • Step Aerobics: adjust your step height to get the workout that is just right for you. If you have lower extremity injuries or need a lower baseline to start off at, complete your step workout on the ground. If you are someone who likes to push yourself, you can use up to two risers.
  • Spinning: control your own resistance and in turn control the intensity of your workout. If you are a beginner, go easy. If you are a more experienced rider, you can push yourself and increase the resistance while trying to maintain the same interval of revolutions your instructor wants you to fall in depending on the course of your ride.
  • Cardio Kickboxing: try moving in a new way you may not have originally thought of. There are always ways to modify movements so that a beginner or someone just starting to do this type of exercise more will be able to partake in as well. If you have questions about this, ask your instructor for modifications. He or she will be more than happy to find something that works for you!
  • Zumba: get sweaty dancing! Zumba can be a great way to move your feet and hips, and you don’t even realize you’re actually exercising! Who knows, maybe you have a saucy Latin persona inside you waiting to be discovered!
  • Walking: start walking for short periods of time. Work your way up to longer periods of time and increase the intensity of your walk. If it is right for you, perhaps you may want to try intervals where you walk at a high speed for 30 seconds and walk regularly for 15. This will help to train your heart for higher level exercise and can be a great tool for progression!  
  • Water Aerobics: splash into a different aerobic activity. Water aerobics can help take pressure off of sore joints and provide a great form of resistance. Once again, you can control the intensity of your workout. By doing more slow movements against water resistance or working towards high intensity movements to treading water for long durations of time, water aerobics can definitely be progressed to find the right workout for you.
  • Circuit Training: use light resistance and shorten your rest periods to increase your muscular endurance. Before partaking in this type of exercise, it is important to have strength training/weight lifting experience or be supervised by someone who is knowledgeable about this or you could put yourself at risk for injury.

Aerobic exercise has a plethora of benefits. A few include boosting your mood, increasing your heart health, maintaining your weight, reducing health risks like osteoporosis and high blood pressure, and maintaining your independence as you age. There are many great ways to get your cardio workout in for the day and help you become more active. Perhaps your niche doesn’t include of the activities on this list, but it is so important to be open to trying different things until you find something that makes exercising something you enjoy doing and look forward to. If you hate running, don’t force yourself to become Forrest Gump! If you enjoy what you’re doing, you will be more app to do it again and again and not even think of the activity you love so much as “exercise.”

By: Natalie Radloff

Come One, Come All; It’s Time For Fall!

Well, it’s that time of year again. Candy lines the shelves and displays of your local grocery stores,Target, and Wal-Mart. Does the sound of your favorite candy calling your name send eerie chills up your spine? Well it shouldn’t! Let your fierce jack-o-lantern be the only thing that scares you this fall!

Fall is a wonderful time of year and it is possible to treat yourself, have fun, and enjoy the season without giving in to one of the seven deadly sins. Like everything in life, this fall will be what you make of it. So make it a fun and healthy one!

A must of the fall season is taking a group of family or friends to an apple orchard. It’s great to get your kids outside in the brisk fall air and let them run up and down the rows of apple trees. Not only will they think it is so fun to be able to pick their very own apples, but you will also be secretly instilling a healthy fall tradition in them that they can carry out their whole lives! If you don’t have kids and go apple picking with a group of friends or other family members, it is fun to know that you are giving your body different vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber all in your very own handpicked sweet treat! You can also cut up an apple and throw it in the oven with some cinnamon sprinkled over the top. A healthy taste of fall!

No one actually enjoys raking leaves, right? But you can’t honestly tell me that jumping into a huge pile of leaves doesn’t sound like fun, no matter how old you are. Turn the burdensome chore of raking your leaves into a fun cardio workout. Yes, it’s true…you do burn calories raking leaves! Who cares what your neighbors think. When you’re done, give into your inner child and jump into your pile of leaves; you know you want to!

Explore local famer’s markets! As we all know, in a few months our frigid winters make it more difficult to find high quality produce that is not outrageously expensive because of the off-season. Take advantage of the fruits and veggies local farmer’s markets are growing and selling. Enjoy your last corn on the cob of the season; buy a squash and make a delightful fall sweet potato/squash medley; buy a pumpkin and make your own homemade pumpkin seeds. Lightly spritz your seeds with vegetable or grape seed oil, sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and ta-da! You have a crunchy fall snack rich in zinc, antioxidants, and healthy fats!

Many people enjoy the warmth and comfort their favorite fall latte or cup of apple cider provides them—I will admit I am guilty of this as well. However, try to substitute your go-to calorically dense drink with a cup of warm tea instead. You can still find a tea bag that fills your fall fix, for no calories! This allows your truly favorite fall drink to be a treat to yourself every once in awhile. Not only will you enjoy it so much more because it will be a rarity for you this fall, but you will eliminate some extra calories as well!

Did someone say jack-o-lanterns? Going to a pumpkin farm has always been one of my favorite fall traditions. Not only can this be something you and your family look forward to every year, but it also doubles as a healthy outing! Although the hayride can be fun, skip that this year and walk to the pumpkin patch instead. You will have fun walking with your family and friends and not even realize you are exercising. Try getting lost in the haunted maze as well. Not only will the creepy unexpected guests get your heart rate raised, but getting moving will too!

If these are things you already do, great! If not, let this fall be the first time you fall into some healthy habits and autumn traditions!

Written by Natalie Radloff

Balance in the Workplace

What does is mean to be healthy? If you ask most people this, their response may include: eating healthy, exercising regularly, and getting around eight hours of sleep every night. While this is a good start, this does not include every aspect of health. Health has three components: physical, social, and mental. When these three things are present and in balance with one another, it is then that a person is considered to be truly healthy. So, how does that relate to the workplace?

Although it is essential to being a productive, prosperous employee, it seems as though mental health in the workplace is often overlooked. How often do you feel overwhelmed, stressed, and like your boss/co-workers/students demand so much of you and no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to keep up? Your desk is cluttered with papers that you haven’t had the time to sort through, your inbox is rapidly filling with emails you have yet to respond to, you have a long, paralyzing list of things on your to-do list—sound about right? Unfortunately, there is often nothing you can do to decrease the volume of your workload, BUT there are things you can do to sustain your mental health in the workplace.

Try these things to de-stress during work:

  1. I will not check you. Technology has become a main aspect of every day life, including in the workplace. Being at the beck and call of every ding, buzz, and swoosh can be extremely stress provoking. Set aside a block of time during your day that you do not check your email, respond to text messages, or answer phone calls. If this worries you, let your co-workers know when you will be doing this. Not only will you de-stress by giving yourself a technological break, but you will also be amazed at how much more focused and in turn productive you will be during this time. Your boss will love it too!
  2. Step away for breaks. Whether it be to go grab a cup of coffee, take a 10 minute stroll, or to go to eat lunch, GET AWAY FROM YOUR DESK. Moving your muscles will help pump blood back up to your brain. You will feel more awake. The food will nourish your body and give you the energy you need to make it through the day. Changing your scenery for even a small amount of time will allow you to mentally regroup so that when you return, you feel motivated and ready to be productive once again.
  3. Interact with other people. Whether it be walking down the hall to ask a co-worker how their weekend went, calling a loved one during a break, or talking to a friend, make sure to interact with others throughout your day. It is easy to have the “bubble” mentality where you think you’re too busy to talk to someone because you will become distracted. However, human interaction is highly beneficial as a stress reliever. You could release a worry you may have, momentarily take your mind off all your tasks, or maybe, just maybe, they could even make you laugh. People are great resources; use them!
  4. Stretch. Our bodies were not meant to sit at a desk for 6-8 hours a day. Even with ergonomics, many people have poor posture. This can cause muscle tightness, aches, and pain—often times in the neck, shoulders, and back. This can be a huge source of stress. It can be extremely distracting when you feel uncomfortable or pained. Take the time to stretch and loosen up your muscles. Not only will your body thank you, but your mind and work productivity will as well.
  5. Breathe. This sounds silly and simple, but when you are feeling very stressed and overwhelmed, close your eyes and take three deep breaths. You will slow your heart rate, increase the oxygen supply for your brain, and stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system (“Rest & Digest”)—all of which will help you feel more calm. Deep breathing “brings your awareness away from the worries in your head and quiets your mind” (

Those are just a few simple things you can do to periodically de-stress yourself throughout the workday. If you have any other tricks that work for you, add them to the list! However, do not just think these things could be helpful to you, put them into practice. As we part, I leave you with this:

When asked what surprised him the most, the Dalai Lama replied: “Man surprises me most about humanity. He sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices his money to recuperate his health.”

Do not be like the man the Dalai Lama is describing. Do not allow your job to dictate your life and jeopardize your health. Take care of yourself and have balance. Not only will you be happier, but your co-workers and boss will be able to see the difference as well. Mental health is just as important to your overall health as physical and social. Make sure you give it the attention it deserves—including in the workplace!

By: Natalie Radloff

Daily Routines for Families to Increase Your Health

Summer is an exciting time filled with fun, late nights, and travel. With all of this craziness, there may not be any daily routine or structure. While that can be ok, and even good for us at times, we all seem to reach a point where we start craving some sort of routine that will give our life some sense of normalcy again. With summer schedules winding down, it’s a great time to start picking up where we left off and establish those much needed routines again.

Making meals and eating together as a family at night is something that should be part of a healthy routine. It will not only limit eating out, which is good for both your physical and financial wellness, it will also ensure you and your family have the much needed fuel you need to get through your day. If you have kids, you may get up in the morning, make breakfast and pack lunches for the day. You may choose to pack lunches the night before when you are making dinner. Children can be a part of this routine as well and should be encouraged to help.

Daily physical activity should also be a part of a healthy routine. If you aren’t currently exercising and want to try to fit it in, think about what time of day is best for you to exercise, i.e. when will you most likely do it? If you aren’t a morning person, don’t make yourself get up earlier to fit it in. Establishing a set time of day that you exercise is helpful, but we don’t always have that ability with varying schedules. If you can’t make a consistent time each day, try planning out your physical activity on a weekly basis. Put it in your calendar and treat it as a meeting. Evening walks after dinner with your family or lunch time walks with colleagues are also some ways to start establishing some good habits.

Screen time is one of those things that tends to become a habit, but isn’t always good for our health. Although a little screen time is fine, you may find yourself spending hours on the computer surfing the internet or watching TV. Screen time of any kind should be restricted for all of us. Setting rules in the house for regular screen time may help. We should all make sure to turn off our phones, computers, TV’s etc. at least one hour before bed. You’ll sleep better!

We typically all have bedtime routines with our children that help them to calm down and prepare for a good night’s sleep. Having our own bedtime routine can provide the same benefit to us as adults as well. Reading, journaling, making a list of to-do’s to plan out the next day, gentle yoga or light stretching, daily reflection or meditation, and prayer are all things you can do as part of your nighttime routine that will benefit your sleep. Going to bed around the same time each night and getting up around the same time each morning is also part of a healthy routine.

Following these daily routines can positively impact your physical and mental health. Although our lives may be filled with dozens of tasks already, routines can help us focus, increase our self-efficacy and keep us motivated to stay on track. Daily habits or routines allow us to free our mind up for all the other decisions we have to make during the day and give us a sense of control as well. Once habits are established you may even find you have more time and choose to add some additional tasks to your routine that will help you follow a more balanced and healthy life.

Cycling On Borrowed Time – Kurt Gering’s Story

KurtMU  If you have ever met Kurt Gering, you have likely heard of his many cycling adventures. While Gering still fondly recalls receiving his first bike for his 12th birthday, his love of cycling took on a new level of passion on New Year’s Day of 2011, when he challenged himself to ride his bike every day for a year.  Once this was achieved though, he quickly amended his goal to a 500 day cycling mission, which he achieved before eventually succumbing to a nasty bout of intestinal flu.  He continues to maintain a blog on Facebook called The Bike Warrior and this year he has already logged over 5000 miles of riding. What makes this total even more improbable, are the challenges he has faced this year in achieving those miles.

In May of 2015, Kurt embarked down a journey that was to become his greatest adventure yet, challenging not only that which was central to his life, but his very mortality. On May 6, Kurt turned 52 years old and as had long been his practice, he had scheduled an  annual physical with his physician.  While an initial visit had shown no untoward results, Gering wanted several additional tests to be performed. In the past two months, Kurt had two friends, with no symptoms, experience problems with their heart. One of them, a cycling teammate, suddenly could no longer make it to the top of a hill they frequently rode together. After some investigation, it was determined it was the result of an electrical issue with his heart. The second was a colleague, who, while going through preliminary testing for a hernia, discovered via an ECG he had some blockage in the coronary arteries of his heart and was in need of quadruple bypass surgery.

It was with these events lingering in the back of his mind that he asked for an ECG and for a cardiac stress test (with contrast) to be performed.  Though he had no symptoms such as dizziness or shortness of breath, as an avid, competitive cyclist who rode 200-400 miles per week, he wanted to be sure. He wanted peace of mind and a few painless tests requiring an hour or two of his time seemed a small price to pay.

Incredibly, as he was driving home from the test, Gering received a call saying that the testing done under stress indicated decreased blood flow to the heart, suggesting possible coronary artery blockage.  Kurt’s physician referred him to a cardiologist, who at an office visit , suggested he have a coronary calcium CT scan further discern whether there was any calcium build up in the plaque found in the walls of the arteries of the heart. A quick procedure taking less than five minutes, the scan computes a score, with Gering scoring more than twice the normal values. This was another sign that continued to tip the scale in favor of blockage and completely confirmed that an angiogram needed to be performed to be certain. Unfortunately, Kurt’s cardiologist was leaving for a speaking tour in England the following morning. However, his doctor rearranged his schedule, his doctor’s wife even held dinner, and an hour later, three hours after arriving for an office visit, Kurt was in the operating room at St. Luke’s as an angiogram was performed.

Unfortunately, a considerable amount of blockage was found scattered throughout his coronary arteries. Four arteries had over 80% blockage and one was about 95% blocked. Dr. DeFranco, the cardiologist who performed the angiogram was quite astonished and stated, “Never, in my 25 years as a cardiologist, have I seen someone with your athletic capacity, perform at such a high level with this poor circulation.”  When the cardiologist compared Kurt to Jim Fixx, author of the Joy of Running and the so called “guru of the running world” who died suddenly of a heart attack at age 52, that was enough to convince Kurt of the seriousness and he scheduled quintuple bypass surgery for the following week.

It is important to note that leading up to his surgery, Kurt had no symptoms whatsoever. He never experienced dizziness or shortness of breath and as a competitive cyclist, Kurt regularly gets his heart rate up to 140bpm  or more for 15-20 hours each week. His diet is the envy of many a dietician and his blood pressure below normal, as are his cholesterol levels and lipid panels. However, Kurt, in asking for the cardiac stress test to be performed, chose to advocate for his own health. Had he not asked to have a cardiac stress test with contrast performed, he may not be here to spread this important message.

I’m sure there are also many people out there that might be saying, “But he was exercising and eating right and he still had heart problems, so why should I exercise and try to eat healthier?” Well, according to his cardiologist, Kurt wasn’t experiencing any symptoms because his heart had grown so strong through the many hours of exercise he performed each week, that it was still able to pump blood through the body in spite of all the blockage. This likely would not happened to someone with a less rigorous exercise schedule. He was, however, living on borrowed time. Eventually the narrowing would have become so great that his heart would not have been able to push blood past the blockage and he would have suffered a heart attack.

Kurt had his quintuple bypass surgery performed on May 22, 2015, by Dr. Eric Weiss, a cardio-thoracic surgeon from St. Lukes in Milwaukee. Because of Kurt’s extreme fitness, many of the cardiac rehab guidelines for patients after bypass surgery were amended and after several days, he was meandering about the halls of the St. Lukes, IV Stand and chest tubes following behind him. Six days after surgery on May 28, 2015, Kurt was released from the hospital and later that day as he arrived home, true to character Kurt got on his stationary bike and rode ten miles. As much as his surgeon will allow, he remains active in his recovery and as part of his rehab program takes part in the immersive spinning class through Employee Wellness. On August 30th, Gering celebrated 100 days since his surgery with a 100 mile bike ride, completed in six hours.. Incredible? Yes. But then life is not to be measured by the number of breaths we take, but rather, by the number of times our breath is taken away.

Want to learn more? On October 6th Gering will share his thoughts from 12noon-1pm in the Beaumier Suites of the Raynor Library.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Cardiologist

In this GROW session, Kurt Gering provides an entertaining review of his recent journey through quintuple bypass surgery and recovery. Often humorous and filled with curious twists of fate, Kurt will share the lessons he has learned and offer suggestions for maintaining your cardiac health.

Exercise: Can We Do Too Much?

I love to exercise. I’ve always considered myself lucky. I never used to think of exercise as exercise though. I grew up on a farm in Idaho where we were running around all day. From the traditional outside activities like Frisbee, tag, bike riding, etc. to what may be considered more non-traditional activities like swinging from ropes in the barn or jumping off the loft into the hay and having rotten apple fights. In junior high and high school I got into sports and loved playing basketball, volleyball, and running track. I later joined the Marine Corps where my love of fitness continued as I was challenged both mentally and physically to complete various tasks.

Throughout my experience in the military and with high school sports I heard the saying, “No pain, no gain.” This phrase gets used a lot, when it comes to exercise. While pushing yourself can be good when you are exercising, many people tend to push through those daily aches and pains, and disregard any warning signals. When you’re young, you don’t always have aches and pains, but as we age they seem to be inevitable, especially if we didn’t take care of ourselves when we were younger. So should we be “pushing through?” Can too much exercise be bad for us? How do you know when it’s too much?

Well, there are a couple of things to think about. When we exercise we are actually creating tiny little muscle tears that need to heal so we can build muscle. Now that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to workout, but if you do a hard workout one day, it may be best to take a rest day or do an easier workout on the following day. Also, make sure you are balancing all areas of fitness – muscular strength and endurance, cardiovascular endurance and flexibility.

If you are someone who gets up every day and goes for your morning run, but then skips breakfast, or other meals throughout the day, you are missing a key component needed to recover – PROPER NUTRITION! If we are not fueling our body appropriately, we cannot perform at our best.

I think the most important piece of advice I can give is to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Pain is a different feeling than the burning feeling we may feel in our muscles when doing a tough workout. It’s okay to be uncomfortable and to “feel the burn,” but if you are in pain, that’s when it’s time to stop. Physical activity can actually help alleviate some of our achiness and stiffness, and help us to feel better. If you don’t feel better during or after your exercise it’s probably time to slow down and get checked out. Overuse injuries such as shin splints, stress fractures, or tendinitis are a sure sign you are doing too much or you’ve started your exercise program too fast.

You don’t have to be a marathon runner or a triathlete. Moving your body some is better than not moving it at all. We should all aim for at least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity and try to limit our time spent sitting. Being physically active doesn’t mean it always has to feel like exercise. Find activities you enjoy and do them.

Tips for Better Work/Life Balance

As a wife, mother, and someone who works full time it seems like I am always on the go. I often wonder how families make this work and think about all of the things we do to fit it all in – and we only have one child! Juggling schedules can be tricky. If you’re lucky, your place of employment offers a flexible work schedule, so you don’t have to be there from 9-5, and you may even be able to work at homes at times. This helps, but how do you make sure that you have time for you and the people who matter most to you in your downtime. WebMD posted an article back in 2013 with five tips on how to do this. For the complete article go to: . Here’s a quick recap:

  1. Build downtime into your schedule.

When you plan your week, make sure to pencil in quality time with your family and friends or schedule an activity that helps you to recharge, like a massage. These activities can give you something to look forward to during the week.

  1. Drop activities that sap your time or energy.

If there are activities that fill up your time or people in your life that bring you down, don’t waste your time on these activities or relationships. Social media can be a huge time sink as are negative people in your life.

  1. Rethink your errands.

Household chores and errands are time consuming. My husband and I already divide the errands in our house. For example, he does the grocery shopping, and I do the laundry. If one of us cooks, then the other one does dishes. I often spend a whole day (or at least a morning) cleaning house and have considered hiring someone to clean so I can spend more time doing things I enjoy. WebMD lists some other ways you can outsource some of these tasks:

  • Order your groceries online and have them delivered. Check out !
  • Hire a neighborhood kid to mow your lawn.
  • Have your dry cleaning picked up and dropped off at your home or office.
  1. Get moving.

Although it’s hard to fit exercise in when life is crazy, getting regular exercise can actually increase your energy levels so you are better able to keep up with all the activities. I always tell people to put it on your calendar and treat it like a meeting. Also, pick a time a day that you are more apt to do it. I’m a morning person, so I get up at 4:30 or 5am on some days. I also bike to/from work a couple of times a week. Whatever it is you do, make sure you enjoy it.

  1. Remember that a little relaxation goes a long way.

Although we’d all like to change our behaviors overnight, it’s important to remember to set realistic goals, make changes slowly, and take time for you. Changing behaviors doesn’t happen overnight. Think about what you want your priorities to be and start with some small changes that you can do to make that happen. Take time to relax and clear your head to help reduce stress as well.

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