WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: Tips for a Healthy Hike

This blog post was written by Ben Smart and is published as part of our blog exchange with Tar Heel Tone-Up.

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Sedona, Arizona

Fresh air, breathtaking views, and space to explore – these are just a few of the tangible reasons to enjoy an outdoor hike. Engaging your mind and body with a short excursion could also yield health benefits extending beyond physical exercise. Research with nearly 2,000 participants in England found that walking outdoors in a group delivered a significant mood boost as well as lower perceived stress and depression, especially for those experiencing stress from a traumatic life event.

Before lacing up your boots and heading to the trail, take the time to pack and prepare the right way. We’ve compiled a few tips to make your next hike the healthiest to date.

Let’s start with your pack. If your filled backpack weighs more than a few pounds, it’s a good idea to select an ergonomic pack with waist strap capabilities, which will take the bulk of the weight off of your back and distribute it to your torso. When wearing the backpack, adjust the shoulder straps first so that the backpack fits comfortably on your shoulders, and then fasten the waist strap.

Now that your backpack is up to par, let’s examine the contents. Take everything out of your backpack and lay in on a table. Are you bringing any unnecessary items? Think twice before packing the second tube of toothpaste or the heavy binoculars. Ensure that you’ve packed a conservative first aid kit, and one or two plastic bags; these can really come in handy.

The most important part (and my favorite aspect) of hiking is food and hydration. Fill a stainless steel bottle (or two) full of water for the trek. Metal is preferred over plastic, as many plastic bottles can leach small amount of toxic BPA or other chemicals into your water, which means you’ll be drinking those chemicals.

As for snacks, aim for balanced portions. If you’re only hiking 1-3 miles, high protein and low carbohydrate food can be sufficient fuel. Three ideas:

  • Turkey sandwich with spinach and cheese, accompanied with a side of almonds
  • Tuna and high-fiber crackers, completed with an apple and peanut butter
  • Salmon and a whole grain tortilla, topped off with a banana and cheese

Once you’re hiking, remember to make smart choices. Take your trash to go, don’t litter. Watch your step, and adopt a wide stance when scaling steep trails. Finally, look up from the cell phone and enjoy the view! If you keep your eyes peeled, you’re sure to find some wildlife.

Ready to take a weekend hike? Check out UNC Campus Recreation’s outdoor expedition schedule here for events this summer.

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Compete to WIN a $1,000 GRAND Prize at LDOC HeelFest–Auditions start this Week…

That’s RIGHT–your or your student group could win $1,000 at the very first LDOC HeelFest!!!

LDOC HeelFest will be an end-of-year talent show extravaganza. This is the first year UNC is doing this event and it is a collaboration among multiple campus departments and student groups. It will be held at Ehringhaus Field from 4-8pm on LDOC, which is Friday April 24th. The talent show will feature a showcase of UNC student talent, and the students at the event will get to vote on the winning performer/group. The Grand Prize will be a cash amount, TBD.

Come to auditions this week and next…Let’s see what you got!

LDOC HeelFest audition schedule
LDOC HeelFest audition schedule

WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: Top Summer Sports to Get Active & Feel Your Best

It’s no secret that exercise is key to a healthy lifestyle. But it’s time to look beyond the four corners of the gym – to the outdoor terrain. From courts and rinks, to paths and trails, it’s likely that numerous opportunities for fun activities are nestled within your local community. Allow your worries to fade away, and let the adventure begin. Read on for few of our favorite summer sports – and what you’ll need to get started!

tennis

Sport: Tennis
What You’ll Need: tennis shoes, tennis racket, tennis balls
Exercise Benefits: fully body- cardiovascular and muscular

Bring your game back to campus fall 2014

biking

Sport: Mountain Biking
What You’ll Need: mountain bike, helmet,
Exercise Benefits: primarily quadriceps, hamstrings, calves

Bring your game back to campus fall 2014

running

Sport: Cross Country
What You’ll Need: a quality pair of running shoes
Exercise Benefits: cardiovascular, aids bone density

Bring your game back to campus fall 2014

badminton

Sport: Badminton
What You’ll Need: badminton racket, shuttles, badminton net
Exercise Benefits: fully body- cardiovascular and muscular

Bring your game back to campus fall 2014

 

Workout Wednesday: Yoga – What You Need to Know

People who are unfamiliar with the virtues of yoga view it in several different ways.  Some look upon the activity with disdain and only see the “yogi” sitting on the ground doing nothing. Others consider yoga an activity only for women, the “weak”, or the elderly. And then there are those who think that yoga is wishy-washy spiritual nonsense. All of these views are misconceptions – dead wrong. In fact, yoga has been scientifically proven to increase flexibility, increase circulation, lower blood pressure, increase serotonin levels, lower cholesterol and much more. When done correctly, it can be argued that there are no negative effects of yoga on the body.

yoga woman

There are literally thousands of testimonials to the healing power of yoga. Check out this video to see a war veteran who went from physically disabled to fit using yoga:

Yoga includes a variety of different kinds of movements – ranging from very low exertion to outright difficult. The key is to select movements that best suit your level of fitness and personal goals. Do some personal research to decide which kind of yoga is best for you.

So what does this mean for you? Yoga can be a great addition to your healthy lifestyle, and it’s very easy to start. Yoga can be done at any time of the day- morning, afternoon, or evening. Personally, I find that yoga is a great morning routine, as it helps me wake up and find inner peace before going out into the world.

Here are some tips for the beginner yogi:

  1. Wear comfortable clothing that is light and fitted.
  2. There is no reason to feel nervous. Everyone has a first time.
  3. Bring a water bottle and a towel.
  4. If you feel overwhelmed or tired, it’s ok to lie down for a moment.
  5. Give it your all – fully focus on the movements and leave your outside troubles at the door.
  6. Remember that everyone is at a different point in his or her own fitness journey, so don’t compare yourself to the abilities of those around you. Yoga is not a competition, but rather a personal experience.

yoga woman2

Here are 8 great poses for yoga beginners.

There are several yoga classes available free to UNC students through Campus Rec! Here is the schedule for Ram’s Head Recreation Center.

Workout Wednesday blog posts are written by UNC Campus Recreation staff members. Each Wednesday we’ll be swapping blog posts with the Tarheel Tone Up blog so that our readers can view more diverse post topics that will benefit their health and wellness. Wednesday blog posts can be found both here and on tarheeltoneup.com.

Workout Wednesdays: Avoid the Cold – Attend a Group Fitness Class

What happened?! It went from being 80-something degrees every day to feeling like the middle of winter in Chicago (okay…well maybe not today, but the cold will kick in soon enough!). With the chilly weather, sometimes it seems easier to lay around in your sweatpants, drink hot chocolate and watch repeat Friends episodes. If you are an outdoor runner, heat or cold, all the power to you! But for those of us who need a little motivation to exercise, check out these indoor classes! They’ll get your heart pumping, and despite it being freezing outside, you’ll be sweating!
Continue reading

4 Things You Need to Know on Halloween

Ahh, Halloween. As a kid, it was a time to prepare a costume, carve a pumpkin, gather with friends and family, and have a wholesome night of fun dedicated to obtaining and consuming too much candy. For adults, Halloween is still about consuming too much. But for some, it’s alcohol causing the tummy aches.

There are many ways to celebrate Halloween without alcohol present: Have a costume competition with some friends, bake up some tasty Halloween-themed treats, have a scary movie marathon, or plot an elaborate way to scare the crap out of your roommate. But if you choose to have an adult beverage to celebrate Halloween this evening, make sure you do these 4 easy things to stay safe and avoid tummy aches.

  1. Eat a meal before you start drinking, and make sure you have plenty of water before and during drinking. Eating a meal beforehand helps slow down the effects of alcohol and will allow you to make safer decisions all night. And alcohol is a diuretic, which means it dehydrates you, so it is important to drink water all night. Also, switching between non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages is a good way to make sure things don’t get out of hand.
  2. Know how much you are drinking. Don’t drink from communal punch bowls, trashcans, etc. as you have no way of knowing how much alcohol is in there and how it will affect you. Also, the taste of the alcohol is easily masked, so don’t rely on how strong the punch tastes. Taking back control over how much alcohol you are consuming by making your own drinks.
  3. Use the buddy system. Don’t be afraid to speak up or take action if there is something going on that you or your friends are uncomfortable with. Everyone is entitled to having a good time on Halloween, and that starts with feeling safe. Keeping an eye on each other can help get you there.
  4. Have an exit strategy. Some of the most dangerous situations arise late in the night, when people have had too much alcohol to make good decisions. Set a limit for yourself ahead of time, because it’s hard to know when to stop once you have started. So decide ahead of time when you are heading home, and have plans in place to get home safe. Obviously, don’t get into a car when the driver has been drinking. Have a way to get a cab, take a bus, or call a sober friend as a backup.

With these things in mind, have a happy, healthy, safe Halloween!

HAPPY FOOD DAY!

Are you a self-proclaimed “foodie”? If so, today is a special day for you. Today is National Food Day, a day dedicated to celebrating healthy, affordable and sustainable food.
The typical fast-food driven American diet has severe health implications such as increased risk for disease and premature death. Acknowledging these consequences, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) created the Food Day campaign just one year ago as a movement toward a better food system.

In only one year’s time Food Day has become viral, engaging all Americans to “eat real”! Food Day supporters believe that Americans of all ages, races, incomes and geographic locations should have the opportunity to select healthy dietary choices.
Learn more about this movement by watching the food day video here:
http://www.foodday.org/eating_real

Want to get involved?

Source: http://www.foodday.org/

Creating a Happy Space (An Earth Day Post)

(FYI: This is an Earth Day Post, it might not seem like it, but wait for it, it’s coming!)

I recently went through the painful process of searching for an apartment. I knew exactly what I wanted. One bedroom, good light, clean, preferably with a porch. How challenging can that really be? Pretty challenging, apparently. For some reason, apartment after apartment just didn’t feel “right.” The space didn’t make me happy. I finally found a place that vibed with me. Regretfully, I am paying a little more for it. But heck, what’s a little more for happiness?

For me, my foray into apartment hunting drove home how  important space is for my mental health. Then, through the strange maze of circuitry in my brain I began thinking beyond just my personal space, but bigger. About how the environment as a whole impacts my mental state. Living in a clean environment definitely makes me a happier, more pleasant person. Look at these two pictures. Which one do you think would help you achieve peace of mind?

 Beach A?  
Or Beach B?

 With all that trash on Beach A, I know I would MUCH rather be on Beach B. My personal take-a-way from this is: If I want to spend time on beaches like Beach B, shouldn’t I be helping to create them? All that trash on Beach A had to come from somewhere. How much am I contributing to problems like this?

To answer these questions I turned to the trusty internet! There I found all sorts of information, but one resource in particular I think is worth sharing: the Global Footprint Network’s, Footprint Calculator. The Global Footprint Network is a nonprofit organization, “established to enable a sustainable future where all people have the opportunity to live satisfying lives within the means of one planet.” Their Footprint Calculator, helps individuals to determine what exactly their “footprint” is, i.e. how much of earth’s resources are consumed during their regular day to day activity. After answering a series of questions like “How often do you eat beef?” or “How much trash do you generate?” the calculator will tell you how many earths it would take if everyone on the planet live the same as you. (Mine was embarrassingly high and I refuse to share).

Never fear though, the calculator doesn’t simply give you information and set you on your way. is the site includes tons of information about how to reduce your footprint. Something as simple as taking the bus once a week or cutting meat from your diet (Meatless Monday anyone?) is a start!

That’s why this Earth Day (see it’s there), I’m pledging to redouble my efforts to be Earth friendly and reduce my own (embarrassingly) large footprint.

Cupid Goes Viral

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, online dating sites are offering promotions or even free weekends. If February 14th in your planner isn’t currently decorated with hearts scribbled in jelly pen, here are some tips to ensure your online dating adventure is fun and safe!

Online

Shop Around

  • A safe online dating service is one that gives you the option to remain anonymous until you choose to reveal personal information. Some sites help protect your privacy by allowing you to email prospective dates while concealing both parties’ true email addresses.

Fraud

  • Beware of a prospective date who asks you to send them money, share your credit card or bank account information, or pressures you to speak with them using an outside service like your personal email.

Abusive Communication

  • Use the service’s block feature to block anyone who treats you in an abusive way and report the behavior to the service provider.

Protect Your Personal Information

  • Only use internet with a secure connection, so others can’t hack into your account. Do some investigating into your favorite Wi-Fi hot spot to make sure your connection is safe.
  • Pick a username that doesn’t include any identifiable information. For example, something like “first name_tar heel” or “first name_hometown” may not be safe choices.
  • Consider using Skype to make a phone call with your prospective date instead of using the phone, which would mean giving out your personal number. (Username tips above still apply.)
  • Although it can be difficult to decline a gift or flowers, providing your home address so someone can snail mail you something may put you at risk.

In the Flesh

Don’t Keep it on the DL

  • Tell someone trusted when and where you’re going on a date and when you expect to be home. Have a friend call you halfway through the date to check in and see if you need an out. Feel free to tell your date a friend will be calling.

What’s Yours is Yours

  • If you’re going to the washroom, don’t leave your personal belongings unattended or with your date. If a date is getting too touchy or not respecting your boundaries, you have the right to end the date.

Use Your License

  • Getting picked up by a date may sound romantic, but having your own transportation ensures you will be able to decide when the date will end and keeps your residence private. Don’t have your own wheels? Ask a friend or have a taxi’s number saved in your cell phone and cash on hand.

Learn to Love Brunch

  • First dates are best in the daytime! Meet for the first time in a public and populated place. If someone tries to pressure you into moving your plans to somewhere remote or more “private”, it may be time to roll out.

For more awesome tips on being a smart fish in the sea of online dating, check out:

http://safe.unc.edu/get-info/online-dating/

With A Little Help From My Friends

“If your friends won’t workout with you, then you can’t be friends with them anymore.”

Thanks to a certain popular workout video persona, the CWS staff has been throwing this phrase around a lot lately. For about a month the CWS staff has been working out together six days a week, and while no friendships have actually been broken (despite playful threats), I think we’ve been successful thus far because of two concepts we hear about all of the time but few of us actually subscribe to:  social support and scheduling. Continue reading