Monday, December 7, 2009

Wash your hands to prevent illness

One of the most vital steps you can take to prevent the spread of disease and illness is at your fingertips...literally.

This week is National Hand Washing Awareness Week, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hand washing is the single most important means of preventing the spread of infection.

"You should wash your hands many times throughout the day, such as before and after preparing food, after coughing or sneezing, and before and after touching your eyes or mouth," said Amanda Jillson, assistant director of fitness and instructional programs at TRAC.

There are some proper steps to take when hand-washing to ensure that you remove the germs. First, wet your hands and apply soap. Rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds and be sure to get in between your fingers and underneath nails if possible.

"Twenty seconds is about the same time as singing Happy Birthday two times through, or this time of year, you can sing Jingle Bells," Jillson said. "Then rinse for about 10 seconds to rinse off all the dirt and germs."

Dry your hands by using a paper towel, and if you're not using an automatic faucet, be sure to use the paper towel to then turn off the faucet, Jillson said.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also great way to kill germs and reduce the spread of infection, Jillson said.

"We actually have locations all throughout campus. They're automatic so you put your hands underneath, and it will dispense the proper amount," she said. "Then rub your hands briskly together until completely dry."

Friday, December 4, 2009

Exercising over the Holiday Season

Schedules get busier and busier as the holiday season draws closer, and that often means less time for exercising, especially when you can't get to the gym to work out.

But packing on an extra five pounds this holiday season can be avoided if you continue to exercise amongst all of your other daily activities.

Talking on the phone with your mom to plan Christmas dinner? Do lunges down the hall! Watching a holiday movie on TV with your family? Do a few repetitions of squats while you're at it!

There are five easy exercises you can get in during the hustle and bustle of the season, according to Amanda Jillson, assistant director of fitness and instructional programs at TRAC.

"Doing two sets of each of these exercises will really help you keep the weight off this holiday season," she said.

The first exercise is a squat. To do a squat, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and squat down, making sure not to extend your knees past your toes. A squat engages the large muscles of your lower body, which will help you burn more calories, Jillson said.

Another great exercise for your lower body is a lunge, Jillson said. When doing a lunge, step forward with one leg and lower your body so that your back knee is close to the ground, and then back up.

"You can perform the lunge stationary or moving, like lunging down the hallway," she said.

The third exercise is a pushup.

"Pushups work the total body," Jillson said. "The major muscle group is the pectoral muscles, but it's also working your abs, upper body and lower body."

And don't let all the holiday meals make your stomach get soft. Ab workouts like crunches and planks are easy to do in the middle of getting stuff done around the house or watching TV.

"A plank is done in the pushup position and is similar to a pushup, but you are not going up and down," Jillson said. "It's essentially working your total body, but the predominant muscles are the abdominal muscles."

All of these exercises have variations so if one is too difficult, you can modify it, Jillson said.

"If one is too hard, don't go down as far or don't go up as far with a crunch," she said. "You can also add weight to make it more difficult or you can get in an easier position to make it easier for you."