Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Finals Week Survival Guide

Finals Week can be a stressful time, but Rec Sports has 10 tips to help get you through the week feeling happy and healthy.

Tip # 1 – Plan Ahead

Assistant Director of Fitness and Wellness for Recreational Sports Trent Tangen recommends printing off a paper calendar from the Internet showing the last three weeks of school. Write in your class times, test times and work schedule.

“Fill in study times, maybe 2-3 times per class that you have to study for,” said Tangen. “The worse case scenario is you have to delete one or you don’t have to use one of the study sessions.”

Write in times to workout, free times for family and friends and times you want to go to bed by each night. Seeing your plan on paper will help you feel confident that you will survive and allow you to not stress over your schedule.

Tip #2 – Get to Bed

You need to recover mentally and physically. Your body naturally releases repair hormones during the night from about 10 p.m. – 6 a.m., but you need to be asleep for these hormones to be effective.

“Hopefully creating a schedule will help you avoid all night, last minute study sessions,” said Tangen.

Take a catnap if you need to, but be careful to not sleep too long during the day so that it does not disrupt your sleep that night.

Tip #3 – No Skipped Meals

Food has two roles, to supply energy and provide nutrients to your body and to help it recover and function properly. Your brain is doing a lot of work and needs nutrients to continue to do so; specifically your brain thrives off of healthy fats, which can be found in fish, olive oil, avocados, peanuts or peanut butter.

“Skipping meals can result in your sugar levels dropping too low, which can cause symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety, mood swings or a jittery feeling,” said Tangen.

Tip #4 – Release Stress

To release stress take 10 deep breaths, come to a yoga session at TRAC, go for a walk, lift weights, play basketball, watch a funny movie, meditate, stretch, or take a dog for a walk. Exercise is a great tool to help increase energy and reduce stress, however, be careful not to overdue exercise, which can leave you exhausted. Limit your exercise during stressful times to 30-45 minutes or easy to moderate exercise.

Tip #5 – Take Study Breaks

Get up and walk around to get your blood flowing and give your brain a break. Tangen recommends taking a 5-10 minute break every hour.

Tip #6 – Go Outside

The sun is the best source of Vitamin D, the feel good vitamin, which can help to improve your mood. Simply go outside and soak up the sun for 10-20 minutes and you may notice you are feel better.

Tip #7 - Stay Well Hydrated

Staying well hydrated will keep your energy level up and feeling alert. Often when we feel fatigued it is because we are dehydrated.

“It will help to keep you more alert and increase your energy,” said Tangen. “If you start to become dehydrated mentally you become sluggish and physically you start to become exhausted and tired.”

Tip #8 - Teach it to a Friend

Take a friend for coffee or tea. If you can explain what you need to know for your test to your friend, chances are you know the material and will do well on your test.

Tip # 9 - Pet Therapy

Animals have a way about them that help us relax. If you do not have an animal at home you can go to a local shelter and walk a dog, play with a friends pet or simply observe an animal in nature.

Tip #10 -Think Positively

Trust your plan and be positive about what you are doing! You have marked out your calendar, you have worked on ways to relieve stress and exercising. You know exactly what is going to happen in the next two weeks. Picture yourself taking a test feeling calm, comfortable and confident.


Monday, April 11, 2011

The importance of hydration

Did you know water makes up over a half of your body weight? That is why it is so important to make sure you are staying hydrated throughout the day.

“We hear different rules about how much water to drink. Some people say drink 8 glasses, some people say drink half your body weight in ounces of water a day. Both are good rules to follow,” said Trent Tangen, assistant director of Fitness and Wellness for Recreational Sports.

He says the easiest way to know whether you are drinking enough water is to look at your urine color. It should be a light yellow or clear. Tangen says you should drink more water on hot days and more before, after, and during exercise. People who drink coffee, tea, and soda also need to drink more water because they can dehydrate your body.

“One concern with dehydration is that once you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. It’s too late. You need to make sure you drink enough water throughout the day, so you don’t actually feel thirsty,” said Tangen.

Symptoms of dehydration include headaches, fatigue, weight gain, joint pain, depression, low back pain, stress, constipation, heartburn, hypertension, sleep disorders, premature aging, and urinary tract infections.

Tangen recommends buying a BPA-free water bottle that you can refill and purchasing a water filter for your home tap. Chemicals can leach into your water from plastic water bottles that are not BPA-free when left in a hot car, reused daily, or frozen. For this reason, you should not reuse water bottles that are not marked BPA-free.

“The truth is a lot of bottled water is simply tap water, so if you’re going to buy bottled water you should do your research and see where it’s bottled from,” said Tangen.

In 2008, Americans spent about 11 billion dollars on bottled water, which is also bad for the environment. The world uses about 1.5 million tons of plastic each year, most of which will end up in a landfill. The U.S. alone uses 1.5 million barrels of oil to create plastic water bottles every year.

Sports drinks, water advertised for weight loss, flavored water, and water advertised with added vitamins and minerals are often promoted as healthy.

“The truth is they probably aren’t worth the money. Just drinking plain water is the healthiest thing you can do because water detoxifies your body,” said Tangen. “Sports drinks have their time and place, but for everyday activities they are not needed.”

Tangen says sports drinks often have extra calories and have a lot of man-made ingredients and chemicals in them, which your body does not need.

“If your goals are to lose weight, have healthy skin, and increase your energy, the best thing you can do is drink water to say well hydrated,” said Tangen.