Tag: fitness

RICE your knees…How to care for a sports injury

As the weather is starting to warm up, many of us are thinking about getting outside and getting active.  With this increased movement, it’s no wonder that a search of google trends from 2004-2016 showed that April of each year is the most common month for searches related to knee injuries (1).

The R.I.C.E. method is one of the most commonly recommended ways to treat sports injuries to joints and muscles.  It has even received a stamp of approval from the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (2).  This method has 4 steps:


R is for Rest  Try to avoid using the injured area and putting weight on it for 24-48 hours if possible (3)

I is for Ice Every 4 hours, put rice on the injury for 20 minutes at a time (3).  For comfort, you can place a thin cloth between the ice bag and your skin (2).

C is for Compression Wrap the area with a bandage, like an ACE wrap, in order to gently compress the injured area.  This will help control swelling.  Just be careful not to wrap it too tight and cut of your blood flow (3).

E is for Elevation This is your opportunity to sit and prop your feet (or other injured spot) up.  Use pillows or other comfortable items to try to keep the area above the level of your heart.  This can reduce swelling (3).


Once you start feeling better, you can SLOWLY and GENTLY start using the injured area again.  Also, if you’re not sure how bad you’ve hurt yourself, be sure to get it checked out by a medical provider.



  1. Using Google Trends To Assess For Seasonal Variation In Knee Injuries. Dewan, Varun and Sur, Hartej. February 21, 2018, Journal of Arthroscopy and Joint Surgery.
  2. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. How to Care for a Sprained Ankle. American Orhopaedic Foot and Ankle Society. [Online] http://www.aofas.org/footcaremd/how-to/foot-injury/Pages/How%20to%20Care%20for%20a%20Sprained%20Ankle.aspx.
  3. Sports Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center. How to Use the R.I.C.E Method for Treating Injuries. UPMC Health Beat. [Online] August 27, 2014. https://share.upmc.com/2014/08/rice-method-for-treating-injury/.



Warming Up Before Your Workout With the RAMP Method

Many people, perhaps especially men, go into the gym for a heavy workout and head straight to the weights. At best, they might take a few minutes on a treadmill before getting into their workout. However, research shows that this isn’t the best way to exercise. A proper warm up can improve the strength and power of your muscles among other benefits (Jeffreys, 2006).

The RAMP method is a three stage (though four letters) method for optimizing your warm up: (1) Raise your heart rate, blood flow, body temperature, etc. (2) Activate the muscles groups you’ll be exercising or that you want to focus on and Mobilize the joints and ranges of motion that will be employed for your workout, (3) Potentiate, referring to using activities more directly related to the sport or workout you’ll be doing (e.g. if I’m doing back squats, here I could start doing air squats or back squat with the bar and slowly add weight up to my working set.)

Using the RAMP method to warm up for leg day, we could start with 5-10 minutes on a treadmill, stairclimber, or using other cardio. Next, we can either mobilize or activate first. In this case, we might use a foam roller or dynamic stretches to mobilize the hip and knee joints. To mobilize the hips, you might try forward and side leg swings, half pigeon pose, or frog pose. Look for dynamic stretches that keep you actively moving through the range of motion rather than static stretches. To activate the leg muscles, especially the glutes, try clams, lateral walks or air squats all using a resistance band. If you have trouble feeling your calves, try one-legged calf raises using your bodyweight or light weights to activate the calf muscles before your workout. For the potentiate phase, move towards the specific exercises for your workout. Perform lunges or squats with just your bodyweight and slowly add weight to your working sets.


Jeffreys, I. (2006). Warm up revisited–the ‘ramp’method of optimising performance preparation. Uksca J6, 15-19.

Image: Sutherland, Ben. “Warm up.” 10 Oct 2009. Online image licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC-BY2.0). Accessed 30 Jan 2018. https://www.flickr.com/photos/bensutherland/4004584424

How Gamification for Health and Fitness is Changing

Gamification, defined as the process of turning an activity or task into a game or something resembling a game, is increasingly being used to promote health and fitness by simply making working out more fun.

Through the use of features like badges, challenges and competition, popular apps and devices such as FitBit, Nike Running and Wii Fit are using gamification to give people the motivation and rewards they need to get off the couch.

But while this use of gamification began with the release of fitness trackers and apps that allow consumers to monitor different aspects of their health, the industry is now taking a slightly different approach. Rather than release fitness focused apps and games,  companies are starting to implement fitness into games people already have the motivation to play.

The success of this change can be best illustrated by the recent release of Pokémon Go, an augmented reality mobile phone game that is getting millions of people to walk way more than they normally do. The game requires users to walk around outside in order to collect Pokemon and various other rewards, and sets specific walking distance goals (5 kilometers, 10 kilometers) in order to hatch Pokemon “eggs”.

What mainly makes this game different from other fitness apps is that the exercise isn’t the main goal. Instead the game serves as a distraction to the actual exercise, with people walking up to ten miles a day without even realizing it.

While walking isn’t exactly high intensity exercise, it’s definitely a step in the right direction, especially for users who previously weren’t active at all. Overall, there’s no doubt that this is going to change the future of gamification in the health and fitness world, and it will be exciting to see what comes next.






mHealth Vitals

If you are like the average American, you use your phone for just about everything: setting an alarm to wake up every morning, checking the daily news and weather; navigating a new area, playing games, texting, and occasionally taking to someone!  Most Americans also utilize their phones for health reasons.

  • 64% of American adults now own a smartphone of some kind.
  • 62% of smartphone owners have used their phone in the past year to look up information about a health condition.
  • More than half of patients use a healthcare mobile app; 59% of them do so to prepare for a doctor’s visit.
  • Of those using mobile apps, 55% do so to remind them to take their medication.
  • An estimated 15% of Americans own a Fitbit or similar activity tracker; more than 80% say the device keeps them motivated to stick to their exercise routine.
  • Only 7% own an Apple Watch; of those, 41% bought it for health/fitness reasons.

Click here to check out the 49 best health apps of 2015.health app

Text source: MobileSmith; Photo source: pixabay; staticflickr

Let’s get rolling!

The weather in Chapel Hill has been absolutely beautiful recently. It’s the kind of fall weather that just makes you want to spend time outdoors. At least, that’s how I felt when I decided to dust the cobwebs off of my bike and get moving this week.

I’m sure you know that exercise, such as biking, has countless benefits, like improving cardiovascular health, improving brain function, improving mood and mental health, reducing stress, toning and building muscles, and increasing metabolism which can help keep your weight in check.

Biking in particular has the added benefit of improving coordination and being a low impact activity which puts less stress on joints than other popular fitness activities like running. In addition, biking can be a practical and low-cost form of transportation.

You can start off small by using your bike to run errands in your neighborhood, or you can get a bit more ambitious and commute to school or work. Just remember to follow traffic laws if you’re riding on the road and wear a helmet for added safety.

Also, don’t think that you need the newest, most technologically advanced bicycle to get started. I got my bike at a flea market and with a good scrubbing and a little oil it was up and running! Although if you’re new to biking it’s a good idea to get it checked out at a bike shop to make sure all the parts are working correctly.

So, whether you’re looking for a fun way to enjoy the warm fall sunshine, add some exercise into your day, or be a bit more eco-friendly, just get on your bikes and ride!  

UNC Fitness Breaks


Kaitlyn Brodar, UNC Grad. Student & UNC Fitness Breaks Leadership Member

UNC Facilities Services employs over 1,000 low-wage workers whose jobs all require physical demands, such as moving or lifting heavy supplies and equipment (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Facilities Services, 2014). These demands increase the risk of injury on the job (Krause et al, 2005), including back injuries and strains (Bureau of Labor Statistics U.S. Department of Labor, 2014).

UNC Fitness Breaks is a student/volunteer led worksite wellness program for UNC housekeeping and groundkeeping staff.  Our main goal is to help prevent injury by building muscle strength and cardiovascular endurance, but we also strive to encourage staff to adopt an overall more active lifestyle.  We do this by providing 10-15 minute fitness sessions that consist of moderate-intensity exercises and are conveniently held on campus at staff member clock-in locations—currently we are conducting over two dozen sessions throughout the week at 10 different locations.

This Friday, September 25, to coincide with International Housekeeping Week, we will be measuring BMI and blood pressure at the UNC housekeepers’ annual banquet.  We hope to have fun interacting with the staff, get staff excited about fitness breaks, and start a discussion about improving overall UNC worksite health. We have plans to apply for funding and recruit more volunteers so that we can consistently hold more sessions at more locations year around. If you are interested in volunteering please visit our Facebook page and leave us a message.

Pro-Sanity Sundays: Running round the world

Kevin Carr crosses the finish line of his round-the-world run, 621 days and 26 countries of ultramarathoning. Photo courtesy of BBC.com.

Kevin Carr crosses the finish line of his round-the-world run, 621 days and 26 countries of ultramarathoning. Photo courtesy of BBC.com.

Kevin Carr of England, 34, has set a new world record for fastest run around the world—and he did it to raise awareness of, and money for, the fight against mental illness.

“I have loved endurance sport all my life, but I almost had a very short life,” he writes on his website, hardwayround.com. “At 19 I was incredibly lucky to survive a very serious suicide attempt. I’ve had to fight depression and anxiety all my adult life, but I’m determined not to let an illness or any stigma wrongly associated with it ever hold me back.”

Nothing held Mr. Carr back—not bears, heatstroke, pain, subfreezing and 100 degree-plus temperatures, or the flu. Some things slowed him down a bit, but he ran 16,300 miles through 26 countries in 621 days, breaking the previous record by hours. And he did it pushing a cart that held all of his gear. It weighed up to 100 pounds.

“By running around the world (one of the toughest things, both physically and mentally one could ever ask of the human body) I aim to provide a very real demonstration that: ‘An ill mind is in no way a weak mind.’ I hope to inspire others, especially people who are where I was.”

Mr. Carr crossed his finish line in Dartmoor National Park in the south of England at 1:35 p.m. EST on Thursday, April 9.

If you want to support his charities, go to his website, hardwayround.com, for links to giving to SANE and the British Red Cross.

National Yoga Month: Are YOU on the Bandwagon?

September marks not only the beginning of autumn (my favorite season), but also National Yoga Month.

Now, I must confess, though I’ve seen a few videos and followed friends through routines, I have never been to a real yoga class.  For years I wondered what the yoga craze was about (and decided yoga just meant uncomfortable, awkward stretching), and figured it would last about as long as the Atkins diet or the Nordic Track.  By now it’s become clear that yoga has staying power beyond my original judgment, and it may be time to give it a chance.

Techniques of yoga date back more than 5,000 years (there’s some staying power), and today yoga is designed to generate greater clarity and harmony, as well as sculpt a stronger, slimmer and more flexible body, and a sharper, patient and more relaxed sense of self.

The current yoga statistics in the US are staggering enough – approximately 15 million people currently practice yoga, and the average annual increase of people practicing yoga is 20%.   Though 72% of yoga enthusiasts are female and only 28% male, The Huffington Post explained recently that yoga is “way more manly than you think”, and why men should do it.

In honor of National Yoga Month, if you’re not one of the 15 million already gaining strength and flexibility through yoga, maybe it’s time to jump on the bandwagon, or at least try it out with one week of FREE Yoga at your local yoga studio.  With a number of different styles of yoga, there’s something for just about everyone, and more and more yoga has been incorporated into other sports and fitness regimens.

Whether you’ve been doing yoga for 30 years or, like me, are still trying to overcome a bit of uncertainty, there’s no time like the present to grab a friend and some comfortable clothes and learn the secrets behind the Downward-Facing-Dog, Low Lunge, and Side-Reclining Leg Lift.  Stretching, in more ways than one, is bound to benefit, maybe in ways we aren’t even expecting.

Do you think yoga has true staying power and will still be a popular part of exercise and fitness in 20 years?  What is your favorite yoga style and pose?


Photo courtesy of: http://www.lululemon.com/community/blog/yoga-for-climbers/

More oversight for yoga teachers?

Some yoga practitioners are calling for formal training of their instructors. Especially as yoga gains in popularity, being offered at fitness centers as well as yoga studios, some classes may be led by relatively inexperienced teachers who model poses incorrectly.

A somewhat alarming article in The New York Times entitled, “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body,” focused on some of the dangers that can occur if yoga techniques are not practiced safely.

A proposed solution to these concerns is to require yoga instructors to complete 200-500 hours of formal training at schools recognized by the Yoga Alliance, a nonprofit organization that promotes yoga education and practice. Teachers trained in these programs are allowed to use the trademarked “RYT” (registered yoga teacher) after their names.

Not everyone is supportive of such a plan, however, believing in flexibility in yoga instructional techniques.

To me, ensuring that yoga teachers (and other fitness instructors) are well trained in the practice of safe exercise techniques would be paramount; I would be most concerned, for instance, if poses were being done in a way that placed unnecessary strain on joints or the neck. In larger class settings too, I think it could be especially important for instructors not only to model correct poses, but to actively correct and/or suggest modifications to poses of class members that may be unsafe.

Would you feel more comfortable with a registered yoga teacher (or other fitness instructor)?

Fitness trends predicted for the new year

A recent survey done by the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal predicts the top 20 fitness trends for 2012.

Topping the list of trends are learning from educated and certified fitness professionals at #1, strength training at #2, and fitness programs for older adults at #3. Not all on the list are specific activities or programs; trends include exercise and weight loss at #4 and children and obesity at #5. Personal training, core training, group personal training, Zumba, and functional fitness round out the list of the top 10.

New on the top 20 list of predicted trends for 2012 include Zumba and other dance workouts (#9) and outdoor activities (#14). Trends from 2011 that did not make it on the list for 2012 include outcomes measurements (#13 in 2011) and clinical integration/medical fitness (#18 in 2011). Remaining out of the top 20 for both 2011 and 2012 after strong runs in previous years were balance training, Pilates, and stability ball.

What types of (new or old) fitness activities will you be doing this year?