Sunday, October 26, 2014

Benefits of Swimming While Pregnant

Exercising while pregnant is very beneficial not only for the baby, but for the woman as well. Finding the right exercises that are safe and effective is important, and many women are hesitant to begin or remain exercising while pregnant because they are scared to disrupt their womb. However, it is now very common for all pregnant women to be encouraged to exercise if their doctor agrees there are no contraindications. Swimming is a great exercise that is safe and very beneficial for pregnant women to try.

Many women complain of body aches, joint pain, and nausea during pregnancy. What people may not realize is that swimming can minimize if not eliminate these symptoms. When in the water, the added weight gain that comes with pregnancy is disregarded due to the buoyancy of the water.2 Swimming pools are one place pregnant women can forget about their “heaviness” and enjoy moving around freely and comfortably. Therefore, back and joint pain are relieved because the stress of the extra weight is eliminated. Also, a plus for women in their first trimester, swimming first thing in the morning can reduce the dreaded morning sickness.1 While these are all ways swimming benefits the body, there are also reasons why swimming is great for safety:

  • No risk of being overheated. As long as the pool is at an appropriate temperature, swimming voids overheating the body. Exercising outdoors in the heat can be harmful to the fetus if body temperature is not regulated.
  • Less risk of falling while exercising. Because the water supports the body, the risk of falling while swimming is reduced. The only concern would be taking caution while entering and exiting the swimming pool.
  • It can be done at anyone’s pace. Whether a woman prefers to backstroke, butterfly, or just walk laps, this can all be done at an individuals own pace. This is great for women who have not necessarily exercised prior to becoming pregnant.  

Overall, swimming is a great way to maintain or improve cardiovascular fitness, muscle tone, and overall health while pregnant.2 It is important to be cleared by your physician before beginning any exercise program. Also, remember to stay hydrated before, during, and after exercising. So if you are cleared to exercise, get in the pool and get moving!

1BabyCenter Medical Advisory Board. (2013, March 1). Great pregnancy exercise: Swimming. Retrieved October 13, 2014, from

2Weiss, R. (n.d.). Pregnancy Fitness. The Suprising Benefits of Swimming. Retrieved October 13, 2014, from

Friday, October 24, 2014

Strength Training for Kids

It is said that kids should not start lift weights at a young age because it stunts their growth. As a parent you want to do some research in knowing the difference in weightlifting and strength training. "Heavy lifting can put too much strain on young muscles, tendons and growth plates, especially when proper technique is sacrificed in favor of lifting larger amounts of weight."3 If you plan on weight training your child yourself. If you choose to hire a professional trainer, you will want to look into that person. They need to be highly trained in this field and be educated enough to take someone's health into their hands. You do not want someone who is not paying attention to the fundamentals and the technique, and just wants the child or client to lift weights. As a parent you want your child to exceed in everything that they do, but you also want them to do it the right way and in the best way that will not hinder them in their future. Strength training can be done with his or her own body weight or inexpensive resistance tubing, along with free weights and machine weights.

There are many positives that can come out of strength training, a few of them are
  • Increase your child's muscle strength and endurance
  • Help protect your child's muscles and joints from sports-related injuries
  • Improve your child's performance in nearly any sport, from dancing and figure skating to football and soccer
  • Strengthen your child's bones
  • Help promote healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Help your child maintain a healthy weight
  • Improve your child's confidence and self-esteem

You can start strength training your kids “as early as age 7 or 8, however, strength training can become a valuable part of an overall fitness plan — as long as the child is mature enough to follow directions and practice proper technique and form.”2 Some Doctors say that with weightlifting, kids should start at age 13.

It would be more beneficial in the long run for your kids if you started with strength training so that their bodies with have strong muscles and healthy joints. Then when they are of the proper age to start lifting heavier weights, you can transition them into that part of their athletic or fitness goal.

1Robson, D. (2009, April 28). Weight Training for Children. Retrieved October 19, 2014, from
2Tween and teen health. (2012, January 18). Retrieved October 20, 2014, from

Tarleton State Kinesiology Shakes it Off!

Our amazing faculty, staff, and students collaborated to film our very own Shake it Off Taylor Swift music video. Check it out!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Why You Should Never Skip Squats

CybexSquatRack_16230.jpgTo achieve a strong lower body, the squat is one of the best lower body exercises. It is the most primitive movement pattern known to man and was performed in many daily functions.2 The squat has often been referred to as the “king of exercises”. It is executed by placing a weighted barbell across your shoulders, then using your legs to lower and raise your body. 1 The squat works the muscle groups of the gastrocnemius, quadriceps, and hamstrings.

There are multiple benefits to performing the squat on a regular basis. Just a few of the benefits include: increases flexibility, increases the natural release of testosterone, burns more fat, and helps maintain better balance. It is of utmost importance that squatting should be performed in a full ROM where the hamstrings make contact with the calves (so that no light can be seen passing through your legs at the bottom position).2 The squat stimulates almost every muscle in the body and burns the most calories. With the squat being the king of exercises and its great whole body benefits, don’t forget to do your squats!

1Sconiers, H. (2013, October 15). What Are the Benefits of Doing a Basic Squat? Retrieved October 18, 2014, from

2Hildebrandt, M. (2014, September 10). 14 Reasons You Shouldn't Ignore Full Squat Benefits. Retrieved October 18, 2014, from

JJ Shuttle Run

The JJ Shuttle run requires both anaerobic and aerobic energy sources because of the longer, 60-yard, 4 segment aspect of the run. Priest, Jones, Conger, & Marble, the creators of the assessment, claim, “Assessment of high-intensity activity patterns helps quantify acceleration and maximal running-speed and fatigue patterns”.1 The JJ Shuttle run allows investigators to inspect each of the four segments independently which can make evident where athletes are exceeding and where improvement can be made.

Setting up the JJ Shuttle run is relatively quick, but it must be set up accurately in order to be a valid and effective assessment tool. There is a starting/finishing line, four cones, and two laser projection boxes. The starting/finishing line of the JJ Shuttle run is determined using the half court line, a permanently painted two inch line on the hardwood gym floor. Using two laser projection boxes placed two yards apart, a laser beam line is positioned parallel to the half court line and is placed on the outer edge of the two inch permanent line on the home side of the court. The laser beam line should be between 20 and 32 inches above the floor depending on the height of your athletes. The laser projection should be higher on the legs of the subjects, but not high enough so the upper limbs will break the beam.

Perpendicular to the starting point are four orange cones that have a height of five inches. Cones one and three are placed on the visitor side of the court five yards and 10 yards from the starting line. Cones two and four are placed on the home side of the court five yards and 10 yards from the starting line. Each cone is perpendicular to the starting point established by a line that is 90 degrees from the starting line and halfway between each laser projection boxes, one yard from each box.

Subjects will run the JJ Shuttle one at a time. They will begin on the home side of the court. Beginning with their lead foot parallel to the starting line, as close as they can get without crossing, and the assessment will begin when they first break the laser projection. There is no signal given, each subject will begin when ready.

From the starting line, the subject will run to cones one, two, three, and four and back across the finish line where the final time will be collected. Subjects are required to touch every cone with their hand or the run is invalid. Suggestions to improve performance are to run in straight lines between cones without rounding the turns and to not run past the cones with the lead foot when reversing direction.

After a few experiences of setting up and facilitating the JJ Shuttle run, it can be an easy tool to include on physical assessment day for athletes or in physical education class.

1 Priest, J. W., Jones, J. N., Conger, B., & Marble, D. K. (2011, October). Performance Measures of NCAA Baseball Tryouts Obtained From The New 60-yd Run-Shuttle. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 25(10), 2872-2878.

Cleaning Up The Power Clean

Olympic-style weightlifting is becoming a staple in every gym across the country, all thanks to the uprising of CrossFit. The downside is that most of the everyday gym goers have no prior experience of Olympic weightlifting other than what they see others doing in the gym, in videos, or during the CrossFit games. Now, in respect of CrossFit it has single handedly put more barbells in hands and people in gyms than anything in history.
One of the most often butchered lifts seen in a gym is the Power Clean. As mentioned before we live in a monkey see-monkey do world. Without knowing anything about the lift and the dangers of improperly performing it, people want to load up an impressive amount of weight and just heave it up in any way possible. Check your pride at the door and save your body for years to come.
The Power Clean involves a few different movements combined into one, closed kinetic chain, explosive movement.The first movement is pulling the weight off the floor as done in a deadlift. The initial pull is performed with a flat back, high chest, and eyes looking forward. As the weight is pulled off the floor, keep the back flat, push the knees back making the bar come up the shins and back instead of up and around the knees. As the bar clears the knees, an immediate change of speed occurs as the hips, knees, and ankles are explosively extended, and the shoulders are shrugged causing the person to jump off the ground. As soon as the body becomes tripled extended, the High Pull occurs with the elbows flexing and arms being horizontally abducted. At the top of the High Pull, the person then drops under the bar to catch or “rack” the weight on top of the shoulders. To catch the weight, the elbows flip under the bar as the person drops(squats) under the bar into flexed hips, knees, and ankles. The weight should be caught on the heels with the hips back, much like the position of a front squat.1
The lift should be performed starting and ending in the same spot. If the athlete is jumping forward, the hips are likely not getting extended during the second pull, creating the bar to be out and away from the body.2 Flexibility and joint mobility play a huge roll in the execution of the Power Clean, which can make the lift a total disaster from the start, because the lifter is unable to set up on the bar correctly for the initial pull. This creates back issues by pulling with a rounded back instead of properly using the legs. Beginners should start light and focus on technique first and foremost. As technique gets better, the bar will begin to fly and the amount of weight you are able to handle will go up. The hips are able to create a tremendous amount of power so remember, bring the hips to the party.


1Weightlifting 101. (2014, January 1). Retrieved October 20, 2014, from

2Flemming, W. (2012, March 22). Strength Training Programs: The 7 Most Common Power Clean Technique Mistakes. Retrieved October 20, 2014, from

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How Important is Hydration for an Athlete?

hydration 3.jpg
Water, otherwise known as H20, consists of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. It is simply the medium used for transporting the body’s nutrients and minerals, as well as the place where the body’s biochemical reactions occur. “Depending on a person’s body fat content, water’s content can vary about 45% in very obese individuals to 70% in very lean individuals.” Needless to say, water is life, life is water.2) How much attention should I pay to water, as an athlete? Should I be precise on how much I intake, and if so when should I injest  certain amounts? What will happen if I become lax, as an athlete, with my water? Athletes aren’t the only ones who should be paying attention to these questions. Every living person needs water to survive.

Dehydration and its Negative Effects on Exercise

Dehydration does affect performance. “When water losses reach 1-4% of your body weight, reduction in physical performance will occur. Marathon runners can lose several quarts of water during a race, which represents 6-10% of their body weight.” 2)  Even more anaerobic oriented sports, such as soccer and hockey, can experience such losses. With this being said, the thirst response in humans is not as fine tuned as it should be, and won’t experience the thirst feeling until hours later. So you have to be constantly on top of it.

Proper Fluid Replacement to Maintain Athletic Performance

hydration 2.jpgEnsuring adequate hydration includes initiating exercise in a euhydrated state and matching fluid intake to sweat rate during exercise. 4) Fluid replacement should approximate sweat and urine losses and at least maintain hydration at less than 2 percent body weight reduction. This generally requires 200 to 300 mL (7 to 10 fl oz) every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise.5) Proper hydration during exercise will influence cardiovascular function, thermoregulatory function, muscle functioning, fluid volume status, and exercise performance.  The goal of drinking during exercise is to prevent excessive dehydration (2 percent body weight loss from water deficit) and excessive changes in electrolyte balance to avert compromised exercise performance.5) Fluid ingestion may also influence performance by delaying the evolution of core temperature by acting as a “heat sink.” An increased central drive and motivation may also be experienced by being well hydrated.
Some, but not all, exercise is going to be affected by being hydrated or dehydrated. Athletes involved in shorter anaerobic exercises have less physiologic changes occurring and therefore can experience an increase in performance due to less body mass by being slightly hypohydrated. Longer, more aerobic exercises use more total body water and therefore need to be replenished during exercise. Replenishing the water stores will influence several factors and keep the athlete hydrated enough to perform at his or her best capabilities.

  1. Casa, Douglas J., Armstrong, Lawrence E., Hillman, Susan K., Montain, Scott J. (2000). National Athletic
Trainers’ Association Position Statement: Fluid replacement for athletes. Journal of Athletic Training, 35(2), 212-224.
  1. Gastelu, D., & Hatfield, F. (2013). Water and Oxygen. In Sports Nutrition (3rd ed., pp. 76-79). Carpinteria, Ca:
International Sports Sciences Association.
  1. Godek, Sandra Fowkes., Bartolozzi, Arthur R., Burkholder, Richard, Sugarman, Eric, & Dorshimer, Gary.
(2006). Core temperature and percentage of dehydration in professional Linemen and backs during preseason practice. Journal of Athletic Training, 41(1)8-17.

  1. Osterberg, Kristin L., Horswill, Craig A., & Baker, Lindsay B. (2009). Pregame urine specific gravity and fluid
intake by National Basketball Association players during competition. Journal of Athletic Training, 44(1), 53-57.
  1. Sawka, Michael N., Burke, Louise M. (2007). Exercise and fluid replacement. American   College of Sports

Frozen Shoulder Following Stroke

Following cerebrovascular accident, a majority of individuals experience frozen muscles and joints on the affected side or sides. “Frozen shoulder (also called adhesive capsulitis) is a common disorder that causes pain, stiffness, and loss of normal range of motion in the shoulder.” 2 This resulting disability can be extremely painful and can worsen if not treated, causing serious consequences. The cause of frozen joints is not fully known or understood however, freezing commonly occurs from immobilization, injury, surgery or illness. This process begins with inflammation of soft tissue due to injury to the joint which intensifies with movement and limits range of motion. When the joint becomes immobilized the connective tissue surrounding the joint thickens and contracts losing its stretch reflex capability. Neglecting to move the joint due to avoidance of pain often results in further contraction of the joint as well as loss of lubricating synovial fluid. 1
There are many methods for treating frozen joints including medicinal methods, ice, and physical therapy. However, the most effective method for treating and improving a frozen shoulder is simply movement. Specifically movement that initially focuses on stretching the joint capsule and its surrounding tissue, then later focuses on strengthening the joint and its muscles.
Joint recovery and function takes time and work and differs among each individual. Unfreezing can span from several months to two to three years requiring consistent therapy and self treatment and attention. Stretches and exercises can be taught and performed at home decreasing the rehabilitation period and further benefiting the function of the joint.  
1 Bunker, T., & Anthony, P. (1995). The Pathology of Frozen Shoulder. The Bone & Joint Journal, 77-B(5), 677-683.

2 New Releases. (2010, December 7). Retrieved October 12, 2014, from
Picture taken from

Friday, October 10, 2014

Deadlift: Function for Life

The deadlift has been a staple exercise in any gym across the world for a long time.  The lift is simple but can be dangerous and is often practiced improperly. Below are the key techniques to perform the deadlift:
  1. Walk up to a loaded barbell, place your feet under the bar at hip width.
  2. With a flat back and full chest, squat down and grip the bar with a pronated hand position.
  3. Keeping your chest up and back flat pull the bar off of the floor to an erect position, then lower back to the ground.1
Common mistakes include pulling with a rounded back and straight legs, bouncing the weight off the floor between reps, or simply attempting to lift too much weight and failing to stand erect. There are many different variations to the deadlift including grips, bar types, and foot positions. With this in mind the one thing that remains the same is the fact that the lifter is pulling dead weight off of the ground, which is what people do on a regular basis every day.
The deadlift involves picking something up from ground level and moving it up to waist level. This is an extremely common movement amongst humans from all cultures, and is perhaps one of the best pure tests of overall strength. By routinely deadlifting, you actually make it easier on your body in these real life situations, and also reduce the chance of injury at the same time.2 One can argue that the squat is the most functional lift but the squat is involved in the deadlift. In everyday life, humans do not squat down with weight on their back and their arms abducted and externally rotated. Sitting down and back into in a chair or toilet is a daily occurrence, but not with weight on the back and arms positioned in that manner.
The squat and it’s different variations are very beneficial exercises and should be done regularly in any regimen, but not the most functional exercise to daily life. So load the bar, grip it, and rip it.


1Whitman, J. (2012, January 1). The Deadlift. Retrieved October 6, 2014, from

2Vales, J. (2014, January 1). 15 Benefits of Deadlifts. Retrieved October 6, 2014, from

The Nutritional Values of A Smoothie!!!

Getting kids to eat healthy foods like fruits and vegetables can be tough. There is a quick and easy way to get them to consume their fruits and vegetables! Smoothies are colorful and tasty and you can get your kids to help make them. Your kids won't know that they are actually great for their little bodies.
Health experts recommend that we should all have at least five portions of fruits and vegetables every day.1 By making your own smoothies at home, with fresh fruits and vegetables, you will be feeding your kids two out of the five recommended portions. Smoothies provide you with the proper vitamins and minerals that your body needs. Healthy Eating has a list of what vitamins and minerals are in what fruits. For example citrus fruits, such as grapefruit, oranges, tangerines and lemons, contain good amounts of Vitamin C, Potassium and Folate. Also, smoothies are a great source of fiber. Drinking fruit smoothies can help you reach the recommended intake of fiber, which is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men.2

There are so many different ways to make a smoothie, it's all about what you want in it. You can do a mixed berry blend and add almond milk, yogurt, honey, and even some peanut butter for protein. There are endless choices for smoothies. With each smoothie you make you can direct it to a specific need. You can make one directed to what nutrients your child is lacking to boost  their energy level, strengthen their immune system, etc. Smoothies are also great at replacing the bad junk food that kids like to eat during snack time.

There are numerous reasons why you should start making smoothies for your children, these are just a few. Kids now a days get sluggish and tired from all the unhealthy foods they consume throughout the day, so a delicious and healthy smoothy can boost their energy and keep them going for the rest of the day. They are simple to make, and are great for an after school snack.

1Innocent - little tasty drinks. (n.d.). Retrieved October 6, 2014, from

2Oliver, L. (2014, January 1). Health Benefits of Fruit Smoothies. Retrieved October 6, 2014, from

Negative Effects of Herbalife

Herbalife was first created in 1980. The mission of Herbalife was to improve health for individuals all around the world. In just the past couple of years Herbalife has become widely known and it is all the rave everyone is talking about. Herbalife is a marketing business which sells nutrition, weight management, and skin-care products. People may be losing the weight they wish, but along with losing weight comes side effects and possible damage to your organs. Some of the reported side effects are nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and headaches.  

Caffeine, an ingredient in the supplements, increases metabolism (also aids in weight loss) can be the cause of individuals having anxiety. With the increase of caffeine intake can also lead to higher blood pressure. The Mayo Clinic consumption of over 500 mg of caffeine daily can lead to aforementioned unpleasant side effects. Herbalife pills, tablets and products contain between 65 and 75 mg of caffeine per serving.1

There are some questionable ingredients that the Herbalife supplements contain. The main ingredient is Ephedra. This can cause kidney stones, increased blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, and damage to the heart and other organs.2  Senna and Cascara Sagrada both cause diarrhea, vomiting and also risk of irregular heartbeat. The reason for the rapid weight loss is because of the ingredients in the Herbalife products. Herbalife is an unhealthy and dangerous way of losing weight. The best way to live a healthy lifestyle is to eat a well-balanced nutritious diet and exercise on a daily basis and you will achieve the results you want without harming your body with foreign products.

1Egan, L. (n.d.). Negative Effects of Herbalife. Retrieved October 5, 2014, from

2What are the Dangers of Herbalife. (n.d.). Retrieved October 5, 2014, from

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Reducing Risk of PPD with Diet and Exercise

During pregnancy, women experience all kinds of emotions. it is not uncommon to

experience excitement to anxiety or happiness to nervousness, even in the length of just one single day. However, if you are experiencing symptoms of Postpartum depression, it is important to discuss with your healthcare provider and should be taken very seriously. In a meta-analysis of 59 studies from various countries, the estimated average prevalence of PPD was 13%.2 Many women do not picture PPD affecting themselves or their pregnancy, but it is important to pay attention to any signs or symptoms that may occur.

The good news is, there are a variety of ways to reduce your risk of developing PPD: DIET AND EXERCISE. These two things go hand in hand in benefitting the overall health of everyone, and it makes sense that they would reduce the risk of PPD. If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant soon, it is important to develop a regular exercise routine that is right for you. Deanna Schober, a mother of four, explains how her healthy lifestyle in her fourth pregnancy helped her beat PPD without drugs. With her first three pregnancies, a healthy lifestyle was not a concern to her and she experienced mild to severe episodes of PPD.1 After a major lifestyle change a few years before, Deanna was very healthy when deciding to become pregnant for the fourth time. By maintaining regular exercise, proper diet, and an overall healthy lifestyle, not only was her fourth pregnancy much more pleasant, but she was also able to control the moderate to low PPD symptoms she experienced, wIthout medicine!1

This story is a great indication of how a healthy lifestyle before, during, and after pregnancy can reduce the risk of developing PPD. Exercising is a great way to improve your mood, boost energy, and feel good about yourself.

1Schober, D. (2014, May 14). How I Beat Postpartum Depression Without Drugs (This Time) - Fit To Be Pregnant. Retrieved October 6, 2014, from

2Daley, A., MacArthur, C., & Heather, W. (2007, January 1). The Role of Exercise in Treating Postpartum Depression: A Review of the Literature. Retrieved October 5, 2014.