Stress Relief Workouts for Finals Week

It’s here. Finals week is upon us, and if you’re anything like me, your academic stress is at an all time high. There are several ways to cope with stress, and one of the best ways to do that is exercise! Lifting and other anaerobic exercises are great if you’re trying to tone muscles, but for peace of mind and a seriously relaxing workout. Of course, you need to also make sure that you’re getting enough sleep to make it through your revision sessions and your exercises without being shattered. If you are struggling with getting enough sleep then we would recommend things like white noise and even getting a new mattress (use this guide on mattress sizes though to make sure you get one the right size)!
Anyway, try these three aerobic exercises this week during your study breaks!

 

Lap Swim at the Aquatic Center

Our aquatic center here at Ohio University has open swim hours! During the middle of the day, between 8am and 3pm, the pool is usually empty of OU swim team members and events.

Swimming is a great way to boost your metabolism and take care of your cardiac health, and a low impact form of cardio if you have knee/foot problems. Bonus points if you play basketball in the shallow end!

photo from constant contact.com

Run around Athens

Have you always wondered where Mound Street is? Think you can find Highland Park without using Google Maps? Running through Athens will give you a chance to get to know campus and the surrounding area. At the same time, you’ll have enough time outside to think about how you’re going to nail your final exams!

I’m a huge advocate of running for its cardiovascular benefits as well as mental health benefits, but if you’re not up for a super intense workout you can always go for a short jog!

photo from http://scolinssportsvenuesvisited.blogspot.com

Rent a Bike

If you hate running and you hate swimming, then you probably hate smiling too, right? That’s okay! Another great aerobic exercise that will alleviate stress and help you race through finals week is bicycling! Athens Bicycle on Stimson Avenue has rental bikes for $10 an hour. Take the bike path to do your grocery shopping this week and get your heartbeat racing!

photo from onlyinyourstate.com

Hopefully these ideas help you reign in the stress and ace your finals!

 

 

Comprehensive Running Watch Review

It’s the week after Thanksgiving and now is a great time to run off all of that pumpkin pie! Over the past week I ran with three different running watches that all have strengths and weaknesses. Below I rated characteristics of these watches like fit, data collection and presentation, waterproof capabilities and batter life. If you’re looking for an awesome workout gadget to put on your christmas list, check out the watches below!

This is not a paid advertisement for any of the following watches, just a helpful review!

Garmin Forerunner 220 (My current running watch)

Fit and feel: Comfortable, if slightly large on the wrist, this watch is a sturdy piece of equipment. The no-slide material of the band helps the face from bouncing around while you’re running, and has more than ten different holes to accommodate for a variety in wrist sizes.

Data presentation: With five buttons to navigate the countless features of the Garmin watch, getting used to the system can be a little tricky but after one or two trials, using the buttons becomes second nature. The watch shows distance run, time elapsed, pace, and calories burned, and when you connect it to the online Garmin website, it shows altitude change, mile splits and more. One of my favorite features on the Garmin is the motivating “beep” sound it makes after every mile completed.

Waterproof ability: Having worn this watch in the rain and accidentally in the shower several times, I can definitively say that it is waterproof.

Battery: The battery life on the Garmin Forerunner is one of the only downfalls of this otherwise phenomenal watch. I am not someone who remembers to plug in all of my technology every day, and the Garmin only lasts about 24 hours before it needs a fresh charge. It also takes a long time to charge from 0% battery.

Other capabilities: This watch also measures biking and walking, so if you are looking for a watch that will be flexible and record your cross-training, this will do the job.

 

Apple Watch Series 2

Fit and feel: The Apple Watch is definitely in a different tech category than running watches I’ve worn in the past. The sleek touch screen threw me off while I navigated the workout features, but compared to the Garmin, the watch felt thinner, lighter and more natural on my wrist.

Data presentation: I borrowed this watch from my sister, and though I only had a day to get used to the settings before I ran with the Apple Watch, the workout features were fairly simple to navigate with one scrolling button and the touch screen. The watch displayed distance run, time elapsed, pace and heart beats per minute, then incorporated my run into my “daily goals” of moving, standing and exercise.

Waterproof ability: I also accidentally wore this watch in the shower (sorry, Ellie!) and it survived! I later learned that the Series 2 is water resistant and will survive in the rain, shower, and drenched in sweat. Thank goodness!

Battery: According to my sources, the Apple Watch lasts about two days with a full charge. This is much better than the Garmin that, for some reason, doesn’t hold a charge long enough for two long runs in two days, but not up to the week that the Fitbit Charge 2 promises.

Other capabilities: I didn’t realize how often I get notifications until I decided to sync the Apple Watch to my iPhone. Every text, calendar alert and breaking news alert sent a vibrating buzz through my wrist and I was distracted each time. This feature is great for someone who wants to keep up with the digital world but texts and news alerts seriously interrupted my concentration during my run. I’m sure with a little more time I could have figured out how to turn off the buzzing but I appreciated the notifications during the rest of my day… I guess that feature is a hit or miss! You can even buy an esim iwatch so you can text and call when your phone isn’t nearby.

 

Fitbit Charge HR 2

Fit and feel: This watch was my favorite in terms of wrist feel. The band molded perfectly around my wrist and the solid, boxy face felt like a natural addition to my arm. I was surprised at this comfort because of the thin nature of the watch, but my good friend who loaned it to me swears by the Fitbit and now I see why.

Data presentation: Like the Apple Watch, the Fitbit only has one button, but unlike the Apple Watch, it does not have a touch screen. The button allows the wearer to scroll through data and features, start and pause a run, and turn the watch on and off. This simple system is very easy to learn, and I was able to master it within five minutes of putting the watch on with no assistance or tutorials. The watch face shows distance run, time elapsed, pace, and calories burned, and heart beats per minute, and the Fitbit app lays out all of this information and more in a user-friendly format.

Waterproof ability: Similar to the Apple Watch, the Fitbit Charge is water resistant, but not waterproof. Fitbit recommends not showering with the watch on, though it is “rain and splash proof.” I managed to take this watch off before I could test the waterproof ability, but my friend vouched for the water resistant feature!

Battery: I had this watch for a very short time and was unable to test the battery life, but Fitbit claims that the Charge HR 2 watch lasts up to 5 days. This is a great improvement to the Garmin and the Apple Watch, and the Charge HR 2 does most of the same things that those watches do combined.

Other capabilities: The Charge HR 2 syncs with multiple phones, not just iPhones, and alerts the user to texts, calls and other notifications. My phone was not synced to the watch at the time that I used it to run, but according to regular Fitbit users, the alerts are subtle and not distracting. The Fitbit watch also tracks weight workouts and yoga, and has guided breathing exercises built into its system. This wide range of activity-related features makes it a great watch for cross-training.

 

Overall, my favorite watch to run with was the Fitbit. My current running watch is the Garmin Forerunner 220, and for all of its positive qualities, the Garmin does not have the same natural feel and multi-functional use that the Fitbit provides. In terms of every day function, the Fitbit is definitely more of a lifestyle watch while the Garmin is only intended to be worn while running or working out. The Apple Watch was too much for my easily distracted brain to handle, though I enjoyed seeing my “goal circles” slowly complete themselves, but the Fitbit was a straightforward, active watch and definitely won me over. After reviewing these three watches, I will definitely be adding the Charge 2 to my Christmas wish-list!

 

 

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become.” -Steve Jobs

 

 

 

Pumpkin No-Bake Protein Balls

Whether you are going to the gym or going on a long run, you should be fueling your body with good food before and after your workout! It can be difficult to find/make good food when you are living on campus, but these delicious Pumpkin No-Bake Protein Balls are easy to make in a residence hall or apartment! Munch on these before a workout for a healthy boost of energy or after for a tasty recovery snack!

photo by Hannah Klein

Begin by collecting all of your ingredients. Oatmeal and peanut butter are both great sources of protein– two tablespoons of each hold more than 10 grams of protein! The cup of pumpkin in this recipe will also help with digestion and add a little vitamin C to your diet.

 

photo by Hannah Klein

Maple syrup is an awesome sweetener to use in baking and cooking. Try to use natural sweeteners when making recipes like this instead of white table sugar.

 

photo by Hannah Klein

Thoroughly mix all of your ingredients together in a large bowl. Possibly the most important ingredient in this recipe, ground flax seed, is chock full of omega-3 fatty acids which are shown to improve heart health. Flax seed also contains fiber to help improve digestion.

 

photo by Hannah Klein

Divide your ingredient mixture into tablespoon-sized balls on a cookie sheet or plate and refrigerate. If these healthy treats stay covered and refrigerated, they should stay fresh for about two weeks. Pop a few in a tupperware and take them to the gym or munch on one while you stretch after a run. Enjoy!

 

Pumpkin No-Bake Protein Balls Recipe:

3 cups dry oatmeal

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 cup peanut butter (or almond butter)

2/3 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 tablespoon ground flax seeds

1 cup small chopped nuts (I used walnuts!)

1/2 cup mini dark chocolate chips (optional)

(inspired by cleanfoodcrush.com)

 

“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” – Julia Child

Spooky Dorm Room Workout

Happy Halloween! If there is one thing Bobcats are good at, it’s celebrating the spookiest holiday of the year, and what better way to recover from this wild weekend than a workout! These moves are small enough that you can do them in your dorm room– have fun!

1. Spider Sit Ups

These sit ups are a great workout for your abs if you don’t have much space in your room! Make sure your feet stay on the floor and do three sets of as many sit ups as you are comfortable with.

photo from gethealthyu.com

2. Jumping Jack O’ Lanterns

You’ll have to watch out for your roommate, but jumping jacks are an awesome way to warm up your muscles and work some cardio into your routine. Try to do 20 in a row!

photo from steadyrun.com

3. Pumpkin Push-Ups

While you’re thinking about the PSL you’re going to drink later, work your arms and abs by doing three sets of ten push ups! You can modify these push ups by putting your knees on the ground.

photo from popsugar.com

4. Scarecrow Squats

Keep that beach booty going and do a few scarecrow squats during your workout. This classic exercise engages your glutes and quads, and after three sets of ten squats, you’ll definitely feel something!

photo from womenshealthmag.com

These spooky moves will help you stay fit, and keep the halloween spirit alive in your room or at the gym!

Tasty Workout Snacks

One of the most important parts of working out also happens to be one of the best parts of life—FOOD! It is important to eat before and after you workout—I’ve listed a few of my favorite workout related snacks below!

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist but I have been a runner for more than 7 years and these are things that have worked for me! Health related information below found at mayoclinic.org and eatsmart.com

  1. Trail Mix
photo from eatingbirdfood.com

A classic on-the-go snack, trail mix is perfect for a sweet and salty burst of energy before a workout. Nuts contain unsaturated fats or “healthy fats” and fiber, which both help to lower cholesterol. Dried fruits hold the same nutrients as fresh fruits which are concentrated after dehydration and dark chocolate has been known to improve heart health. For a cheaper alternative to pre-made trail mix, pay a visit to the bulk food aisle and create your own!

 

  1. Vegetables and Hummus
photo from kathieswift.com

This is one of the easiest, yummiest post workout snacks, and can be easily tailored to your individual preferences. Carrots, cucumber, celery, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower are all nutritious vegetables, and taste great dipped in hummus. Depending on the brand and flavor, hummus usually has very low fats, and lots of fiber and protein making it a great recovery food!

 

  1. Energy Bars
photo from active.com

Energy bars are an easy snack to take on the road, especially if you have a tough workout ahead of you, and they can be eaten before, during or after a workout! There are dozens of brands of granola bars marketed as “energy bars” and each has its benefits, just make sure to watch out for sugar and pick a low sodium option, or take control and make your own!

 

  1. Protein Balls
photo from cleanfoodcrush.com

A new internet fitness trend is taking Pinterest by storm—protein balls! There are lots of unique recipes but the ultimate goal is to give your body a jump-start to workout or a yummy recovery food! Because I embrace trends wholeheartedly, especially if they’re pumpkin/fall themed, I have attached a link to Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Energy Balls Below! (Pro-tip: you can find ground flax seed at most grocery stores!)

https://cleanfoodcrush.com/pumpkin-energy-balls/

 

  1. Peanut Butter and Celery
photo from eatthismuch.com

My go-to snack after a long run or a challenging workout is peanut butter and celery! Packed with protein, peanut butter is great in moderation and celery is a great delivery method! This classic snack is also a throw back to childhood and if you toss a few raisons on top, you can have ants on a log!

 

“Food may be essential as fuel for the body, but GOOD food is fuel for the soul.” – Malcolm Forbes

 

 

Five Best Hikes in Athens

With the weather starting to cool down, October is a great time to get outside and explore Athens!

Hiking is not a strenuous activity, but it definitely still “counts” as a workout. These hikes are all great to do with friends if you can pull together a group or alone if you’re looking for some quiet time for yourself.

1. The Ridges

photo from Hannah Klein

This spooky collection of buildings formerly known as the Athens Lunatic Asylum is best known for its ghost sightings and scary stories. The Ridges are located behind Peden Stadium and across the river via the Richland Avenue round about. If you go during the day, make sure to stop by the Kennedy Museum of Art and if you go at night, watch out!

2. Radar Hill

photo from courtstreetstories.com

Technically still located in The Ridges, Radar Hill is a fairly easy hike. To find the peak, follow Water Tower Drive past the cemetery and walk about 3/4 of a mile until you get to a fork in the road, then turn right. The top of the hill is flat and a great place for a picnic, and if it’s a clear day you can even see campus!

3. Bong Hill

photo from The Post

Even though the name is pretty suggestive, Bong Hill is a perfectly innocent hike. Pass Sonic on Stimson Avenue then turn right on Rock Riffle until you see a dirt path on your left, then climb! This path starts off steep but the view of campus is worth the walk. Ask any alumni what their favorite place to watch the sunset was and they’ll tell you: Bong Hill. Make sure to put this on your Bobcat bucket list!

4. Sells Park

photo from trekohio.com

Sells Park is what you think of when you picture a “classic” hike. This beautiful piece of land is at the end of Avon Place off of East State Street and depending on what time of day you visit, you’re likely to see a family of deer roaming around. Each trail is unique and there are several fairly easy walks, as well as some more challenging hikes. A great map of all of the different trails can be found at http://www.athensohio.com/upload_files/files/Athens_Trail_08.pdf

5. Dow Lake Dam

photo from Hannah Klein

Last but not least, one of my all time favorite spots in Athens is the swing at Dow Lake Dam. To get to this spot you’ll need a car (or a friend with a car!) to take you to the very end of East State Street past Holzer onto highway 32 and turn left into a parking lot labeled “Strouds Run.” This hike takes you on top of the dam and holds a beautiful view of Dow Lake. Walk to the end of the dam and take a right and you’ll find a path that takes you to a giant swing. This swing is fun for people of every age so if you have younger siblings, make sure to take them during Sibs Weekend!

 

“To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles.”

-Mary Davis

 

Four Easy Yoga Moves to Wake You Up

We all know coffee is a beautiful way to start your day, but sometimes that caffeine filled jolt does more harm than good. If you’re looking for a cleaner way to wake up and get energized, try these four simple yoga moves that you can do from bed!

 

  1. Before you sit up, try the Supine Spinal Twist. Bring your right knee up and slowly lower it over your left leg, then rest your right arm above your head. Hold this position for ten breaths and feel the stretch in your lower back. Repeat on the other side.
photo from livestrong.com

 

  1. To warm up your legs and back, try the Seated Forward Fold. Sit up straight with your legs stretched out in front of you. Slowly bend forward and move your hands closer to your feet. You should be relaxed during this position. Hold the position for five breaths and feel the stretch in the back of your legs.
photo from yogajournal.com

 

  1. If you don’t mind freaking your roommate out a little bit, or if they’ve already left for class, try the Bow Pose to stretch your chest, arms, and legs. To do this pose, lay on your stomach, reach your arms back and grab your outer ankles. Lift your chest toward the ceiling and pull your shoulder blades together. Hold this position for ten breaths.
    photo from blog.paleohacks.com

     

  2. Lastly, Child’s Pose is a good way to end your morning yoga. This calming pose begins in a  kneeling position. With your knees shoulder width apart, bend at the hips with your arms stretched out over your head. From there, settle into the position until your back and hips feel comfortable, then hold for ten breaths.
    photo from yogabasics.com

     

    These moves should get your blood flowing when you wake up and help you warm up your muscles in preparation for the day. If these moves don’t work, just fall back into shavasana!

 

Contribution from Olivia Cox, Certified Yoga Instructor.

 

 

No Such Thing as “Too Busy” for 5K Training!

Even with classes in full swing, everyone can find time to train for a 5K!

photo from active.com

Classes are in full swing, homework is piling up and if you’re like me, your professors are starting to notice when you come to class every day in sweat pants… It might not feel like it, but right now is a great time to start exercising or give your current workout routine a boost! Exercise is a great stress reliever and walking, jogging or running regularly can help you focus, improve your sleep schedule and feel good. I have included information on several upcoming 5K events at the end of this post—signing up for a race while you’re training is great motivation!

Training for a 5K is different for every person depending on their starting fitness level. If a high school athlete keeps up with their workout routine in college, they might not have to train as often as someone who is starting from scratch. Training also depends on an individual goal. If walking 3.1 miles is an achievable end result for you, do it! If you want to walk some and jog some (we call this “wogging” in the running community) by all means go for it. If you want to take on the ultimate challenge and run the entire 5K, you can. You could go on a walking holiday with your campervan! This is a good way to burn calories and see scenes that you wouldn’t normally see walking in your local area all whilst training for your 5k! Just remember, if you are travelling around the country in a camper, be sure to check out One Sure Insurance so that you know all the information and benefits of ensuring a camper! Whatever you decide to do, training for a 5K is worth it if only for the chocolate milk at the finish line!

photo from Twitter by @chocolate_milk

I have outlined below two super easy training plans based on current fitness level and 5K speed goal that should work with a busy schedule. While you’re training, remember to listen to your body, take a rest day when you need to and keep your eyes on the prize!

Disclaimer: I am not an exercise physiology or nutrition major, but I have been a runner for 8 years and I am sharing things that have worked for me! If you want more detailed plans check out http://www.halhigdon.com/training/

 

Starter Plan

(Walk more than jog)

 

Experienced Plan

(Run more than walk)

 

 

Week 1

M: Walk 20 minutes

W: Walk 20 minutes

F: Walk 5, jog 10, walk 5

M: Brisk walk 20 minutes

W: Walk 5, jog 10, walk 5

F: Jog 15 minutes

 

 

Week 2

M: Brisk walk 20 minutes

W: Walk 30 minutes

F: Walk 5, jog 10, walk 5

M: Brisk walk 20 minutes

W: Jog 20 minutes

F: Run 5, walk 10, run 5

 

 

Week 3/4

M: Brisk walk 30 minutes

W: Walk 20 minutes

F: Rest day!

M: Jog 25 minutes

W: Brisk walk 20 minutes

F: Rest day!

Less than thirty minutes a day, three days a week for three or four weeks will be plenty of preparation for a 5k. The remaining four days of each week should be full of rest, water, stretching and anticipation! If these plans seem like too much to do right away, feel free to scale back and start small.

Good luck with your 5K training!

“The best way to predict your future is to create it.” – Alan Kay

 

 

Race for the Cure — October 15

http://www.info-komen.org/site/TR/RacefortheCure/CLM_ColumbusAffiliate/477396875?amp;sid=6186&type=fr_informational&pg=informational&fr_id=6963

Glow Run 5K by Relay For Life — October 24

https://www.facebook.com/RFLGreaterAthens/