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Designing a Safer Woman Project

Designing a Safer Woman

hers projects/runhers releases women’s safety guide

Oklahoma City based runhers, a women’s lifestyle association @hersprojects, is distributing electronic versions of its Designing a Safer Woman (DSW) Prevention Guide free of charge.  The awareness guide for women is the result of identifying a significant need for a more comprehensive, educational, prevention guide that can be used by community groups, law enforcement, and individuals alike.  The guide helps women design their own personal protection plan, based on their individual lifestyle.   

Link to the complete guide may be found at: DSW_Final_V1_Dec_2016

Managing Director of the hers projects Jeffrey Kidder states, “The DSW Project concept began here in OKC after several female runners were attacked.  After a lot of research and conversations around the country with many experts in their respective fields, we concluded that this fills a large gap of knowledge for women.” Kidder continues, “Ultimately, the solution for making girls and women safe is addressing men’s violence. Community leaders, educators, media makers, and the general public need to address this problem because too often, gender violence starts as early as elementary school as sexual harassment and escalates as male perpetrators age.  Ideally, we collectively must focus on designing a less violent man.  However, while we are addressing this issue, we need to help women learn ways to minimize the risk of attack to the extent we can and/or engaging in unhealthy relationships.”  Our project director Jessi Cargill host clinics and educational programs to groups, organizations and individuals. You can connect with Jessi and see her up to date posts on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/saferwoman/

About hers projects/runhers® women’s association
We are a creative force that empowers women to discover, design and activate their version of a healthy and happy life.  We create partnerships and experiences that engage, entertain and inspire women everywhere.   By eliminating boundaries between cultures, organizations, disciplines and artistic expressions, our passionate people will create programs, products, entertainment and life solutions that engage the imagination and drive a new culture of wellness and health for women.

To connect, please visit us at www.runhers.com/about or facebook.com/runhers – twitter @runhers – email info@runhers.com

 

 

 

12 week advanced half marathon training

Let’s Begin!

If you are considering the advanced half marathon training – you should have a good history and base if running behind you.  This training cycle incorporates speed work into the cycle, thereby preparing you to run and sustain a faster pace over time.  You should be logging mile splits – which will be very helpful for learning race pace techniques.  The consistency of knowing your splits over a given distance, in training, is key data to provide when talking to talking to your coach about adjusting training strategy, and getting faster.    

Before Starting

Before starting a half marathon training program, you should make sure you are healthy enough to undertake the training.  The half marathon training should not be taken lightly.  Consult your medical professional to ensure you are ready for this important next step!  You should be able to run comfortably for at least 45 minutes before beginning a half marathon 12 week training plan.

Advanced Half Marathon Training Program

Tips & Terms

The following is the running terminology used for training – obviously, the more experience you have – the more training options and speed/track workouts you will use for form, technique and conditioning.

Easy Runs

This means running totally comfortable and controlled.  When running alone, or with your runhers training partner or group, you should be able to converse easily. You’ll likely feel as if you could go faster. Don’t. Here’s some incentive to take it easy: You’ll still burn about 100 calories for every mile that you run.

Rest days

Rest gives your body time to repair and recover, which every person who is training needs.  And getting enough sleep is very important at all times.  Sleep is not a passive state of rest, but an active state of rebuilding, repair, reorganization and regeneration. Always try to get the right amount for you.

Active Rest or Cross Train (AR/CT)

Active rest day is meant to be a light or easy day where you’re still moving, but not at the intensity you normally move.  It promotes recovery without the intensity of regular training. Light swimming, or easy cycling are examples of active rest.  Cross training can include biking, core workouts, upper body workouts, yoga, pilates, stretching, or any number of other types of workouts.

Long Runs and/or LSD (Long, Slow Distance)

These are any steady run at or longer than race distance designed to enhance endurance, which enables you to run longer and longer and feel strong doing it. A great long-run tip: Find a weekly training partner around your pace and ability for this one.   You’ll have time to chat about anything that comes up.

Speedwork

Speed training.  Something you may hear often, but may not completely know how to execute or add to their running schedule.

As with many things, when you start anything new, it is important to take ‘speed work’ cautiously and start with smaller, shorter workouts and work your way up. There are different levels and periodization to consider with speed training, it’s a building block, and you have to work your way to the top.

Before we get into the levels of running, I want to get you familiar with the term Conversation Pace. It is a word that you will hear and see quite often when it comes to a training plan. Conversation Pace(CP) is performed at an easy, gentle pace where you can easily hold a conversation while running and heart rate is maintained at approximately 110-140bpm. The goal of CP is to train the cardio respiratory system and muscular system to efficiently use oxygen for a longer distance.

Speedwork, broken down!

Strides

Strides lay the foundation of speed training. A stride is a short burst of running for 80-150 meters. You start at a conversation pace, build speed for 40-100 meters, and then slow back down to finish the distance. It promotes efficient running form, great for short distance running, works fast twitch muscles.

For beginners, strides can be added in as speed work to replace, or in addition to, a short conversation pace run. Start at 6 strides per workout and increase your way up to 10 as endurance improves (1-2 weeks).

Strides can be used as a complete workout for new runners by repeating 6-10 times with a 1-2 minute rest, in addition to an easy run or as a warm up and cool down for more advanced runners 2-3 days per week.

Tempo Run

A tempo is a steady, controlled run performed at a pace faster than a half marathon pace, at or slightly under a 10k pace.  It improves endurance and lactate threshold, teaches patience, and to run outside the normal comfort zone.

For middle distance training, tempo runs are generally 20-30 minutes and up to 60 minutes for marathon plus distances. It should be preceded by a 10-15 minute warm up and followed by a 10-15 minute cool down.  A runner can transition to a tempo run by breaking it into 10 minute segments with a 2-5 minute jog between the tempo pace.

Fartlek

Also commonly known as “speed play” – is structured or unstructured fast bouts of running with a mix of speeds for an unspecified period of time. Each run can vary in paces, distances, and terrains.

The goal is to run a sub-maximally pace, along with short spurts of maximal pace, 70-90% effort level.  This type of running trains your cardiorespiratory system and muscular systems to work efficiently, and use oxygen with minimal muscle stress. Fartlek runs are great for all levels, teaches the body to run uncomfortably, and to gain patience and mental strength.

The length and distance can be a shorter distance/time than other runs (20-30 minutes) because of the effort level, but requires a longer (10-15 minute) warm up and cool down.  An example of executing this type of run: while running in a neighborhood or trail use landmarks as starting and stopping points. You can increase your distance each run, pyramid the distance, or any combination. The purpose of the run is to run faster than your comfort zone for a distance that your body can sustain for a period of time with minimal rest (1 minute) in between sprints.

Hill Running

Hill repeats are performed with a continual brisk run uphill with a relaxed conversation pace downhill or flat surface. Hills are used to increase running strength and mental toughness, decrease risk of injury,  and to prepare for a specific type of race course.

Pace and number of repeats is dependent on the type of hill grade and goals; however, you should aim for a submaximal pace with bouts at maximal pace. When adding in hill runs into your training, ideally you want start with a grade around 5-7% over a 200-600m distance, at or faster than conversation pace.  As your running advances, you can increase the grade level and distance.  After a 10-15 minute warm up, perform 5-8 repetitions followed by 1-3 minutes of rest by jogging or walking in between repeats.  For smaller grade hills, aim for a faster 5k pace and decrease to 10k or slower as grade increases.

Note on form when running hills: obtain a forward lean without hunching or curling upper body, shorten and increase your arm cadence.

Hill runs are beneficial and can be created for all levels of runners, but always need to be treated with respect. Due to the intensity of the run, it is crucial to warm up, cool down and stretch accordingly. Over training and disregard to rest can lead to stress on joints and muscles.

If hills are not accessible in your area, be creative, have fun with it, add stairs in your run, parking garage ramps(caution!), use cross training equipment at high levels (stairmaster, elliptical etc.).

INTERVALS

Intervals are at the top of the running pyramid; to be performed at the peak of your fitness level.  They are a structured run with a specific amount of repeats, distance, pace and recovery. Most commonly performed at a track. This type of running improves fast twitch muscle ability, promotes efficient running form, teaches patience and mental toughness, and to run at a low grade of discomfort for longer periods of time. Due to the intensity, runners should complete all levels of the pyramid, run more than 20 miles per week regularly and have a base of 500 miles built before moving to the interval phase.

There are many different types of intervals, repeats, ladders, pyramids, and mixed paces. For athletes running a middle distance race (half marathon), an example of a starting interval would consist of a 10-15 minute warm up, 5 x 400m faster than conversation pace, 90 seconds- 120 seconds below conversation pace or walk recovery, 10-15 minute cool down. For marathon+ distances a distance of 800m+ should be performed.

The number of intervals should only be increased in 2-3 week increments, performed no more than once a week for novice runners and followed by a rest day or easy recovery run.  The goal of intervals, are to be performed at 95-100% effort level.

Speed work is not meant to be easy, but when incorporating anything new into your training schedule, it is crucial to take it slow, build up properly and respect what your body is capable of at that level. Someone who is new to running shouldn’t jump right into speed training without having a solid running base.  Listen to your body and be smart with your training, if you successfully completed 5x400s last week and are feeling great this week, that doesn’t mean you can jump right into 7-8 400s this week. Stick to your plan and know there is a reason behind periodization; you have to give your body time to adapt.

Be smart with your running and most importantly have fun with it!

 

 

 

 

12 week beginner half marathon training

Let’s Begin!

If you are considering a half marathon – you probably already know that a running workout is a great calorie crusher, mood enhancer, and disease fighter. Stepping up to a half marathon is awesome for women, so awesome in fact that nationally women represent about 60% or more of the participants! The most important thing is to have fun with it, make friends, and incorporate it into your lifestyle!  So, let’s begin!

Before Starting

Before starting a half marathon training program, you should make sure you are healthy enough to undertake the training.  The half marathon training should not be taken lightly.  Consult your medical professional to ensure you are ready for this important next step!  You should be able to run comfortably for at least 45 minutes before beginning a half marathon 12 week training plan. 

Beginner Half Marathon Training Program

 

* Saturday and Sunday “long runs” may be either day – with the other day being a rest or cross training day. 

** XT is cross training which can include biking, core workouts, upper body workouts, yoga, pilates, stretching, etc.

Tips & Terms

The following is the running terminology used for training – obviously, the more experience you have – the more training options and speed/track workouts you will use for form, technique and conditioning.

Easy Runs

This means running totally comfortable and controlled.  When running alone, or with your runhers training partner or group, you should be able to converse easily. You’ll likely feel as if you could go faster. Don’t. Here’s some incentive to take it easy: You’ll still burn about 100 calories for every mile that you run.

Walking & Taking Breaks

If you feel the need to walk or take a break in your long run or during any of your training runs, by all means do so.  Since you are just beginning the half marathon, with finishing as your goal, just listen to what your body is telling you.  

Long Runs and/or LSD (Long, Slow Distance)

These are any steady run at or longer than race distance designed to enhance endurance, which enables you to run longer and longer and feel strong doing it. A great long-run tip: Find a weekly training partner around your pace and ability for this one.   You’ll have time to chat about anything that comes up.

Speedwork

 This means bursts of running shorter than race distance, some at your race goal pace, some faster. This improves cardiac strength, biomechanical efficiency, running economy, and the psychological toughness that racing demands.

Race Day Rules

Run slower than you feel like you should be running over the first 6 – 7 miles. Look around; chat a bit with those around you. And walk if you need to through the aid stations, drink fluids, take a little break, then slowly resume your running.

 

 

belly laughs

Echoes of Happiness

Via: Daily OM – by Madisyn Taylor

As children, we laugh hundreds of times each day, delighted by the newness of living. When we reach adulthood, however, we tend to not allow ourselves to let go in a good belly laugh. Inviting laughter back into our lives is simply a matter of making the conscious decision to laugh. Though most of us are incited to laugh only when exposed to humor or the unexpected, each of us is capable of laughing at will. A laugh that comes from the belly carries with it the same positive effects whether prompted by a funny joke or consciously willed into existence. When our laughter comes from the core of our being, it permeates every cell in our physical selves, beginning in the center and radiating outward, until we are not merely belly laughing but rather body laughing.

Laughter has been a part of the human mode of expression since before evolution granted us the art of speech. Through it, we connected with allies while demonstrating our connection with people we didn’t know. In the present, laughter allows us to enjoy positive shared experiences with strangers and loved ones alike. Yet solitary laughter carries with it its own slew of benefits. An energetic and enthusiastic bout of whole-body laughter exercises the muscles, the lungs, and the mind in equal measure, leaving us feeling relaxed and content. When we laugh heartily at life’s ridiculousness instead of responding irritably, our focus shifts.  Anger, stress, guilt, and sadness no longer wield any influence over us, and we are empowered to make light of what we originally feared. Laughter also opens our hearts, letting love and light in, changing our perspective, and enabling us to fix our attention on what is positive in our lives.

It is easy to laugh when we feel good, but it is when the world appears dim that we most need laughter in our lives. Our laughter then resonates through our hearts, filling the empty spaces with pure, unadulterated joy. We regain our footing in the moment and remember that no sorrow is powerful enough to rob us of our inborn happiness. When we understand that uninhibited laughter is the food of the soul, nourishing us from within, we know instinctively that life is worthwhile.

the 15th annual run to remember

This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.  168 people died and thousands of lives were changed that historic day in Oklahoma City, and across our nation.  What we learned in the face of terror, was that this community had amazing resiliency and courage. That good, indeed, did overcome evil.   And as we mark years, many of those who will participate in the Run to Remember this year we’re not even born yet.  And still, some will be painfully reminded of the lives lost, and of the scars, physical and emotional – some healed, some not. 

So, we will train and run in the spirit and honor of all the people affected.  We will run to honor their memories, celebrate life, reach for the future and united the world in hope.  And so it goes.  Life always goes on, and we must embrace our journeys, living each day fully, reminded that it could all be gone in an instant.  So, we will celebrate life and embrace the journey!

So, with that being said, we kick off half marathon (and shorter distances) training for the April 26th event.  We have a couple of half marathon programs, a 12 and a 16 week training cycle.  You more experienced runners/walkers may opt for the 12 week cycle, since you may already be running regularly. For first time half marathoners and those who are just beginning again, the 16 week cycle offers a more gradual acclimation to building a solid base of time on your feet. 

The 16 week half marathon cycle’s first group run is Saturday, January 10th.


The 12 week half marathon cycle’s first group run is Saturday, February 7th.


We will be posting all locations for the group runs on our Facebook pages in OKC, Norman and Lawton.  If you are not in an area where you can run with us, you can remotely train and keep up with the motivational messages as well.  We are also on Twitter @runhers – so, if you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please let us know!  As they say, every journey begins with a single step, so take that small step outside your comfort zone, and join our community.  We connect with all ages and abilities, so, you’ll always find support and community here at runhers!  Let’s do this!  

2015. the year ahead.

We have always thought of this ‘runhers’ project as a social experiment, trying to find ‘what works’ in connecting women to a healthier and happier lifestyle. Since the beginning, we have been researching and connecting with women around the country, and around the world, on any number of topics regarding women’s issues and lifestyle. “It’s time to share your work with others,” we’ve been told.  As you may know, to incorporate all the research and projects, we filed for and received our non-profit status in late 2014.  The umbrella organization is named “the hers projects.” runhers women’s association is our touchstone project.

Women’s issues relating to balance, fitness, food, cultural and behavioral science, arts and entertainment, medical and health care are all important areas of research and development we have been in partnering and collaborating on, behind the scenes, for years. We’ve even talked to the Happiness Institute in Australia – as well as many top women execs in entertainment, sports and business. The learning curve has been incredibly steep – but the investment has been well worth our time and resources. We aim to provide clarity in a complex world of competing ideas, junk science and false advertising, all luring you to try (buy) their quick fix solutions or to ‘look’ a certain way. 

We’d like all of your input and collaborative ideas as well. That’s how this organization will evolve and stay relevant, with a constant stream of fresh thinking, smart women, risk taking and new ideas colliding in an environment that nourishes and promotes a culture where women can grow and create. We want to push boundaries for women, and be a uniting force in our communities. 

One of our core beliefs is that we grow strong roots. We grow organically, one woman at a time. The most important thing for us is to help each individual woman we connect with in some way. From the beginning, we have thought of each woman as a unique, individual creative challenge.  We want to grow and continue to develop, for each individual woman, a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system in our complex world.  With plenty of laughter and fun along the journey! 

You’ll see much more in 2015, as we roll out new initiatives and projects in 2015.  We’ve learned that it takes time to develop a concept and vision.  We’ve been encouraged by several of our advisers, who’ve reminded us that their own project(s) take 4+ years from concept to launch. 

You can help us in several ways. You can volunteer, or collaborate with us in helping more women.  You can help us financially, by becoming an individual member at $20 annually, or by giving more.  If you own a company, or work for a company looking to get more involved in the community, we have sponsorship and partner opportunities. We also will work with in-kind donations.  If you have some imaginative or creative way to plug in, or to plug us in, we’d love that!    

The support of friends, family and community members like you enables the hers projects to evolve, and push creative boundaries through our approach.  We empower, entertain and motivate women and girls to connect with and develop important skills and abilities, encouraging lifelong health and happiness. 

Annual gifts to the hers projects provide the revenue needed to support key programs like runhers women’s association, walkhers and Designing a Safer Woman, along with a host of other programs currently in design. The gifts help us provide program materials, equipment, coach/volunteer/collaborator supplies, outreach to the communities we serve, and other experiments that help women find their version of healthy and happy. 

Someone said, “If you want to change society, you must mobilize the women in that society.” Our projects for 2015, and beyond, are bold – and audacious.  However, our 5 years of experimentation, research and development give us great confidence that we can continue designing and building something very special, that will stand the test of time, and be passed on to our daughters, and their daughters, to continue imagining, designing and building the future they envision.  All the best for a great New Year! 

Sheila Kidder
Special Projects Director, Board Member
From The Board of Directors – the hers projects
a 501(c)3 non-profit organization

happy 2015

A new year brings new goals, and high ambitions to tackle all those race goals. There are many opportunities for you to do just that this spring. As you can see we are working with several different races with multiple distance options.  This is a great time to join in all of our running fun and take advantage of our group trainings. However, with multiple options it can be difficult to make the decision of which race(s) and distances to pick.

One very important thing that I cannot emphasis enough, is not getting caught up in the advertising hype, and taking on too much, too soon. It can be tempting to dive right in and run all of them, but you can also greatly increase your risk for injury.  You may see more seasoned runners who are able to run back to back races in a short period of time; however that does not mean that is appropriate for everyone. Take your running fitness level and base mileage into consideration – and determine what the best option is for you over the long term. Overtraining can be just as harmful as under training so I encourage you to think about what your overall goal is, and what race is your top priority and adjust your training accordingly. I am happy to talk to you individually on that.

For instance, if you are new to racing but want to run your first half marathon this year, and don’t have the mileage built up yet for Go Girl Run (March 22), the best option for you may be the OKC Memorial Marathon on April 26th.  You can start with the Go Girl 5k, continue with your longer distance training, and then use the Red Bud 10k for more experience. Then, you can complete your goal with OKC Memorial Half Marathon.  Or if you want to run the Go Girl half but don’t want to miss out on our other race events, make that your priority. Follow our 12 week training for that, run a strong race then consider running the5k/ 10k at Red Bud and the 5k or relay at Memorial. And for those who do have more race experience, and want to run both Half Marathons for a new challenge, I say “ROCK ON”, just be smart with your training and listen to your body!  Let me know if you need extra help with increasing speed or racing strategy.

It is going to be an amazing spring racing season with many opportunities to do great things! runhers is a wonderful, supportive community of women – who will cheer and push you all along the way. My goal is to keep you healthy and strong, so that running/walking is a long term lifestyle that you are still doing many years down the road. Remember, there will always be more races and WE WILL be there! Make the best decisions now, in the short term, so you are able to see that through to the end!  If you ever have questions about your training and “how to fit it all in”, never hesitate to ask, I am happy to help and want to see you perform at your best!  Those small daily decisions add up, so, here’s to a great 2015!

~Coach Sara

Director of Training Programs (and Energy)

 

let’s go girl!

runhers is official training partner for the 2015 OKC Go Girl Run

We are happy to announce we are partnering with Ultramax Sports to be the Official Training Group for the 2015 Go Girl Run slated for March 22nd, 2015.  The event start and finish area is set at the spectacular OKC Myriad Gardens.  The race is a women’s only half marathon and 5K.  We are providing both half marathon and 5K training for free in OKC and Norman groups.  We have a $10 off registration discount code (runhers10) – and you can register at: http://ultramaxsports.com/gogirlrun//oklahomacity/home.html

Our 12 week training plan kicks off this Monday, December 29th and the first group run will be Saturday, January 3rd. We will be updating on Facebook pages, Twitter feed (@runhers) and via Constant Contact e-mail if you opt in.  We will provide location, time and any other training tips for the week. 

This training group is for all ages and abilities, and we gladly welcome new walkers and runners! Each Saturday, we will map a safe training route, provide water along the route, and at the start/finish.  We will also teach some warm ups, running drills, etc. and  have some other mini clinics along the way.  Mostly though, we want you to have fun!  Yes, we’ll work – but we’re all in this together, and we want to help you any way we can to achieve your goal.  Oh, and one last thing … what’s said on the run, stays on the run!  ; )

Some of the highlights are below:

Go Girl Run OKC Event Highlights:

  • All Half Marathon participants will receive a New Balance women’s cut technical t-shirt.
  • 5K participants will receive a women’s cut cotton t-shirt.
    • **All 5K participants will have the option to upgrade to the New Balance Technical Shirt for $10 when they register.
  • Boutique Expo with women-specific vendors.
  • New 5K Couples Competition – Grab your significant other and race together!
  • Ultramax Sports Pace Teams
  • Go Girl On-Demand apparel available at Packet Pickup and on Race Day.
  • Custom Go-Girl Finisher Medals for both the Half and the 5K!
  • Custom-etched wine glasses for all finishers.
  • Champagne served at the finish line.
  • Extended finish time limit for walkers.
  • Overall & Age Group Awards – We go four-deep in every age group!
  • Live Results Station
  • Free Race Photos
  • USATF Sanctioned Race

feeling stressed?

Editor’s Note:  Below is a great article from the National Institute of Health (NIH).  Trying to balance everything in today’s world brings many stressors along for the ride. Of course, some stress is actually good for us. As Daniela Kaufer, associate professor of integrative biology at the UC, Berkeley states, “Some amounts of stress are good to push you just to the level of optimal alertness, behavioral and cognitive performance.” However, chronic stress has serious consequences- especially if we don’t develop ways to cope effectively.  The one thing we think is important that isn’t addressed in the article is laughter.  Finding ways to laugh is crazy good for your health!  So, yuk it up as early and often as possible, you’ll be happy you did.  Read on:

 

Stress Relief Might Help Your Health

Winter holidays—do they fill you with joy or with worries about gift-giving and family gatherings? Do summer vacations leave you relaxed or fretful over travel and money? If you’re feeling stressed out over supposedly fun things, it might be time to reassess. Take a few moments to learn how stress affects your health and what you can do about it.

Everyone feels stressed from time to time. Stress can give you a rush of energy when it’s needed most—for instance, competing in sports, working on an important project, or facing a dangerous situation. The hormones and other chemicals released when under stress prepare you for action. You breathe faster, your heartbeat quickens, blood sugar rises to give you energy, and your brain uses more oxygen as it shifts into high alert.

But if stress lasts a long time—a condition known as chronic stress—those “high-alert” changes become harmful rather than helpful. “Stress clearly promotes higher levels of inflammation, which is thought to contribute to many diseases of aging. Inflammation has been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, frailty, and functional decline,” says Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, a leading stress researcher at Ohio State University. She and other researchers have found that stress affects the body’s immune system, which then weakens your response to vaccines and impairs wound healing.

Research has linked chronic stress to digestive disorders, urinary problems, headaches, sleep difficulties, depression, and anxiety.

“Some studies have found the physical, emotional, and social effects of a disease like cancer to be stressful for patients, caregivers, and long-term cancer survivors,” says NIH’s Dr. Paige Green McDonald, an expert on stress and cancer biology. “However, there’s no definitive evidence that stress causes cancer or is associated with how long one survives after a cancer diagnosis.”

The top causes of stress in the U.S. are money and work-related pressures, according to a 2013 survey from the American Psychological Association. Stress can also arise from major life changes, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, illness, or losing a job. Traumatic stress is brought on by an extreme event such as a major accident, exposure to violence, or a natural disaster such as a hurricane or flood.

Caring for a person with severe illness—such as dementia or cancer—can also be a significant source of stress. More than a decade ago, studies by Kiecolt-Glaser and others showed that the stressful demands placed on caregivers can lead to poorer health, lower responses to vaccines, increased inflammation, and a more than 60% higher death rate compared to non-caregivers.

It’s not clear why some people can sidestep or recover more quickly from stress than others. These resilient people seem to “bounce back” more easily after stressful situations. Recent studies of animals suggest that resiliency may depend at least in part on our genes. But learning healthy ways to cope with stress can also boost your resilience.

“There are many different ways to cope with stress. We know from a lot of different studies that having close personal relationships—people with whom you can talk, with whom you can share your feelings—can be helpful,” says Kiecolt-Glaser. “So spending time with family and friends in order to maintain those relationships is perhaps one of the most crucial things you can do as a stress reducer.”

Unfortunately, Kiecolt-Glaser adds, “when we’re stressed, we tend to do the worst things that are not at all helpful to our health.”

For instance, stressed out people may tend to isolate themselves and not seek social support. “Exercise is a great stress reducer. But when people are stressed, exercise becomes less common and less appealing,” Kiecolt-Glaser says. “Instead of maintaining a healthy diet—also important to reducing stress—some people who are stressed tend to eat more donuts than vegetables.”

You may think that the agitation brought on by stress might help to burn calories. But evidence hints that the opposite is more likely. Kiecolt-Glaser and colleagues found that, compared to nonstressed people, those who were stressed burned fewer calories after high-fat meals and they produced more of the hormone insulin, which enhances fat storage. “So stress may contribute to weight gain and obesity through these biological routes,” Kiecolt-Glaser adds.

Getting enough sleep is also key to resilience and stress relief—although stress itself can interfere with sleep. To improve your sleep habits, go to bed the same time each night and get up the same time each morning, and limit the use of light-emitting electronics like computers and smartphones before bed. The light can reduce production of a natural sleep hormone called melatonin, which then makes it hard to fall asleep.

Beyond recommendations for exercise, healthy diet, social contacts, and getting enough sleep, Green McDonald says, “studies have also shown that mindfulness (focused attention on one’s own emotions) and other meditative practices can effectively relieve stress.”

“Mindfulness means staying aware and conscious of your experiences. No matter what we’re doing, we can always make time to bring our attention to our breath and body and stay there for a short period of time,” says NIH psychologist Dr. Rezvan Ameli, who specializes in mindfulness practice. “Recent studies show that even short periods of mindful attention can have a positive impact on health and well-being.”

Other NIH-funded studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can reduce stress, alter brain structure and function, and have a positive effect on the immune system.

“Mindfulness is a simple and effective tool that anybody can use to reduce stress,” Ameli says. Although the concept is simple, becoming more mindful requires commitment and practice. You can learn more about mindfulness meditation from local resources like yoga or meditation classes, mindfulness-based stress-reduction programs, or books.

If you feel overwhelmed by stress, talk with a health care provider or mental health professional. Medications or other therapies might help you cope. In the long run, reducing stress may help you to slow down and enjoy your time with the people and activities you really care about.

Tips To Reduce Stress

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Exercise regularly. Just 30 minutes a day of walking can boost mood and reduce stress.
  • Build a social support network.
  • Set priorities. Decide what must get done and what can wait. Say no to new tasks if they are putting you into overload.
  • Think positive. Note what you’ve accomplished at the end of the day, not what you’ve failed to do.
  • Try relaxation methods. Mindfulness, meditation, yoga, or tai chi may help.
  • Seek help. Talk to a mental health professional if you feel unable to cope, have suicidal thoughts, or use drugs or alcohol to cope.

References:

Daily Stressors, Past Depression, and Metabolic Responses to High-Fat Meals: A Novel Path to Obesity. Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Habash DL, Fagundes CP, Andridge R, et al. Biol Psychiatry. 2014 Jul 9. pii: S0006-3223(14)00385-0. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.05.018. [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 25034950.

Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Davidson RJ, Kabat-Zinn J, Schumacher J, Rosenkranz M, et al. Psychosom Med. 2003 Jul-Aug;65(4):564-70. PMID: 12883106.

NIH News in Health, December 2014

december’s challenge checklist

 

By: Coach Sara McCauley 

There’s no denying it – holiday season is upon us and in full force! Schedules become full of events, shopping, celebrating and eating, which means less time that you want to spend working out. This is may not be the best time to commit to a new fitness plan, however you can make a commitment to get the best out of each situation. Time doesn’t always allow you to go to a full gym workout, or a long run – BUT I know you can fit in something each day, even if it is 5 minutes! Something is better than nothing.  I put together a schedule for the month of December, which includes short workouts you can do, anywhere at any time. You can follow the calendar exactly, and take the guess work out, or pick/choose an item from the checklist each day.  It can be a very stressful time of year – you owe it to yourself to have a little “me” time.   

As far as all of those treats and eats that are everywhere, enjoy them! However that doesn’t mean ALL of them. It’s the season for chocolates, sugar everything, thick sauces, adult beverages, etc. – so, while there is no reason to deprive yourself, or completely eliminate the temptations, I do encourage you to make smart decisions.  Here are a couple of tips to help keep your goals in mind, eating under control, AND your sanity through the holidays: 

  • PORTION CONTROL:  When eating from a buffet style meal, make ONE plate. Choose appropriate servings of your selection and stick to that. Don’t go back for seconds. Drink water, and give your body enough time to settle. If you decide at that point you are still actually hungry go back for a protein or veggie.  
  • EAT BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME: If you are attending an event that you know will not have sensible options, or not sure when your next meal will be, eat a healthy meal before you leave home.  This doesn’t mean you have to become a social outcast, you can still eat what is offered, you’ll just have something healthy already in your stomach (veggies!) – so, you don’t over eat out of starvation.   
  • KEEP HEALTHY SNACKS HANDY: Keep a protein bar or quick snack in your purse, at work or in your car, just in case. We all know those “quick” shopping trips can turn into an all-day event, so be prepared. Keep that HANGER under control, no one has time for cranky pants! 
  • POTLUCK: Chances are you will attend one or many of these before the month is over.  So, you control what you eat. Why not YOU be the one to bring a healthy dish? There are thousands of healthy AND tasty recipes that can be offered, hello Pinterest, that do not require a lot of effort! This way you know there will be a smart choice at the party, and you can introduce new options to more people! 
  • EAT YOUR VEGGIES and HYDRATE:  Notice the vibe yet?  Stop complaining and just eat your greens! We’ll put aside all of the many health benefits that veggies offer, and stick with the simple fact:  they provide a great source of fiber which keeps you fuller longer AND keeps your system regular. I urge you to drink lots of water throughout the day.  Keep water close at all times. Try to get at least 96 ounces. Reach for your water after a meal, before that dessert, and between meals. Often times you eat out of boredom, or you think you feel hungry, but in reality you could just be dehydrated and need fluids.    

We all know that the holidays test every bit of will power, and your ability to make good decisions. Remember, it’s alright to indulge a little. If there is something that you REALLY want than eat it, in the proper portion, then move on. Don’t let guilt consume you, you have enough stress. Let it go! Try to get in as much activity as you can, even if it’s not all at once, sneak little bursts in, it does add up. Make the commitment NOW to stay healthy and make smart decisions through the upcoming weeks!  You will be happy you did in January!  

Let’s GO!

  1. 50 PushUps 50 Starjumps
  2. 20 minute Fartlek Run
  3. 40 Jumping Jacks, 40 Jump Squats, 40 jump lunges
  4. 100 Pile Squats, 20 half squat, 20 full, 20 half with heel raise, 20 full with heel raise, 20 pulses
  5. 5 minute wall sit (take short breaks to complete)
  6. Yoga stretch
  7. HIIT 40/20/4 High knees 40 seconds, rest for 20 seconds, Plank Jack 40 seconds, rest 20seconds,    complete 4 rounds of each.
  8. 60 single leg deadlifts, 60 hip bridges
  9. 100 Crunches, 20 slow crunches, 20 right, 20 left, 20 bicycle, 20 butterfly
  10. 100 Lunges,  20 alternating front, 20 alternating back, 20 right, 20 left, 20 jump lunges
  11. 5 minute plank variations, high, low, side, legs lifted, arms lifted (break as needed)
  12. Park furthest away from store to add in extra walking every time you go to the store.
  13. Running in place, squat jacks, plank walk, 1 minute of each, 3 rounds total
  14. 200 mountain climbers
  15. 2 burpees, 2 leg lifts, repeat 4, 6,8,10
  16. 60 superman extension up to a high plank
  17. 100 Vups, modify as needed
  18. Foam roll your tight overused muscles
  19. Booty Burner, 50 Alternating back lunges, 50 front lunges to balance, 50 single leg decline bridges (use a step or couch)
  20. Run 1-3+mile run, make the time for yourself, do a few laps in your neighborhood, get some fresh air!
  21. Take the family for a walk or run, start a family tradition
  22. Step it Up! Use a stair, chair or a study bench, 1 min of each: alternating step ups, step up to balance 1min each side, side step up to leg lift each leg, jump ups(box jump)
  23. Plank Jumps: 20 of each repeating twice. Front:High plank position, jump feet in together, Right: jump feet to the side then to the center, Left jumps, In& Out: start with feet together, jump them out wide then back in.
  24. Fast pace laps around the mall before shopping
  25. 10 push ups for every glass of eggnog
  26. 100 push up challenge (can be throughout the day)
  27. 1 mile run time yourself, try to beat your time next time
  28. Take the stairs everywhere you have the opportunity
  29. 20 Squats every time you check your Facebook on your phone
  30. 20 second plank for every gift you wrap
  31. Alphabet abs: lay flat on your back, lift your legs off the ground, feet toghet “draw” the alphabet with your feet
  32. Ab Burner: 20 frog crunches, 20 bicycle crunches, 20 leg lifts, 20 side plank with dips, each side, low plank with hip dip 20 each, high plank with leg ext 20 each, 2 min low plank hold
  33. Tabata Squat Variations 20/10/8: 20 secs of each squat, 10 secs of rest, 8 variations of squats. Wide squats, side to side squats, squat jumps, split squat(each leg counts as 1), squat jacks, chair pose, squat pulses
  34. Firecracker: 50 jumping jacks, 20 star jumps, 20 plyo push ups, 20 explosive jump lunges, 20 back lunge to high jump each leg, 50 jumping jacks