Research Post #7

July 9, 2009

Reset Your Body Clock and Morning Workouts vs. Afternoon Workouts articles talk about the differences in working out in the morning compared to the afternoon.  Both of these articles were brought to my attention by my classmate, Marci. 

Reset You Body Clock was very interesting because it talked about our internal clocks, which are determined by our genes, as being a main reason why some of us are early birds and others are night owls.  Our internal clocks also help regulate our hormone levels, body temperature, blood pressure, alertness and performance ability.   

This article gives some recommendations on how to start to change your internal clock.  For example, the more day light you see when you first get up helps the brain register that it is time to wake up.  A short walk outdoors, eating breakfast and drinking strong coffee are other recommendations.  

These suggestions need to be balanced with going to bed earlier.  Also, it is recommended to avoid heavy meals, limit alcohol and avoid caffeine right before bed. 

Morning Workouts vs. Afternoon Workouts was also interesting in that it talks about the advantages of being a morning person regarding exercising.  There are psychological effects that improve one’s mood after working out in the morning – a sense of “ready to take on the day” effect.  Another advantage to working out in the morning is to help jump start your metabolism for the day.  

The article also gives a few disadvantages to working out in the morning.  If you are not a morning person, it can be difficult to get as intense of a workout as you would in the afternoon due to being tired.  Another downfall to morning workouts is that your body may not be warmed up as it would be in the afternoon leading to a possible injury.   

The article claims there is no right or wrong time to work out and that it depends on personal preference which ties into the Reset Your Body Clock article.

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Reaction Post #7 – Wheelchair Basketball

July 9, 2009

Wheelchair Basketball – Washington Post photo gallery.

The Washington Post’s photo gallery titled Wheelchair Basketball is very powerful and extremely emotional.  The first photo shows five men in wheelchairs on a basketball court with the American flag behind them.  Two of the men are without their legs, two men have their legs, but you can tell they can’t use them and one man is missing one leg.  

This photo is a staged photo and the men are not smiling, but seem content.  The caption describes these men as injured Army Vets at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. These men are playing against members of the Edinboro University wheelchair basketball team.     

The next photo shows 10 men in wheelchairs doing drills.  They are paired up and are pulling each other down the court.  It is an action shot and their facial expression is what you would expect from any basketball player having to do drills.  I can’t help but feel sorry for the condition they are in knowing that they lost their legs in war. 

The fourth picture shows Ray Hennigar listening to the coach.  Hennigar is missing both legs and four fingers on his left hand from a makeshift bomb explosion in Iraq.  He is inspired to go to college by a girl who was born without legs and is currently attending Edinboro University and playing on the wheelchair basketball league.  I can’t help but feel that this was not his intentions prior to this basketball game.   

The rest of the pictures show smiles on the men’s faces as they get to feel like they are not handicapped even though they are in wheelchairs.  Camaraderie and competitiveness are shown in the photos as well as a sense of escape from their problems for a few hours.  There are photos of the men on the ground just like they would have fallen down in a normal basketball game and instead of being upset about it, they are laughing.  They really are having a good time which makes me feel better as I look through the photo gallery.  

The pictures show the reality of our veterans with no legs.  They have fought for our freedom and came home different men then when they left.  It is surreal.  The photos stir a lot of emotions regarding the war and what these men have been through.  They will never be able to play a normal game of hoops with their friends, but they have found a place where they can play with others in their same condition.  I feel sad for their condition, but happy that they were able to play basketball.

Reporting Post #7 – Dan

July 9, 2009

While You Were Sleeping…A Father Is Lifting Weights.

Dan Snyder has been fitness training early in the morning for approximately 14 years.  His focus has been on weight lifting and strength training.  Snyder is a father of four children, so he works out in the mornings while the family is still asleep.  He awakes at 3:30 a.m. throughout the week and arrives at Gold’s Gym by 4 a.m. when the doors open.  Typically, he takes a multi-vitamin, three grams of spirulina, two grams of glutamine and a pre-workout drink which contains creatine, l-arginine and caffeine.  

He’ll workout for an hour and a half before getting showered, buy a protein shake and leaves the gym by 6 a.m.   Snyder has a half hour commute and starts his work day at 7 a.m.   Snyder said, “I like to arrive at work and read the paper before starting my day.”   

Snyder’s workouts consist of one hour and 15 minutes of weight training and 15 minutes of cardio exercise. His dad was a competitive Olympic lifter as well as his grandfather. “I used to watch my dad workout with his buddies in the basement of our home when I was a kid growing up,” said Snyder. 

“I was about 12 years old when I started playing around with weights, I remember wanting to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger (my childhood idol),” admitted Snyder. 

Snyder’s goals for working out are to stay healthy for his family since he is the sole bread winner and also as a stress outlet.  Although he has considered competing, he has yet to do so, despite his sister recently competing after just a few years of training.  “I may compete in the future, but with four kids and working full time, I am really too busy to commit to it at this point in my life,” said Snyder. 

He currently trains alone, however, “There are a few other guys crazy enough to be in the gym at that time in the morning, so I have a spotter if needed,” Snyder commented.  “About five years ago, the two guys I worked out with starting having families and they were no longer allowed to come to the gym at the crack of dawn.”  Workout partner or not, nothing stops Snyder from working out in the morning.  

The fact that he is paying for a membership and that working out is an excellent way to start out your morning is what motivates him.  “I love weight training, and it is also the only time I have with my hectic schedule,” said Snyder. 

Has Snyder always been a morning person?  “Yes, mom used to make us get out of bed pretty early every morning, kept us from being lazy,” Snyder said.  He also hopes his children who are already involved in sports will follow in his footsteps regarding staying in shape and staying healthy.  He is even fine with them working out later in the day.

Research Post #6

June 30, 2009

Early Morning Rituals & Aerobic Spinning

This week’s research focuses on aerobic spinning and early morning risers.  I’ll start with what I found about waking up early.  This site was at one point updated quite frequently, but has not been since 2007.  I wonder what these early risers are doing now instead of blogging.  How to wake up early refers to David Allen’s book Get Things Done by creating a morning ritual.  It is a way of training yourself to be productive in the morning and by following a sequence of steps to eventually become a daily routine.  

If you have the ambition to participate in a morning activity like joining an aerobic spinning class, there are systematic methods to achieve your goals.     

Jennifer “Fun Hog” Sage is a Master Spinning Instructor.  Her blog provides information about her, training advice, coaching tips and information about events in which she participates. 

One particular blog entry discusses the contradicted efforts on YouTube about spinning.  Jennifer is very disturbed about this and cautions students that these instructors in the videos are not certified and are creating flashy moves to impress their students.  

Some interesting notes about a spin class – Indoor cyclist can burn 300 to 500 calories in just 45 minutes.  Regardless of personal ability, individuals of all levels can participate in the same session.  Each individual can work at their own level of intensity despite the tempo of the class.  

Unlike what Jennifer found in the YouTube videos, most spin classes are a high-energy, low impact cardio session.  There are classes that focus on intervals, hills, climbing or other personal needs.  Depending on your instructor’s style, the class may be taught differently – but be sure to choose a certified instructor.  

In a typical spin class, you aren’t going anywhere so the scenery stays the same, but John Hinrichsen’s Image Cycling concept brings new scenery to your stationary workout.  Once a month, the Vanderbilt Planetarium and Image Cycling offer spin classes where large images are projected on the walls with special effects and captivating music.     

Personally, I prefer to enjoy the outdoor scenery, sense of freedom and fresh air when riding a bicycle, but Hinrichsen’s planetarium spin class sure sounds like it would be fun to try.

Reaction Post #6 – Two Talking Apes

June 30, 2009

I found Jon Hamilton’s A Voluble Visit with Two Talking Apes article and Language: What Lies Beneath interactive multimedia to be very thought provoking.  I feel as humans we take language and communication for granted.  However, Hamilton packages the interactive portion as if there is another dimension to the presentation than just a video or words.  I actually watched the interactive portions more than once because they are done so well.  

I really liked the interactive portion’s introduction statement, “researchers say words are just the tip of the iceberg” with an interactive graphic of an iceberg and five different sections to click on.  Two of the sections utilize text and a video to convey a clear message, the other three utilize text and a slideshow with audio to capture the essence of the material being presented.   

Separate from the interactive portion is an article providing great analysis of what Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, head scientist at the Great Ape Trust near Des Moines, Iowa, has stumbled upon with two chimpanzees being able to understand our language.  After reading the story and then watching the one chimpanzee, Kanzi, in the “Social Connection” interactive part brings both worlds together.  However, after watching the video, I would be very reluctant to eat the sandwich that Kanzi prepared. 

I feel Hamilton did an impressive job of showing informative videos and slideshows in the interactive section.  It was important to see the robot perform in the “Reality Check” video just like Kanzi had in a video.  Hamilton also used appropriate pictures and graphics in the slideshows as well as the voice of the person featured.  

I actually enjoyed learning about language in this format.

Reporting Post #6 – Kelly

June 30, 2009

While You Were Sleeping…A Mother Is Staying In Shape. 

Kelly Brown is a mother of two young girls who only has time to exercise early in the morning prior to work while her husband and kids remain asleep.  Fortunately, she has always been an early riser and is typically out of bed by 4:30 a.m.  She is generally asleep by 9 p.m. to keep up with her strenuous daily schedule.  To keep her mornings from becoming monotonous she varies her methods of exercise and the locations at which she does it.  

Mondays and Wednesdays, she drives to Central York High School to swim laps in the pool.  Her swimming workout is typically 80 laps (one mile) and takes approximately 35 minutes followed by a quick shower and then changing in to her running outfit for a two mile jog on the indoor track.  She arrives back at her house at approximately 7 a.m. in time to shower again prior to waking the girls, dressing them and preparing breakfast before leaving for work at 8:30 a.m.  

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Brown goes to Gold’s Gym to lift weights.  She arrives at 5:00 a.m. to lift weights for a minimum of one hour.  To vary her routine, she works on her legs and arms on Tuesdays and works on her chest, shoulders and back on Thursdays.  When her weight lifting is completed, she uses the remainder of the time on the Stairmaster for a cardiovascular workout.  “On Tuesdays, I only do 30 minutes because I usually stop by the grocery store before going home. On Thursdays, I can stay on the Stairmaster a little longer,” Brown clarifies.     

On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, she runs on a treadmill at her home. She gets up at 5 a.m. to run for an hour or so. “I usually do around five miles.  I make sure I am done by 7 a.m. on the weekends as well,” says Brown.   “We usually have activities planned on Saturday and attend church on Sunday.” 

Inspired by her father, Brown has been working out periodically since she was a teenager but didn’t get serious about it until she was nearly 30-years-old. “He was always working out at home when I was growing up and encouraged me to lift weights and run as well.  At 65, he still works out regularly,” she said.  

She prefers to work out by herself in the morning and doesn’t prefer to participate in the group aerobic classes.  She likes to keep things moving, restraining from conversation especially the days while lifting weights.  While she is at the pool, she does prefer to have other swimmers to help pace her.  She will often gauge whether she can beat them or catch up with them.  

Brown knows what is required for her to live healthy and to feel good about herself. She says, “I know I have to take advantage of the early morning hours because the opportunity to work out later in the day may not happen.  Usually it does not with two kids and my husband’s work schedule.  Besides, I feel much better when I start my day with a workout.”   

Reaction Post #5 – What have I learned from the readings

June 25, 2009

I selected Tips for Writing for the Web as my online reaction post and chapter four from Mike Ward’s book Journalism Online since I am trying to improve my Web writing skills with this class.  

Once again, I am the one writing and updating our corporate Website and intranet.  Part of my job is to also try and have other associates understand that the way they are to write on the Web is different than a Word document report.  

I currently try to implement the Tips for Writing for the Web when I am writing on the Web, but I feel after reading the article that I need to use even shorter paragraphs, better headings, omit unnecessary words and use more active verbs.  

I also need to improve on when to hyperlink and what needs links.  In other words, I guess I’m guilty of what I just accused others of – writing for a Word document instead of the Web.   

One more area I can improve upon is thinking differently regarding how to tell a story.  I can no longer just accept writing a story and throwing a picture with it.  I need to look at what other options can be captured with a story (i.e. audio, video, slideshow, etc.).  

From Mike Ward’s Journalism Online chapter four writing section, he instills the importance of core writing skills.  I found it interesting that after all these years the two best sources of core writing skills for newspaper journalist are the same two sources for online journalist (Essential English for Journalist, Editors and Writers and The Elements of Style).  

It was also a good refresher in this section to be reminded that every word you use should have a good reason to be there. Good rules of thumb:

–          don’t use more words than you need
–          use short  words instead of long ones
–          use words with simple meanings
–          use words with concrete meanings
–          be specific
–          use correct meaning of words

Another section I found valuable was identifying the elements of a story that will satisfy your reader’s greatest interest.  When writing, it is about your reader’s needs, not your own needs, so you have to write to what they want.  Next, you need to put thought into the best way to structure your story and then present it in a way to capture your reader’s attention.  

I agree with Ward on writing good intros is not easy.  I struggle with this myself and I like how the book talks about thinking how someone will be searching for select words and incorporating that into your intros.

Research Post #5

June 25, 2009

This week the Google alerts and some extra searching turned up a few new items regarding “morning people.” 

Science Daily’s article,  Morning people and night owls show different brain function and The Vancover Sun’s Brains of early birds, night owls work differently, reveals scientist found major differences in brain function based on what type of person you are. 

Using MRI scans, the scientists studied nine people who were extreme night owls — those who stayed up until 3 a.m. and did their best work at night — with nine morning people who were awake at 5 a.m. and eager to dive into work a few minutes later. 

The study found that morning people’s brains were more excitable at 9 a.m. and decreased slowly throughout the day.  On the other hand, night owl’s brains were more excitable at 9 p.m. 

I don’t know if I agree with the study findings on evening people becoming physically stronger throughout the day, when morning people’s strength remains a constant especially since the sample size was small.  

The next research I found was a blog on Oprah.com. A woman new to Oprah.com community asked everyone “what gets you ready in the morning.”  This woman wrote that she is a morning person is that she loves to work out in the morning before work to get her mind ready for the day and helps her to relax.  

One woman wrote that she is not really a morning person, but she makes herself get up at 5:30 a.m., by setting three alarm clocks, so that she can get to the gym before work.  This woman feels that getting one workout completed in the morning sets her mind for the rest of the day.  She feels empowered! 

Another woman loves the mornings.  She normally rises between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. without an alarm clock (but goes on to say that daylight savings time screws up her biorhythms).  Three to four of those mornings, she and her husband take the dog for a walk and the other days she’ll dive right into working.  That’s pretty early to start working.  

One more interesting blogger wrote that she is usually up by 3:15 a.m., drinks coffee, listens to Marianne Williamson (whoever that is) and heads to the gym.  She enjoys this time with no interruptions and claims it brings her energy and peace of mind to continue on with her day.   

I’m very surprised to find people awake at 3 a.m. and I’m even pretty close to being a morning person.  I’m also a late night person as well.  I find I normally go to bed around 11 p.m. and rise about 5:15 a.m. during the work week.  

This leads to the Google alert I found on night owls trying to be morning people while traveling.  These people wrote that they thought 7 a.m. was the crack of dawn when they needed to get up early for an excursion trip to Stonehenge.  

I found this week’s research more in line with my project.

Reporting Post #5 – Marge

June 25, 2009

While You Were Sleeping…A Woman Is Throwing Hay

Marge Morgan rises between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. every morning to take care of her horses, dogs and cats.  She throws on her old clothes and heads out to the barn to feed the horses and clean the stalls.  Next, she puts hay out in the field. Then, she comes back inside to change into her running shoes and goes for a three mile jog.

Once back home she said she is still not done.  “I take the dogs out, finish cleaning the stalls and let the horses out in the pasture for the day,” Marge explained.  She is still not finished the chores. Finally, she prepares next days feed, sweeps the isles and dumps manure. Then, she if ready to come in, shower and is at work by 8:30 a.m.  

Marge explains, “I have three Tennessee walking horses, one is 30 years old who I rescued several years ago, four dogs (three are Boston Terriers and one is a Cairn Terrier) and two barn cats.”  

She has been doing this morning routine for the last 11 years. There have been variations in the number of horses she has had stabled at her barn. For a few winters there were five horses.  Exhausted thinking about it, Marge said, “It is a huge amount of work taking care of three horses, four dogs and two cats.” 

I asked her how much feed the horses consume in a week.  She claims, “The spring and summer is not as bad as they graze in the pasture, but with three horses it’s about 50 pounds of grain, a bale of hay, supplements and pasture grass each week.” 

However, the winter is another story.  “Since there is no pasture grass, you have to supplement with hay,” Marge explains.  She usually buys about 250 bales at one time (June-July) right out of the field. That is the cheapest way to order and that usually lasts all year. I go through about 100 pounds of grain and five bales of hay a week. 

This seemed to me to be a very expensive hobby, so I asked her how much it costs her to have the horses.  She spends about $1,000 on hay, $3,500 on grain, $300 on supplements per month.  There are also doctor bills.  She’ll end up spending $500 a year on shots and the dentist pays a visit once a year and charges $125 per horse.  Marge goes on to include, “and horses need new shoes every six weeks at $135 per horse.”  Of course there can also be unexpected emergency costs that could vary depending on the circumstances. 

When asked how she became interested in horses, she explained, “You are born with the love of horses in your blood.”  Horses run in her family.   Her mother showed horses and Marge was about seven years old when she did her first show in North Carolina.

Marge explains, “There was a long lag time after those younger years and I began riding again in my late thirties. I show for the fun of it and to be with my best horse buddies!” 

Who is her favorite horse? She says she loves each one of them like a mom and she doesn’t really have any favorites. If she had to choose, “it would be my old guy.” 

How did she get hooked on owning horses?  She grew up around horses when she lived in North Carolina as a child.  She had chores that had to be done before school like sweeping the barn isles, cleaning tack, etc., so it wasn’t hard to get back into that morning routine.  

When asked about a tough morning, she recalled one morning when she went out to feed one of the horses, he let all the others out.  “They made a giant mess of everything!  Lucky for me the barn doors were closed so they didn’t have a chance to run through my neighbor’s tomato garden, again!” 

I asked her what events she attends to stay current on owning horses.  She attends the Maryland Horse Expo for the interesting seminars on hay management, general horse health issues and clinics on how to train horses in different disciplines.

Reporting Post #4 – Gina

June 18, 2009

While You Were Sleeping…Gina Is Teaching Spin Class.

Gina Steigerwalt is a Gold’s Gym spin instructor.  She teaches Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m.  She has been working out at Gold’s for about seven years and instructing for one and half years.  Gina is a very early riser.  She is up at 4:30 a.m. as she likes to arrive at the gym at 5 a.m. so that she can lift weights prior to teaching.   

So how did Gina become interesting in teaching a spin class?  She says she originally accepted teaching a morning step aerobics class.  Unfortunately, she injured her back shortly after accepting, but had to put things on hold.  The doctors recommended cycling as her cardio workout as opposed to running and high impact aerobics. Fortunately for her that was the same time spinning was being introduced at Gold’s Gym and they offered her that position instead.  “Originally, I wasn’t too into cycling, but I love it now and it is a great workout,” Gina said.

Gina said she has always wanted to teach some type of aerobics ever since she was in middle school.  She used to tape a show on ESPN called Fitness Pros and do their 30 minute aerobic routine after her sports practice.  After joining a gym, I was very involved in the aerobic classes and Lori Fry, the coordinator for Group X (Gold’s aerobic classes), knew of my interest to teach and offered me a position.  “I jumped on the opportunity,” exclaimed Gina. 

I asked Gina if she has always been morning person and she explained how she prefers working out in the mornings.  She was a swimmer in high school and she had to practice before school.  “This set the stage and I continued to work out in the mornings in college before class.  With working 10-12 hour days at my job, I am too exhausted to go after work.  If I do not make it to the gym in the morning, the odds of seeing me after work are slim to none,” said Gina.  

I next asked her if she would rather be sleeping instead of working out in the morning before work.  She explained that she actually feels more awake and energized for work when she works out before work.  On the days she skips her early morning workouts, she is exhausted at work.  She has a pretty physical job as a physical therapist, so she needs to have high energy all day.  

Gina is not alone at 5:30 a.m.  Approximately 10 people ranging in age from 20-years-old to 60-years-old participate each session.  “That is the great thing about cycling, it is great for all ages because you can make it your own ride.  They can adjust the resistance however they would like and no one will know,” said Gina.  In a step or kickboxing class, everyone knows when you are not doing what the instructor tells you.  Fortunately, most of the class members have been with her since the class started, so they usually can handle the routines.  She says how she and the class have become good friends and we go out together for breakfast on a weekend every other month. 

I was curious about how much time she spends preparing for her classes.  She said when she first started instructing, it took her about an hour to put music and a routine together for the next day.  Now that she has been teaching this long, she has over 70 music play lists with different routines so it doesn’t take much time to prepare anymore.  Once a week, she tries to create a new play list with new music to keep it fresh.  That takes about 30 minutes. 

She uses a variety of music to accommodate all the age groups.  Most of her music is the current Top 40s.  She does take requests and she does special days such as “80s day” and “Class Choice.”  People also bring in CDs and have her download the songs they want to hear. 

Gina does use note cards because she says you can do many different things to the same song.  With 70 different play lists, she does rotate the songs so the class does not get bored.  She has also started a combo spin/circuit class on Wednesdays to keep the class’s interest.  They do about 30 minutes on the bike and then do approximately nine stations of alternating strength and cardio for a minute each.  In between each set they do some plyometrics to get the heart rate up.  “It is a great calorie burn and they love it,” Gina proclaims.