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Tag Archives: Sports

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Healthy lifestyle a natural choice if you’re outdoors

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A year of limited activity and indoor isolation left us yearning to get away from technology, and in many cases to get fit – again. One answer can solve both of those issues: outdoor workouts.

Exercising outside produces a long list of healthy habits and benefits, including a boost to mental health. Additionally, it’s easy to keep a social distance outdoors, even if you’re working out with friends.

As industries shifted to work-from-home during the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of those home-bound workers, sitting near the snacks in their own kitchens, put on what some are calling the COVID 19, as in pounds.

Many were reluctant to go to gyms or fitness centers, which in some places were closed to guard against coronavirus transmission. Even now, with restrictions relaxed or removed, not everyone is in a hurry to return indoors.

Throughout the United States, people threw open the doors to take in nature. The Trust for Public Lands issued a special report on Parks and the Pandemic, which showed that use of parks, trails and other public spaces surged at the outset of COVID-19, with usage doubling in many locations, and increasing a whopping 165 percent at Pennsylvania’s Presque Isle State Park in March 2020 compared with the same timeframe a year earlier, before we knew what COVID-19 was.

That’s a turnaround from 2019, when a study by the Outdoor Foundation showed that half of the U.S. population failed to recreate outdoors, and fewer than 20 percent participated in outdoor activity a minimum of once a week.

The sun is outside, and that’s a universal plus-point. Even our happy-face emojis look like the sun. The sun is a great and widely available source of vitamin D, which all living things require. Our body gains from vitamin D through healthy bones, steady calcium levels, reduced inflammation and a bolstered immune system, according to a report in Medical News Today.

Those benefits don’t stop there. Sunlight has been shown to benefit our cardiovascular system and lower blood pressure. Serious athletes are taking notice, too, drawing upon a pair of recent studies that show reduced muscle damage and increased sprint performance thanks to vitamin D, as reported in Outside magazine.

Think that the local park can’t match the gym for workout equipment? Try again. Adding fitness equipment to public facilities is a trend on the rise. Philadelphia is just one city that has rolled out a way to keep its citizens fit in their own parks.

A focus on outdoor exercise began well before the pandemic. Researchers at the University of Essex began studying “green exercise” back in 2003. “It is a concept which has also captured the interest of people around the globe as a solution to improve mental wellbeing for all ages,” states the school’s website.

More recently, the American Council on Exercise initiated the Moving Together Outside Campaign, which encourages shared-use agreements that allow open spaces to be used more frequently. Long before then, in the 1980s, the term “forest bathing” was coined, referring to the Japanese practice of reconnecting with forests and stemming tech-induced burnout.

A positive sign of the pandemic-inspired drive outdoors was the surge in bicycle sales. Of course, that was a negative for those left on their feet when unable to locate a bike to buy. For a motor-driven nation, the return to two wheels can be seen as a step forward.

All of this data might make you look smarter if you’re staying fit outdoors, but it leads to better brainpower in the classroom too. The study, “School Green Space and Its Impact on Academic Performance: A Systematic Literature Review” in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health analyzed findings on studies about green space and academic performance. Researchers found that 28% of the findings were “significant and positive” while 64% were non-significant and 8% significant and negative.

Another study, from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, shows that children who grow up near greenspace face a lower risk of psychiatric disorders. Back in 2014, researchers at the University of Illinois determined that children who participated in physical activity for an hour or more a day were able to better pay attention, move between mental exercises and were less easily distracted, according to the school.

Children aren’t the only individuals positively affected by green space. Researchers at Korea’s KAIST found that as cities develop economically, residents’ happiness is more closely tied to the availability of green space.

With all of this breath-taking evidence in favor of nature, there’s only thing left for you to do: Get out!

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Infographic: The business of women’s sports and how it’s growing

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The world of women’s sports has been gaining attention for the past few years, and today it’s trending more than ever. Viewership for women’s sports has increased significantly just in the past year. For example, viewership for the National Women’s Soccer League grew by 300% in 2020.

It’s a common misconception that men are much more drawn to sports than women, but the truth is that the difference in interest between genders is small. Eighty-four percent of sports fans are interested in women’s sports.

Clearly, fans want to see and engage with women’s sports, but a huge part of what makes this more difficult than men’s sports is the lack of media coverage. In 2020, women make up 40% of sportspeople but received a dismal 4% of media coverage.

Between lack of coverage and the pay gap between the genders, women’s sports have been at a disadvantage for far too long. It’s time for the world of sports to embrace gender equality.

Infographic courtesy Lines.com

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Podcast: How to market your practice online like a pro

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Confused or clueless when it comes to Facebook Ads and how to create ad campaigns in-house that actually generate patients for your practice? This episode is for you!

For the past eight years, Jordan Mather and his partner have made a business of helping physical therapy practices successfully manage their online marketing. But in light of the mounting financial pressure on those practices during the pandemic, they decided to pivot and teach their clients how to handle their online marketing in-house. Their company, The Clinical Marketer, now specializes in sharing the knowledge and skills that enable practice owners to leverage digital marketing themselves and avoid paying large monthly fees to outside marketing firms.

In this podcast, you’ll hear some powerful strategies and easy-to-implement tactics for getting big returns on your Facebook ads and other digital marketing efforts.

More specifically, we discuss these cash-practice topics:

  • Why Jordan decided to start teaching practice owners how to do their own online marketing.
  • Clever ways to frame your marketing messages so your target market will recognize that you offer the best solution.
  • The primary reason that private practice ads get rejected by Facebook and how to avoid this incredibly common problem.
  • How to write ad copy that grabs the attention of your target market and gets them to pull out their credit card.
  • Why it’s a strategic mistake to use paid Facebook ads to offer free services, and Jordan’s alternative that makes you money and attracts ideal clients.
  • Tips for wording an offer that resonates with people who are ready to buy and turns away those looking for freebies.
  • Techniques that grow your email list of prospective patients in your target market.
  • How clever automated texting can build demand for initial phone consultations.
  • A simple approach to dramatically improve show rates and conversions for your webinars and online workshops.
  • How to expertly craft what you offer at the end of a workshop to increase new patient conversions and revenue.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

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5 ways to use coach John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success

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This article originally appeared on Businessing.

If you follow basketball, there’s a 99.9% chance you’ve heard the name John R. Wooden, a sports legend who’s considered to be the greatest NCAA basketball coach of all time.

And if you’ve heard of coach Wooden, you know about his Pyramid of Success, a wildly popular model of 25 proven behaviors and characteristics that lead to greatness. The Pyramid of Success is public domain; a Google search of the phrase yields a whopping 70 million results alone.

So, once you’ve downloaded and printed coach’s pyramid and looked at it for a while, you might wonder, “What are some good ways to use it?”

Here are five real-world ideas to start:

1. Writing letters of recommendation

Being asked to write a letter of recommendation for someone is an honor. But it can also be intimidating. Staring at a blank piece of paper and thinking about this person you respect and care about, you know you want to do a good job, but you just can’t seem to find the right words.

Enter the Pyramid of Success and its 25 behaviors that ensure success. Think about the person you’re writing about, look at the Pyramid of Success, and find the words that jump off the page. Enthusiasm. Skill. Poise. Team Spirit. Write the letter around those words and definitions. Done.

2. Behavior interviewing

When we recruit people at my company, GoldenComm, I always conduct the initial interview. We call it the “culture call.” I explain that our company uses the Pyramid of Success as agreed-to behaviors that produce results. In the call, I focus on the pyramid’s cornerstones: industriousness and enthusiasm. Interviewees will hear me say, “People who do well here like to work hard, like to plan their days, and like Mondays because they have an entire week to compete at a high level.”

This eliminates over 50% of applicants — because they aren’t a culture fit. And, if they aren’t a culture fit, there’s no reason to get to the second interview.

3. Performance evaluations

Our entire employee performance evaluation system is peer-based and focuses on behaviors from coach’s pyramid. During evaluations, peers rank others’ behavior on a 1 to 5 scale. The employee gets to choose two people they work with, and the company also chooses two people, for a total of four peers. Since we’ve all agreed to these 25 behaviors, we each get to give feedback on how well we’re living these values.

The takeaway? Get the behaviors in place, and the technical part will take care of itself.

4. Project evaluations

At GoldenComm, we also use ­the Pyramid of Success for our post-project evaluations. We’ve identified 10 pyramid blocks that relate to project management:

  1. Industriousness
  2. Cooperation
  3. Enthusiasm
  4. Alertness
  5. Initiative
  6. Intentness
  7. Skill
  8. Team Spirit
  9. Confidence
  10. Competitive Greatness

Everyone who worked on the project takes a survey to rank where we did well and where we could improve, answering questions related to these 10 blocks. Some blocks rank super high, and some rank not so high, spurring a dialogue on how to improve.

5. Self-assessments

In addition to employee and project evaluations, each teammate at GoldenComm takes an online, 100-question assessment based on coach Wooden’s pyramid. You can take a demo of the Pyramid of Success Individual Assessment, at no cost, with the option to take the full test and download a Personal Pyramid and 30-Day Playbook of self-study exercises.

Why is this important? As coach would say, “The best way to improve the team is to improve myself.”

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8 great family hiking trails

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Taking the kids on a hike — particularly now during the relentless COVID-19 pandemic — can be great fun. Or it can be a stroll from hell. To make sure it is a journey of discovery enjoyed by one and all, you’ve got to pick the right trail.

Before tying up the booties and heading out, you’ll need to consider the ages of your kids and their level of hiking experience. It’s important not to get too aggressive with either elevation or distance.

If the hike is too long, too steep or difficult, or if it presents undue exposure to the elements, it can spoil your family’s fun. We’ve uncovered eight trails around the country that represent some of the best family hikes in America. Hopefully, there’s one near you.

Hoh River Trail, Washington

This trail, striking out through a mostly level section of Olympic National Park, is a long one at 17.4 miles. But it’s a great trail to introduce the kids to an all-day outing — and you always have the option of going as far as you want and turning around. The trail winds through temperate rainforest, subalpine meadows and basins and montane forest ecosystems from the trailhead all the way to Glacier Meadows — where there’s a great view of Mount Olympus

Kule Loklo Trail, California

Youngsters of reading age and up will benefit from both recreation and some educational exercise as well when they hike this short 1.2-mile loop that leads back to a time when native Coast Miwok people thrived along what is now Point Reyes National Seashore.

All along the trail, originating just a short walk from the visitor center, there are interpretive signs describing the culture and lifestyle of the peace-loving Coast Miwok — Native Americans who called this area home more than 200 years ago. At the end of Kule Loklo (“Bear Valley”) Trail, visitors will find a replica of a Coast Miwok village.

Lower Yosemite Fall Trail, California

The easiest and most kid-friendly hike within Yosemite National Park covers a nearly level mile leading to the base of Lower Yosemite Fall. The view is simply stunning — especially during the spring and early summer when the water is at its peak. The fall spans 320 feet and it is part of Yosemite Falls, the nation’s highest waterfall, measuring a towering 2,425 feet in its entirety.

Santa Elena Canyon Trail, Texas

Picturesque Santa Elena Canyon Trail offers one of the few easy-to-moderate hikes in remote and rugged Big Bend National Park. The 1.7-mile round-trip hike follows the Rio Grande River into the colorful steep-walled canyon. Youngsters have a great time spotting roadrunners, coyotes and javelinas. Avoid, or be well-prepared for, scorching temperatures in the summer. Rafting trips, available through local outfitters, offer another way to experience Santa Elena Canyon.

Laurel Falls at Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Image: Mike Baker/National Park Service)

Laurel Falls Trail, Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the nation’s most visited national park, having recorded 12.5 million visitors in 2019, and Laurel Falls Trail is the park’s most popular hiking trail.

There are good reasons for that popularity. First, the 2.6-mile trail is relatively easy, making it accessible to all but the youngest of children. Although it is rough and bumpy in places, the trail is completely paved and the elevation gain as it ascends Cove Mountain is a moderate 314 feet. The big reason folks love the trail, however, is the prize at the end of it — rushing Laurel Falls — a sparkling 80-foot waterfall with an upper and lower section bisected by a walkway passing over Laurel Branch stream.

Au Sable Light Station Trail, Michigan

One of a number of hiking trails crisscrossing Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore near Grand Marais on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the 3.1-mile trail leading to the Au Sable Light Station offers a vigorous workout for the entire family and an eyeful of gorgeous scenery.

The 2-mile stretch between Hurricane River Campground and Au Sable light is described in one hiking guide as “one of the most beautiful spots in the Upper Peninsula, with a waterfall, shipwrecks and a cool lighthouse.”

Ocean Path Trail, Maine

This one is, hands down, our favorite hiking trail on the entire East Coast. The Ocean Path is a 3.9-mile round-tripper in Acadia National Park that combines wave-lapped rocks, a fringe of forest, wildflowers and sandy cove beaches. It ignites a love of nature in everyone who walks it. Even the drive along the magnificent Maine coast to get there is spectacular.

Bear Mountain Loop Trail, New York

Here’s a hiking venue located just 90 minutes up the Hudson River Valley from New York City that is both kid- and dog-friendly — but still challenging enough to wear out the entire gang. Technically, the 3.7-mile-long loop is rated moderate and it offers some fun rock scrambling for the kids along with some amazing panoramic views over the Hudson River.

The Bear Mountain Loop actually joins the famous Appalachian Trail atop Bear Mountain as it finishes up at the Perkins Memorial Tower. It’s the consensus among hikers to do the trail counterclockwise to make the rocky sections and steep staircases easier to maneuver. They also say the scenery is at its magnificent best during peak fall foliage.

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Do you have recurring knee pain? Examine how you’re standing

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Avoiding movements that tax your knee like high-impact sports won’t be enough if misalignment in your everyday posture is at the root of your recurring knee pain. Habits of poor alignment affect the entire body and knees are no exception. But identifying and correcting these habits isn’t easy.

To begin with, people tend to focus attention on where they feel pain, yet the problem often lies elsewhere, notes somatic movement educator Carolina Baronio.

“Everything we do with one part of the body affects the entire skeletal system,” she explains. “To correct problems, we have to be attuned to what is going on throughout the whole body.”

To guide you in shifting your alignment — or helping clients with theirs — Baronio shares three simple exercises based on the work of her teacher Mark Taylor, RSMT, author of “Embody the Skeleton: A Guide for Conscious Movement.”

Optimal support begins at the base with the foot

“Think of optimal alignment as a way of carrying the body that allows for the most effective movement with the least effort and the most plasticity,” says Baronio.

To find this, she recommends starting at the foundation — your feet. Examine the way your feet make contact with the floor because that will affect the whole body.

Distribute weight evenly on the foot by paying attention to the ball of the foot behind the big toe and smallest toe which should make firm contact with the ground. The second two points are the inner and outer edges of the heel often referred to as the four corners of the feet in yoga.

To increase awareness of relationship between feet and the floor along with mobility, place a small ball under the ball of foot and simply roll the foot side to side, alternating contact with the floor between the inner and outer edge of the foot. Before doing the second side, stand normally and observe the difference between how your feet contact the floor.

Developing strength and mobility in the foot through exercises and even walking barefoot have clear benefits. According to Daniel Lieberman, chair of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, in a Time article, a weaker foot is prone to problems like flat feet, which is often associated with knee and low back pain.

Aligning the entire leg with plumb line test

When the bones are aligned, they can do the work they’re designed for, allowing muscles and joints to be at ease. A slight turn out of the foot, for example, can tax your knees over time.

To check for misalignment in the leg and foot, try the plumb line test: First, locate the head of the femur bone, usually at the midpoint of the leg crease, then from this point drop a weighted string long enough to hover above the foot.

With a partner or viewing in a mirror, check that the string passes through the midpoint of the knee and ankle joint then ends in line with the second toe.

If this is not happening for you, make small adjustments to how you’re standing until the string passes through these points. Become very aware of how these shifts feel in the body and take mental note so you’re able to repeat them until they become new habits.

Balancing the forces within the knee

Imbalanced forces within the knee is a key cause of chronic knee pain which can be resolved by correcting alignment, according to corrective exercise specialist and researcher Kjetil Larson on his blog.

Baronio demonstrates an easy way to observe how evenly you distribute effort in your knees when you stand. Place the tips of your (or a partner’s) thumb and index fingers on four points of the knee on the same horizontal plane as the head of the tibia, shown in the photo below.

Sense which points feel activated and which seem more passive. If you’re with a partner, indicate the less activated points. The person standing then works to activate the sleeping points until all feel equally activated. This may involve shifting weight in part of the foot or engaging muscles in the calf or thigh.

“Postural reeducation is slow meticulous work that should be taken very patiently,” says Baronio who encourages her students to value even the most subtle, minute shifts and observations. “Sometimes people try so hard to correct their alignment that they tighten other areas and inadvertent shift the problem to another joint.”

To avoid this tendency, stay very aware of the sensations throughout the body, not just in the area you’re trying to improve. This awareness paired with subtle adjustments over time will promote greater aliveness throughout and mobility to do your daily activities with more ease.

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VA’s Adaptive Sports Grant Program awards millions

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The Department of Veterans Affairs recently announced that it has awarded $14.8 million in grants for adaptive sports in 2019. The funds were distributed to organizations that support adaptive sports programs for disabled veterans and current service members who are disabled.

126 organizations and 11,000 veterans are expected to benefit from the grants. The grants were made, primarily to veterans service organizations, municipalities, and community-based groups.

The National Veterans Sports Programs and Special Events Office (NVSP&SE) has oversight for the Adaptive Sports Program.

The Adaptive Sports Grant Program is governed by a code of federal regulations, specifically, 38 CFR Part 77. The law requires that grantees meet two primary requirements.

First, they must be “affiliated with a National Paralympic Committee or a National Governing Body authorized to provide Paralympic sports.”

Second, they must offer “an adaptive sports program in which at least 50 persons with disabilities participate or the eligible participants reside in at least five different congressional districts.”

In addition, the law does not allow grants to be made to federal agencies. However, grantees can use the funds to train VA employees.

Authorized activities are fairly broad. They include “Instruction, participation, and competition in adaptive sports.” They also include training, technical assistance, and coordination with Paralympic governing bodies.

Organizations interested in making application should do so on the federal government’s grant website, grants.gov.

I first became aware of adaptive sports programs when I became a scuba instructor in 2008. My organization, NAUI, offered adaptive scuba courses, and also coordinated with other adaptive sports organizations.

My instructor trainer had a below-knee amputation, and he was such an accomplished diver that I didn’t become aware of the amputation until after several days of diving. That may also have been due to a case of tunnel vision on my part at the time.

My instructor explained that he had lost his lower leg in an automobile accident that occurred while he was serving in the Army in the 1960s. He said that he had experienced feelings of depression and “uselessness” after the loss of his limb.

A friend convinced him to try scuba diving. At the time, there weren’t any adaptive diving organizations, so he completed the regular scuba course without any special accommodations.

He said that completing the course under the same standards as everyone else in his class had provided a sense of accomplishment. Anyone who is familiar with the early days of scuba will appreciate what an accomplishment that was. In the 1960s, students had to meet exceedingly rigorous academic and physical demands in order to be certified.

Scuba diving changed my instructor’s life. He met his wife through scuba diving and has traveled the world; visiting most of the islands in the Caribbean, and diving in such exotic locales as Hawaii, Tahiti, Indonesia, and the Seychelles, to name just a few. He eventually became an instructor and opened his own dive shop.

Recognizing the terrific benefit that scuba offers the disabled, my instructor became certified to teach adaptive scuba, and made it an important part of his business.

Kudos to the decision-makers and implementers at the VA for standing up the Adaptive Sports Grant Program.

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CFOs reveal their employees’ most outrageous expense report submissions

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If it’s your job to monitor and approve expense report submissions, you may have noticed an uptick in employees trying to submit inappropriate requests. According to a recent survey by Robert Half Management Resources, 56% of chief financial officers have observed an increase in unsuitable expense report questions during the last three years.

Here are some of the more outrageous expense submissions that responding CFOs have seen:

  • Trip to Italy
  • Home
  • Gambling
  • Bear rug
  • Jet ski rental
  • Motorcycle
  • Lamborghini
  • Super Bowl tickets
  • Invoice for another company
  • Yacht
  • Video games
  • Pet sitting/animal rental
  • Daycare/kids’ clothing/crib/toys
  • Home air conditioner
  • Tractor
  • Home refrigerator

Why inappropriate expense report submissions have increased

There are at least two factors contributing to the rise in inappropriate expense report submissions. “Many companies could do a better job of communicating what is and isn’t appropriate to expense,” says Dan DeNisco, senior vice president at Robert Half Management Resources. “Not knowing or understanding the policies in place could certainly be part of the issue.”

When companies don’t communicate their policies well enough, they run the risk of employees not knowing what can and can’t be submitted for reimbursement.

In other cases, companies that manually monitor expense reports run a greater risk of mistakes — and he says this includes failing to catch problematic submissions. “Expense reporting systems make it easier to spot problems, including those that may have slipped through the cracks previously.”

How to respond to inappropriate submissions

Here’s how you shouldn’t respond: let it slide and hope it doesn’t happen again. Instead, DeNisco says the managers whose staff submit inappropriate requests should talk to those employees. “Explain the company’s policies, and invite employees to ask questions,” he says.

Employees may have items their managers don’t immediately see as business expenses, and the onus is on workers to explain. “For example, the employee may be treating a top client to a fancy meal, but this manager didn’t know it.”

DeNisco believes that most people want to follow the rules. However, in addition to not knowing what the rules are, he says they may not know where to find them. “But if there are repeated problems, more severe action may be needed.”

Ways to reduce inappropriate expense report submissions

Don’t keep your policies and guidelines a secret. “Regularly communicate guidelines and make them easily accessible for all staff, such as by posting them on the company intranet,” DeNisco says.

He also recommends looking for ways to make the process easier, such as using an automated system. “This reduces the burden on staff submitting expense reports and the finance team reviewing them.”

Monitor reports for patterns or red flags. “You may find there is a common misconception among employees that can be easily addressed — or something more serious going on,” DeNisco says.

And you may get a gentle nudge from the federal government. “According to IRS rules that went into effect in 2018, companies can’t write off entertainment expenses unless attending the event has a direct business purpose,” says Bryan Eaves, CPA, an expense reduction consultant helping companies with change management, procurement solutions, and cost controls.

“These new tax rules will make it easier for CFOs to drive compliance by communicating internally that the company won’t be able to write off costs of events like the Super Bowl anymore.” Prior to 2018, Eaves said businesses could write off 50% of these costs.

He also recommends using technology, such as SAP Concur, for preapproval of expenses before they happen. “Preapproval is a best practice to better manage expense report costs,” Eaves says. “By requiring trips, events, and any other category of employee expenses to be preapproved, there will likely be greater compliance to company policy.”

Consistency is another best practice, and all employees should be treated the same regarding the policy. “If one manager is allowed to continually spend outside of the policy, it sends a bad message to the rest of the company as word gets out about the manager’s behavior,” Eaves warns.

Transparency can also reduce these outrageous submissions. It’s one thing to privately tell one manager to rein in their people. But it’s another thing to publish all relevant expense information for senior management to review on a monthly basis.

“This will provide visibility of the noncompliance areas and create a desire by management to change behavior and become more compliant,” Eaves says. “Let’s face it, senior managers don’t want people in their areas to be on that noncompliance list.”

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Yoga isn’t for everyone — here’s why

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“Yoga is not just repetition of few postures — it is more about the exploration and discovery of the subtle energies of life.”
― Amit Ray, author ofYoga and Vipassana: An Integrated Lifestyle

Yoga is more popular than ever. According to a 2017 National Health Interview Survey from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the proportion of adults doing yoga in the U.S. jumped from 9.5% in 2012 to 14.3% in 2017.

The Yoga Alliance reports that Americans spend $16 billion on yoga classes, clothing, equipment and accessories each year.

Unlike in the Eastern world, where yoga has its origins as a spiritual practice, in the West, yoga has become another form of physical exercise. Power yoga, for example, can be found at many gyms across the country. As with any type of fitness program, injuries are possible. In fact, some people should avoid yoga altogether, or at the very least, be careful about which postures they do.

The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) found there were 29,590 yoga-related injuries seen in hospital emergency departments from 2001 to 2014. The trunk (46.6%) was the most frequent region injured, and sprain/strain (45.0%) accounted for the most diagnoses. That same study found that adults 65 and older were at the greatest risk for injury.

This many seem obvious; however, many people assume that yoga is harmless because it appears to involve simply stretching or holding postures. It is seen as highly beneficial because its proponents focus on how it improves balance, flexibility and strength. Therefore, what’s not to love?

Quite a bit, especially for those with preexisting neck problems, herniated disks, arthritis, osteoporosis or osteopenia, or who are at risk for a stroke.

Yes, you read that right. In some rare cases, people have had a stroke as a result of certain postures. This is due to an undiagnosed condition such as a tear in the right carotid artery,

This article is not intended to scare people away from doing yoga, because for the most part, the benefits of yoga far outweigh the risks. Rather, it is an invitation to educate yourself about this increasingly popular practice and to introduce you to some helpful tips and a wonderful resource that will help improve your practice and reduce the chance of injury.

1. Check your instructor’s training.

There are yoga training programs all over the world churning out thousands of teachers. Not all programs will have the same standards.

Make sure you take a class with a qualified instructor that has attended a school approved by The Yoga Alliance. According to The Yoga Alliance website, “The Yoga Alliance sets minimum standards for teacher training programs. Programs that meet these standards and pay a fee can market their trainings as “Yoga Alliance Approved.”

Graduates of these trainings can then register with the Yoga Alliance and then promote themselves as RYT — Registered Yoga Teachers. Registration is available at four different levels: RYT 200, E-RYT 200, RYT 500, and E-RYT 500. The E stands for experienced and indicates a certain number of hours teaching since the completion of teacher training.

2. Be honest about your needs.

Let your yoga teacher as well as your yoga studio know if you have any preexisting physical issues that may necessitate that you refrain from certain poses and postures. Most teachers will give you an alternative posture to do instead.

3. Talk with your health service provider.

If you have any serious medical issues, it may not mean that you can’t do yoga. Explore this with your naturopath or physician to see if yoga is right for you. It’s possible that a gentle or restorative class will work well for you.

4. Don’t push yourself.

Yoga isn’t a competition. Yes, some students may be able to do amazing headstand, handstands or beautiful back bends, but pushing yourself too quickly to accomplish specific poses may result in an injury.

5. Listen to your body.

When it comes to your body, you are the expert. You will know better than anyone when a pose doesn’t feel right. Your teacher isn’t a mind reader and won’t know when you’re uncomfortable or have gone too far.

6. Pace yourself and use props.

Move through your class at a pace that feels comfortable. Stretch just enough, but not too much. Let yourself have time to breathe.

And by all means, use props! That’s why they’re there. No need to prove you can do more than what feels right for you.

A Helpful Resource

There is a website called “Yoga Injury Prevention.” Designed for yoga teachers and students, it is a unique resource that allows two different types of searches: One in which you “select a pose to see do’s and don’ts for 90+ medical conditions” and another in which you “select one or more medical conditions to see beneficial, safe and contraindicated poses.”

For further information about the studies cited in this article:

https://nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/NHIS/2017
https://www.yogaalliance.org/Learn/About_Yoga/2016_Yoga_in_America_Study/Highlights
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5117171/

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Tips for keeping cool when the running gets hot

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Here are some top tips for running when the temperature starts to rise.

Consider your kit

Carefully think about what you wear to run in the heat. Loose, light-colored sports clothing is ideal. Items should be listed as breathable and moisture-wicking. What this means is that moisture (i.e., sweat) is “wicked” away from the skin and towards the outer layers of the fabric, where they can more easily evaporate.

Wearing white and other light colors will help to reflect light away and keep you cooler.

Wear a hat or bandana

The main reasons for wearing something like a cap or a bandana are to keep the sun’s rays away your head and protect yourself from harmful UV rays.

A hat will also cause your head to sweat more, which will further cool you down. A good running hat will also allow a good airflow to the head, again helping to reduce your temperature.

Hydrate before you go

When we run, we sweat, and so we lose body fluids. When exercising in the heat it is impossible to keep drinking enough to maintain your hydration levels, so we must ensure we are well-hydrated before we start.

Did you know that even a 1% loss in the body’s water levels equates to a 10% drop in performance?

Everyone has heard the recommendation to drink two liters of water a day, but this is just a normal day in average weather conditions and without high-intensity exercise. Given the heat and a run, you should be looking at more like three liters (just over 100 oz.) over the course of 24 hours!

Take water with you

For short runs (under 30 minutes) in average to moderate heat, you could get away with not taking any water with you. But for longer runs in the heat, you need to find a way that works for you to ensure you can take on fluid as you go.

Some people are happy to carry a bottle as they run. This is certainly the simplest and cheapest option. There are many available, in different sizes and with different handles depending on what you find more comfortable.

If you can’t get on with this, you could try “water stations.” One option is to go out in the car before your run and place a couple of bottles along your route.

Just make sure you a) put them in discreet locations where they won’t get picked up by someone else and b) put them in a bin when finished! The other option for this is if you know people who live along your route, ask them to leave you a bottle of water outside their house!

Failing this, a hydration backpack is a great option. You wear these on your back just like a rucksack. It has a pouch inside that you fill with water and a straw so you can sip as you go!

Pick your times and routes

If possible, choose to run either first thing in the morning, or later in the evening when the heat has died down and the sun is no longer at its strongest.

Choose your route carefully to try to incorporate plenty of shade where possible and avoid doing those massive hill runs for now!

Wear sunscreen

It’s so easy to forget the sun protection when you’re going out to exercise. We all remember it if we go to the beach or are spending time out in the garden, but you need to wear it for your runs, too!

Monitor your heart rate and other vital signs

It’s always handy to know your heart rate to help you know how hard you’re working and if you can push a little harder or if you should back off. Wearing a heart rate monitor whilst running in the sun is definitely recommended.

This could give you an early warning sign of heat exhaustion. Keep your heart rate within 90% of your maximum. If it rises above this, slow down or rest in the shade until it drops.

Stop if you don’t feel good

Don’t push yourself. If you’re not feeling good, just stop. It can be so easy to just carry on but you could end up with heat exhaustion or even heat stroke if you carry on when feeing less than good.

The first signs of heat illness are fatigue, headache, dizziness, confusion, fainting, muscle cramps, nausea, pale skin and a rapid, faint heartbeat.

Recovery

When you’ve finished your run, slowly let your body temperature return to normal. Walk and stretch in the shade for a few minutes and then sit in the shade with a cool drink.

As well as losing water when we sweat, we also lose salt and other electrolytes that our body needs for normal functioning. It is important to replace these as well as the water. Drink an isotonic sports drink to help with this.

Once your heart rate has come back down to near resting levels, go for a lukewarm shower.

It is then recommended to eat something with a good source of carbohydrates and protein 30-60 minutes after your run. Continue to replenish your fluid levels and avoid long periods of exposure to the full sun for the rest of the day!

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