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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:


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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.


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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Yoga tips to help fitness clients, athletes achieve better posture

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Most people hiring a fitness coach aren’t thinking about improving their posture. Maybe they should be.

Research-based literature over the last decade increasingly shows how much posture affects one’s mood, outlook on life, confidence level, and physical health. Techniques from the yoga world can help fitness professionals incorporate spinal alignment techniques into the packages they offer clients — which may even boost clients’ motivation to reach their fitness goals.

Understanding the role of spinal curves in proper alignment

Postural habits generally go unnoticed until the back or neck begins to hurt. But that is only the beginning. The common sore back is far from the only ailment associated with poor spinal alignment — chronic headaches, knee and wrist problems, and even digestive issues can often be traced to poor posture.

Often, people seek to fight against bad posture by trying to force the back into a complete straight line. They’ll overcompensate by tensing the back, sticking out the chest and, at times, exaggerating the lower back curve. Yet optimal alignment considers the spine’s natural curve.

In numerous traditional cultures, goods were frequently carried on the head and often for great distances. People were wisely taking advantage of the natural strength and shock absorbing qualities of the spine. Biomechanically, the spine, with its natural curves, is 10 times more resistant than the straightened back, explains yoga therapist David McAmmond in his book, “Yoga Therapy for Backs.”

Yet for many of us, our spinal curves are in jeopardy — largely due to our modern sedentary lifestyle characterized by seated activities that promote unhealthy posture. Long hours on the computer and behind the wheel commuting slowly eliminate the natural S-shape of the spine. The head juts forward, shoulders slouch, and the lower back curves flatten.

Replacing inactivity with well-aligned movement

Since inactivity is the main cause of these problems, the obvious solution is movement. Who is more aware of the detrimental effects lack of exercise racks on the human body than sports and fitness professionals?

Indeed, physical activity is key in the reduction and prevention of most back pain; however, it is important to exercise caution because it can also exacerbate existent problems or even cause them. Obviously, if someone finds mobility difficult or is experiencing intense pain, they should be directed to seek a diagnosis from a qualified medical professional before taking up or continuing any fitness program.

Barring the above, it’s important to observe how students are holding their backs when they exercise so they are not reinforcing self-defeating patterns.

While standing, check that the outer edges of the feet are parallel and the knees unlocked. The pelvis should be positioned right above the legs neither tilted forward of back. From the side, you should be able to draw an imaginary vertical line from the student’s ear to the shoulder joint down through the center of the hip, knee, and ankle, writes physical therapist Judith Hanson Lasater.

Encourage clients to practicing this one yoga pose — the standing mountain posture — at least once daily will make a difference when they take on other activities. “Standing well reduces strain on the joints, ligaments, and muscles, especially on those of the spinal column and lower extremities,” says Hanson Lasater. “When this pose is practiced well, the body is prepared for almost all daily movement: standing, sitting, walking, and running.”

Tips for bending forward safely

As the body moves from standing upright, one needs to remain aware of how certain positions affect the vertebrae. The standing and seated forward bends, common in nearly all yoga routines, fitness programs and athletic warmups, are listed as basic yoga postures that carry a risk of back injury if not performed properly, per McAmmond.

Problems arise when flexion occurs in the lumbar spine instead of the hip joint because the pelvis is restricted from rotating forward, usually due to short or tight hamstrings.

“Excessive lumbar flexion is usually associated with over-stretched lower back ligaments, which leads to vertebral destabilization and disc herniation,” he explains.

Bending the knees during forward bends and sitting on a prop to lift the hips off the floor for the seated version are two remedies that help protect the lower back while one concurrently addresses the root issue, the hamstrings. Supported stretches held for up to five minutes are what’s necessary to lengthen these strong muscles, says McAmmond.

Relaxing into better posture as an initial step

Many people may find it challenging to attain proper alignment while standing, much less while stretching or working out. In these cases, the first step needs to be working toward it — or, perhaps better put, relaxing toward it.

According to Brigitte Longueville, an international yoga teacher trainer with extensive study in therapeutic yoga, the process begins with reducing the rigidity of large overworked surface muscles, namely the pectoralis, trapezius and deltoids. With constant hunching of the shoulders the pecs become short and tight, reducing lung capacity and circulation to the arms and head.

Practicing restorative and gentle yoga postures is an ideal way to begin undoing this accumulated muscular tension. The therapeutic use of props that help position the back in (or close to) its optimal alignment while in a relaxed state can help reeducate the body.

Just by facilitating relaxation and lengthening in the pectoralis muscles you can set a positive domino effect into motion — the shoulders can begin to roll back, chest is able to expand, breathing becomes less labored, and the neck lengthens.

Restoring the spine to its natural state takes time, patience and constant vigilance. For people fortunate enough to still have spinal curves still in place, preserving them should take priority over following the latest fitness fads. As professionals in the field, we need to lead the way.

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The other Achilles tendinopathy

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When we discuss Achilles tendinopathies (including tendinitis, tendinosis, tenosynovitis, etc.), we are very likely talking about mid-portion Achilles tendinopathies. This is a fairly common condition that most injury therapists will see on a regular basis.

But don’t forget, there is a far less common form of the condition, known as insertional Achilles tendinopathy (IAT).

Due to its rarity, how much do we actually know about this condition? How are the mechanism of injury and symptoms different to those of mid-portion injuries? Should we be treating these cases differently? Let’s find out!

Mechanism of Injury

Insertional Achilles tendinopathy usually develops gradually over a period of days or weeks. There is no sudden moment of injury; no bang or pop. This is the same with mid-portion tendinopathies.

The cause of insertional cases is often also very much the same as with mid-portion cases. This is usually a sudden increase or change in activity. In those who play sports, it might be a match-heavy period.

In runners, distance may have been increased too quickly or hill runs suddenly introduced. For the sedentary cases, they may have had a change in job or routine that has made them more active.

The difference in mechanism between the two forms really is the biomechanical cause of the irritation. In the case of mid-portion Achilles tendinopathies, the cause is thought to be excess loading which the tendon could not withstand.

In the case of IAT, the cause is thought to be compression or shearing of the tendon at the attachment to the calcaneus. When the ankle moves into the end range of weight bearing dorsiflexion, the deep layers of the Achilles tendon are compressed against the calcaneus.

This compression happening again and again causes irritation of the tendon, loss of parallel tendon structure, fiber integrity, and capillary proliferation, resulting in overall tendon degeneration.


The symptoms of both forms of Achilles tendinopathy are very similar. Both cases usually present with:

  • A gradual onset of pain
  • Pain in the back of the heel
  • Pain that is worst in the mornings or after periods of rest
  • Pain on active or resisted plantarflexion
  • Redness and swelling

The main difference between the two is the location of the pain and swelling. In insertional cases, the pain is lower, within 2 cm of the calcaneus. In mid-portion cases, the average point of most pain is 3-7 cm proximal to the calcaneus.

Mid-portion cases usually display some redness or swelling around this area and in chronic cases a clearly thickened tendon. Insertional cases demonstrate a lower area of swelling and redness and in more chronic cases a lump at the insertion.

Differential diagnosis

Whilst it could be very easy to assume that all cases of pain at the back of the heel are insertional Achilles tendinopathy, there are several other conditions which must be considered either in conjunction with, or as an alternative to an IAT diagnosis.

Retrocalcaneal bursitis

This is the most common form of heel bursitis, which affects the bursa that sits between the calcaneus and the anterior fibers of the Achilles tendon. The symptoms are very similar to those of IAT, so it may be difficult to tell the two conditions apart without imaging. They may also often occur together.

Haglund’s deformity

This is an additional growth of bone on the posterolateral corner of the calcaneus. The condition is often associated with, and in many cases is the cause of, retrocalcaneal bursitis. It presents as pain and swelling around the Achilles insertion.

Severs disease

Also known as calcaneal apophysitis, this condition is similar to Osgood-Schlatter disease, which occurs at the knee. It occurs in young athletes (usually 7-15 years) who take part in running or jumping events where the repetitive microtrauma from traction on the Achilles causes damage to the apophyseal growth plate.

Pain is usually absent in the mornings and gets worse with activity. Squeezing the medial and lateral aspects of the calcaneus will elicit pain.

Treatment of IAT

So, should we be treating insertional Achilles tendinopathy differently to mid-portion? The answer here is yes! To understand why, and how, we must look back to the mechanism of the injury.

Mid-portion Achilles tendinopathy occurs due to a failure of the tendon to withstand the load placed upon the tendon. This explains the most favored treatment regimen of eccentric strengthening and all those heel drop exercises!

However, for IAT, we have learned that loaded end range dorsiflexion results in further compression of the Achilles insertion. Therefore, the heel drop regimen and weight-bearing calf stretch exercises should be avoided. Instead, the recommendations are as follows:

  • Ease symptoms using modalities for pain relief, alongside the use of a heel lift in shoes. This will result in reduced dorsiflexion at the ankle in day-to-day activities and less compression of the tendon insertion.
  • Once pain starts to subside, strengthening can begin with isometric exercises initially, in a slightly plantarflexed position, again to reduce compression at the insertion.
  • Once able, begin strengthening through calf raises whilst maintaining a slightly plantarflexed position throughout (e.g., place a small book under the heel).
  • Phase out the heel lift for day-to-day activities.
  • Start to increase calf raise range of motion — remove book.

If conservative treatment fails, there are other options. Corticosteroid injection is generally not recommended for the Achilles tendon due to concerns over the increased risk of tendon rupture. It can, however, be used successfully for the treatment of retrocalcaneal bursitis.

Extracorporeal shockwave therapy has been used successfully for the treatment of IAT although there is currently no evidence-based standardized protocol and some patients may find the treatment itself too painful to continue with.

Open debridement and decompression have been successfully used for IAT once conservative treatment has failed. But as with all surgery, there are risks and it cannot be recommended until all nonoperative measures have been attempted.

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6 soccer drills to teach players to improve their agility

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For soccer players, agility is a vital characteristic, almost equal to speed and strength. Developing better agility is not that difficult and does not require a lot of workout tools. We’ve put together our favorite six drills to improve soccer agility.

1. Jump Rope

As basic as it sounds, the age-old workout of jumping rope will do wonders for your agility.

For starters, it works your leg and ankle muscles primarily, which are the most important groups for soccer players. Simultaneously, you get a great cardio workout. Beyond that, jumping rope is a basic form of plyometrics, which are vital to creating agility.

Begin by focusing your efforts on getting good at the standard act of jumping rope (and not tripping over yourself). With a little practice, you should find it easy to get into a routine of several minutes or longer without messing up.

Move to jumping one-footed and rotate back and forth from foot to foot. Introduce side to side hoping for better lateral movement, and finish with hoping while twisting your hips.

Depending on how fast you move the rope, 2-3 minute intervals will work great. Rotate through these various types of rope jumping and stack several sets once you build your stamina.

2. Running Lines

Another simple exercise, running lines is often reserved as punishment for poor performance on a team, but is actually a great agility builder.

Run in 10-yard intervals, building up to the furthest distance you can go. Begin on the starting line, run 10 yards forward, and sharply cut back to the starting line. Continue this process, moving the next sprint to 20 yards from the starting line.

If possible, do this exercise outdoors on a football field with yard lines marked for you. Use your game pair of soccer shoes, as it will help you break them in and get used to cutting in cleats.

3. Squat Jumps

The squat jump is a true plyometric workout, and great for improving explosiveness as you move towards the ball. This jump focuses on a lot of the lower body muscles, while also incorporating the stomach and lower back muscles.

Bend your knees and move your body down into the full squat position. In one fluid motion, jump as high as you can, bringing your knees to your chest simultaneously. This isn’t a casual jump – you want to explode your body as high as you can.

Be careful to control your body as you land, as there is a risk that you’ll turn an ankle if you aren’t careful. Repeat this as many times as you can, building up your intervals and sets.

4. Agility Ladder

Our first drill that requires any extra equipment, an agility ladder is pretty basic, cheap, and easy to find.

Start by just working your way through the agility ladder as fast as you can. Once you perfect this, introduce more difficult techniques, such as high knees, double foot tap between each rung, and lateral hopping through each rung gap.

5. Cone Shuffle

Grab 4-6 cones and set up a mini-shuffle course for you to perform. You’ll want to create a diamond pattern. One cone at the top and bottom of the diamond will serve as the starting and ending point. The other 2-4 cones will go in the middle of the diamond.

Space the start and finish cones around 10 yards apart, with the middle cones several yards from each other. Sprint from the starting point to the first cone on the left, weaving your body throughout the middle cones. After you reach the cone on the far right, sprint to the finish cone.

Once you’ve mastered this, spread the cones further apart or increase the number of intervals and sets.

6. HIIT Interval Stairs

While you could jump on a stairmaster at your local gym, this is just as easy to perform at your local high school stadium bleachers. The key here is to sprint up and down the stairs in intervals, which changes the pace on your body.

Interval training is a wonderful way to increase stamina and agility in a very short period of time. Alternate your speed, while also alternating how far up the stairs you travel.


With these drills, you’ll be well on your way to improving your agility. The best part is that each of these drills requires minimal workout gear (if any) and not a lot of time.

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Teaching and coaching in a multigenerational setting

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I retired from coaching in 2012 after 36 years on the sideline coaching high school football, and in 2017, I retired from teaching. In order to stay busy, I decided to do some substitute teaching and agreed to join the varsity coaching staff at a local high school.

During my time away from football, I saw many changes in the high school game. Some of these changes came in the form of administrative directives and legislative mandates that were enacted in response to growing safety concerns related to on-field concussions.

Those changes were accompanied by a decrease in the number of students participating in football. This drop in participation has resulted in the disappearance of many freshman teams in our area, and it has also contributed to smaller roster sizes on the varsity and junior varsity levels.

During this time, I also started to see a drop in student attendance at varsity games and a concomitant decrease in general student enthusiasm. Although some of this can be attributed to concussion concerns, it has become obvious to me that there are other factors contributing to this transformation in high school football.

First, it is important to mention that these changes are more pronounced in certain areas of the country than they are in others. Many programs have high participation rates and continue to field teams on all levels, but if high school football is going to continue to flourish on a national level it is important that educators and coaches nationwide make a joint effort to address these changes.

A drop in student attendance is not just a concern for high schools. It is also a concern that has surfaced at the collegiate level. For the last few years there has been a growing national trend in decreased student attendance at football games, and in recent seasons, Alabama coach Nick Saban has commented about declines in student attendance and a general lack of student enthusiasm at home games.

These changes in high school football are driven in part by a multigenerational group dynamic that requires an understanding of the characteristics associated with Generation Z (also known as the “iGeneration”). Although there are no standard definitions for when a generation begins and ends, this group encompasses a time period that spans about 17 years. The oldest members would now be in their early 20s.

Some of the important events that impacted their lives included the Great Recession, home foreclosures, the student loan crisis, different wars and school shootings. They don’t remember a time before social media, and most things occur online. They are both tech-savvy and tech-dependent.

My observations in the classroom are that they want to make a difference in the world, and are generally very open-minded, respectful and tolerant of others. They are also highly educated, but this characteristic has come at a price.

Soon after the onset of the 21st century, I started to notice a few visible changes in student behavior both on and off the field. Students appeared to be more stressed by anything that was medical related.

An occurrence that became more noticeable to me was that some of my players were starting to cry when they suffered an injury on the field. Even a common injury like a sprained ankle would sometimes elicit this emotional response.

Over time, I started to see more professional athletes also crying when they suffered on the field injuries. An additional change that has become a national concern for educators is the sharp increase in the percentage of teenagers who suffer from depression, anxiety and other mental health issues.

As coaches and educators, we need to be aware of the possible causes for this change in our student-athletes’ behavioral profile, and we need to explore ways to better address their needs. Research indicates that more than half of all mental illnesses appear between the ages of 14 and 21.

We also know that the brain’s ability to adapt to change is really remarkable, and this continues even through the ages of 25 and 30. Coaches and educators must appreciate the fact that adolescence is an ideal time to identify opportunities for making positive changes. Schools should continue to work with healthcare professionals to formulate intervention plans that will positively impact behavior changes and learning.

Another growing concern is the youth suicide rate. Since 1980, suicide rates have increased nearly 130 percent in youth 10 to 14 years old, and, on average, over 5,000 middle and high school-aged youth attempt to die by suicide every day.

Our daily contact with students places us in a position to immediately take action when warning signs associated with suicide surface. Research indicates that nearly 80 percent of people who die by suicide gave some warning signs of their intentions.

One of the changes that often goes unmentioned in educator training courses is the transformation in traditional families in our country today. Statistics indicate that only about 46 percent of children are now living in households with two parents in their first marriage, but I have seen statistics that cite an even lower percentage.

There are many single moms and dads who do a tremendous job raising their children. There are also many grandparents, older siblings, and relatives who likewise provide adequate parenting for many children, but the fact remains that there is a big parenting void that exists in our country today.

This void is often filled through internet access and social media. Unfortunately, much of what we find in this domain can negatively impact adolescent mental health, and often hinders the development of our students’ emotional and moral intelligence.

This fact, coupled with the increase in social isolation and the increase in teenage mental disorders, has played a major role in what we are now experiencing with our youth today. As such, we shouldn’t discount the important role that teachers and coaches play in this context. Educators now fill this parenting void in much larger percentages than ever before.

When I hear people comment that athletics is not an important part of education or call for the curtailment or elimination of certain sports for financial or “safety” reasons, I simply ask the question, “Who are these kids going to turn to for guidance?”

Those who are part of a traditional family will continue to rely on both parents, but those who aren’t as fortunate will be pushed into a higher risk category of children who are relying on the internet and social media for parental guidance. Increased social isolation must also be factored into this dynamic.

Professor Jean Twenge at San Diego State University has done some pioneering research into smartphone use by the iGeneration and writes in The Atlantic that “It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental crisis in decades.” She notes that this generation of children spends more time on their phone, in their room, alone and often distressed.

I was recently speaking to one of my former players who is now an assistant football coach at a Power Five conference school, and he told me that in his 30 years of coaching he has never had an easier time supervising his players. He said his players were very easy to coach, worked hard on the field and did everything asked of them in the weight room and in meetings.

He added that once they left the training complex, they generally stayed in their rooms and weren’t socializing as much as prior generations. My brother was a California parole officer for many years, and he made an interesting comment to me.

I asked him why statistics are showing that there is less juvenile crime now than there was in prior years. Statistics from 2017 show that law enforcement agencies made 59% fewer juvenile arrests than they did in 2008. He pointed out to me that kids are not hanging around as much in public places like they did in the past. I decided to visit places in the neighborhood where we grew up, and he was absolutely right.

The students that are coming through our school doors today have distinct learning styles, and many of them are not as interested in things that prior generations enjoyed. After the Super Bowl was played this year, I substituted at a local high school, and their teacher left an assignment that instructed the students to write a Spanish language commentary on the game.

I polled the students in two classes, and out of 51 total students, only 12 watched the Super Bowl. These results surprised me, and I went on to ask how many of them attended their school’s varsity football games. Only four said they went to a game.

These results call for a further investigation into the multi-generational setting that we now work and coach in. As a teacher I have come to realize that about two-thirds of the students that I now come in contact with are visual or kinesthetic learners.

The days of standing in front of a room and lecturing for 50 minutes are part of the distant past. Coaching is no different. I was recently speaking with a local reporter who asked me why I thought a veteran offensive coordinator had been fired by an NFL team in midseason last year.

I told the reporter that his dismissal might have been related to his teaching style. This coach is very knowledgeable, and I knew his mastery of the X’s and O’s was not a problem. The reporter told me that this was interesting because the new coordinator, who was younger, immediately decreased classroom meeting time in order to spend more time instructing the players on the field.

In this multigenerational educational and coaching setting, one must remember that all generations bring something that is of value to the classroom and the field. The Traditionalist Generation brought decisive leadership, loyalty, dedication and commitment to the workplace. These are characteristics that will always be important.

The baby boomers have a strong work ethic and bring mentorship to the workplace. They look for respect and work hard to secure it. Generation X is independent, innovative and are risk-takers. They are goal oriented, think outside the box and want to manage their own time. Millennials are confident, upbeat, full of self-esteem and willing to accept change. They are also very tolerant towards multiculturalism and internationalism.

As educators and coaches, we need to provide psychological classroom and workplace safety for all the individuals we work with. We must communicate clear expectations regarding the work to be performed, and we also need to examine and promote the team’s organizational strategy. Creating and maintaining an inclusive learning environment is also important.

Finally, we need to look for ways to encourage the iGeneration to become involved in more group activities, and this includes football. E-sports are here to stay, and school teams and leagues are being organized nationwide.

“Exergaming,” the use of video games for physical activity, is one of many emerging innovative disciplines that are making their way into the 21st century classroom. High school coaches and athletic administrators should discover ways to tap this talent pool.

Perhaps we should look for multisport student-athletes who will compete in e-sport competitions on Thursday, and on Friday night take the field against these same opponents in the traditional football game.

We need follow the lead of our Generation X colleagues and start thinking outside the box. The athletic and coaching landscape in our schools is rapidly changing-not only in how we work, but also with whom we work. Chris Morris, a CNBC writer specializing in video games and consumer electronics, once said: “It is sometimes easy to forget that the king of the hill isn’t a permanent positon, and companies that seem invincible might not be around forever in their current form — or, in some cases, in any form.”

Morris reminds us that icons fall, and this could happen to high school football if we fail to heed the warning signs.

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5 easy ways to boost your heart health

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Making positive changes to help your cardiovascular system doesn’t necessarily always mean grueling exercise and eating even more kale.

Sometimes, the simplest moves are just the ticket for seeing meaningful improvements in your numbers. Try the following tricks:

Get real with your Fitbit.

USC researchers report that when asked how much exercise they get on a daily basis, people rarely answer accurately. Americans typically rate themselves as very active, for example, when as high as 60 percent of that subject group were proven to be inactive through fitness tracking devices.

The moral of this story: your Fitbit doesn’t lie. Pay attention to your actual mileage logged if you monitor steps throughout your workday, and move more if you need to.

Skip the drive-thru on your way home from work.

A study from the Medical College of Georgia at Augustafound that drinking just one milkshake made with whole milk, ice cream and whipped cream was enough to turn healthy red blood cells into spiky cells, which are a key risk for a cardiovascular event like a heart attack.

What’s more, the risk to your heart after consuming a high-fat drink or food lasts for a full four hours, causing an immune response in your body that’s similar to an infection. The researchers think this could explain rare reports of sudden death after people with heart disease eat a single high-fat meal.

The take-home: an occasional rich treat is probably OK, but don’t make a habit of taxing your heart by eating this way all the time.

Don’t break your daily diet into small portions.

It’s previously been thought that eating six small meals plus two snacks was a great way to lose weight, but researchers at Tel Aviv University now recommend eating on the following schedule: a big breakfast, an average lunch, a small dinner, and no snacking at all.

Their research concluded that this new eating schedule controlled hunger better than more frequent eating, and provided better glucose control and balance — participants during the duration of their study dropped 11 pounds as opposed to 3 pounds dropped by those eating six meals a day. Health improvements happened after only two weeks on the new schedule, too.

Listen to music after you take your blood pressure meds.

Research finds that classical music in particular lowers your heart rate, reduces arterial pressure and positively activates your body’s parasympathetic system — all of which helps your body absorb the medication better. Using Beethoven as your office soundtrack might just create the calming environment you need overall to do your best work, too — give it a try!

Be optimistic.

Research from the American College of Cardiology found that positive thinkers have a great chance of improving their heart health, because optimism allows you to better and more enthusiastically plan a healthy diet, make time for exercise, and reject stress. Practice seeing the glass half full — it will not only help your heart, but open up new possibilities in your work life as well!

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Study: Mobile health apps used by millions but effectiveness is lacking

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There’s an app for seemingly everything to help us live better healthier lives, but it seems the outcomes of these apps show little evidence of positive prognoses. Perhaps the best way to describe these digital health tools is that they have a big hat but no cattle.

According to a study published by Health Affairs, even though the developers of the technologies study their effectiveness, these studies “rarely used randomized controlled trials, depended on small study populations and generally focused on healthier individuals.”

The authors of the study said they looked for evidence of clinical effectiveness through use of the apps or a “demonstrable improvement for a relevant health diagnosis.” Per FierceHealthcare reporting, digital health firms can verify their own measurements, citing their ability that an activity tracker can accurately count steps, but aren’t able to prove the solutions help a patient struggling with weight, for example.

“We had a fairly high bar for demonstrating evidence, but in many ways in medicine it’s the standard bar, which is clinical trials of sorts, and right now our sense is that the digital health community doesn’t really have to meet that bar, particularly when they’re going direct to consumer,” Adam Cohen, one of the authors of the study said in an interview with FierceHealthcare.

“You know it tracks steps or it measures heart rate, but does it prevent obesity? Or does it reduce obesity? Or does it prevent events or conditions related to obesity, like stroke or diabetes and so forth? And that sort of impact; we didn’t find a ton of evidence for that in our selected cohort.”

Authors of the study want more evidence, but are not limiting the apps’ capabilities in coming years. The rise of the technology from nearly nothing a decade ago has been nearly as impressive as the rocket launch of the digital technologies and devices that support the apps’ livelihood. Some of the companies behind the health apps are now expressing interest in conducting clinical trials, the study said.

Mobile health (mHealth) apps continue to transform how health information is accessed. There are two major types of health apps that are most prevalent today: those focused on healthy eating and nutrition and those focused on physical fitness and activity. Other apps are focused on such activities as promoting behaviors like better sleep, positive thinking and smoking cessation.

According to the Health Well Foundation, mHealth apps are used by more than 60 million users in the U.S. There are currently more than 100,000 health apps on the market, but, as the study above shows, it’s not yet possible to determine which are effective and which could even be causing potential harm. Despite this, these apps are expected to exceed $3 billion in global sales by 2019.

How can mHealth apps be effective, the University of Illinois, Chicago asks? “Providing a platform for clear, organized tracking of their health related data.”

Additionally, “organized, user-friendly data tracking makes it easier for mHealth users to set health-oriented goals and track their data as they attempt to achieve them. Whether it’s tracking streaks of consecutive days exercising, or logging consecutive days without using tobacco products, mHealth apps provide users with an instantly-accessible tool where health progressive can be monitored in real time, a means that’s far more rewarding than bi-annual trips to primary care providers.”

If mobile health apps want to move beyond the direct-to-consumer model and enter the formal healthcare space, the study’s authors suggest digital health companies do better at demonstrating the effectiveness of the technology they create. The authors also recommended financial incentives from the government could help in this effort.

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Palm Beach Atlantic’s Tracy Peyton named 2019 Ron Balicki Scholarship recipient

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Tracy Peyton, a senior at Palm Beach Atlantic University, is the recipient of the 2019 Ron Balicki Scholarship,awarded by the Ron Balicki Scholarship Foundation. This scholarship was established to celebrate the legacy of Balicki, the Hall of Fame college and amateur golf writer from Golfweek.

Balicki wrote about the college and amateur game for more than 30 years, delivering stories not only about the players who would become the PGA Tour’s stars of tomorrow but stories about amateurs of all talent levels who simply loved to compete.

Peyton’s golf career began when she was 9 years old. Her parents wanted her to play sports from a young age to instill values that she could carry with her for life. She tried lacrosse, soccer and basketball but to no avail. Peyton’s father introduced her to golf, a game he has played his whole life. Almost immediately, she showed both talent and passion for the game.

Peyton traded her lacrosse stick in for a set of clubs for good in middle school. Over the summer she would play in small tournaments and participate in junior clinics at The Links, a facility of three nine-hole courses near her hometown of Boynton Beach, Florida.

One of Peyton’s fondest memories is getting her first hole-in-one. She was playing in a junior tournament at her home course, Okeeheelee Golf Course. The 120-yard Par 3 featured a creek short right, a sand trap in front of the green, and is surrounded by trees.

“I thinned it,” Peyton said through a laugh.

She didn’t follow it all the way, thinking she should just start marching toward the trees behind the green. She heard it hit the pin but thought it just ricocheted into the woods instead of going in the hole. As Peyton searched for her ball in the woods, she decided to check the cup just in case a miracle happened.

“It was the worst shot in my life, but it turned out great!”

Peyton’s golf career only went up from there. She made the Park Vista High School golf team her freshman year. Her team qualified for the State Championship her Freshman and Sophomore year at Park Vista. Her father was her No. 2 fan.

“My dad loves watching me play,” Peyton said.

It didn’t take long for her dad to realize that all Peyton needed was a short game.

“I couldn’t get up and down to save my life!” Peyton remembered.

Sure enough, Peyton and her father got her short game cleaned up. She wanted to play golf but didn’t want it to take away from her education. It turned out that the best school for her was just down the street. Palm Beach Atlantic gave Peyton an opportunity to combine her two passions while giving her best effort both on and off the course.

“I ended up going to the closest school to my house but it turned out to be a great school.” Peyton said.

Peyton was a member of the Palm Beach Atlantic women’s golf team before becoming editor-in-chief of the university’s student newspaper.

Peyton was the first scholarship athlete recruited by Palm Beach Atlantic to start their women’s golf program.

“Coach Watson made me feel like I was going to make a big difference on the team.” Peyton said, “I was really excited to help springboard the program.”

Unfortunately, Peyton’s collegiate golf career was abruptly cut short by a shoulder injury. Peyton was addressing a ball at practice one day when she immediately felt pain in her right shoulder.

She went to the hospital and visited multiple doctors who cannot seem to diagnose the problem. Although she misses being able to play regularly, Peyton is thankful that the injury happened when it did. She was the managing editor during the 2017-18 school year for The Beacon, Palm Beach Atlantic’s student publication. By no longer being able to play, Peyton has put all of her time and energy into The Beacon and is currently the editor-in-chief.

“I wouldn’t have been able to be editor-in-chief if I was on the golf team. So, this injury was like okay, it’s time to step away from the team. It just made sense. I’m thankful it happened… Everything worked out!” Peyton said after reflecting on her injury.

Peyton isn’t like most college students in the fact that she knows what she wants to do once she graduates.

“I’ve known I’ve wanted to be a journalist since high school… I’ve always known,” Peyton said.

Since she was in elementary school, her parents realized Peyton had a talent for writing. Peyton remembers her parents reading her school essays and encouraging her to write more. Once Peyton began high school, she joined the school newspaper where she was the copy editor.

“I love to tell stories and hear other people’s experiences and how they impact society.”

Ron Balicki’s legacy means something different to everyone that knew him or read his work. To Peyton, his legacy means that no matter what one does, that they do something that they love. The path Balicki paved is something that she is thankful for and something she will never forget as she continues her career in journalism.

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