Monthly Archives: October 2016

How Harmful Is It

If you like to swim laps, or spend summer days poolside, you’ll want to read this. A new study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters suggests the average pool may contain a great deal of urine.

Researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada set out to determine the extent of pee contamination in swimming pools. To do this, they tested water from pools and hot tubs in two Canadian cities for acesulfame potassium, or Ace-K, a widely consumed artificial sweetener found in supermarket staples like frozen meals, packaged cookies, and diet sodas.

What does sweet pool water have to do with pee? The amount of Ace-K in a pool is a helpful measure of the amount of urine present, since the ingredient is not metabolized by the body, is excreted exclusively through urine, and doesn’t get broken down by chlorine.

When researchers compared the levels of the sweetener in pool water and tap water, they found that the former contained up to 570 times more Ace-K. Based on those concentrations, they concluded that a 220,000-gallon commercial-size swimming pool likely contains almost 20 gallons of urine. A residential pool probably holds about two gallons.

 

The presence of pee in your pool isn’t just gross; it also raises real health questions, the researchers say. They point to recent studies that have shown bodily fluids like urine and sweat can react with disinfectants in the water to form disinfection byproducts (or DBPs), compounds that may cause uncomfortable symptoms like eye irritation and respiratory problems. Some preliminary research has even linked DBPs to cancer when they’re consumed.

So is it bad for your health to wade in other people’s wee? Don’t cancel your local pool membership just yet. Rutgers University environmental health expert Clifford Weisel, PhD, told NPR that people shouldn’t stop swimming—but they should be aware of the risks.

Balance and coordinate your body with these yoga exercises

You probably learned to balance at the ripe age of two. But honing the skill is essential to your overall fitness and sports performance as an adult, too. Rebecca Weible, owner and director of Yo Yoga! studio in New York City, says yoga urges us to improve our balance, posture and evenly distribute our weight in our feet. “Look at your own shoes. You’ll notice how worn out the heels are. Is one sole more battered than the other?” Weible says.

Mastering balance-focused yoga poses is one way to bring awareness to your weight distribution, while also building strength, stability and alignment. “It makes a huge difference when we’re running, weightlifting, doing plyometrics or performing agility moves,” Weible explains. Whether you’re doing tree pose or Warrior III, “your whole body needs to be involved with yoga,” Weible says. Check out these standing yoga poses to help you improve your balance and coordination.

If you’re new to yoga, Weible recommends using a wall or chair to help you stabilize. “The goal is to notice the wall and lighten your touch. You can move from having your entire hand on the wall to just your fingertips,” she says.

 

1. Tricky Kitty

This beginner’s yoga pose is an excellent progression to standing positions, like tree pose or Warrior III. Weible likes this pose for balance because you’re much closer to the ground, and your body is immediately forced to find balance.

How to: Get into tabletop position with your knees directly below your hips and your arms and shoulders are perpendicular to the floor (a). Step your right foot back and keep it tucked (b). As you inhale, simultaneously lift your left hand and right leg off the floor. Your left fingers are pointing straight in front of you and your right foot is flexed and forms a straight line with your back and head (c). Focus on a point on the ground and keep your chest lifted and open so your upper body could provide support (d). As you exhale, slowly bring your right leg and left hand back down to the ground in tabletop position (e). Repeat the same movement on the other side.

 

2. Tree Pose

Tree pose reminds us to engage our core muscles, specifically the obliques, in order to maintain alignment from head to foot. Bringing your hands to prayer (mudra) isn’t just for aesthetics; it helps keep your chest open and extends your upper back so you stand straighter. Need to modify? Weible suggests placing the tip of your toes on the mat or resting your heel against the standing ankle for more support. From there, your foot can flutter to the calf and work its way above your knee on your thigh, but you should never have your foot on your knee, as it’s too straining for that joint.

How to: Stand in mountain pose (tadasana) with your feet hip-distance apart, hands by your sides, palms facing forward (a). Begin to shift your weight onto your right foot and bend your left knee (b). Slowly grab your left ankle with your left hand and place it against your inner right thigh, pressing your left foot sole with your toes pointing to the ground (c). Engage your core as you place your hands in prayer pose (mudra) (d). Focus on a point in front of you and hold for two or three breaths before bringing your left foot back down to the ground (e). Repeat the same movement on the other side.

Exercises to Build Total Body Strength

We know how much space kettlebells and dumbbells can take up in your home. But the truth is you don’t need a whole lot of fancy equipment to get the most out of your at-home workout. Resistance bands are space-efficient, highly portable, and they’re great for every level of fitness. Since they rely on your bodyweight for resistance, they’re extremely flexible and can make even the simplest workout extra tough.

There are a variety of resistance bands out there, but the three most popular types are looped resistance bands, elastic band tubes with handles and mini bands. Looped resistance bands, which basically look like a giant rubber band, are commonly used in advanced powerlifting and sports performance workouts to do lifts like the barbell squat and bench press. Elastic tubes are thin, cylinder-shaped tools with handles at each end and are used for strength exercises, from bicep curls to shoulder raises. Mini bands are small, flat, looped elastic bands, typically placed above the knees or ankles for mobility and stability work, or as part of a dynamic warm-up.

How much resistance you’ll get is determined by the stiffness of the band and how far it’s stretched. Exercise equipment manufacturers will likely include the amount of resistance each band has, but in general, the wider or longer a band is, the more resistance it has.

If you have one, two or all three types of bands, you’re in luck. We’ve got 10 resistance band exercises to help you build strength and stability — right where you are.

1. Band Pull Apart

Targets: Chest, triceps, rhomboids (upper back)
How to: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and head facing forward (a). Hold a resistance band in front of you with your arms extended straight out. There should be 4-6 inches of band left at the ends where your grip stops (b). Pull the band apart by bringing your shoulder blades together so that the band touches your chest (c). Slowly return to the starting position by bringing your arms back down in front you at eye level. This move should be done slowly and under control. Repeat for 8-10 reps (d). You can use a therapy band for this exercise, if strength bands are too difficult.

2. Upright Row

Targets: Shoulders
How to: Stand with the band under your feet, shoulder-width apart. Shoulders should be back, spine straight and head facing forward (a). Hold the top of the band with a pronated (overhand) grip, hands close together and arms straight down in front of your body. This is the starting position (b). Lift your hands towards toward ceiling, raising them to about chin height, while keeping the hands close to the body. Your elbows should point to your sides and your forearms parallel to the floor (c). Return the bands back to the starting position (d). Repeat for 8-10 reps.