Category Archives: Physical Education

What’s The Best Way To Refresh Post-workout? Coconut Water or Sports Drinks?

What’s the Best Way To Refresh Post-Workout- Coconut Water vs. Gatorade vs. Powerade?

This is a guest post by Shannon White, the choreographer of the MECKids Dream Team.

The “New” Kid in Town                                   

Before you divorce your favorite sports drink for nature’s alternative, ask yourself if you’ve tried to work it out. Let’s take a moment to make sure this is the right decision. Rehydration after a strenuous activity (like playing with your kids) is essential to ensure that your body replenishes its nutrients. In the last few years, coconut water has splashed on the scene in the U.S., with celebrity endorsements and big names like Pepsi and Coca-Cola getting in on the action too. Coconut water is far from new, however. Americans are “tardy for the party”; tropical countries (Caribbean, parts of Africa, Southeast Asia) where the young, green coconuts are found have been getting the “super water” straight from the source for many years.

MECKids Mission: To find out whether or not coconut water is an adequate, healthy substitute for popular sports drinks of today.

Water WIth Lemon

Why all the Fuss?

What is so great about coconut water anyway? If the liquid from this tropical fruit isn’t manipulated too much, coconut water is a natural, low calorie source of electrolytes (potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, sodium) with a slight nutty and refreshing taste. In fact, the Molecules scientific journal boasts that it can also help to prevent heart attacks and treat kidney stones. Its other benefits include:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Fights free radicals to help fight cancer
  • Can have anti-aging affects
  • Has trans-zeatin that is used to prevent and/or treat Alzheimer’s and dementia

So far so good, right? Let’s continue.

Potassium is the key electrolyte that contributes to coconut water’s star power— if electrolytes were famous, potassium would be an A-list celebrity. It helps not only control the amount of water in your body, but it also helps maintain a healthy pH level in the blood. Because there aren’t as many sources that are rich in potassium as say, sodium, potassium deficiency is very common, especially in African American women. If severe, it can be fatal (eek!).

Raw coconut water has about 20 times the potassium of Gatorade, which equals about four bananas. For all the banana haters out there, talk about a win!

Does it measure up?

e5aacdb5-c77f-4654-b0be-7179bf747b32Even though potassium is a salt (which we now know is important), it’s not the primary salt we lose while sweating it out. That prize goes to sodium. Here are the cold (and refreshing) facts: Powerade and Gatorade both have more than double the amount of sodium of coconut water per ounce. Normally, less sodium means it’s better for you. But in this case, sodium is the most essential electrolyte to the rehydration process (after a strenuous workout). The Scientific Committee on Food suggests 460-1150 milligrams of sodium per liter in order to rehydrate properly. Sodium helps the small intestine absorb water and carbohydrates, helping to replenish fluids and energy. In other words, coconut water does not have enough sodium content to roll with the rehydration “big dogs” Gatorade and Powerade. Stick with these engineered performance drinks for optimal rehydration after your workout.

Don’t Say it’s Over

cut coconutDon’t fret though, albeit coconut water isn’t your go-to after a workout, it can still be your go-to for a potassium supplement, along with the other benefits mentioned above. Just make sure you pick the right brand. Because of the mass marketing of coconut water, a lot of companies are cutting corners to get (and keep) their products on the shelves. Coconut water is incredibly perishable once it’s taken from the coconut, meaning that its nutrients are literally a ticking time bomb. Most companies use concentrates or heat to pasteurize the nutrients right out of the water or use a mature (and less nutritious) coconut as a substitute, masking the acidic taste with sweetener and fruit flavors.

Vani Hari of Foodbabe.com suggests keeping it simple. Pay attention to the labels and avoid:

  • Concentrates
  • Heat Pasteurization
  • Added “fruit” flavors
  • Added sweeteners

Try an organic or raw brand from your local organic store. If there isn’t one nearby, Amazon has a few organic brands that ship within a few days (Harmless Harvest is at the top of our list!) And if you happen to visit any tropical areas this summer, make sure you try the best way— straight from the source!

Do you drink coconut water or sports drinks after you workout and what has been your experience? Please share in the comments below!

So now it is time to decide if Gatorade or Powerade is better for you. Click here to take a look at our article for a comparison of the two.

 

 

Neila Rey: Fitness Extraordinaire

If you’re a geek for anything relating to comic books or superheroes, then do I have a workout for you! Not only is it quick and easy to execute, but it works out every muscle in your body, making it perfect for busy bees who want to stay in shape. The best part? The creator of the workouts, Neila Rey, based each of her fitness plans off of a famous superhero or comic book figure.


 

The Benefits of Neila Rey’s Workouts

I discovered these workouts while surfing my favorite social media site. I was immediately intrigued by the visual aid that was minimalist and easy to read.

  • Each exercise is accompanied by an instructional picture to help people (like me) that are visual thinkers.
  • It specifies how many times you should repeat each exercise to maximize caloric burn.
  • Works with  muscular strength, cardiorespiratory endurance, flexibility, and core strengthening. Basically, your whole body will be in for a shock.
  • It takes up to 30 minutes, making it an aerobic exercise plan.

The best part, however, is the bottom banner, highlighted below.

Wolverine Workout1

It cleverly helps you out by explaining how many sets you should perform if you are a beginner, novice, or expert. Now, I am what you could consider…a lazy bum who can’t do more than 10 pushups a beginner. This workout program helps cater to my needs and holds my hand as I progress.

Plus, it’s entertaining to imagine that I’m a superhero training to fight evil.

To honor the newest superhero movie, X-Men: Days of Future Past (which is AMAZING, seriously you’re missing out if you haven’t seen it), I will be showing you the “Wolverine” workout. The link below is a PDF file that shows you the original image of the workout.

Wolverine WORKOUT PDF


Step One: High Knees (24)

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We could not get action shots, so I had to awkwardly stand there like a flamingo. The neighbors were amused.

Step Two:  Squats (24)

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The smile on my face says it all.

Step Three: Climbers (24)

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Step Four: Raised Leg Push-Ups (10)

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Luckily, she specified 10, which is my maximum capability.

Step Five: Shoulder Touches (10)

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Step Six: Plank Jump Ins (10)

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The photographer caught me mid-sentence complaining about this exercise.

Step Seven: Reverse Crunches (12)

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Step Eight: Sitting Twists (12)

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Step Nine: Flutter Kicks (24)

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THE ENEMY.

Step Ten: Rest and Stretch

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For someone who isn’t in stellar shape, these exercises are just challenging enough for me to sweat and burn. Wolverine sure does work his core! I repeat each exercise three times, with two minute breaks in between. At the end of the workout, I was sweating, but felt good. I also ran around the block a few times to let off steam and by the end, I was beat.

IN CONCLUSION

Neila Rey’s unique take on pairing everyday exercises into something both beneficial and pop culture savvy is something new and refreshing. She doesn’t just create superhero fitness plans either. She has more than 120 visual workout guides with a diverse selection of themes to suit all your geeky needs, like Fight Club, Hunger Games, BBC’s Sherlock, and Star Wars, to name a few. Her website has everything you need to work out in a time crunch, which is perfect for a busy student like myself.

Stay Healthy,

Adia

Bloopers:

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Me throwing out my ankle after trying high knees. Don’t forget to stretch before and after, people!

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“I’m so strong, you can’t even see my muscles!”

All credit goes to Neila Rey. To view Neila Rey’s workouts and other super cool stuff, visit her website at:

http://neilarey.com

 

 

 

100th Birthday & 50th Anniversary!!

This is the 50th anniversary of “Singing In The Rain” and the 100th  birthday for its star, Gene Kelly!!  Use this anniversary to do a video survey of the movie, which is a classic!  You may have to help your students understand certain parts but, they will love it!!   Once you have watched the movie, have students create fun fact lists in your computer lab.

Example: many of the characters were based on real people:

  1. Lena Lamont was based on the actress Norma Talmadge
  2. Gene Kelly made the iconic “Singing In The Rain” number while battling the flu with a 105 temperature!!

 

What did your students have to say about the movie?

Everything Comes Back!!!

I was happy to read in the newspaper about a study that was recently published about the impact of recess and free play; it is good for children on the physical, social and educational levels.  Many students have lost the required 20 minutes of free play and 40 minutes of organized physical education due to the need to work on testing requirements.  This time varies from state to state with some states having no required physical education.  Let’s have our kids put down the electronics and GO OUTSIDE!!

Rubrics

Once students have established a movement vocabulary, I like to have them write the rubrics-using a 1-4 scale.  I keep it simple and have them create under three areas:

  1. Technique
  2. Artistry
  3. Intent

Under technique, What is a 4?  (Pointed feet, jumps that leave the floor, land quietly, etc).

Divide the class into the three areas and let them own the learning!  This also helps them in regards to peer and self evaluation to be able to put into words what good dancing looks like!

Hero Dance Pt. II

Now that students have created their movement piece about their hero, have them present to each other.  To further advance the meaning, have students bring in an artifact that represents their hero (like a picture or an object).  Students will lean towards people that are not living. Express to them the hero can still be living AND the dances can be happy!   Whatever the hero or dance, the purpose is to convey meaning!!  Use the peer evaluation as a tool to edit and re-edit the dances.  Once this has taken place, record the dances and have students do a self evaluation:

Did the piece convey the intended meaning? Was the movement story clear?

Have fun & be creative!!!

Write and dance together yes really!

Have students brainstorm about their personal hero.  Is it their parents, classmate, pet, someone from pop culture?  Whoever it is- it’s OK!  Have students write an essay explaining their choice- what makes them special? How have they impacted their life? Do they have any special personality traits or funny habits?

My example to my students: I used to have a dance teacher that used to take a picture of herself in a bikini every year on her birthday (she did this until she was 80).

Why?

Because she always wanted to be honest about her body.

Students will select music that represents the essay and create a movement piece!!

 

Who did your students pick as their hero? Who is your hero and what would your movement piece include?

Taking cues from Dancing With The Stars!!

One of the things that I love about DWTS is the fact that it brings dance and specifically ballroom dance to a new audience.  An easy way to start a unit is with the lindy swing, which is 2 steps and a ball change or back step.  Once you teach the basics to your students- let them figure out the mirror image- first with no hands-just facing each other.  Then try a simple hand to hand connection-palm up for the leader and hands down for the follower.  Another great footnote is sanitation first- clean hands always!!  You can try a variety of music styles not just big bands- let the kids try current music.  Remember- the learner owns the learning!!

YouTube as a Teaching Tool

Everyone knows about YouTube to see a kitten playing the piano but, what about as a teaching tool?  In my classroom, I use it all the time as a way for students to witness some great historical dances and icons from the field.  Here’s an idea: have the students watch a scene the New York City Ballet’s, Swan Lake and the Knicks last home game.  Just a few minutes of each, then try to create movement phrases based on what they witnessed.  Grab a partner and share ideas.

The Assessment Issue…

The new buzz word for physical activity folks – ASSESSMENT!!  Folks that are not actually in a classroom lose perspective of this issue.  In a nutshell- keep it simple!  Teachers assess students daily to determine the level of the class and also how to pace the class, which is “formative assessment”.  When you are at the end of a unit of instruction and give the final test, you are performing a “summative assessment”.  Physical activity specialists, PE and Dance teachers perform these tasks daily without even thinking about it- don’t get caught up in the “edu-speak”!!  I bet you are already doing it!!

Relevance & Rigor!

As a dance teacher at an inner city school, one of my best ways is the music that I select or should I say let the students select.  I keep a stack of blank cds and I distribute these to students for music with the parameter that it must be “Rated G’ and school appropriate- it has to pass the Grandma test- Would you play it for your Grandma?  Do students ever try to sneak music past you?  Yes!! As long as you are consistent, it is amazing how students will police each other.

Getting Them Up And MOVIN’!!

According to all of the studies by the American Association of Pediatrics and others, our nation is facing an epidemic of childhood obesity!!   How do we fix it?!  Our children need a combination of diet and exercise; our first line of defense is to make this part of the school day.  Students will embrace this combination when it seems relevant to where they “live” today.  As teachers, the sooner we master this notion the quicker we will get to the heart of the issue.  Why not try to use the influences of today’s media to get students engaged quicker?  Over the next few months I will provide a variety of tools to get your kids up and movin’!