Posts Tagged ‘prevention’

Self-Defense as Prevention for All Ages

Prevention isn’t just about taking care of your health and fitness. It’s also about being aware of your surroundings and keeping yourself safe from harm. When it comes to facing bullies and defending against the elements, self-defense is the number one form of prevention. Cooper Fitness Center Martial Arts Pro Mike Proctor explains the importance of learning self-defense at any age.

Mental and Physical Aspects of Self-Defense

Mike notes that most self-defense is mental and emotional, and includes having a plan and being aware of your surroundings at all times. You should have a plan for everything–a house fire, car breakdown on the highway or just walking to your car from the shopping mall. “I tell my students that martial arts are 90 percent mental and emotional, and 10 percent physical,” says Mike.

According to Mike, the physical techniques of self-defense are relatively simple compared to preparing mentally. “We are taught to never make a scene and to not hurt people,” explains Mike. “That makes it hard to go against your instincts when you’re put in a tough situation where self-defense is needed.” Mentally, it’s key to know when you are the most vulnerable; physically, you must know how to defend yourself against various situations.

Who Needs Self-Defense?

Self-defense can and should be practiced by all ages, both male and female. The self-defense course you take should aim at your particular demographic and your physical abilities. Though self-defense is important for everyone, Mike points out the following populations who could benefit most from learning self-defense:

  • Adults and children with special needs: those with special needs, including hearing loss, vision impairment, Down syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis and others, are more likely to be victims of bullying or physical harm because they are more vulnerable targets.
  • College students: college-age young adults, especially females, are at the most vulnerable time of their lives. Being on campus can create a feeling of security, but this is often an illusion.
  • Females of all ages: Mike notes that situations calling for self-defense most often occur to women, no matter the age.


Bullying isn’t just something that happens on the schoolyard anymore, and kids aren’t the only victims. Bullying can occur within romantic relationships, between coworkers, online and in various other situations. “When it comes to bullying, it’s important to focus on your attitude and action–what your response will be,” says Mike. As a society, we have a responsibility to recognize bullying (whether it is happening to us or another person) and act to stop it. Learning self-defense can give children and adults the confidence to stand up to a bully should they encounter one and know when to ask for help from others.

How Martial Arts Can Prepare You

Training in martial arts can give you a sense of empowerment that you can do something to protect yourself or others if you are ever put in a situation when it’s needed. Mike recommends treating self-defense courses the same way you would treat CPR certification–take a course about every two years to stay up-to-date and to practice your skills. The skills should become reflexes in order to be most effective. “Taking courses every two years can remind you that danger can occur at any time,” explains Mike. “You can fall into a false sense of security when you’re not practicing often enough, and self-defense courses are a way to always stay on your toes and be aware of the problems you may face in the world.”

Remember that self-defense isn’t a one-size-fits-all mentality. You must be aware of your own vulnerabilities and understand how to combat them. Keeping yourself safe is of utmost importance, and self-defense is the best preventive tool available.

For more information about martial arts programs at Cooper Fitness Center, visit

Sit Less, Move More – Exercise Guidelines for Diabetes and Prediabetes

November 14, 2016 Leave a comment

By Elana Paddock, RDN, LD, CDE, Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services

Many people with diabetes do not exercise despite all of its proven benefits. If you have diabetes or prediabetes, physical activity is more than just a way to lose weight – it can also make it easier to keep your blood glucose (sugar) levels closer to normal.

When you have diabetes, your body’s insulin action is less effective in storing glucose and regulating your blood sugars, but exercise sensitizes insulin. During exercise, stored glucose becomes a source of energy for your muscles and as the stores gets depleted, your blood sugar goes down and can stay down for 24-48 hours.

What types and amounts of physical activity are recommended for diabetes?

  • Aerobic exercise includes brisk walking, bicycling, swimming, aerobics, elliptical, dancing, rowing, tennis and stair climbing. Engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity weekly, spread over at least three days per week, with no more than two consecutive days without activity.
  • Resistance training includes exercises with weight machines, free weights, elastic resistance bands, body weight and group strength training classes. Perform these at least two times a week on non-consecutive days.
  • Balance and flexibility training includes yoga and tai chi. Aim for two or three times a week.
  • Light-intensity activities daily (read below under “updates”).

To better fit your schedule, you can break up 30 minutes into 10- or 15-minute segments several times a day. Research has shown the health benefits are similar. Recent studies have also shown that a 15-minute walk after meals can help lower your blood sugar.

What are the updates in the latest exercise guidelines?

People with diabetes are advised to incorporate “light” activities throughout the day, particularly when sedentary for prolonged periods of time (working on the computer, sitting in a meeting or watching TV). Take a light activity break for three minutes for every 30 minutes of sitting. Examples include:

  • Overhead arm stretches
  • Leg extensions
  • Torso twists
  • Walking in place

Exercise Tips:

  • Have a very specific plan. Define what, when, where and for how long you’re going to commit to working out. This will improve your chances of adherence and success.
  • What kind of exercises will you do? Make a list of activities and be creative. If you enjoy what you’re doing, you’re more likely to stick with it!
  • When are you going to fit in a workout? Make a schedule of the specific days and times you will exercise. Prioritize them on your calendar as “appointments.”
  • Are you going to exercise at a gym, in a group class, at a park or track or at home using a workout DVD or technology app? Decide what might work best for you.
  • Do you prefer to exercise solo, with a buddy, in a class or with a personal trainer? Participating in supervised training may provide more health benefits for people with diabetes than non-supervised programs. Plus, the accountability to others can be very motivating.
  • How long will you exercise? Be realistic and set achievable goals. If you are brand new to working out, start with 10 minutes and build up to 30 minutes or more.
  • Keep a log of your exercise to stay on track. You can use fitness technology resources like a pedometer, fitness band or exercise watch to track steps, calories and heart rate. Don’t forget to give yourself credit for what you do-every step counts!

When you have diabetes, prioritize exercise as part of your lifestyle to better control your blood sugars. Beyond managing your diabetes, exercise can help you feel better about yourself and improve your overall health.

For more information about preventing and managing diabetes and prediabetes, visit the Cooper Aerobics website.

What to Eat for Better Sleep

Research shows that sleep deprivation slows the metabolism, makes weight loss difficult and is an additional stressor on the body.

Research shows that sleep deprivation slows the metabolism, makes weight loss difficult and is an additional stressor on the body.

Did you know that what you eat can affect your sleep? There are certain foods that can improve your sleep and others that can disrupt your sleep. Let’s look at how to eat better to get a good night’s rest.

Research has shown that people who reported sleeping less than five hours a night consume more calories than those who slept more than seven hours. Other studies have suggested that sleep deprivation interferes with the hunger and satiety signals. People who don’t get enough sleep may have an imbalance of these hormones, putting them at greater risk for health problems including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and depression. Getting your z’s really does impact your health!

Foods that Improve Sleep

  • Foods with tryptophan. Tryptophan is a sleep-promoting amino acid substance. You may have heard that turkey makes us drowsy because of the tryptophan, however this may not be the case. Mostly carbohydrate foods with tryptophan cause sleepiness (turkey and animal-based proteins do not contain carbohydrates). Good sources of tryptophan include dairy, nuts and seeds, bananas and honey.
  • Combining carbohydrates with dairy. Pair dairy sources with carbohydrate-rich foods to increase blood levels of tryptophan. Try yogurt and whole grain crackers, a small bowl of fiber-rich cereal and fat free milk, or a slice of whole wheat bread and low-fat cheese.
  • Light bedtime snack. This may contradict the unwritten “rule” of not eating before bedtime, however if you have trouble sleeping, there’s truth in eating a light bite to help you fall asleep. Remember to keep it small and light. A heavy snack will make your digestive system run on overtime, hindering sleep.
  • Herbal teas. These can have a sedative affect. Pour yourself a warm cup of chamomile, passion flower tea or valerian as a calming routine at night.

Foods that Hinder Sleep

  • Heavy dinner meal. Overeating at night causes a lot of strain on your digestive system that interferes with sleep. Eating late may also cause you to have heartburn. Try to finish your meal at least three hours before bedtime.
  • Alcohol. Although a few drinks may help you fall asleep, too much will disrupt the important REM “restorative” sleep cycle. Alcohol can cause your blood sugar to drop and wake you up in the middle of the night.
  • High tyramine foods. Avoid pork, chocolate and wine before bedtime because they contain the amino acid tyramine. Tyramine converts to noradrenaline, a brain stimulant.
  • Excess protein. Protein-rich foods that are also high in fat are harder to digest than carbohydrates and can make it more difficult to sleep.
  • High-fat foods and spicy foods. A high-fat meal and spicy foods can disrupt your sleep so skip the fried, rich and spicy foods, especially at night.
  • Hidden caffeine. Even moderate amounts of caffeine can disrupt sleep. Don’t forget less obvious sources in chocolate, soda and even decaf coffee. Cut the caffeine at least four to six hours prior to bedtime. Beware of some over-the-counter headache and cold medicines that may contain caffeine, too.
  • Excess water. Cut off drinking water and other fluids a few hours before bedtime. Drinking too much late at night may interrupt your sleep if it causes you to get up and use the restroom often.

Better sleep “hygiene” is possible with a few tweaks to your diet routine. Test them out and see if you can get a better night’s sleep!

For more information on Nutrition consultations at Cooper Clinic for you and your family click here or call 972.560.2655.

Sunscreen Guide 2014

April 18, 2014 1 comment

Skin cancer is caused primarily by unprotected exposure to the sun, meaning it’s often preventable with sunscreen and clothing which protect the skin from too much exposure to the sun. Although sunscreen is readily available, skin cancer rates continue to climb. Why?

Until recently, there were no real standards for how sunscreen manufacturers labeled their products. Experts are hopeful that new labeling guidelines by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will help reduce the incidents of skin cancer in the U.S.

Cooper Clinic Preventive and Cosmetic Dermatologist Flora Kim, MD, FAAD, explains the new FDA guidelines and how to properly use sunscreen to reduce risk of skin cancer.

New FDA Guidelines

New FDA guidelines are intended to make it easier for consumers to know how much protection a particular sunscreen does or does not provide. The use of the label “broad spectrum protection” means the sunscreen has been proven to protect against both UVA and UVB rays (although UVA protection might me weaker than UVB protection). In the past, a sunscreen could be labeled as “broad spectrum” even if it only protected against UVB rays.

When it comes to SPF, any sunscreen lower than SPF 15 must be clearly labeled that it will not protect against skin cancer, but will only prevent sunburn. Sunscreen with an SPF over 15 that is labeled as “broad spectrum” can be labeled as preventing sunburn, skin cancer and aging due to the sun.

Any sunscreen over SPF 50 will now be labeled as SPF 50+, as there is speculation that an SPF higher than 50 is not actually more effective. Additionally, people may be more likely to apply sunscreen with an SPF over 50 less frequently because they think it provides more protection, when in fact, it does not.

Manufacturers are no longer allowed to use words like “waterproof,” “sweatproof” or “sunblock” as these terms are misleading. What you might on sunscreen labels instead is “water-resistant” with a time limit of 40 or 80 minutes before the sunscreen becomes ineffective.

It is important to know that these new FDA guidelines are still in the process of becoming completely enforced, as it takes time for manufacturers to submit required documentation to change labeling. It is always important to read the label of any sunscreen product you are considering.

Recommendations for Sunscreen Use

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends wearing an SPF of 30 or higher every day, not only when you are lying out by the pool or on the beach. The sun’s rays can still be damaging, even on a cloudy day.

Most people do not put on enough sunscreen. In fact, according to the AAD, most people only apply about 25 to 50 percent of what they should put on to be fully protected. As a general guideline, you should generously apply one ounce to all areas of the skin that will be exposed to the sun.

Sunscreen should be applied to dry skin 15 minutes before you go outside and reapplied every two hours, or after swimming or heavy sweating.

For more guidelines from the American Academy of Dermatology, click here.

What About Makeup and Moisturizers?

Some cosmetic products and moisturizers do contain a small amount of SPF, but if you are trying to protect yourself from sun damage or skin cancer that will not be sufficient protection. Dr. Kim recommends an application of dedicated sunscreen underneath your moisturizer and makeup rather than relying on the SPF of your cosmetic products.

Ultimately, you must remember that no sunscreen is perfect. Wearing long sleeves and a hat and staying in the shade as much as possible are also important precautions to take to prevent sun damage or potentially deadly skin cancer.

For more information about cosmetic and preventive dermatology at Cooper Clinic, click here or call 972.367.6000.

Happy National Nutrition Month!

“If your lifestyle does not control your diet…eventually your diet will control your lifestyle.” – Kathy Duran Thal, RDN

Cooper Clinic kicked off National Nutrition Month® with a free expo open to the public at Cooper Fitness Center. Despite the icy weather, more than 500 people attended and picked up free samples, recipes and more from 20-plus vendors. National Nutrition Month provides a good opportunity to look at your diet. Cooper Clinic and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics put together our top reasons to visit a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.

  1. You have diabetes, cardiovascular problems or high blood pressure. A registered dietitian nutritionist serves as an integral part of your health care team by helping you safely change your eating plan without compromising taste or nutrition.
  2. You need to gain or lose weight. A registered dietitian nutritionist can suggest additional calorie sources for healthy weight gain or a restricted-calorie eating plan.
  3. You want to eat smart for your family. A registered dietitian nutritionist can help you sort through misinformation; learn how to read food labels; discover that healthy cooking is inexpensive; eat out without ruining your eating plan and more. Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services offers a Healthy Habits for Kids program.
  4. You have digestive problems. A registered dietitian nutritionist will work with your physician to help fine-tune your diet so you are not aggravating your condition. Kathy Miller, Co-Director of Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, specializes in GI nutrition and celiac disease.
  5. You’re pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breastfeeding. A registered dietitian nutritionist can help make sure you’re getting enough of the nutrients you and your baby need.
  6. You’re caring for an aging parent. A registered dietitian nutritionist can help with food or drug interaction, proper hydration, special diets for hypertension and changing taste buds as you age.
  7. You want to improve your performance in sports. A registered dietitian nutritionist can help you set goals to achieve results—whether you’re running a marathon, skiing or jogging with your dog. Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Meridan Zerner is a board certified sports dietitian.
  8. Your teenager has issues with food and eating healthfully or you have a picky eater. A registered dietitian nutritionist can assist with eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and overweight issues.

View photos from the Cooper Nutrition Expo, see the recipes that were demonstrated and request an appointment online to meet with a Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Nutritionist today!

Even Runners Need an Annual Physical

January 29, 2014 Leave a comment

Bob Abbott, photo credit: The Dallas Morning News

A well-known Plano, TX runner, Bob Abbott, died last week at the age of 73 due to an aortic aneurysm. His death is a reminder to all of us that even if we are seemingly highly-fit and healthy, a preventive exam is prudent in order to ensure there are no underlying health concerns.

The Centers for Disease Control report that aortic aneurysms were the primary cause of 10,597 deaths in the US in 2009 (and a contributing cause of death in more than 17,215 deaths). About two-thirds of the people who have an aortic aneurysm are men. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis and smoking all increase risk for aortic aneurysm. People with a history of smoking are 3 to 5 times more likely to develop an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Sadly, most people who suffer aortic aneurysm don’t have symptoms leading up to the event. And people who do have symptoms may not recognize them for what they are—the symptoms are belly, chest, or back pain and discomfort, and the symptoms are variable—in some people they come and go while in others it’s a constant pain.

Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and blood pressure control offer tons of protective health benefits, but they aren’t a guarantee that we’re invincible and nothing bad is ever going to happen! Physicians at Cooper Clinic regularly identify major (or potentially major) health issues (such as aortic aneurysms) in otherwise healthy individuals as part of an annual preventive medical exam.

Read The Dallas Morning News’ tribute to Bob Abbott here: Remembering Plano’s Bob Abbott.

To learn more about a preventive exam at Cooper Clinic, click here.

Muscle Activation Technique, Session II

December 3, 2013 1 comment

Last week we shared a video blog by Cooper Fitness Center Professional Fitness Trainer and Muscle Activation Technique (MAT) Specialist Robert Treece titled ‘Do You Need MAT?’. We checked back in with Cooper Aerobics teammate David to see how his knee was feeling after his first MAT session. Robert met with him and shared the next steps for his MAT journey. Check out the video here:

As Robert said, ultimately the MAT process helps to restore normal body alignment, decrease pain and reduce the risk of injury. Many people see an improvement after just one session; however, a series of four to six sessions is recommended to reinforce the stabilization of your muscles. Stay tuned for the next session with Robert and David to watch his progression.

For more information and to sign up for a session contact Mary Edwards at 972.233.4832 or