The Benefits of Dynamic and Static Stretching on Flexibility and Athletic Performance

Author: Nolan Wright


Throughout the average American student’s primary education, from as early as elementary school to as late as high school, PE class was required for every student. At the beginning of class, before we participated in whatever activity our PE teacher had planned for us, she would lead us in stretches because we were taught that stretching would prevent injuries during class. While this is a well-known truth, I do not remember our gym teacher teaching us about how different types of stretching can have different impacts on our athletic performance. I did not even know that there were multiple types of stretches! The reality is that stretches can be divided into two groups, static and dynamic stretches, and your performance and flexibility will depend on which type of stretches you decide to do before your exercise.  

Continue reading “The Benefits of Dynamic and Static Stretching on Flexibility and Athletic Performance”

The effects of exercise on prevention and intervention for postpartum depression

Author: Hytrina Wang


Have you been worried about the potential stress of being a new mom? Postpartum depression, a severe mental disorder for a new mother has been well studied. Nowadays, postpartum depression has 5% -60.8% prevalence worldwide. Due to the different prevalence rates, many kinds of research have been conducted to study this particular type of depression. Scientists have already listed several risk factors, such as sleeping quality, social support, and age when giving birth. Preventive and interventional medicine focused on exercise therapy has gained great improvement for postpartum depression.

Depression mechanism

How does the postpartum depression form? From the physiological level, postpartum depression is mostly caused by the decreasing activity of the serotonergic neuron. Serotonin, which is also called 5-HT is a type of neurotransmitter which implicates a person’s happiness, cognition, and well-being. The neurotransmitter is important molecules for the neuron to decide which type of activity to generate, which directly determines how a person will feel mentally. The serotonergic neuron is responsible for synthesizing and releasing serotonin, so a decrease of activity in those neurons will cause the inability to feel happy, which is the main contributor to depression.

Intervention exercise therapy

A study to measure the effects of the study was conducted on rats which can be easier to monitor the mechanism of postpartum depression. In the clinical trial, researchers found by giving treadmill exercise to rats, they expressed less anxiety in behavioral tests and also a higher level of serotonin and Tryptophan hydroxylase activity in the neuron. Tryptophan hydroxylase helps generate 5-HT inside serotonergic neurons. Treadmill exercise helps the neurons in rats to generate more helpful serotonin and increase the activity of tryptophan hydroxylase.  These two factors indicate the severity of depression for new mother rats has been decreased. The experiment also saw a positive result from the mice behavior test. Due to the nature of rodents, they tend to move at the corner or edge of the box when they are stressed. After the treadmill exercise for rats during postpartum, they spent more time in the center of the box, which indicates the decrease of stress (Ji, 2017).

Put the experiment in humans. Most of the results from publications are based on a questionnaire from participants, which directly illustrates the mental status before and after the exercise therapy. In the meta-analysis of exercise intervention for postpartum for published studies from January 1990 to May 2016, researchers analyze the women’s symptoms before and after exercise intervention through randomized controlled trials. They found 67% of mothers meet the criteria of depression symptoms reported a positive effect of regular exercise through a questionnaire; while 29% of mothers without postnatal depression reported they felt happier after exercise. From the result, we can see physical exercise during the pregnancy period and the postpartum period is a safe strategy to reduce depression symptoms and promote better psychological conditions (Poyatos‐León et al, 2017).

What is the best way to conduct the exercise to reduce depression? One research finds gymnastic aerobic exercise in moderate-intensity can alleviate the postpartum symptoms including fatigue and sleeping disorder. Researchers experimented on 140 postnatal women by engaging in aerobic gymnastic exercise three 15 min sessions a week for three months using the compact disc in the home. The experiment group reports a significant decrease of fatigue and stress, and improvement of sleeping quality from 4-weeks of exercise and the benefits of gymnastic exercise can extend for 12 weeks posttests. Even after 12 weeks, the depression symptoms were not as severe as the control group. (Yang et al, 2017).

Prevention exercise therapy

However, in one prevention experiment, researchers found no correlation between physical exercise and a decrease in occurrence after birth. Researchers use the longitudinal method which follow-ups a total of 639 participants for postpartum depression that occurs after regular exercise during pregnancy. Women were asked to have a 16-week exercise program including aerobic and resistance training in 60-minute sessions 3 times per week. The moderate aerobic exercise didn’t prevent postnatal depression. The conclusion from that experiment is low compliance of protocol may underestimate the benefits of exercise (Coll et al, 2019).


Take home message will be to prevent the postpartum depression, women should conduct regular aerobic exercise daily during pregnancy. To guarantee the maximum benefits from exercise, women maybe train with a professional coach or therapist to make sure they have high physical compliance with protocols. For those who have already developed postpartum depression, they should perform moderate aerobic exercise in a gymnastic setting for one hour per session around three times a week. Performing gymnastic exercise at home may be a better option for a new mother to spend more time with the baby. To improve the compliance of exercise, I will recommend follow professional training videos or consider home-therapist if the economic status is allowed. A supplement like 5-HT or tryptophan hydroxylase will be helpful to decrease the depression symptoms. 

Keywords: postpartum depression; exercise intervention; depression prevention; serotonin


Ji ES, Lee JM, Kim TW, Kim YM, Kim YS, Kim KJ. Treadmill Exercise Ameliorates Depressive Symptoms through Increasing Serotonin Expression in Postpartum Depression Rats. J Exer Rehabil 2017;13:130-135.doi:10.12965/jer.1734968.484.

Coll CVN, Domingues MR, Stein A, da Silva BGC, Bassani DG, Hartwig FP, da Silva ICM, da Silveira MF, da Silva SG, Bertoldi AD. Efficacy of Regular Exercise During Pregnancy on the Prevention of Postpartum Depression. JAMA, vol. 2, no. 1, Apr. 2019, doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.6861.

Raquel PL, Antonio GH, Gema SM, Celia ÁB, Iván CR. Effects of Exercise-Based Interventions on Postpartum Depression: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Birth, vol. 44, no. 3, June 2017, pp. 200–208., doi:10.1111/birt.12294.

Yang CL, Chen CH. Effectiveness of Aerobic Gymnastic Exercise on Stress, Fatigue, and Sleep Quality during Postpartum: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. International Journal of Nursing Studies, vol. 77, 2018, pp. 1–7., doi:10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2017.09.009.

The effects of a vegan/vegetarian diet on endurance/endurance athletes:

Author: Kayla Strodtman

Recently, there seems to be an increase in the prevalence of vegan and vegetarian diets across the country. Those of us who hate vegetables or love a good burger may question the point of a seemingly dull diet like this. Those who are focused on living a high intensity lifestyle may ponder this diet the most. Does a vegan or vegetarian diet have any effect, specifically any positive effect, on our endurance and in athletes?

One factor of our endurance is the abilities of our lungs to function, or our cardiorespiratory response. A study done by Leischik and Spelsberg (2014), looked at the vegan ultra-athlete and 10 non vegan Ironman triathletes, in order to analyze any effects of the vegan diet. Echocardiography and spiroergometry, two instruments used to measure heart and lung capacity, were used to test the respiratory ability of both athletes. It was found that the ultra-athlete, who was a vegan, had a higher oxygen intake at the respiratory compensation point. The respiratory compensation point is the point at which maximal exertion can be assumed. An increase in oxygen intake allows for a greater amount of oxygen to be utilized by the working muscles at this maximal point, which ultimately leads to greater endurance performance.

Another important aspect of endurance performance is the functions of the cardiovascular system. A study done by Fontana et al. (2007), analyzed the effects of vegetarian diets on endurance performance and some metabolic factors. 21 subjects that had previously been consuming vegetarian diets and 21 subjects that had been consuming a normal western diet were compared. It was found that those partaking in the vegetarian diet had lower systolic and diastolic blood pressures that were associated with the uptake of sodium, fiber, and potassium. Vegans tend to have a higher intake of these nutrients, due to their diet. In conclusion of this experiment, it was found that the vegetarian diet leads to low cardiometabolic risk, specifically in relation to an overall lower blood pressure.

Overall, there are many factors that go into our endurance, performance, and overall health. Many different studies have analyzed numerous different factors, and the effects that a vegan/vegetarian diet would have on them. There are both pros and cons to the diet. An article from the New York Times, (Reynolds 2012), states some of the negative effects of a vegan diet for athletes. One main down side to a vegan diet is the lack of protein. There are many ways to incorporate protein rich foods into a vegan diet, however it is something that people definitely have to be more aware of, and may not always get enough of. Some sources of protein for vegans and vegetarians include nuts, beans, and tofu. An even bigger factor discussed in this article was B12, which only comes from meat. B12 effects red blood cell production, which is important for endurance since they transport oxygen to tissues throughout the body. Like protein, there are other ways that vegans can get B12 into their diets, but it is something they have to look for and be aware of in order to maintain a healthy level of it. B12 is slightly easier for vegetarians to consume as it can be found in eggs and whole milk. It is a little more difficult for vegans, as B12 is only mostly found in plant based meats or certain fortified foods. Similarly to B12, iron also effects red blood cell and hemoglobin production and is a more difficult nutrient for vegans to consume, as it is prominently found in meats. The best ways for vegans to receive iron is by consuming tofu and dark leafy greens. One nutrient that is prevalent in a vegan/vegetarian diet is carbohydrates. This is a positive of the diet. Reynolds (2012) also discusses this. Carbohydrates are a primary fuel source, and high sources of fuel are needed for endurance athletes. A study by Wirnitzer et al. (2016) analyzed the prevalence of vegans and vegetarians. Her studies found that 5% of the European population is vegetarian, while up to 9% of the population in Germany is vegetarian. It is becoming an increased custom across the world. This study also makes notes of numerous endurance athletes, including Olympians and famous marathoners, that function on vegan or vegetarian diets. Some of these athletes include Venus Williams, Carl Lewis, and Bode Miller, all of which were Olympians. With this increase in prevalence across many regions and among many prominent athletes, there should be a strong push for increased studies into the effects of these diets on athletes and athletic performance.


Wirnitzer, K. et al. (2016). Prevalence in running events and running performance of endurance runners following a vegetarian or vegan diet compared to non-vegetarian endurance runners: the NURMI Study. SpringerPlus. 5, 458. DOI 10.1186/s40064-016-2126-4

Reynolds, G. (2012). Can athletes benefit from a vegan diet? The New York Times. Pg. D6.

Cotes, J. et al. (1970). Possible effect of vegan diet upon lung function and the cardiorespiratory response to submaximal exercise in healthy women. The Journal of Physiology, 209(1).

Leischik, R., Spelsberg, N. (2014). Vegan triple-ironman (raw vegetables/fruits). Case Reports in Cardiology.  DOI:10.1155/2014/317246

Fontana, L, et al. (2007). Long-term low-calorie low-protein vegan diet and endurance exercise are associated with low cardiometabolic risk. Rejuvenation Research, 10(2), 225-234.

Peripheral Neuropathy: Causes, Preventions, Treatments

Author: Zach Mathews

Do you know of someone who has issues with their feet? Not sure what is wrong but something just feels tingling, numb or hurts? This may be due to an underlying issue called neuropathy. We are going to discuss the background of neuropathy and take a look at potential causes of neuropathy to see how to prevent it as well as how to manage symptoms once neuropathy is present. Quite often neuropathy is referred to as idiopathic neuropathy. In this situation, idiopathic means a disease in which the cause is unknown. Peripheral neuropathy is one of the neurologic issues that primary care physicians see most often and it comes in many different forms with different symptoms making it hard to recognize, evaluate, and treat.1 Symptoms can range and be present with sensory issues such as loss in feeling, motor functions such as walking or other physical movements, and autonomic functions such as control of urine or other functions that an individual usually doesn’t have to think about controlling. Of the three types of symptoms, sensory signs usually present themselves before the latter two.1 As Dr Doughty and Seyedsajadi state, sensory fibers can be large diameter fibers which deal with vibration and proprioception (awareness of the body and its positioning) as well as small diameter fibers which deal with pain and sensing temperature. Both of these fibers are affected in most neuropathy so we will primarily focus on sensory symptoms and issues when looking at management possibilities. Motor function symptoms can be present such as difficulty walking, especially when the proprioception is affected in a negative way. Autonomic symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, loss of bladder control, erectile dysfunction as well as many others can be present with neuropathy.1 With such a wide range of common symptoms present with neuropathy, it is evident why the reason often goes undiagnosed and termed idiopathic neuropathy.

While contributing factors to neuropathy vary widely, there seems to be a group of issues that are common, relatable and potentially avoidable. When looking at individuals with idiopathic neuropathy, it is shown there is a relationship with these individuals and having impaired glucose tolerance whether that be prediabetes or diabetes;2 with diabetes, Type 1 and Type II, being the leading cause of neuropathy.1 The occurrence of both of these conditions is increased with being overweight and having a high amount of excess fat in the abdominal area. This can in part be explained by the fact that as the thickness of subcutaneous tissue (fat tissue underneath the skin) increases in overweight individuals, there is a reduction in the amount and intensity of sensory nerve responses.3 This is saying that an excess amount of fat will reduce the activation and stimulation of sensory neurons within these individuals. Another association discovered between individuals who already have neuropathy and their prior lifestyle is intense alcohol use over an extended period of time.1

From looking at the contributing factors above the most basic prevention method would be to not drink alcohol heavily for an excess period of time. However, this is most likely not the most significant prevention method because this is not the leading cause of neuropathy. A prevention method that can affect the most amount of people would be to live a healthy and active lifestyle which would decrease individual’s fat mass. By living a healthy and active lifestyle this can prevent an individual from becoming overweight and having an excess amount of abdominal fat which can lead to pre-diabetes and diabetes, the leading causes of peripheral neuropathy. If someone has pre-diabetes, exercise and healthy eating can keep them from becoming fully diabetic and exercise can also help an individual who already has diabetes prevent or slow the development of neuropathy. As Lee and Kim show in their study, an early induction of exercise could postpone the demyelination (eroding of protective layer surrounding nerve) process in a nerve fiber in diabetic rats by reducing the complications such as hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), dyslipidemia (high or low amounts of fat in the blood) and inflammatory effects of obesity.4 The rats were subject to swimming exercise during this study to view the effects.­

Although exercise can be very beneficial, it is important to know what type of exercise and the intensity that should be completed. Improvements with symptoms of neuropathy as well as re-growth, preventing further damage, and repairing damaged nerves can be obtained through the use of aerobic exercise.4 Aerobic exercise is exercise with the presence of oxygen so the intensity should not be too high for the individual but a casual pace. Because the nerves are damaged, exercise with low impact or low stress conditions would be desirable so a great suggestion for this would be an exercise bike for around thirty minutes.4 An exercise bike would be beneficial because there is not a ton of impact and this exercise is a pretty basic movement so there is less risk for injury from the general performance of the exercise as well as from losing balance.

Exercise is great for delaying or improving symptoms but in most cases will not completely erase all the symptoms. In this case, individuals with sensory loss in their feet should be aware of caring for their feet and making sure no injuries are present that they do not feel. When individuals have weakness, they can improve their daily functioning from using ankle-foot orthotics to help give them strength and stability. With weakness often comes issues with balance and an individual’s gait. Although this can be a significant risk, these individuals can reduce the risk of injury by participating in balance training and specific exercises like increasing strength in the knee and ankle muscles that correlate with walking such as knee extension and ankle dorsiflexion.1

As one can see, neuropathy remains a mystery to health professionals to a certain degree. Specific causes of neuropathy are not determined most of the time and this makes it hard to put a definite answer on how to prevent neuropathy. However, most cases of neuropathy can be directly or indirectly traced back to an issue that can be prevented by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In this instance “healthy lifestyle” means staying eating well and exercising regularly because this keeps your body fat low among other things. The issues that arise solely from being overweight and having a high body fat mass lead to neuropathy and can be prevented in the first place. Therefore, I am stating that in my opinion the most beneficial way to prevent the occurrence of any form of neuropathy is to keep yourself healthy and avoid becoming overweight. Once neuropathy has occurred, treatment should follow the same methods as prevention. This can differ and vary depending on the symptoms present. Eating as close to an all-natural diet as possible, as well as exercising at moderate intensity in a safe environment.

  1. Doughty CT, Seyedsadjadi R. Approach to Peripheral Neuropathy for the Primary Care Clinician. The American Journal of Medicine. 2018;131(9):1010-1016. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2017.12.042
  2. Singleton JR, Smith AG. Neuropathy associated with prediabetes: What is new in 2007? Current Diabetes Reports. 2007;7(6):420-424. doi:10.1007/s11892-007-0070-y
  3. Miscio G, Guastamacchia G, Brunani A, Priano L, Baudo S, Mauro A. Obesity and peripheral neuropathy risk: a dangerous liaison. Journal of the Peripheral Nervous System. 2005;10(4):354-358. doi:10.1111/j.1085-9489.2005.00047.x
  4. Lee EC, Kim MO, Roh GH, Hong SE. Effects of Exercise on Neuropathy in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Rats. Annals of Rehabilitation Medicine. 2017;41(3):402. doi:10.5535/arm.2017.41.3.402

The Importance of Aerobic Exercise on the Aging Brain

Author: Ian Malaby


            As the world and technology advances, the average daily life becomes easier, and the average human being becomes more sedentary with an overall decline in physical activity11. Our bodies change a lot as we age, on large and small scales. Healthy measures should be taken in order to increase ones lifespan. This majorly includes physical exercise, specifically aerobic. Aerobic exercise, or exercise that requires the breathing of oxygen is essential to maintain not only bone, muscle, and cardiovascular health but also preserve the brain and nervous system. Aerobic exercise increases the blood and oxygen flow to the brain, which positively affects the brain and its associated structures and molecules.  

Continue reading “The Importance of Aerobic Exercise on the Aging Brain”

Effects of Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation on Muscular Strength and Sprint Performance

Author: Shane Feller


The sports supplement industry generally receives a lot of negative feedback from the public due to the tendency of companies to overprice supplements, produce supplements that don’t work as well as they are advertised, and release supplements without much scientific evidence and research supporting their claims.  However, one supplement that has a lot of research backing its claims, is creatine monohydrate. The most well researched sports supplement on the market, with over 700 studies testing its efficacy, creatine monohydrate has strong scientific evidence supporting itself as an effective supplement for muscular strength and lean muscle growth, while being fairly cheap in its base form compared to most supplements. In fact, price ranges for 40 servings of creatine are between $10 and $20. Generally, overpricing of creatine occurs when in the forms of creatine HCl and creatine ethyl ester, which don’t have nearly as much scientific research behind them, and usually contain an artificial flavor addition1.

Continue reading “Effects of Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation on Muscular Strength and Sprint Performance”

Does Your Warm-Up Actually Matter?

Author: Bridget Davidson

Anyone who has ever played a sport has done hundreds of warm-ups in their lifetime. We have been taught a wide variety of warm-ups routines by our coaches, told to do this but not to do that. We do different warm-ups for different sports, different ages, and different competition levels. As an athlete, you are constantly told that your warm-up is extremely important for your performance. I have even been told by coaches that the warm-up is the most important part of the workout or training session. But why exactly is your warm-up important? What are the benefits of warming up? Are there “good” and “bad” ways to warm-up? These are just a few of the questions that many of us have regarding our warm-ups that we will try to answer today.

Continue reading “Does Your Warm-Up Actually Matter?”

Cryotherapy: Is it Just Another Trend?

Author: Madison Coffman

Sitting in a cold chamber of -200 degrees Fahrenheit does not sound like something someone would do by choice. However, people continuously do. Gearing up in socks, gloves, and booties multiple times a week to sit in freezing temperatures for three minutes at a time is actually not a form of torture, but is something that regular people do for the perceived health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and soreness recovery time, and improving energy levels, blood flow, and depression and anxiety symptoms1. But is cryotherapy really up to the talk? It is important to note if the pop culture opinions on cryotherapy match the scientific evidence. In a study titled “Whole body cryotherapy, cold water immersion, or a placebo following resistance exercise: a case of mind over matter?” they compared the effects of cryotherapy to that of cold water immersion and a placebo of a pill said to be BCAAs5. This study honed in on recovery for men who participated in strength training, but the reported effects of cryotherapy go beyond recovery.

Continue reading “Cryotherapy: Is it Just Another Trend?”

Nutrition Strategies to Promote Optimal Performance in Soccer Players

Author: Reilly Bertram


            As a collegiate soccer player, my experience with game day nutrition has increased my curiosity about what proper nutrition should be like. For a game at 6pm, my team and I will meet at about 2:30pm for a pregame meal. The meal typically consisting of a pasta dish, usually with meat sauce or chicken, a salad, mixed vegetables, and breadsticks. During the game, we are always provided with water and Gatorade or Body Armor. Our trainer makes sure that when people come off the field they always have water and Gatorade available to them. Also, during halftime of our games, we are given sugary candy like starburst and skittles. The idea behind the sugary candy, I think, is to provide us with a quick burst of energy for the second half; I don’t think there is scientific evidence behind this, but our coach loves to do it. Our post game meals are usually at a restaurant like Chipotle where we often get burrito bowls consisting of rice, meat, beans, and different vegetables. After looking at our game day nutrition, let’s take a look at what research is saying nutrition should be like.

Continue reading “Nutrition Strategies to Promote Optimal Performance in Soccer Players”

Effect of Flexibility on Athletic Performance

Author: Collin Seymour

Flexibility seems to have a big impact in how athletes perform. As an athlete myself, I have felt my body become less flexible over the years. In high school, I felt as though I was extremely flexible, mainly due to my hurdling background in track, but now I’m unable to stretch my legs or arms nearly as far as I used to. This is one of the reasons why I became more interested in how big of a role flexibility plays in athletic performance.

Continue reading “Effect of Flexibility on Athletic Performance”