Northeastern Illinois University's student-run newspaper

The Independent

The Untold Truth about Common Nutrition Myths

The Untold Truth about Common Nutrition Myths

April 23, 2013

  Life can be confusing, but what constitutes as good nutrition can be even more confusing. The amount of fats, carbs and protein a person must eat each day to remain healthy are some of the bigge...

The “Ab Belt” and the “Perfect Pushup”: Are They Legit?

Nicholas Santana, Assistant News Editor

April 27, 2012

Filed under Health

                  Last issue, we covered the merits of a standard gym exercise, the upper body squat. This issue, we’ll review the merits of two well-known and highly advertised pieces of fitness equipment: The “Ab Belt™” and the “Perfect Pushup™.” The “Ab Belt™” is essentially an electric muscle stimulator that wraps around your midsection. The nodes emit mild electric shocks to the abdominal muscles, causing them to contract. By this function, advertisers of the Ab Belt promote it as a “portable” form of abdominal exercise that you can simply “put on” to transform your midsection. Does the “Ab Belt™” work? Yes and no. In terms of providing electrical stimulation to the abdominal muscles, the “Ab Belt’s™” advertisers keep their promise. In terms of providing the requisite stimulus for producing the sculpted six-packs as seen in its commercials, the “Ab Belt™” is an out-and-out fraud. While the muscular contractions caused by electronic muscle stimulators such as the “Ab Belt™” are indeed legitimate, they are nowhere near the level of intensity required to cause a substantial improvement in muscle-tone. The visibility of ab muscles is almost completely an issue of body composition, with body composition being a matter of caloric fuel-economy. What’s an alternative to the “Ab Belt™?” Good old-fashioned hard sit-ups and leg-raises, which involve much more intense muscular contractions, coupled with a balanced, low-calorie diet. There’s no easy way around the hard work you need to put in, and no short cut to stunning abdominals. The “Perfect Pushup™” is a set of rotating metal handles that are suppose to improve upon the standard pushup exercise by means of providing a more natural positioning and movement of the wrists. It’s simple: In a standard pushup, your hands and wrists are flat on the ground and stationary for the duration of the entire movement, while in a “Perfect” pushup, your hands are grasping handles while your wrists rotate for the duration of the movement. Is this alteration, in fact, an improvement upon the pushup? The answer is yes. Standard pushups, while beneficial, are nevertheless “imperfect” for your joints. They exert pressure right where the hand and wrist meet, increasing the likelihood of arthritis down the road. Furthermore, that pressure can worsen at various points in the actual pushup movement, as the extension of the elbows naturally causes the wrists to try to rotate with the movement. The “Perfect Pushup™” fulfills its promise by allowing a large amount of that pressure to be transferred to the thenar region of the hand—the area between the thumb and the index finger—where there is much more elastic flesh and cartilage to absorb it. Also, it allows the wrists to rotate as they are naturally inclined to do. Is the “Perfect Pushup™” an ideal modality for the perfection of one’s chest, shoulders and triceps? Probably not. It does not replace the parallel-bar-dip, which allows for more resistance and variation, but the “Perfect Pushup™” is definitely a legitimate asset. In closing, I give the “Ab Belt™” an F and the “Perfect Pushup™” an A. The “Perfect Pushup™” is worth buying while the “Ab Belt™” is next to useless. The moral here is to exercise caution when watching infomercials on products such as these. There are gems and there are gimmicks. It may seem hard to determine which is which, but when in doubt, refer to anatomical science.    ...

Men – Eating Heart Healthy

April 27, 2012

Filed under Health

  My culinary journey to become a chef started because of my dad’s influence. We went to many diverse restaurants together and we loved them. My house was also frequently filled with the smells and flavors of wonderful southern food due to my mom’s phenomenal cooking. My dad’s parents were from the south and those...

Parallel-Bar Dips: The Upper Body Squat

Nicholas Santana, Assistant News Editor

April 17, 2012

Filed under Health

    Last issue, I covered some general, macro-level fitness information. This issue, I will discuss a particular, micro-level concern: that of the timelessly alluring and globally coveted upper-arms. Men everywhere want strong, well-conditioned upper arms. Well-built biceps are universally attractive, for they convey thriving health and masculine dominance. Essential to the performance of an array of physical activities, they are a staple attribute of any athletic physique. Thus, many men take great pains to acquire them. However, many honest trainees fall into the rut of performing exercises primarily for the bicep muscles, such as the curl. While they are not at fault in incorporating them into one’s overall regimen, they are mistaken in believing that such exercises are what really make the arms grow. In actuality, the biceps brachii comprises approximately 40% of the upper arm’s muscular mass. The other 60% is comprised of the triceps. Keeping this in mind, by increasing your triceps training exercises, you can maximize the sculpting effect to your upper arms. There are a number of exercises you can employ to work the triceps, as well as many specialized, sophisticated pieces of equipment available to target them from all sorts of angles. While these can be useful, you can get lost in their variety and complexity and forget about the basics. One such basic is an archaic exercise that requires very little in the way of equipment, the parallel-bar dip. Employed since Greco-Roman times and probably even before that, parallel-bar dips are a primitive but effective exercise. The results they bring are anything but primitive, and that is why they are still in use today. Observe any adult male gymnast and you will not only see strong, well-developed upper arms but a powerful chest and thick shoulders; dips are the reason why. Dips work the triceps, pectorals, and frontal deltoids simultaneously. More difficult and kinesthetically natural than the push up, they are equivalent to squats for the upper body. So how should you perform the parallel-bar dip? Raise yourself up and lower yourself down - it’s no more complicated than that. And that is the beauty of it! The simplicity of execution allows for variations of technique: leaning forward or leaning back, legs raised or legs at rest, elbows tucked or elbows flared, and many more. Experiment with these and create new variations of your own. You can also vary your resistance by using weight attachments. You can turn a breezy set of thirty repetitions into a grueling set of three by increasing the weight as you raise and lower yourself. If you cannot perform dips with your own body weight, have a spotter aid in the movement by carrying your ankles, or perform them on a specialized “dip-machine” that provides a counterweight. 
With parallel-bar dips, you can’t go wrong. You have a panoply of options to vary your upper arm-building routine, and by focusing on your triceps; you will build the arms you’ve always wanted. Make this exercise a staple of your workout-routine and the results will be as timeless as the exercise itself.  ...

Hot Dance and Fitness at NEIU

Jacklyn Nowotnik, Arts and Life Editor

March 5, 2012

Filed under Health

          Many of us have classes, work and other responsibilities to attend to, but it is important to schedule some quality work out time. A regular workout routine may be nice but the monotony of typical cardio or the treadmill may decrease a person's motivation to work out over time. If you find yourself in such a slump, then look no further than NEIU's own Zumba class! Held at the NEIU P.E. complex, Zumba is a great solution to cardio fitness boredom. It's a rhythmic and vivacious mix of cardio dance set to the rhythms of Latin, Reggae Dance hall, and hip-hop music, tempered with the sensuality of belly dancing. There are numerous instructors and each one is different in their approach, and may incorporate other genres of music; however it's a great way to get the heart pumping and work up a sweat. The P.E. complex offers several Zumba class times throughout the week. However, for high-energy exercisers, Juan Ortiz's class seems to be the perfect dance getaway from the stresses of college life. Ortiz is a certified group exercise and Zumba instructor and has been in the business of dance fitness for 5 years. His experience in dance fitness has inspired him to create a spin-off of Zumba called "Feevah," which he incorporates into his Zumba class. According to Ortiz, "Feevah" is dance fitness where "some of the music is sped up 3-12 times faster, making this one of the most powerful workouts ever." He successfully manages to incorporate the dance styles of Bachata, Cumbia, Merengue, Mambo, Salsa, Reggaeton, and Juke into a heart-racing dance routine set to the hottest Latin and Club hits, all while keeping the energy of his class at a motivating high. Right before the hour long session with Ortiz is over, he initiates a "cool down" with a slow tempo track which sets a good pace for stretches, relaxation and even breathing. "My class is like Zumba on steroids, and because I'm so passionate about what I do, I believe my energy transfers over into my class." Ortiz's Zumba classes are on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the NEIU P.E. Complex.  ...

The Health Benefits Of Being A Vegetarian

Tamira Harvey, Staff Writer

February 26, 2012

Filed under Health

  If you have decided to become a vegetarian, or have been thinking about going "vegan" either for the health benefits or as a stand against the cruelty of animals, then you're making a smart choice.  Most people don't realize that a lot of their health issues stem from what they put inside their bodies.Being a vegetarian results in becoming more conscientious about the foods and products you buy and consume.  Vegetarians are often healthier eaters and their diets are hydrophilic and rich in antioxidants. A vegetarian diet can help to lower your risks for heart disease, cancer (ovarian and breast cancer, among other forms), diabetes and high blood pressure. A vegetarian diet can also improve your skin complexion, and the condition of your hair and nails. Since most vegetarian diets are full of fiber, vegetarians usually have a more efficient digestive system. A high fiber diet has many holistic health benefits, including regular elimination, detoxification, and decreased risk of colon and rectal cancers. Lowering your cholesterol helps reduce weight gain, obesity and helps prevent heart and kidney diseases. On the conscientious side of vegetarianism, consider that the conditions in the slaughterhouses of the animals we eat are horrific. Industrialized cruelty is a very profitable business for meat producing companies. Unfortunately in many various meat production factories and some animal farms, the animals are not properly cared for. The animals are fed animal byproducts along with grain to increase their weight and meat yield. The areas that the animals are kept in are undersized and unsanitary, increasing the risks of disease transference between animals, and increasing the fatality rates of animals before slaughter. If the animals are not properly fed, sick with disease and open sores, housed around other dead animals, and then slaughtered and sold, it raises the question: is this the kind of meat products that we as a society want passed along to the consumer? That's the risk we take when we consume meat; and yes, this is inhumane treatment towards animals and raises very scary concerns about our long-term health. This issue eventually affects the planet's environmental stability. It takes more energy to feed a carnivorous consumer than it takes to feed an herbivorous one. I hope that after reading this article that these benefits will give you better insight into the beginnings of a healthier lifestyle.   Published: Saturday, February 25, 2012 Updated: Sunday, February 26, 2012 02:02...