Benefits of Group Exercise

Benefits of Group Exercise
by Andrew Enriquez, Exercise Specialist – Mission Fitness

Think back to when you were a kid and how much you loved going outside to play and how much fun it was just being around friends. Secondly, think back to when we were teenagers and how much we craved to be around a group of friends while hanging out on weekends. Even as adults, we still desire to do things in a group because we enjoy socializing and being a part of something while having fun!

Many things are just made more fun when done in a group rather than by ourselves. Group exercise is a great way to feel young again while being able to socialize and be around others who desire the same thing as you!

Group exercise is typically known as a group of people performing exercises while being led by an instructor. There are many different group exercise formats. You may have tried step classes, core, yoga, spin, muscle pump, toning classes, dance choreographed classes or others. There are a variety of different classes that you can do that may be of interest to you and your friends. You’ll typically find group exercises at a local gym or club and your choice of classes may depend on your schedule, instructor expertise and the type of gym or club you attend.

Group exercise offers a variety of benefits you might miss out on if you choose to work out on your own. Some of the benefits include exposure to a social and fun environment, a safe and effectively designed workout, a consistent exercise schedule, an accountability factor for participating in exercise and a workout that requires no prior exercise knowledge or experience.

Here are a few reasons why you may benefit from group exercise:

  • One of the main reasons many people quit a certain workout program, or stop working out altogether, is because they get bored! With group exercise, you’ll always stay motivated and interested with different instructor styles, workout formats, different props and weights to use and a variety of different music to keep you pumped up. Not to mention that an hour can fly by because you’re having fun and socializing with other while getting a quality workout.
  • Another reason is that many don’t even know where to start once they purchase a gym membership. So attending a group exercise class will take all that stress away because the workouts have already been made for you from the instructor! All you must do is show up with an open mind, a positive attitude and enjoy.
  • Usually, each class is structured with a purpose. Depending on the type of class you take, you may be doing a class that focuses on cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular fitness, stretching, etc. Each class should also have a format that includes warming up, cooling down and stretching. Often, many of us forget to add these components into our own routine which can possibly cause us to get an injury of some sort. With group exercise, it’s all taken care of for you!

Group exercise can be so diverse as it even reaches communities outside of gyms or clubs. You can sometimes find people participating in boot camps or yoga at a park, cyclists along the side of the road and even Tough Mudders or Spartan Races.

Many people just want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. The social aspect of group exercise makes it so much easier for you to build new relationships with people while getting a great workout in at the same time!



MEDICAL MATTERS: Shoulder pain can be early sign of arthritis or other injury

MEDICAL MATTERS: Shoulder pain can be early sign of arthritis or other injury

As seen in the Odessa American “Medical Matters”:


MEDICAL MATTERS: Shoulder pain can be early sign of arthritis or other injury
by Dr. James Ingram

Dr. James Ingram is a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon and specializes in Sports Medicine.

“I saw my Doctor about my shoulder pain. He took an X-ray and told me ‘nothing is wrong’.”

A more appropriate response would have been, “there’s nothing broken”. Most sources of shoulder pain are not obvious on an X-ray. The shoulder is a remarkable joint with more movement than any other joint in our body. Thus, diagnosis of the specific cause of pain in the shoulder can be difficult.

The earliest signs of arthritis in the shoulder typically appear in the joint connecting the collar bone to the shoulder blade (acromio-clavicular or AC joint). In the absence of injury, this joint can show signs of arthritis on x-ray as early as age twenty-five. Pain associated with this joint is increased with lying on the side, using the arm at shoulder height or higher, pulling things toward you or away from your body. The pain does not make motion impossible but the use of the shoulder increases the pain.

Rotator cuff tears may be partial or complete. Risk factors for rotator cuff problems include male gender, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol. Trauma is also a major cause, fall on shoulder or outstretched hand, shoulder dislocation, lifting or pulling heavy objects. Partial tears are more painful, full thickness tears result in loss of motion and weakness. Many partial tears do not require surgery. Full thickness tears will not heal without surgery. But with therapy, the patient may regain an acceptable motion and use, depending on the patient’s needs.

A cartilage ring surrounds the socket of the shoulder. This cartilage ring, the rotator cuff and the joint capsule provide a stable joint with an extensive range of motion. Tears of this cartilage ring cause pain and mechanical symptoms. They usually result from shoulder dislocation or an unexpected pulling injury to the arm. The bicipital tendon, one of two tendons to the bicep muscle is attached to this cartilage ring. Tears of the bicipital tendon are common. Usually the result of lifting heavy objects. Tears of this tendon usually do not require surgery. The patient will lose ten to fifteen percent of strength bending the elbow. A cosmetic deformity of the bicep contour will occur, but does not contribute to significant weakness.

The shoulder joint contains cartilage and is prone to developing arthritis. The onset is gradual. Primary complaint is pain. As the arthritis becomes more severe the patient will eventually lose motion. The pain is described as constant, increased with use and many times associated with painful catching and grinding.

Another frequent source of “shoulder pain” is actually referred from the neck. The patient’s neck may not hurt! The pain is typically in the back of the shoulder blade. The majority of time, the pain will go below the elbow sometimes causing numbness and tingling in the fingers. Pain that is solely due to a shoulder problem may go to the elbow but not below. Unfortunately, having an injured shoulder does not mean you don’t also have a neck problem, and vice versa.

The key to minimizing shoulder pain lies in maintaining muscle fitness not only the rotator cuff, but the muscles that stabilize your shoulder blade. The shoulder allows us an incredible ability to perform complex tasks. Shoulder pain consequently can be a source of severe dysfunction.



Life After Bariatric Surgery

Life After Bariatric Surgery
by Dr. Darren Glass

Life after bariatric surgery is not easy. Far from it, but well worth it.

The first few weeks after surgery, patients are adjusting to their new stomach anatomy and have to remain on a carefully controlled liquid diet. Their activity quickly advances back to normal. They may take a week or two off from work, but there is very minimal pain after a few days and there are no restrictions in activity for the motivated patient.

After a few weeks, we advance the diet to soft foods which includes things like tuna salad, egg salad, lunch meat, eggs, cheese and yogurt. Then over the next few months, we advance to normal foods – mostly meat, a little bit of cooked vegetables and very little else.

Exercise is encouraged. Patients are encouraged to eat their small meals slowly and regularly, even though they are not hungry, and to minimize snacking. Patients who do this faithfully will lose about 2/3 to 3/4 of their excess weight in the first year after surgery.

Along with this weight loss comes resolution of medical comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, acid reflux and obstructive sleep apnea.

Quality of life improves and patient satisfaction is excellent following surgical weight loss. Definitely well worth it!




Benefits of Bariatric Surgery

Benefits of Bariatric Surgery
by Dr. Darren Glass

Bariatric surgery has been around for a long time, well over 60 years. It has gone from experimental, dangerous, fringe medicine, to safe, routine, elective, standard of care. The concept of simple weight loss surgery is outdated is now seen as life-changing metabolic surgery. This means that these surgeries have positive, beneficial effects on medical comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemias, obstructive sleep apnea and a whole host of other medical conditions previously controlled and managed, but never cured.

Bariatric surgery patients get off their diabetes medicines quickly, sometimes the day of surgery. Their blood pressure medication requirements go down with weight loss. Their acid reflux is improved/cured, their cholesterols normalize and they get off their CPAP machines. Their arthritis improves, their hearts and lungs have to work less hard and their quality of life improves.

Bariatric surgery is not for everyone. But if your BMI is over 40 and/or you have the above comorbidities, your life could be changed forever!


So, you just got out of the hospital! Here are some ways to keep it that way.

So, you just got out of the hospital! Here are some ways to keep it that way.
by Rachel Weiland, PharmD, BC-ADM, MCHS Ambulatory Care Pharmacist

Eat healthy

Focusing on nutrient-dense, fresh foods can help you lose weight, have more energy, lower your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol, enhance your immune system and so much more. Some great foods to incorporate are:

fruits and vegetables

lean meats and fish such as baked or grilled chicken and salmon

egg whites


Try to avoid foods high in sugar, salt or saturated fats such as sweets, sodas, fried foods, chips, fast food and frozen meals.



Try to find a routine that combines strength training and cardio. High impact activities such as running or jump roping are great for strengthening bones and preventing fractures later in life. If you cannot do high impact exercises due to having bad joints, try swimming or biking to get your heart working and improve your endurance. Many people neglect strength training when trying to get in shape, but being physically stronger can help prevent falls, and having more muscle mass increases your metabolism, meaning you will burn more calories throughout the day. Many women are afraid that they will end up with a masculine build if they lift weights … when in reality, it would take years of very consistent, heavy weight training to do so.


I think we all know that getting enough sleep is beneficial for our health. Sleep improves our immune systems, gives us more energy and allows our bodies to recover. If you have trouble falling asleep, develop a sleep hygiene routine. No, sleep hygiene isn’t referring to being clean … it simply means to establish a sequence of bedtime activities to do before you go to bed. This might include things like changing into your pajamas, reading a chapter of a book and brushing your teeth. If you do the same routine every night, your brain will recognize that it’s time to go to bed, and you will be able to fall asleep more easily. Try your best to avoid staring at screens such as your phone, laptop or TV right before bed as this can signal to your brain to stay awake.

Fill any new medications right away

It is important that you don’t have any interruptions in taking your medications after you get out of the hospital. If you are prescribed any medications that you cannot afford, be sure to call your doctor immediately so that it can be changed to something else. You may also be able to find coupon cards or patient assistance programs to help get the cost down. Go online to the drug’s website to see if anything is available.

Know how to take your medications

Do you need to take your medication with food? On an empty stomach? In the morning? At bedtime? If you don’t know, ASK! Also, you will probably come across a time when you forget to take your medication, and remember several hours later. Ask your pharmacist what you should do in this situation, as the answer depends on the medication. Look closely at your discharge papers to see what medications were discontinued, so you don’t keep on taking medications that you don’t need, and can interact with your current medications.

Schedule follow up appointments

Sometimes you will already have doctors’ appointments scheduled for you. It is important to attend these appointments so you can continue to be monitored and catch anything before it gets to the point that you need to go back to the hospital. If no appointments are scheduled for you, be sure to schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor as soon as possible.


Heart Disease – Causes and Risks

Heart Disease – Causes and Risks
by Karry Morris MSN RN-BC
Cardiovascular Nurse, Medical Center Hospital

Heart disease is the #1 killer in the nation, causing approximately one in three deaths every year. It is a great time to evaluate your own risk and take steps to reduce your chances of developing heart disease. If you have conditions that can contribute to the development of heart disease, keeping those under control can greatly reduce your risk:

High blood pressure:

110/70 is considered perfect blood pressure. Keeping your blood pressure around this range can often be achieved with proper treatment. If you have high blood pressure, see your doctor regularly, take your medicine faithfully (even if you feel good) and keep an eye on your blood pressure. We suggest having a cuff at home and checking your blood pressure often, recording these results for your doctor.

Many people have high blood pressure and don’t even know it. Many know they have it and don’t treat it. This can be a deadly mistake.

If you do not know if you have high blood pressure, find out! They call hypertension the “Silent Killer” for a reason.


The fluctuations of blood sugar associated with diabetes cause changes within the arteries that increases risk for heart disease. Keeping your blood sugar under control and reducing fluctuations can help reduce risk.

Like blood pressure, if you are diabetic, it is recommended you check your blood sugar often, keep a record and work with your doctor to help keep your sugar levels under control.

Overweight and Obesity:

Not keeping your weight under control not only increases your overall risk of heart disease, but it also contributes to development of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other diseases.

Keeping weight under control by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly is one of the best things you can do to improve your overall health and reduce heart attack risk.

 Reduce your risk by:

  • Seeing your doctor regularly and take any medicine your doctor prescribes
  • Eat right and exercise
  • Keep your conditions under control – diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Knowing your numbers is great place to start. Make an appointment with your doctor to undergo testing and evaluate your personal risk for heart disease. Those with heart disease in their immediate family are especially at risk and should take proactive steps to reduce their own risk.

Lastly, be able to recognize an emergency and act!

Signs of heart attack include:

  • Pain, pressure, squeezing or fullness in the chest
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweat, nausea, lightheadedness, loss of consciousness

If you think you or someone else is having a heart attack, always CALL 911!

Driving yourself to the emergency room is not only dangerous, but can be deadly.
It is also a good idea to learn CPR, especially if your loved ones are at risk.







MEDICAL MATTERS: Good Nutrition is Vital for Pregnancy

MEDICAL MATTERS: Good Nutrition is Vital for Pregnancy
As seen in the Odessa American “Medical Matters”:

by Dr. Avelino Garcia

Good nutrition is vital for a healthy pregnancy. Between fatigue and pregnancy cravings, it can seem difficult to keep healthy eating habits. Planning healthy meals and staying physically active can help.

Eating five or six small meals daily, rather than three large meals, can help with nausea and can also help pregnant women get extra vitamins and minerals needed for growing babies. Each day, eat foods from the major food groups, keeping fats and sugars in moderation. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins are encouraged. Be sure that red meats are fully cooked, not rare, as this can cause illness in a pregnant woman. Fish and seafood are good sources of protein, but stay away from seafood with high mercury content such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish. Limit white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces weekly.

Hydration is also a key part of proper nutrition. Pregnant women are encouraged to drink at least two liters of water daily. Symptoms of dehydration in pregnancy include thirst, headache and uterine cramping. Sugary and caffeinated drinks increase risk for dehydration, so they are to be avoided.

Staying physically active is one of the healthiest things an expectant mom can do for her unborn baby. Thirty minutes of low intensity exercise, like walking, is encouraged.

Unless an expectant mother has a high-risk pregnancy, exercise can help regulate blood sugar levels, keep blood pressure in the normal range, and minimize abnormal weight gain.

The United States Department of Agriculture has made meal planning easier by creating The website assists everyone, including pregnant women, figure out how to make healthy choices with each meal. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on Nutrition During Pregnancy, the MyPlate website gives “personalized nutrition and physical activity plans by using the ‘Super Tracker’ program. This program is based on five food groups and shows the exact amounts needed each day from each group during each trimester of pregnancy.”


MEDICAL MATTERS: It’s just allergies … or is it?

MEDICAL MATTERS: It’s just allergies … or is it?
As seen in the Odessa American “Medical Matters”:

by Dr. Kevin Benson

Allergies seem to be a big part of our lives here in West Texas. It seems that no matter what the season, or the symptoms, people tend to think it’s their allergies. Or is it? Does it matter?

Environmental allergies are the body’s excessive response to things we need not respond too. For example, pollen is not really a threat to me, but my body responds to it in unhelpful ways. My nose fills with mucous, my eyes get red and itchy, that familiar cough makes its annual return. How do I know it’s my allergies versus a cold I may have been exposed to?

History: Seasonal allergies are just that, they occur at certain seasons. Everyone with allergies is a bit different, but most of us can predict the seasons where we will have trouble. Pollen allergies tend to be in the springtime, fall allergies tend to be more mold and mildew sensitivities, winter allergies are often caused by dust or dust mites blowing around as we turn on our heat. So with experience we know when it’s more likely to be allergies than a viral illness. And also why it’s difficult to know in a baby or young child, since they haven’t had as many seasons of experience to know how they respond to those environments.

Duration: Allergies can linger for weeks, sometimes months. It is very unusual for a cold to last more than a week or two. Sometimes we can be fooled though, as we or our children are recovering from one illness and fall into the trap of another illness; what feels like one illness can be a few separate ones. However, it is common to have one viral infection after another, especially in the wintertime.

Fevers: Allergies do not cause fevers. Fever is the body’s natural response to infection, and allergies are not an infection. However some people will develop secondary infections due to allergies; for instance the congestion caused by seasonal allergies can trigger ear infections or sinus infections. That is why it is always a good idea to treat those allergic symptoms as soon as possible, to prevent them from becoming something more serious.

Remember to use your judgment. If you’re not sure if you or your child has a cold or allergies and the symptoms are getting worse, changing or not improving, there’s no harm in consulting with your medical practitioner. When in doubt, check it out!


MEDICAL MATTERS: Preserving your hips and knees

As seen in the Odessa American “Medical Matters”:

by Dr. James Ingram

Time takes a toll on our bodies and our weight bearing joints and cartilage are no exception. Watching a youngster spring up from a sitting position at the speed of a slingshot reminds us all of the creaks and squeaks of our aging joints. However, you can take control and slow Father Time with a few key non-operative interventions.

Decreasing weight through exercise has a dramatic effect reducing wear and tear on hips and knees. Just to name a few, it improves circulation and cardiovascular health; helps the management of blood sugar; preserves and maintains joint cartilage. Low impact exercises are key. Stick with cycling, swimming or elliptical and stair stepping machines. The benefit of low impact exercise in addition to weight loss, is a reduction of shear force on weight bearing joints, minimizing cartilage loss and improving flexibility.

Supplements have a huge following but no supplement has FDA approval. Of all the supplements, the only one shown to minimize cartilage loss was Glucosamine. When trying supplements, I suggest avoiding ones with multiple ingredient, ie. Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM. If you have an untoward reaction with a multiple ingredient supplement, it’s virtually impossible to determine which ingredient did not agree with you. I recommend starting with Glucosamine because it’s the only one proven to be effective.

Support braces that unload the joint showing signs of wear is another intervention worth consideration. Two options are available; off-loader braces, or lateral wedge orthotics. Off-loader braces are bulky where lateral wedge orthopedics are more discretely worn. Although purely mechanical, both unload the burden to tired joints.

Anti-inflammatory, biologicals and injectable are pharmaceutical approaches to joint health. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) were the corner stone for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis until biologicals (Embrel, Humira, etc.) were developed. Over-the-counter or prescribed NSAIDs are still extremely effective but create cardiovascular risks, elevate blood pressure, can cause stomach ulcers, and even kidney failure. Injectable intervention falls into two categories; cortisone and injectable viscosupplementation. Cortisone injections have been around for decades and provide rapid but short term relief. They also exhibit side effects therefore should be used in moderation. In my practice, no more than once a quarter. Injectable viscosupplementation (“rooster shots”) are injections of a protein normally found in our joints and make a cushion to replace cartilage while improving the viscosity of joint fluid. These injections are performed in an office environment on a weekly basis for a period of 3-5 weeks.

Utilizing these recommendations will hopefully make your interaction with your orthopedic surgeon a social visit rather than professional.




Just Three Things – Exercise

Just Three Things – Exercise

by Abby Magness, ACSM, C-EP
Fitness Director for Mission Fitness

  • Cardio
    1. Adults should get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
    2. This can be 30 to 60 minutes three times a week at moderate intensity or 20 to 60 minutes three times a week at vigorous-intensity.
  • Strength Training/Weight Lifting
    1. Adults should train each major muscle group two or three days each week using a variety of exercises and equipment.
    2. Very light or light intensity is best for older persons or previously sedentary adults starting exercise.
    3. Two to four sets of each exercise will help adults improve strength and power.
    4. For each exercise, eight to twelve repetitions improve strength and power, ten to fifteen repetitions improve strength in middle-age and older persons starting exercise, and fifteen to twenty repetitions improve muscular endurance.
  • Flexibility Training
    1. Adults should do flexibility exercises at least two or three days each week to improve range of motion.
    2. Each stretch should be held for ten to thirty seconds to the point of tightness or slight discomfort.
    3. Repeat each stretch two to four times, accumulating 60 seconds per stretch.
    4. Static, dynamic, ballistic and PNF stretches are all effective. (PNF Stretches are Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation stretches. This is “a method of stretching muscles to maximize their flexibility that is often performed with a partner or trainer and that involves a series of contractions and relaxations with enforced stretching during the relaxation phase. Definition source: Merriam-Webster)
    5. Flexibility exercise is most effective when the muscle is warm. Try light aerobic activity or a hot bath to warm the muscles before stretching.