Army H.e.a.l.t.h. Arsenal
May, 2017

Endomondo is a website and app designed to motivate physical activity. The app is focused on making it engaging, social and fun to exercise for its users. The app is easy to connect with friends. It is designed to track workouts using GPS, manage stats, provides audio feedback along the way and offers guidance on how to reach and maintain fitness goals. It is a personal trainer app which syncs to the Edomondo website, where the user can access a full training log and analyze their fitness activity.

The Endomondo app is available for free in the app store for iPhone and Android

Sleep Corner

The Benefits of AM Workouts!

Getting up early enough to workout before the start of the day can be tough. That said, there are many benefits to morning workouts that may be fuel for us to set that early alarm and get moving!

  1. Working out in the morning gives our metabolism a boost that will last beyond the workout.

  2. Working out in the morning allows us to check it off the to-do list before other things get in the way.

  3. Working out in the morning can give us a “health conscious” mindset for the rest of the day, making it easier to continue health behaviors.
Here are some tips to reach those AM workout goals:
  1. Set your workout clothes out the night before so they are ready to go.

  2. Move your alarm across the room so that you have to actually get up to shut it off (making “snoozing” less likely).

  3. Get into a routine of going to bed a bit earlier.
But remember...regardless of when we workout, just doing it is most important!

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Muscle Cramps

Krampf in German, komuragaeri in Japanese, paralítica in Portuguese – many cultures and languages have a name for a specific type of pain in the calf or foot muscles. In the U.S., we know it as a charley horse.

What is a charley horse?

A charley horse is an involuntary (and painful) muscle spasm or cramp that can occur anywhere in the body; however, the ones in the legs and feet tend to be the worst. It’s common and somewhat mysterious, and occurs when a muscle contracts and becomes stiff without being able to relax. Many people experience these pains at night while sleeping, though a charley horse can occur at any time day or night.

What causes a charley horse?

There is no one specific cause for muscle cramps. Common causes include:
  • Dehydration
  • Nutrition problems – imbalances of electrolytes, potassium, calcium, and magnesium mean your muscles aren’t getting the nutrients that help them contract and relax appropriately
  • Not stretching enough – this is especially important before and after a workout. Stretching keeps your muscles flexible, so they’re less likely to stiffen without being able to relax
  • Overexertion – using your muscles harder than usual or experiencing muscle fatigue can cause your muscles to seize up into a cramp
  • Poor circulation – this is usually the culprit if you get muscle cramps while walking; if your muscles don’t get an adequate blood supply, they can’t relax properly
  • Awkward positions – sitting in an awkward position for too long, or even wearing shoes that restrict your circulation or require a specific posture (looking at you, high heels) can cause your muscles to retain their tension even after you’ve moved out of the uncomfortable position
Other risk factors include:
  • Age – older people lose muscle mass, so the remaining muscle can get overstressed more easily
  • Pregnancy – muscle cramps are more common during pregnancy
  • Medical conditions – certain medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, nerve, liver, or thyroid disorders) and medications can cause muscle cramps as a side effect
How can you treat a charley horse?

To stop a charley horse, you have to get the tensed muscle to relax. Stretching exercises are the most effective way to relieve them – gently stretching the tensed muscle back out until it releases its tension will get rid of the cramp. Using a heating pad or soaking the affected area in a warm tub of Epsom salt can help the muscle to relax. If the pain isn’t resolved quickly, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, like ibuprofen, may also help.

Basic calf stretch

This calf stretch is commonly used by runners. Here’s how to do it:
  1. Stand with your palms placed against a wall, with arms stretched out
  2. Step back with leg of affected calf
  3. Lean forward on the other leg and push against the wall - you should feel a stretch in your calf muscle and the back of the leg.
Towel stretch

Do this stretch while you sit:
  1. Keep legs outstretched in front of you
  2. Point the toes of your affected foot at the ceiling so that the leg is engaged
  3. Take a towel or neck tie and wrap it around your foot, holding it with both hands
  4. Lift the leg slightly until you feel a good stretch
How can you prevent charley horses?

The easiest ways to prevent a charley horse are:
  • Be sure to stay hydrated
  • Eat a variety of foods with lots of colorful fruits and vegetables to be sure you are getting enough nutrients in your diet. Consider adding a post-workout banana break to your routine to keep your potassium levels up
  • Stretch before and after every workout
  • Incorporate strength training into your exercise routine to strengthen your muscles
  • Pace yourself during workouts so as to not overtire your muscles
Bottom line

Charley horses are as mysterious as they are painful, but these common muscle cramps can be resolved with a few self-care prevention and treatment tips. However, if you experience more intense cramps that last for 5-10 minutes, or occur multiple times a week, you should contact your physician.  

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Q: As a female, I’ve heard that if I strength train with weights I might get too bulky. Is this true?

A: Bulking up from weight training is a common misconception held by many women, but lifting heavy has many benefits and can actually help you lose weight. A higher level of lean muscle mass increases the overall number of calories you burn during the day. Strength training also helps to strengthen bones and improve heart health.

Mindful Moment

We should always listen to our body. Our body is always in the present! Be mindful of and learn from what our body is telling us.

Bottom Line

Muscle cramps aka “charley horse” are involuntary muscle spasms that can happen to any part of the body. Many things can cause muscle cramps, such as dehydration and nutritional imbalances. Ways to prevent charley horse include, stretching, staying hydrated, and eating a balanced diet.

Working out in the morning is a great way to get your day started. Preparing for your AM workout the night before can help give you the extra nudge in the morning (i.e. laying out your clothes the night before). Using an app like Endomondo can help you track your progress and connect with friends to provide accountability too.

If you’re looking for healthy recipes and new exercises, try the Oven Fried Chicken and featured exercise. Part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is always finding recipes and exercises that work for you!

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Featured Recipe: Oven Fried Chicken

Mother’s day is coming up, and this month’s featured recipe lets you serve up mom’s favorite comfort food recipe – done healthy! Replacing breadcrumbs or batter with crackers and corn flakes takes away some of the carbs; plus, you can breathe easy and put your deep fryer back in the cabinet. This oven baked dish is oil and oil-cleanup free!

  • ½ sleeve (about 20) whole-grain salted crackers
  • 2 ½ cups corn cereal flakes
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • ¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 egg whites*
  • 1 cup lowfat, plain yogurt**
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard**
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 4 skinless chicken thighs, rinsed and patted dry (about 3 ½ lbs chicken in total)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine the salted crackers and corn cereal flakes in a food processor and pulse to create fine crumbs (you should have about 1 cup when finished)
  3. Combine the cracker/corn cereal crumb mixture, sesame seeds, cayenne, and garlic powder in a shallow bowl. Reserve.
  4. In a large bowl, combine egg whites, yogurt, Dijon mustard, and salt.
  5. Add the chicken pieces and coat thoroughly with the yogurt mixture.
  6. One at a time, dip the chicken pieces into the cracker mixture, packing crumbs onto the chicken.
  7. Lightly spray a baking sheet with olive oil, then arrange the chicken on the baking sheet.
  8. Lightly spray the chicken with the olive oil cooking spray.
  9. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a knife.

Nutrition Information:
Servings: 6-8      Calories: 331      Carbs: 22g      Sugar: 5g                Fat: 9g       Protein: 50g        Sodium: 515mg     

*Not sure how to separate egg yolks and whites without getting egg on your face (and the counter)? Check out these cool egg separation hacks. Our favorite way is the “water bottle” method – what’s yours? Save the egg yolks in the freezer if you want to use them again in another recipe!

**Ever notice you can never get every bit of these sticky ingredients back out of your measuring cups and into the bowl? Try spraying your measuring cups with some of the olive oil cooking spray before you measure out the yogurt or mustard. The cooking spray will help these ingredients slide right back out so you don’t lose any in the process. (This works great for peanut butter too!)
Featured Exercise: Row-Resistance Band

Featured Recipe adapted from Food Network.