Monday, January 26, 2015

Exercise Science Major- Cardiorespiratory fitness

Hey everybody, I’m back in the United States…. Actually I have been back for a couple of months now, and the transition back has been interesting to say the least. For the most part it’s good to be home, but sometimes I do have saudades for the Brasilian lifestyle. Anyway I will continue to blog a bit, and hopefully reflect on some of my travels in Europe as well even if the posts have a larger gap in between. My post will probably shift a little more toward fitness and a little away from food =( but I’m pleased to say this post is the 1st of a 3 part series I will be writing for one of my classes so I hope you all still enjoy it. It pertains to both my Health Fitness emphasis as well as my Psychology minor ... Oh yeah the source for this info came from research conducted in Brasil!

Obesity is a worldwide problem that affects countries of all sizes and levels of development. It is well know that diet and exercise are things that combat obesity as well as cardiovascular problems that often accompany it. Cardiorespiratory fitness is a benefit of exercise that helps to reduce the risk of complications from obesity and sedentary lifestyle. Recent research has given a few insights on just how exercise intensity over a 12 week period can affect your motivation, cardiorespiratory fitness and those extra pounds. 

1. You need to know yourself and select a trainer/program that fits you- The 2 programs had trainers supervising the workouts. This may have been to protect the integrity of the study, but it also can help as you try and stay on track with your exercise goals. The first group was instructed only to walk at an intensity that gave them a good work out, and not so intense that it would stop them from exercising on a daily or every other day basis. While the second group was verbally encouraged and given feedback to get them to workout at an intensity determined by their pre-program test. This can make some people very uncomfortable. So knowing what you’re getting into when you start an exercise program can help you determine what will work best to help you achieve your goals. It is also important that your trainer is a good match for your needs and can push you in the appropriate manner.
2. Everyone has a breaking point- Over half of the participants who were pushed to keep a set intensity dropped out of the study. Like I had mentioned before, the intensity most likely caused too much discomfort for them to want to continue with the study. Without knowing what they were getting into nor the results they would achieve, anyone could have been discouraged by this.

3. We are capable of more than we think- The participants of this study that were given a set intensity and pushed to meet that intensity achieved significantly greater improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness measured by maximal oxygen consumption(VO2max). Without this imposed intensity they most likely would have had VO2max improvements comparable to those who chose their own intensity. It all depends on how you respond to being pushed. Some thrive in this condition and other are hindered by it.

4. Exercise alone cannot significantly reduce your body fat- Based on the pre and post program measurements of a densitometer there was not a significant drop in body fat percentage (%BF) for those who chose their intensity or those who were given an intensity to exercise at, when compared to a group who did not participate in a program. However the participants did not gain any fat during the program. Some participants did lose a small amount of %BF, but this was not significant for the length of the program. It is believed that the missing piece for reduction in %BF was that there was no restriction on how many calories were consumed during the 12 weeks. So remember exercise can make you hungrier; eating the right foods is a key to changing your body for the better.

APA Format

Freitas, L. G., Krinski, K., Elsangedy, H. M., Freitas, R. Q., Durigan, J. Z., Feitosa, A. A., & ... DaSilva, S. G. (2014). The Impact of a Self-Selected and Imposed Intensity on Cardiorespiratory Fitness and            Body Composition in Obese Women. Journal Of Exercise Physiology Online, 17(2), 44-52.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Chimarrão (Yerba Mate)

 I would call Chimarrão (pronounced She-Ma-How for the English speakers reading this) a ritualistic social drink. It is a loose-leaf tea made from ervamate, and is prepared in a special way. Chimarrão is a tradition of the Gauchos (Ga-Oo-Show) here in Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil. It is also found in Paraguay, Uruguay, southern Argentina, and other Brasilian states, but with less popularity.  The cup in which Chimarrão is prepared is called a Cuia (coo-ya). It is traditionally made out of the narrowing part of a gourd. 

The straw that has essentially a mini-colander on one end is called a bomba.  The higher quality bombas are made of stainless steel.

The Ritual: Hot water is put into a 1-liter thermos; the water is best just short of boiling. The Erva is then prepared in the Cuia normally by the owner of the house, or the most experienced participant, or by who ever the owner asks to do it. The person who prepares the Chimarrão takes the 1st turn and drinks all of the water from the Cuia. When the Cuia is empty the drinker often makes a slurping noise. The Cuia is then refilled with water by the preparer and passed to the next person in line. If you are sitting in a circle it usually rotates around the circle, regardless of the formation the order is always maintained. If someone joins the group they are usually offered the next turn and thus are in that spot of the order. Below is a list of the 10 commandments of Chimarrão that I have translated to English for you all.  The 6th commandment is VERY important because if the bomba is move it will most likely cause it to clog.

The 10 commandments of Chimarrão:
1.     Thou shall not put sugar in the Mate
2.     Thou shall not say Chimarrão is unsanitary
3.     Thou shall not say the Mate is too hot
4.     Thou shall not leave the Cuia half-full
5.     Thou shall not be ashamed of “slurping” as you finish
6.     Thou shall not move the Bomba
7.     Thou shall not alter the serving order
8.     Thou shall not fall asleep with the Cuia in hand
9.     Thou shall not condemn the owner of the house for taking the 1st turn
10. Thou shall not say Chimarrão causes throat cancer

If you have had enough, then when you have finished your turn, as you hand the Cuia back to the person serving the Chimarrão you say “obrigado”. This means “Thank You”, but in context it is a signal for I don’t want any more.  If the water runs out and some people still want more Chimarrão you simply refill the thermos with more hot water.

Chimarrão is very social, and a huge part of the culture in Rio Grande do sul.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Museo de Futebol

In São Paulo, while I wasn’t taking pictures of Graffiti, I had the chance to visit the soccer museum they have there. I have to say, it is one of the coolest museums I have ever been in. For starters it is located in Pacaembú Stadium, with part of it taking you underneath the bleachers. When you first enter the museum you come to a path that has smaller goal frames lining it. Each frame represents a World Cup, and each crossbar has the host countries name printed on it and “Why did we win?” or “Why did we lose?”

I found the attributions for loss in 1986, and 1998 to be the most interesting. In 86- “Because Maradona, unhappily, was not born in Mato Grosso do sul” for those of you who don’t know Maradona was an Argentine soccer star who most Brasilians are NOT a fan of. In 98- “Because the real Brasilian Futebol ghost is not Uruguayan” After reading about the Cup wins and losses I continued on and came across some wonderful facts that are quite relevant to my field of study. For example did you know in England during the 1966 World Cup coffee was prohibited because the English considered it a stimulant? However, the Brasilians asked why English Tea was not also prohibited, and the subject was said to be dropped there. Somewhere in the middle of the museum I had a chance to play foosball on tables that varied greatly in the configurations of players.

I also got a chance to pop my head into the actual arena.

The museum was filled with all kinds of terms of the game and displays of the development of equipment. These were exciting to me as a sports fanatic and would make a die-hard soccer fan feel as if they found the Holy Grail. I would like to share a few more fun facts about Brasilian Futebol here. The biggest win in Brasilian Futebol history was during the Rio de Janeiro state championship of 1909 Botafogo beat Mangueira 24-0. The most expulsions in a game was 22, when a fight broke out between Botafogo and Portuguesa in a 1954 tournament match. The fastest goal scored in Brasilian Futebol history was in 3.17 seconds, by Fred of América- MG in 2003. Next I’ll talk about the lower level of the museum that has a ton of interactive activities that use projection. They had one game that projected on to the floor. It was similar to air hockey, but it was futebol themed so you blocked and kicked with your feet. They also had an area where you could kick an actual ball at a goal with a projected goalie on the wall and it would tell you the speed of your kick. I did not wait in line for this because a few school groups were in line making it a very long wait. If you enjoy sports at all and find yourself in São Paulo this museum is a must see. It is exciting, interactive, and teaches you about History of the Sport and Brasilian culture as it is tied to the Sport.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


Acarajé is a delicious sandwich type snack typical of the Brasilian state of Bahia. One thing you need to aware of when trying it is that Bahian hot sauce is very strong, but also very tasty. The bun for this sandwich is fried in palm oil, and the dough is made from peeled black-eyed peas. Inside it has shrimp (they often aren’t peeled) and a few different pastes. This is great snack or you can eat a couple for dinner. This dish embodies the African roots in this part of Brasil and boy does it taste awesome!

Monday, August 25, 2014


 I recently had the chance to travel throughout Brasil and experience many new foods and regional cultures. In Curitiba I had the chance to try a drink called a Submarino. This drink is supposedly typical of southern Brasil, but I had not encountered it prior to my visit to Curitiba. Submarino has a resemblance to a Boilermaker or Depth Charge in the USA.  The main difference is instead of whiskey you use Steinhäger in a Submarino. Steinhäger is a spirit distilled from wheat and Juniper berries. It is German in origin, and Curitiba and other parts of southern Brasil have a large concentration of German immigrants. This could be a contributing factor to the popularity of the drink. The shot glass(or canecinha)of Steinhäger is dropped into the pint of draft beer and you drink it just like that. At the Bar do Alemão (big German bar) where I tried Submarino, they also had a variant which substituted Jägermeister for Steinhäger. I will have to experiment with this one sometime. Overall this beverage was pretty good and a look at how parts of Brasil hold German influence.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Unimed 10k

 I ran my first 10k race ever here in Brasil. The race was sponsored by Unimed. I have a long history as a runner (over 10 years) and am well versed in 5k races. To be honest I was a little worried when race day came around. I did not get the chance to train as much as I would have liked, and feared I would run the last few kilometers as slow as a snail. In reality it felt pretty good aside from feeling slow in the 5th kilometer as some of the 5k runners started to pass me using up all they had left. I don't believe I tapered off as much as I expected considering I ran the first half of the race at almost the same pace as would for a 5k(essentially I raced two 5k's back to back).   The results can be found online at     I managed to finish at a pace that surprised myself. I finished 37th out of 118, my official time was just over 45 minutes, but I actually finished the race a bit before that. Due to the differences in the timing systems I delayed the stopping of the clock. The timing system I am used to in America has a chip that you tie into your shoelaces. There are then sensor plates laid across the start line and the finish line. When you cross the start line your time starts and when you cross the finish line your time stops. I should have known something was different for this race in Brasil when the time device was wrapped around my wrist as a bracelet. Well my Portuguese level was low, and I didn’t really register for the race ahead of time because I didn’t have a CPF number so I just went with the flow. That said, the timing device was not a chip at all so I can only assume that the clock started at the same time for everyone regardless of when you actually got to cross the start line (that defiantly added a few seconds). It turns out the bracelet had a barcode on it that was scanned after you crossed the finish line. Since this was about 20yards past the finish arch I started to walk, oh well. Overall I was very pleased with how I performed in the race, and I would love to train for another race soon.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Fenadoce is a sweets festival that kind of reminds me of the scene from Willy Wonka where everybody enters the room with the lake full of chocolate… accept it is infested with Giant Animated Ants and all the sweets must be paid for (pictures accompany this post). Doces are Brasilian sweets that are similar to truffles but different, and they are DELICIOUS! The festival takes place in Pelotas, RS Brasil. On a side note Pelotas translates to Balls in English. The grounds have a carnival much like the ones found at festivals in the United States, but within the buildings the real excitement happens. Inside they have what looks like a miniature city and every building is selling Doces. There are also statues of cupcake people, and of course what I would consider to be the mascot of the festival Giant Ants.  This makes an enormous amount of sense since ants love sugar and crumbs, but still it’s hard not to laugh a little; I don’t know why I find this so entertaining.  There is also a part of the grounds that have tents with many vendors selling or promoting various companies or organizations. There were aspects that resembled American festivals and also parts that were unique to the local culture and specialties of the city and region. Overall this was a great experience and I am happy I was able to attend Fenadoce.