7-minute workout is interval training

The “plank” is one of 12 moves in the 7-minute workout, which also includes jumping jacks, wall sits, push-ups, abdominal crunches, step-ups onto chairs, squats, tricep dips, high-knee running in place, lunges, push-ups with rotations and side planks.


Ask people why they don’t exercise, and they are liable to say they don’t have time.

So, exercise scientists set about crafting a short but beneficial workout. They wound up with a dozen high-intensity intervals they call “The 7-Minute Workout.”

Carol Sames, PhD, an exercise physiologist who directs the Vitality! Fitness Program at Upstate, is a fan of the workout because it can be adapted to people of various abilities, it can be done in the home, and it’s a good substitute for people who say they cannot fit in the recommended weekly 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise.

“This workout is about interval training, which has been around for years, but just packaged slightly differently,” Sames explained. Each of the 12 exercises takes 30 seconds and is separated by 10 seconds of rest. One circuit takes 7 minutes, and ideally, people would repeat the circuit two or three times, extending their time commitment.

She said the 7-minute workout can be helpful. It can increase muscular fitness and aerobic capacity, improve the body’s insulin use and burn calories at a higher rate than lower intensity exercise, which can help shed fat.

It’s not for everyone, however.

The intensity is likely too high for people with high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease, or for someone who has been sedentary or is significantly overweight. It may also be too much for those with significant osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Adaptations can be made in the selection of the specific exercises to reduce the intensity.

The 7-minute workout can be used as supplementary training to improve aerobic fitness and strength in athletes or for someone who is training for a distance run.

The 7-minute workout is better than not working out.

“If you just want to improve some cardio and strength,” Sames said, “you get a lot of bang for your buck in 7 minutes.”

How much exercise do you need?

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that most healthy adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week.

Is the 7-minute workout for you?

Upstate exercise physiologist Carol Sames, PhD, said to ask your health care professional if this workout is appropriate for you. If so, start slowly – perhaps by lengthening the amount of rest between exercises – and modify the moves as needed.

Hear an interview on this subject by visiting www.upstate.edu/healthlinkonair and searching “7-minute.”

This article appears in the spring 2015 issue of Upstate Health magazine.


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Why I love rowing

Jennifer Moffat, PhD (front), with rowing partner, Mindy Holgate. Moffat is an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Upstate.

Jennifer Moffat, PhD (front), with rowing partner, Mindy Holgate. Moffat is an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Upstate.


  1. It gives me something for myself. Soon after I moved here from California in 1999, when my girls were just 2 and 4, I went to a wellness program at the high school, and a woman there spotted me and said, “Hey, you’re strong. Why don’t you join me?
  2. On national “Learn to Row Day” — which takes place June 6 this year — I just thought pulling on that oar was the best thing I’d ever done. I was with a great group of women, some a little older, some a little younger, but all of us grown-ups and ready to get out there and try something challenging.
  3. I like being outdoors, and I love Cazenovia Lake.
  4. Rowing is highly aerobic. You can push yourself to a point where it’s very intense. You get out of it what you put into it. You can challenge yourself, or you can take it easy.
  5. It’s a really good full-body workout. All the power of your legs gets transferred to your core. It is really tough on your hands, and we don’t wear gloves. So you have to deal with blisters on your hands.
  6. Rowing is the kind of thing where you can become proficient very quickly, but it takes years to master.
  7. You learn a universal language. The crazy vocabulary of rowing is a real tradition.
  8. You can jump in a boat and row with anyone. I travel for my job as a scientist. I contact rowing clubs when I travel and join them. I’ve gone rowing in Madison, Wis., San Diego and Finland.
  9. You really don’t have to invest in a lot of clothing. We wear tight spandex shorts or tights in order not to get caught in the rowing seat. And we don’t even wear shoes over our socks. The shoes are built into the boat. Rowers wear some kind of shirt that’s not too long in back. And hats and sunglasses.
  10. What’s really appealing to me is how you get a really sort of calming, focusing experience. It’s very present tense. It’s highly meditative. You do the stroke over and over again, and every time you try to make it the best stroke. You end up feeling very refreshed, mentally. Your body is exhausted, but your mind is refreshed. You feel like you’ve had a break from all the other thoughts in your head.
  11. Most of our races are on Onondaga Lake, or in Rochester or Albany. Now and then we row in Boston. As a novice my first year I won a gold medal. Hundreds of people of all ages show up for the regattas. It’s usually a day trip when you get up really early. It’s a big picnic. You watch other people race, you cheer your team, you set up a food tent.
  12. Both daughters became rowers around eighth grade. Laurel is the older one. She participated in the rowing program at Fayetteville-Manlius High School and attends Cornell University now. Last summer she was an assistant coach for the Cazenovia Rowing Club. Dana is the younger one. She is an FM High School senior who won a silver medal in the World Rowing Junior Racing Championships in Hamburg, Germany, last summer. Later, she competed in the Youth Olympics in China. I derive a lot of joy watching their efforts.

This article appears in the spring 2015 issue of Upstate Health magazine.

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Advice for parents: Do you think your child may have ADHD?

If you believe your child may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, “the most important thing is not to wait,” said scientist Stephen Faraone, PhD.

Faraone, a professor in Upstate’s departments of psychiatry and neurosciences and physiology, has authored more than 700 journal articles, editorials, chapters and books having to do with the nature and causes of mental disorders in childhood.

He said most pediatricians are well trained in diagnosing and treating that you delay treatment is a year that your iStock_000037219708LargeSKADHD. Parents should explain to the pediatrician why they have concerns. The doctor may say that the child has a normal level of exuberance.

“If they tell you the child has ADHD, don’t delay treatment,” Faraone said. “Every year that you delay treatment is a year that your child is exposed to many risks — the risks of having difficult friendships, not socializing properly, of failing in school, not doing as well as they might. (By delaying treatment,) your child’s self esteem goes down, and their problems get worse.”

Many of the ADHD medications have been used safely since the 1960s. Faraone says few alternatives have been shown to be effective. One exception is an omega 3 fatty acid known as eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA, which may be modestly helpful for children with ADHD. Still, it is only about half as effective as medications, he says.

Monitoring how well your child’s treatment is going is also important. The pediatrician may change the prescription before finding the medication that is most effective. The child may also need interventions at school. And, parents may benefit from behavioral family therapy.

Faraone is reassuring: “They will do well if they’re treated and you monitor them. Most people with ADHD are able to live productive and happy lives.”

Hear an interview at www.upstate.edu/healthlinkonair by searching “ADHD.”

This article appears in the spring 2015 issue of Upstate Health magazine.



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Spring issue of Upstate Health magazine available now

Layout 1Elizabeth Reddy, MD, is on the cover of the Spring 2015 Upstate Health magazine, related to a story about preventing the spread of HIV with a pill. This is something of which researchers were just beginning to dream in the early 1980s at the start of the AIDS epidemic. Now it’s available, and effective.

In this issue, you will also learn about “the 7-minute workout,” why we don’t hear much about cancer of the heart, and the difference between a primary and a comprehensive stroke center. You’ll meet a youngster who was able to hear sound, thanks to cochlear implants, a teen who returned to the sports he loves after brain surgery, and a physician with a personal story about health care proxies.

Scientists from Upstate share their expertise on regenerative medicine in this issue, along with stories about dengue fever and research into new drug targets for treating cancer. Other people connected to Upstate share their passion for dancing, for rowing, and for giving back to their community. Margaret Tandoh, MD, tells about returning to her native Liberia to help with the Ebola crisis.

Enjoy this issue of Upstate Health.

Here’s a stack of previous issues of Upstate Health, and here’s additional information about the publication. For a free subscription, email magazine@upstate.edu with “Upstate Health” in the subject line; include your name and mailing address.

Posted in cancer, community, eye disorders, health care, hospital, medical student, public health, research, stroke, women's health | Leave a comment

Out of the laboratory and onto the dance floor


Andrew Banas and Kayla Crouch

By Jim McKeever

Upstate students Andrew Banas and Kayla Crouch are conferring, but not about class assignments or laboratory research. For an hour each week, the pair dance. They waltz, tango and foxtrot to the sounds of Henry Mancini, Frank Sinatra, Van Morrison. They discuss steps, turns, posture and form.

Crouch is a first-year medical technology student, and Banas is a first-year doctoral student in the College of Graduate Studies.

They dance mostly for fun and fitness.

They connected last semester when Banas put out the word that he wanted to start a ballroom dancing club on campus. “Though we were not able to set up the club right away, we decided to start practicing ourselves,” said Crouch. She started dancing salsa at age 8 while growing up in the Bronx. Then as a student at Binghamton University, she joined a Latin dance team and a ballroom dancing club.

Banas credits his older sister Elizabeth with sparking his interest in dancing. “She was moving away to college, and I was still at home (in Michigan) and it became a way for us to still stay connected. Her interest remains, and we still dance at social events when I am home for the holidays.”

Dancing provides a change of pace and a break from Banas’ studies in cell and developmental biology. For Crouch, dancing is her time to relax. As she explained, “you can’t have all work and no play.”

This article appears in the spring 2015 issue of Upstate Health magazine.

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Surgery replaces silence with sound

Mason Drake at the moment he heard sound, thanks to cochlear implants. Photo by Kathleen Paice Froio.

Mason Drake at the moment he heard sound, thanks to cochlear implants. Photo by Kathleen Paice Froio.

A rare developmental disorder left Mason Drake deaf since birth. He heard nothing in his first six years of life.

His parents brought him to Upstate University Hospital for surgery in November. Charles Woods III, MD, installed a pair of cochlear implants that allowed Mason to hear sound for the first time. The implant’s receiver was secured to the youngster’s skull, electrodes were inserted into the inner ear, and weeks later – after the usual swelling had subsided – audiologist Jeffrey Vantassel turned the device on.

Mason heard the voices of his parents, Jessica and Kevin Drake of Oswego, both of whom used sign language to augment their speech. Megan Coleman, a news anchor for CNY Central, described Mason’s response as “part uncertain, part afraid, clearly overwhelming.”

The news station covered Mason’s implant surgery in a three-part series that aired late last year.

“What the implant actually does is stimulate the eighth nerve, which is our hearing nerve, directly to the brain,” Woods, an assistant professor in otolaryngology and communication sciences, told the news crew.

Jessica Drake said her son is still getting used to the devices. He takes them off for bathing because they cannot get wet, and he takes them off when he sleeps. Sometimes when he gets home from kindergarten, he takes them off to give himself a break from all the sound.

A remote controller adjusts the volume of the implants. His mom or dad increases it a little each day. Mason has a speech therapist and audiologist at school, and he has follow-up appointments with Vantassel every month. Eventually, the Drakes hope Mason will develop speech.

“Everything that we thought was out of reach seems more attainable now,” Kevin Drake said. ###

To learn about cochlear implant options, contact otolaryngologists Charles Woods III, MD, or Brian Nicholas, MD, at 315-464-4678.

This article appears in the spring 2015 issue of Upstate Health magazine.


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6 ways to avoid nausea during cancer treatment

Good nutrition is an important component of cancer care, helping patients maintain strength and weight so they can better handle their treatments. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may cause unpleasant side effects for some patients.

Maria Erdman, a registered dietitian nutritionist at the Upstate Cancer Center, shares advice for dealing with nausea and vomiting. Erdman recommends:

* eating frequent small portions every few hours throughout the day.

* avoiding foods or restaurants with strong or unpleasant odors.

* eating foods that are not greasy, fried, or very spicy.

* drinking only sips of fluids as necessary throughout your meal.

* for an especially queasy stomach, eat dry crackers or toast to help it settle before eating other foods.

* take all prescribed anti-nausea medicines as prescribed.

All of these recommendations are generalized – find what works for you.

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Cancer as a child means she keeps vigilant watch as an adult

Heather Gangemi, 32, of North Syracuse survived Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which was diagnosed when she was 14. She spoke at the ribbon cutting for the new Upstate Cancer Center in July.

Heather Gangemi, 32, of North Syracuse survived Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which was diagnosed when she was 14. She spoke at the ribbon cutting for the new Upstate Cancer Center in July.

She worries about freckles. She gets concerned if her sleep habits are off. When she felt a lump in her breast, it ruined her weekend.

As a pediatric cancer survivor who is now 32, Heather Gangemi is on high alert.

She was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of 14. Her lymph nodes swelled to the size of golf balls. Normally they should be the size of peas, which enlarge to the size of marbles during sickness. What she hoped would be a bad case of allergies or a cold turned out to be cancer.

“Up until the moment the oncologist told me that I had cancer, cancer never entered my mind. I would have never guessed that cancer would happen to a healthy kid like me,” Gangemi said during the ribbon cutting for the new Upstate Cancer Center last summer.

Heather Gangemi at age 14.

Heather Gangemi at age 14.

She received four months of chemotherapy and a month of radiation therapy at Upstate University Hospital before she was considered in remission. She remembers nurses and doctors who made her feel beautiful when she was bald, who helped her participate in making health care decisions even as a young teen.

At first her appointments were every three months, then every six. Now she has checkups every year. Today she has lived more than half of her life as a cancer survivor.

“I live a normal life, but I spend quite a bit of time worrying about my health. I’ve had shadows on x-rays that should be nothing, and thankfully turned out to be nothing, but are scary just the same,” she said.

Complications from childhood cancers and their treatments may occur many years later, so experts recommend survivors be carefully monitored for the rest of their lives. “The specific late effects that a person who was treated for childhood cancer might experience depend on the type and location of his or her cancer, the type of treatment he or seen received, and patient-related factors, such as age at diagnosis,” the American Cancer Society points out on its website.

Cancer had a huge impact on her life, and when it came time for college, Gangemi knew science would be in her future somehow. She had a desire to work in the field of oncology. She briefly thought about medical school. Then she looked into radiation technology. Neither seemed right for her. “I don’t think I would have been able to handle it. I think I would have gotten too invested in every single patient.”

So Gangemi found her passion at Bristol-Myers Squibb in East Syracuse. There, she assists the division that manufactures oncology medications.


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Volunteers dispense comfort in cancer center

Linda Bigsby distributes drinks and snacks in the infusion area of the Upstate Cancer Center. Adults interested in volunteering in the center can call 1-315-464-5180. Volunteers are needed daytime from Monday to Friday, to assist patients in the infusion areas and to staff a “Comfort Cart.”

Linda Bigsby distributes drinks and snacks in the infusion area of the Upstate Cancer Center. Adults interested in volunteering in the center can call 1-315-464-5180. Volunteers are needed daytime from Monday to Friday, to assist patients in the infusion areas and to staff a “Comfort Cart.”

The gesture may seem small, but for the cancer patient who feels chilly during infusion, the offer of a warm blanket provides much more than creature comfort.

“I do the simplest of things, but people are so appreciative,” says Linda Bigsby of Camillus, a volunteer assigned to the Upstate Cancer Center.

After retiring from a career as a nurse, Bigsby found time to give back to her community. She has volunteered the past five years at Upstate University Hospital. She started in the pediatric intensive care unit and then transferred into oncology.

“I liked it immediately,” she said. “I love the constant interaction. You almost become friends with the patients. You end up spending time talking with them, looking at photographs, hearing about their lives.”

Bigsby offers snacks if a patient is hungry, magazines if he or she wants to read, companionship if he or she is alone. She says she has learned to tell when people wish to be left alone, and when they want company.

Bigsby and the other volunteers from the cancer center are going through the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Resource Volunteer program so they are familiar with the resources available from the society. That way, as the volunteers get to know patients, they will be able to suggest appropriate programs and services that might be helpful, along with the creature comforts the provide.

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Cancer documentary to preview at Upstate

Ken.BurnsGet an early look at clips from the upcoming television event, “The Story of Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies” from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 25.

The Upstate Cancer Center, in partnership with WCNY Public Media, presents the free preview event. Parking is also free in the open lot on East Adams Street across from the center.

Physicians and staff from the cancer center will make presentations during the event. Attendees will learn about their risk of cancer and the newest treatments available.

“The Story of Cancer” is a six-hour documentary based on “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.” The film was directed by filmmakers Barak Goodman and produced by Ken Burns, who recently oversaw production of “The Roosevelts.”

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