Fit For You


Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a cyclical depressive disorder that occurs during parts of the year with minimal sunlight. SAD can cause people to feel fatigue, depression, hopelessness and to withdraw from their social life.

Short, cold winter days and a pandemic that keeps many people inside their home all day only compounds the affect that SAD has on people.

Emerys Cycling Triathlon & Fitness

Emerys Cycling Triathlon & Fitness has been selling bikes in Milwaukee since 1963. Brent Emery, son of founders Marilyn and Richard, now co-owns the business with his brother Ben. The company has stores in Milwaukee and Menomonee Falls.

Brent Emery says demand for bikes has been high since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. This is something he  says he expected when the pandemic first began.

Courtesy of Elizabeth McGowan

Elizabeth McGowan was only 15 years old when her father died of melanoma at the age of 44. When she was just out of college, McGowan was diagnosed with the same cancer that took her father.

At first, she thought it was a death sentence, but at 39, McGowan reached the major milestone of being five years cancer-free after over a decade of treatments.

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Cold and flu season is now upon us. That compounded with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic means it’s time to focus on our immune systems.  

Immune systems are pretty effective against many germs and viruses, but it takes time to fight them. And this year has added stress for many due to the many impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. "So, anything you can do to mitigate that stress by simple measures is going to be very helpful," says Josh Knox, a physician assistant by training and a clinical associate professor at Marquette University’s physician assistant program.

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Masks are a proven and effective tool in fighting the spread of COVID-19, but some people still resist wearing them. Just last week, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers extended the statewide mask mandate until Nov. 21 as coronavirus cases continue to rise in the state.

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As gyms reopen, members are weighing the risk of working out in common areas again. While coronavirus safety policies can vary gym to gym, the Wisconsin statewide mask mandate requires that everyone 5 and up wears a mask indoors — even while working out.

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From virtual workouts to outdoor activities, many of us found different ways to stay active when gyms were initially closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now that some gyms are open again, should you go?

"Regardless of what the activity is, the gym in of itself, no matter the gym, is going to be a high-risk area to go to," says Dr. Joyce Sanchez, an infectious disease specialist at Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin.

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About a third of our lives is spent sleeping. Sleep is good for our health and builds our immune function, something especially important during a pandemic.

However, the CDC estimates that 30-40% of American adults sleep less than six hours a night. That's two hours less than the recommended eight hours. Sleep deprivation is often associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and our ability to cope with stress.

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Medical error is the third leading cause of death in America, with more than 200,000 people dying unnecessarily each year. And the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted both patient and caregiver safety.

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Breathing. It’s something that we do without thinking about it. However, most of the time we’re practicing shallow breathing, which can sometimes make us feel out of breath and anxious — especially when we’re already stressed.

When we actively concentrate on breathing techniques that fully utilize our lungs, abdominals and diaphragm, it can actually reduce stress, create mindfulness, and even lower blood pressure.

Lucien Jung

Being stuck indoors can make it difficult to stay fit and healthy. Some have turned to online classes, vitamin supplements, and exercises that can be done easily in smaller spaces — like yoga.

Milwaukee instructor Molly Sommerhalder got hooked on yoga 20 years ago after taking classes at the YMCA. Through her daily practice, Sommerhalder says she's significantly healed her irritable bowel syndrome, decreased chronic anxiety and come to better understand herself.

Audrey Nowakowski

Float therapy - or floating - has become more popular in the health and wellness fields within the last few years. However, the practice actually goes back decades. 

The first upright freshwater float tank was developed in the early 1950s to explore the idea of consciousness. The more common lie-down commercial salt water tanks that we know today were invented in the early 1970s. While its popularity may have waxed and waned, floating is gaining traction as a way to help treat things like athletic recovery, chronic pain, anxiety, stress and insomnia. 

Audrey Nowakowski

For all the possible ways human bodies can fall ill, there are even more ways to treat them. Many of us combine Western allopathic medicine with things such as medication and other holistic approaches. Acupuncture is one of those practices. It’s been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years as a method of treatment. /

How are your New Year’s resolutions coming along? If you’re like many people, your determination to exercise more, eat healthier, lose weight, or get better rest isn’t as strong as it was on Jan. 1. By the second week of February, about 80% of people who made resolutions have failed.

Lauren Sigfusson

Emily Yenor has been a physical therapist for the past 20 years. For the first 10 of those years, she used traditional methods like ultrasound, deep tissue stretching and more to release muscle tightness in her clients. But she was frustrated by the lack of progress she was making with her patients.

“I felt like treating the tightness, digging in on these tight muscles, trying to stretch these tight muscles — it really wasn’t getting to the root of things,” notes Yenor.


Obesity rates have rapidly increased over the past two decades. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of adults (39.8%) in the United States were obese in 2017.

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How are you feeling right now? A little tired? Ready to tackle the day? Hungry? Well, how you’re feeling right now probably has a lot to do with circadian timing — or your inner clock.

"Every cell in your body is a clock. It knows what time of day it is, and all of these cells are kind of orchestrated and regulated by what we call a master clock in the brain," explains Dr. Jennifer Evans. She studies circadian timing and its effects on the body at Marquette University.

Alesandra Tejeda

From fertility, pregnancy and birth, to postpartum and parenting life — all of these stages of life can be a rewarding, yet challenging time. Trying to keep up with an exercise schedule on top of that presents even more difficulties.

While there are plenty of yoga classes and studios to choose from, finding pre- and postnatal yoga can be tough. And for expecting and new parents, it’s often hard to coordinate exercise with childcare.

One local yoga instructor wanted to fill that void by creating a place for parents to come not just for yoga, but for community.

Audrey Nowakowski

Editor's note: This piece was originally published on Aug. 08, 2018.

Food is one of the main pillars of health. But the kinds of foods we eat can counteract the positive effects of other healthy habits, like getting sufficient exercise and sleep. And there is a lot of conflicting information about what is good for you and how you should determine the best diet for your circumstances.

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Sugar gets a bad rap. Tooth decay, insulin resistance, inflammation and weight gain can all be laid at sugar’s feet. For most humans, our sweet tooth starts when we're babies so sugary food and drinks are hard to resist.

So, why not use artificial sweeteners? Also called non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS), artificial sweeteners are everywhere. They’re commonly used in coffee and tea. They're also found in everything from bread, toothpaste, medicines, and even e-cigarettes. But are they safe?

Audrey Nowakowski

All baby boomers will be over 65 by 2030, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. So, one in every five residents will be of retirement age. That means more people will be living with chronic conditions and general age-related issues, even as their life expectancy increases. Here in Wisconsin, Waukesha County is home to the state’s largest senior population.

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There are approximately 50 million people living with some form of dementia, including Alzheimer’s, worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. This rate is expected to nearly double by 2030, and triple by the year 2050. The global costs of dementia was estimated to be around $1 trillion in 2018 and are expected to rise drastically.

Fitness trends come and go over the years, but several trends that have held strong are formats such as functional movement, high intensity interval training, and a greater shift towards holistic wellness. But while trends have changed, a constant has been the need to go to a gym or a studio space in order to participate in these workouts. 

Higher Level Camps

Milwaukee-native Cheryl Mohr always knew that sports, especially basketball, would play a major role in her life. Mohr played varsity basketball for her entire high school career, became a 1,000-point club member, and was the first player to receive a full athletic scholarship for women's basketball. She went on to play Division 1 basketball at the University of Arkansas and then professionally for the Columbus Minks.


Wisconsin has been hit hard this winter — from snowstorms to a polar vortex that brought dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills to the region. But even on the coldest days, with temperatures falling well below zero, a few dedicated runners or bikers will skip the gym and exercise outside.

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Many of us made pledges or resolutions to exercise or eat healthier in the new year, but it’s not unusual for these kinds of resolutions to fall by the wayside in the first weeks of the New Year. But why is that?  And how can we make better plans?

Well, people often set lofty and unrealistic goals — especially when it comes to nutrition — says Becky Kerkenbush, a clinical dietitian, certified specialist in gerontological nutrition and fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 

Lauren Sigfusson

Editor's note: This piece was originally published Dec. 11, 2018.

Image courtesy of Annie Weiss

Editor's note: This piece was originally published Oct. 19, 2018.

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail is a 1,200 mile footpath that is entirely within the state of Wisconsin, though the distance it covers could take you from Milwaukee to Orlando.

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Training for a marathon is tough. But add a physical or cognitive impairment to the mix and it can require significant additional support. That was a lesson Dick Traum learned after losing his right leg in the aftermath of a serious car accident when he was 24. Ten years after the accident, he became the first runner to complete a marathon with a prosthetic leg when he crossed the finish line at the 1976 New York City Marathon.

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Prenatal providers recommend that women undergo a variety of health screenings while they’re pregnant. Among those is a test for GBS, or Group B streptococcus, between weeks 35 and 37 of pregnancy.

GBS is a relative of the bacteria that causes strep throat and is found naturally in about 30 percent of adult women. It is only considered a risk during child birth, when it can infect a newborn - especially in premature births. Women who test positive for Group B strep are intravenously given antibiotics during labor to reduce the chance of transmission to their baby.