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A Fitter U Q&A: February 2016

February 10, 2016

A Fitter U

The Drexel Recreation Center has been brimming with offerings for fitness and fun in the midst of a frigid winter. The newest arrival, Paddle Board Yoga, was recently featured on and is bound to make a splash with students, staff, faculty and community members. 

Joe Giandonato, Drexel's manager of health promotion and resident fitness expert, who captains an all-star team of fitness professionals, is back again fielding questions from the Drexel community. This month, he reveals how yoga can help you chase off the winter blues.

If you are interested in having your question answered in next month's edition you can submit it here. Those who have their questions chosen are eligible to receive one free month at the Rec Center.

"What are some of the benefits of yoga?"

Yoga encapsulates a host of health-boosting benefits, both physiological and psychological.

The word yoga originates from Sanskrit root yuj, which means "to bind, join and attach." Yoga has been has been touted by its practitioners for establishing a profound mind-body connection. There are a number of sub-disciplines, but each comprises the five components of mindful exercise collectively delivering improvements in health — meditative qualities, body and spatial awareness, breath centering, deliberate anatomic alignment, and the cultivation and transfer of positive energy.

Unlike more traditional forms of exercise, yoga evokes greater parasympathetic nervous system influence, perhaps due to its focus on breathing. Exhalation in yoga evokes the vagus nerve of the paraysympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system, which helps its participants relax during practice.

Research indicates that yoga may be potent enough to literally fight off the winter blues. One study found that after six months of regular practice, participants demonstrated significantly greater cold tolerance than those participating in calisthenics, presumably due to improved thermogenesis achieved through streamlined metabolic functioning and enhanced physical conditioning.

Either way, yoga is definitely worth consideration if you're looking to get healthier and fitter.

"What is paddle board yoga and how is it different from more traditional forms of yoga?"

Peanut butter is awesome. So is bacon. But at first glance, a delicacy combining both would seem pretty tough to swallow. Paddle Board Yoga, combining focused movement with a floating board might appear similarly daunting.

But paddle boarding is a fun and challenging activity with unique health benefits. The unstable surface of the floating board lends itself to increased engagement of the core and other muscles involved in balance.

Since it’s a relatively new concept, the playing field, or pool (pun intended) is level; the majority of participants arrive with no prior experience. So go on, get your feet wet!

Classes are held on Saturdays and Sundays in the DAC pool. Registration is ongoing, but spots are limited. Contact Tara VanDoren, coordinator of aquatics, at for more information.


Joe Giandonato, MBA, MS, CSCS is the manager of health promotion at the Drexel Recreation Center where he oversees Proactive Health Services, a multidisciplinary collaborative geared to improving the health and performance of the Drexel community and comprised of Drexel's locally acclaimed personal training program. Members of the Drexel community are extended attractive rates. For more information on personal training and other services, contact