Helping Hands

This morning I was at an event called Produce to People.  The program was created to give fresh produce to the needy directly and without question.  The idea is that receiving free, healthy food can be easier than going to the food bank or filling out qualification forms. It’s supposed to make receiving fresh produce as stress-free and encouraging as possible for those in need.

I was there for a newspaper that I’m interning with and I had to do some interviewing.  After talking to a few of the project coordinators, I decided to talk to one of the families who were waiting in line for their share.  I was nervous.  I didn’t want to embarrass anyone by asking how they felt about the program or quoting them in the paper.  Some people might feel embarrassed for needing the extra assistance after all.

I got lucky.  The couple I asked wouldn’t shut up.  They were so thankful for all of the extra help to feed their family.  They were actually pleased to be waiting in line for their box full of potatoes, watermelons, canned goods and juice.

I talked with the couple for about 15 minutes and learned about all of their views on food stamps and the food bank.  I was complaining about how expensive organic food is.  Then I found out that the wife, Bobbi, used to work in produce at a grocery store.  She told me that if you wash your vegetables in a weak saltwater mix, it will wash away most of the pesticides on your produce…which is a much cheaper way to go than buying organic if it works!

I have no idea if it works or not, but my point is that if you open yourself up to listen and help people, people will listen and help you back.  I wrote a story that could raise awareness to people who may need that free produce, and a sweet couple gave me some tips back.

Also, the husband, Clint, is going into surgery in about two weeks for his esophagus, keep him and his family in your prayers.

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Farmer’s Market

The annual Farmers’ Market is coming to Morgantown in just two weeks!   Starting May 7th and lasting until November 5th, local farmers within a 50 mile radius will gather every Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m.  Located on the corner of Spruce and Fayette st

Picture is credited to the Farmers' Market website.

reets, a total of 38 different local farmers will gather to sell fresh produce, bread, meats, and eggs.

According to the markets’ website, the most gaureenteed goods to find at the market include:  Peaches, kale, cucumbers, flowers, basil, greens, beef, peppers, honey, jellies, eggplant, carrots, squash, strawberries, pork, tomatoes, bread, soaps, and lotions. 

The goods that are a little more difficult to find in abundance include: Blackberries, broccoli, cantaloupes, watermelons, turnips, blueberries, and asparagus.

You can also find goods made out of wool, pies, and recipies at the market.

What I thought was the most interesting about the Farmers’ Market is that it has grown into more of an event, than a market place.  Each Saturday a different non-profit organization is invited to set up at the market.  Additionally, local muscians are welcome to play live music each weekend. In this way, the market becomes an event as local farmer’s join together to celebrate their hard work and benefit the community.

For more information you can contact Market Manager, Brenda Shiflett at 304-276-1865.

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Work out on the go

82 stairs by the Buisness and Economics building on the Downtown Campus

Life is hectic. Between work, school, kids and errands our days are filled. So where does time for the gym fit in? If it doesn’t, there are ways to fit quick workouts into your daily routine on the go.

Walk everywhere you can. If you need to run to the grocery store for a few things, or if you need to take a trip to the bank, take a walk there if it’s within a reasonable distance. When you make light grocery trips, consider grabbing a basket instead of a cart for an arm workout. You could even consider buying a mountain bike to get around.

Park farther away. Park as far away as you can from your destinations then briskly walk the rest of the way. The same could go for if you usually ride the bus. Try getting off a stop or two early or later then walk the rest of the way.

Take the stairs. The elevator is tempting, especially on campus, but hiking up that extra couple flights of stairs a day could help give you a good leg workout. If you work in an office and are at a desk all day getting your legs moving probably isn’t a bad idea. You could even buy ankle weights to wear while you’re at your desk and alternate lifting each leg.

Make use of your downtime. When you are at home watching TV, use the commercials to get in some exercise. You could run in place, do crunches, push-ups, or squats, or grab a pair of weights and do some power lifts.

You don’t need to set aside time during your day to work out if you are too busy. You just need to try to think of some ways to burn the calories in between!

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Yoga does more for your body than relieve stress

-google images.

I started doing yogaback in high school at this gym that opened by my parent’s house.  I really enjoyed the classes because it’s a different kind of work out.  You focus more on your mind and body through poses, body alignment and breathing.  In this way, yoga allows you to become more content and calm (for at least an hour a day,) among other benefits.

Yoga has been practiced for more than 5,000 years!  There is a lot more to yoga then bending your body every which way.  Many people may hesitate taking a yoga class because they think they may not be flexible enough, or they are too old.  The truth is, it is never too late to start, and you go at your own pace.  Yoga has more benefits than just relieving stress and feeling calm and relaxed.

Yoga increases your flexibility.  You are never too out of shape to improve your flexibility.  I found from another website that there was a study that tested beginner’s flexibility during yoga classes.  The results showed a 35% increase in flexibility after only 8 weeks. 

Yoga increases your strength.  Certain poses focus on different parts of the body.  A plank for example, focuses on the body’s core muscles (the most important ones!)  Keep in mind there are many different styles of yoga out there too.  For example, there is a power yoga, which reaps more of an aerobic benefit.  Power yoga combines stretching, strength training, breathing, but in a more fast-paced way.  There are no pauses in between poses.

Plank pose.

Yoga provides for good posture.  A strong core = better posture.  The fact that yoga requires you to identify with your body, you will gain increased body awareness.  This could mean that you will be more likely to recognize when you are slouching and straighten up.

Yoga is also good for breathing.  The long, deep breaths you take during poses increases your lung capacity.  This could help improve performance in other exercises like sports or aerobics.

I really enjoy yoga, and I actually add a little bit of the breathing methods I learned from taking classes into my aerobics classes.  At the end of my classes I usually do about five minutes of stretching or so.  When I have the students bent forward to reach for their toes, I might tell them to reach down a little further as they exhale.  It works!

-Yoga is just a different way to keep a healthy mind and body, give it a try!

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Knowing you target heart rate

Pace is important when exercising.  You don’t want to burn out too quickly, but you don’t want to be too easy on yourself either.  Knowing your target heart rate allows you to gauge your own fitness level.

Your THR is anywhere between 50-85 percent of you maximum heart rate.  To find your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220.  You should preferably start somewhere around 50% if you are out of shape or haven’t exercised in a while.  Then, slowly work your way up to around 85%.

To make sure you are within your THR, you have to continuously check your pulse while exercising.  There are two ways to do this.

  1. Start with your wrist facing palm-side up.  Place you index and second fingers on your wrist right below your thumb.  Once you can feel your pulse, begin counting the beats for 10 seconds.  Multiply that number by 6 for your THR/minute.

    How to check your pulse on your wrist.

  1. Place those same two fingers on either side of your windpipe.  Press lightly and count the beats for 10 seconds.  Multiply the same way.

If this sounds like too much work for you, The American Heart Association said that you can also monitor your exercise by talking.  If you are able to talk and exercise at the same time then you are not overworking your body.  The suggestion actually says to walk, but I tried this the other day when I went for a jog with my friend.  We ended up running 3.5 miles (give or take) down on the Rail Trail.  It only took us 45 minutes and we talked the whole time.  Granted, I found myself out of breath a few times, but I was also surprised at how long we went for.  I’d say I’m in pretty decent shape, at least cardio wise.

All in all, learning your THR is a good way to monitor your exercise and keep in check with your body by not overworking yourself.  You can periodically check your pulse with a watch, stopwatch, or most cell phones and ipods have a stop watch built into them these days.


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Eat your way to a longer life


An organic gala apple a day keeps the doctor away.


We all know the basics about nutrition.  Fats, sodium and cholesterol are bad for us. Fiber, potassium, and protein are the good stuff, but did you know that eating a healthy amount of fiber daily can lead to a longer life?

Fiber is typically found in foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes.  Actually, fiber is the parts of plants that our bodies can’t digest.  So if we aren’t even digesting fiber, are there any benefits to eating it?

Frozen organic vegetables. $1.69 per pack at Kroger's.

An article written in the April edition of The Wellness Program’s “The Wellness Newsletter,” said that: “Those who consumed diets higher in fiber had a lower risk of death.”

The article described a study that was released in the Archives of Internal Medicine.  In the study, people between the ages of 50-71 were asked what they ate and were followed by the researchers for nine years. The article said the study found that “20% of men and women who ate the most fiber had a 22% lower risk of dying compared to those who ate the least amount.”  The article also took note that the researchers found it was mostly the consumption of grains that lowered the risk of all types of death.

You can almost always find Cascadian Farms organic cereal in my my pantry, a good source of grains.

Consuming fiber lowers cholesterol, aids in weight loss and also controls blood sugar levels, resulting in a reduced-risk of diabetes.  By doing a little bit of research on the internet, I also found that eating fiber makes you less likely to overeat.  This is because, typically, foods high in fiber require more chewing time.  This gives your body time to digest, and it will be easier to tell when you are fool.  I can’t remember where I learned this, but eating quickly can trick your body into thinking that you are starving when you actually are not.  Thus, you tend to over eat, which makes the chewing thing make sense. 

Fiber is not a hard thing to incorporate into your diet.  I would suggest packing organic cliff bars in your bag for a daily snack that are loaded with fiber.  Eating fiber for a reduced-risk

Gardenburgers are also a good source of dietary fiber. This particular brand I bought at Kroger's contains 4 grams of fiber.

of disease and a chance for a longer life should also be more initiative to eat those 5 servings of fruits and veggies I have talked about in a previous post.

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How music can promote our health

Your mood and the way that you are feeling mentally have a great deal to do with your health.  Sad moods can lead to depression, angry moods can lead to high blood pressure and anxious moods can lead to anxiety.  

A few weeks ago, I talked in one of my posts about how nature is a form of therapy.  Research has also shown that music has a profound effect on your mind and body. 

Have you ever listened to a song to find that your mood has changed since before you turned the tune on?  This is because your brain waves sync to the beats.  Thus, slower beats cause a more calming and tranquil state while faster beats cause a more motivated or excited mood.

Music therapy has become a growing field and I think it deserves some positive light because it serves a very important purpose.  It is the only kind of therapy that can come to you, at least typically anyway. If you want to talk to a shrink, you have to physically get ready and take yourself to their office.  If you are fighting depression, even a task as simple as getting out of bed and dressed to make an appointment can be difficult. 

The same goes for nature therapy.  Characteristically, to partake in nature therapy you join a group that is led by counselors and head out into the wilderness.  Not everyone enjoys hiking.

The reason why I believe music therapy is becoming so popular is because for many cancer patients, those who are hospitalized or for those who are in too much pain to walk, the therapy comes to them.  More recently, hospitals have used the powers of music to help cancer patients, pain management, rehabilitation and depression. 

The only arguments I could find against music therapy were those that claimed that the wrong types of music could cause the opposite…an emotional breakdown.  I think that claim is a little exaggerated myself.  The only way this could happen is if the patient’s moods are conflicted by listening to sad and boring music that they don’t like.

Spirit Journey is a favorite cd of mine that is composed and produced by Mohawk Artist, David R. Maracle. Maracle plays the native flute.

 Professionally speaking, music therapy is conducted by trained specialists who know better than to play sad and depressing, or boring songs for their patients.  Second, these specialists also know better than to mix up different beats (slow and then fast) on the same playlist. 

Music can also alter breathing and heart rate, which can counteract chronic-stress along with releasing tension in your muscles.  Research has also shown that music helps your mind set with certain activities.  This is not only true, but also very empowering if you think about it. 

When you are getting ready for a big game or a challenging workout you would listen to some really motivating music.  Likewise, if you were getting ready to concentrate on a task that requires concentration such as spinning pottery or drawing you might listen to more mellow tunes to set a more sedate mood for yourself. 

Makes you wonder what effect different types of genres could have on personality traits doesn’t it?

As a side note I wanted to bring up the fact that therapy can be very expensive.  For students, West Virginia University offers your first 12 sessions with a counselor free of

The Carruth Center located right across the street from Ogleby Hall.

charge at the Carruth Center.  No need to feel rushed through your sessions though, after your 12 sessions are up the counselor can apply to continue offering you free sessions.

There is also a really great video on Youtube that doesn’t allow embedding.  I wanted to show it though because it is about music therapy in our own WVU hospitals.

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