Category Archives: Mind•Body•Soul

The 10,000 Steps Goal

Fitness trackers abound these days along with pages of advice encouraging us to walk 10,000 steps. We faithfully don our wristbands and watches hoping to achieve the magical distance of five miles per day. But have you ever stopped to think about why we need those steps? Are 10,000 steps necessary or is it an arbitrary number conjured up to make us obsessive compulsive about walking the last 103 steps needed to reach 10,000 before getting into bed?

Let’s go back a few decades, to say, the 1970’s. If you were alive (and if you weren’t, use your imagination), think of all the things you did throughout the day that involved taking steps. To open the garage door, you had to get out of your car, walk to the garage door, open it, walk back to your car, pull in, then walk back and close the garage door before entering your house. Hmm…maybe 50 steps involved? In order to change the channel on the television (which only had 4 channels to begin with), you had to walk to the TV, change the channel, then walk back to the couch. Another 20 steps. To fill a prescription, you had to get out of your car, walk into the pharmacy, wait for the prescription to be filled (during which time you probably walked around the store because they didn’t have convenient chairs to sit in while you waited), get your prescription, and walk back to your car. Log another 150 steps, at least. We were naturally walking roughly five miles just to accomplish the tasks needed for daily living.

Now, welcome to the 21st century. We use the drive thru at coffee shops for our daily cup of joe. We use riding lawn mowers to cut our grass. We use an elevator to take us up two flights of stairs! These “activities” require no steps. We simply do not have to walk like we used to. We have to schedule time and add “taking steps” to our daily agenda.

Five miles, or 10,000 steps, is a sweet spot for health. When comparing the population at large, individuals that average 10,000 steps per day tend to be healthier than individuals that walk less. You can, however, stop short of berating yourself if you are a few steps shy of your daily goal. Some days your sneakers will pound the pavement with more than 10,000 steps. Some days your shoes will have a little less wear. Look at the bigger picture and see how your steps average out for a week. Remember, life does allow a day or two of leisure on occasion.

Earth Girl’s recommendation is to keep your fitness trackers on, your shoes tied, and your ambition ready to tackle every step of your day!

 

Written by Tina Hatcher

Get Outside in Virginia State Parks!

Virginia State Parks provide wonderful opportunities for those who enjoy being outdoors and are looking for ways to use their time outside to give back to the community. Although almost all of the volunteers are users of Virginia State Parks, there are groups that sign up with members who have never visited them before. Both levels of experience are welcome, as all volunteers go through orientation and are supervised.

“There are volunteer opportunities that work for different age groups,” says Andrea Hasenfus, Camp Host Program Manager. “Retirees may be able to do a Wednesday gardening at noon, while someone who works a full-time job may be available to do trail maintenance on the weekends.”

There are also opportunities for young people. The Youth Conservation Corps is a great program for teens 14-17 who want to learn about conservation and working in parks. They spend three weeks living and working in parks around the state, supervised by college-age adults. Although the deadline to participate in this program has passed, visitors to the park may still get to see the group in action this summer. This is a competitive program. In 2017, 800 applications were received to fill 170 spots. If your child is interested in being involved in the future, it may be a good idea to sign up to volunteer and get some experience before the 2018 application process starts on December 1.

Joining a Friends Group is another way to contribute. It takes a lot of work to keep up state parks, and Friends Groups play a huge part in building and maintaining trails, helping staff visitor centers, working on educational outreach programs, and raising funds for park projects and facilities. There are several parks with Friends Groups looking for members. Being part of one of these groups has the potential to create a lasting impact for generations to come, as they also help with advocacy for the invaluable resources offered through the parks.

“Sometimes the most help, if you can’t put your elbow grease in on the trail, is to be an advocate. Whether you are a member of a friends group, or used to doing advocacy in the community, advocates are always great to have on our behalf.” explains Andrea.

For those who want a more immersive and active experience, the AmeriCorps program engages its members in meaningful service in Virginia State Parks by providing extensive training and professional development opportunities. They go through grants, and work on natural resource management in the parks. Some of them last all summer, and those who complete them receive an education award at the end.

There will be a big opportunity for volunteers on June 3 for Clean the Bay Day/National Trails Day. In fact, every park in the Virginia State Parks system will have a need for help that day. Those who wish to volunteer will not have to sign up through the website to be a one-time volunteer for the event. Simply show up at your local park and offer to lend a hand.

Visit www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks for a full list of parks in your area. Click on individual parks to see what they need.

Go Red for Women Luncheon

Heart disease is the number one killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths every year. The warning signs are not the same for women as they are for men. They can include chest discomfort, shortness of breath, and discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Heart disease and stroke do not discriminate by age, ethnicity or background. It is important to know your numbers and do what you can to prevent permanent or fatal damage from both–even if it means going to the hospital at an inconvenient time to make sure everything is okay.

Learn more about how to stay heart healthy and your personal wellness by visiting your doctor and www.goredforwomen.org.

You can support the life-saving efforts of the American Heart Association by attending their Go Red for Women Luncheon on May 25 at 11 a.m at the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Ijeoma N. Okogbue of Carilion Clinic Cardiology. The event will also include a fashion show by Macy’s, a networking reception with a silent auction, and heart-healthy living demos, education, and lunch.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit their website or call 540-989-2810.

Women and Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease has a striking impact on the lives of individuals, but it can be especially strong for women–whether they are living with the disease or they are caregivers, relatives, friends, or loved ones of those directly affected.

So, why do we feel that women are impacted more significantly than their male counterparts? The answer is that we do not completely understand the why but we do know that Alzheimer’s dementia disproportionately affects women in a variety of ways. According to Alzheimer’s Association research, women are 2.5 times more likely to provide 24-hour care for an affected relative than males. Many of them have been forced to quit work or reduce their work schedules to do so. This can have a long-term effect on them financially, emotionally, and physically.

In addition, women make up nearly two-thirds of the more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s today.  The Alzheimer’s Association states in their 2016 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, that an estimated 3.3 million women aged 65 and older in the United States have this disease.

Researchers are passionately working to determine if or why women develop the disease at a higher rate than men. Even though women live longer than men and age is a significant risk factor, researchers suggest that longevity alone may not account for the unequal disease burden that women face. Studies have revealed that there may be distinct biological and genetic factors shaping how the disease develops and progresses in women.

The Alzheimer’s Association concludes that more research is needed to understand the different roles that genetics, hormones and lifestyle factors play in Alzheimer’s in men and women. Several factors now in the spotlight that are potentially modifiable are years of education, occupation, exercise, diet, stress, anxiety and sleep. A better understanding of these differences will be extremely important as we move forward with more effective strategies for treating, preventing, and diagnosing Alzheimer’s.

With all the unknowns, we can say that Alzheimer’s disease remains one of the most critical public health issues in America. The Alzheimer’s Association is the leader in advocating for public policy issues and critical research funding. Call 1.800.272.3900 or www.alz.org to see how you can join the fight.

Resources:
Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures reports and excerpts from “Sex biology contributions to vulnerability to Alzheimer’s disease”: A think tank convened by the Women’s Alzheimer’s Research Initiative.  The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Submitted by Annette Clark, MsG, Alzheimer’s Association, Family Services Director

 

Top 10 Romantic Getaways in the US

We all need a vacation sometimes, and that’s inevitable. What better time to start planning a romantic getaway than in the month of love? Whether that means a getaway accessible by car, or by hopping on a plane for a few hours, I have a few beautiful trips that don’t even require a passport.

#10 Indianapolis, IN
If the city is your cup of tea for a vacation, this city does it all. Many of the hotels here celebrate their love of art, sports, or both. A short walk leads to museums, restaurants, shopping, monuments, and sports arenas. At night, a lighted Canal Walk gives a tour of the city and sinks you into sweet dreams.

#9 Ketchum, ID
With a “small town” and European blend, this vacation was meant for keeping a packed schedule while relaxing. Breathtaking mountains offer stunning views that are also known for skiing. Music and art play a large role in the community, and day trips to the nearby Sun Valley offer many outdoor adventures.

#8 Portland, OR
This location truly has something for everyone. Contemporary art tends to be a common theme throughout the city with modern inventions making their way into society. City life sits right on the water, and you are always a short ride to mountains and hiking. Music and museums reign, night life is bustling, and a good restaurant is always in reach.

#7 Gatlinburg, TN
Maintaining timeless beauty for years, the mountains in Gatlinburg are a second home that call to you once you’ve begun to return home. With plenty of dining and shows to see within 30 minutes of anywhere, there is a guarantee to never be bored. Horse and buggy and skyline rides offer an insider’s view that can never be forgotten.

#6 Napa Valley, CA
Modern cottages are nestled in acres of wine country in this part of California. With elaborate pools, 4 and 5 star restaurants, and plenty of shopping, Napa Valley will make for an unforgettable experience and some great pictures. If hotels aren’t your thing, there are many camping sites that allow hunting, fishing, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

holding-hands-1599054_1920#5 Pittsboro, NC
Writers, authors, and musicians have all been bred from this area due to the luscious landscapes and the love for the arts. Bed and breakfasts and small inns are popular in this neck of the woods, and the Fearrington House is your perfect destination for a place to stay and a full blown spa.

#4 Barnard, VT
Many writers and journalists have passed through this area of Vermont, and have described the crisp air and clean spirit that it holds. This vacation would be perfect in the fall; leaves changing with the background of cottages, barns, and old farms. Silver Lake State Park provides beauty through the seasons, and peace and quiet are sure to help you wind down in this small town.

#3 Newport, RI
Many mansions serve as hotels in this little town, and they sit quietly on the coast. Despite how warm or cold the weather, the sound of water lapping the rocks and views of sailboats always cleanse the soul. Downtown, you can explore small, privately owned shops and great food. If you’re looking for a tan, small stretches of beach can be found all around town.

#2 Savannah, GA
Historic buildings and cobblestones bring many people to this location for their vacations. Southern hospitality keeps shops and sidewalks full, and meal times aren’t ever set in stone because deciding on a restaurant is far too difficult. Scary ghost stories don’t keep people from going out at night and even going on ghost tours. Music, water sports, and theaters are also large parts of the community.

#1: Little Torch Key, FL
It’s as close to the Caribbean as you can get without leaving the country. Little Torch Key is a small town in Florida that is right off the coast, accessible by boat or small plane. Tiki themed barbecues and thatched roofs throughout the small island provide the lasting impression of a friendly Caribbean town, and the white sand and crystal waters don’t hurt either.

 

Written by Zoe Pierson

Apps to Help You Reach Your Goals!

Whether or not you’ve gone through countless resolutions since the year began, every day is a new chance to change yourself for the better. Here’s a list of apps that can easily keep you on track for the rest of year:

For staying organized:
Try Cozi Family Organizer (IOS):
Keep the whole family on track with family calendars, shopping lists, to-dos, and journals! Anyone with an IOS device can sign into the joint account through their individual emails and send or receive notifications.

For working on getting or perfecting a job:
Try LinkedIn:
If you don’t have this one yet, what are you waiting for? LinkedIn is a portable resume that’s perfect for when you’re looking for a job, networking, or want advice in your field. You can receive notifications anywhere, that are purely career related.

To stop smoking or limit junk foods:
Try Quitter:
This app really helps to keep you motivated once you quit a habit. Whether that’s smoking or limiting eating out, you can see how long you’ve been without the habit, and just how much money you’ve saved thus far. What could be better than a healthier lifestyle and a fatter wallet?

To organize your finances:
Try mint.com Personal Finance:
With the convenience of a website and an app, you can access this one from everywhere! Once you link your account–and you can link multiple–you can manage everything from small bills to loans, credit, and retirement.

To get (and stay in!) shape:
Try Sworkit- Circuit Training Workouts:
This easily personalized app can generate home or gym workouts which can include strength training or yoga. You can set the duration of your workout and be stress free!

To eat healthier:
Try MyFitnessPal:
This app uses a fitness tracker and calorie counter to help you to lose weight. With a database of over 5 million foods, it will help you to keep a calorie in- calorie out balance. Although, this one is geared more towards the food aspect of health versus an advanced fitness tracker.

To learn a new language:
Try Duolingo:
Using short bursts of lessons throughout your use of the app, this app uses its small periods of time with memory skills to help you to develop knowledge of a new language.

To be more informed:
Try TEDTALKS:
If you want to be more educated on anything from history to politics, TedTalks are led by experts in the field who discuss their experiences, and shower their wisdom through interactive lectures. The best part is that you get to pick what you want to learn when you want to learn!

To manage stress or anxiety:
Try Pacifica:
When given attention, this app tracks and analyzes your everyday moods to help you manage stress and anxiety. It can even connect you to other applications that help you to sleep or connect with a therapist.

To do more charity/ volunteer work:
Try Volunteer Finder (IOS) / Volunteer Near You (Android):
If you’re feeling like getting involved in the community, this app helps to locate volunteer opportunities around your area and connect you to them.

So go out and make it a better year AND a better you!

 

Written by Zoë Pierson

Healthy Skin in Winter

With a new year before us, it’s time to get away from the bad habits we developed during the end of the year chaos. We don’t know about you, but we’ve noticed that our skin is certainly paying the price. Let’s start 2017 with a fresh, clean slate by committing to taking better care of it with these easy steps:

Put some thought into the products you are using as part of your daily routine. We are in love with charcoal soaps. They help draw out skin impurities and make room for your moisturizer to do its job effectively. It’s also great if your poor dietary choices over the last month (ahem…guilty) are showing as blemishes on your skin. Our current favorite is by Apotheke. The handcrafted bar soap is stirred, poured, cut, and wrapped by hand. To top it all off, it is made with natural ingredients like coconut, olive, and palm oil. Find it on www.apothekeco.com.

obagiOf course, it should be obvious that you need to moisturize. Hydrate facial moisturizers by Obagi Medical are great for rejuvenating the skin after cleansing. It also doesn’t hurt to visit a professional and develop a regime that works best for you. For that, we place all of our trust in the ladies at Skin Care Consulting (www.skincareconsultinginc.com).

Protect the fruits of your moisturizing by taking one extra step before bed. Sleep with a humidifier. Not only will it help with your sinuses and even snoring, it also comforts your skin after a day in the cold, dry air of winter. When you wake up, you will retain some of that moisture in your face, lips, and even your hands.

Make sure you aren’t sabotaging all of your effort by putting the wrong things into your body. If you want that glowing, smooth complexion to return now that all of the holiday cakes and cookies are gone, think of each meal like cleansing and moisturizing. Our favorite solutions in the winter months are adding more salmon to our diets and committing to juicing every day. Try tossing two carrots, a beet, some ginger root, an apple, and just a splash of lemon into your juicer for a drink that will boost your energy and help your skin.

Use an infuser water bottle to really get the serving of fruit that you need every day. An extra bonus? It makes drinking water a lot more satisfying. If you’re trying to cut out soda (which, let’s be honest, everyone should do), this is a great way to ease yourself into the habit of drinking water instead. You should try to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day, so add some blueberries and strawberries to those servings and pretend it’s summer!

Bella’s Floyd Yoga Jam Adventure

We spent the majority of our Labor Day weekend at Floyd Yoga Jam. In the mornings, a calm fog settled over the mountain as we awoke to the sound of a flute playing in the distance. Slowly, we made our way out of our tents, in search of coffee and the perfect spot to spread out our yoga mats.

FullSizeRender-2A sign on the trail reminded us to “believe in magic.” But, what is magic exactly? In a world where all that stands between you and what you want is a search bar on a tiny screen, it is hard to remember what we identified as magical in younger, simpler times. We were, of course, torn from those tiny screens as we made the trek up the mountain. One by one, our phones began to read, “No Signal.” Our attention turned to the surroundings, the people, and then almost remarkably inward.

Somewhere between our Thursday night arrival and our departure late Sunday, we felt the release of tension in our backs, our shoulders, and our spirits. As beginners, we worried that we would not be welcomed with open arms by those more experienced with yoga its various forms. We couldn’t have been more wrong. The instructors and fellow Jam attendees not only welcomed us, they inspired us to keep learning once our time on the mountain was over.

IMG_8675We can’t wait to go back to Yoga Jam next year! In the meantime, we’ve checked out videos and books from the library and scheduled classes to keep learning. What was once intimidating is now a deeply intriguing subject that we can’t wait to explore further. Thank you to everyone at Floyd Yoga Jam who made these beginners feel at home!