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By Sue Shekut, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Recently someone who read my Indoor Air Quality post asked me how to know how much humidity to provide indoor plants to maintain good air quality. I don’t honestly know!  So I thought I’d do some research and provide you with some of the best answers I’ve found.

How Stuff Works has a great article on how to care for indoor plants here.

Our House Plants has a good guide on humidity here.

Want to know how exactly plants increase indoor humidity? Check out the Ambius article here for more info.

And if you want to know which plants can help decrease indoor air humidity, check out Doityourself’s article here.

 

 

By Sue Shekut, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Want to eat local and healthy produce from Chicago area farmers?

Farmer's Markets

Farmer’s Markets Fresh!

 

Check out this helpful map and schedule of Chicago farmers markets from DNAInfo here. The City of Chicago’s Farmer’s Market schedule is here.

A helpful Seasonality chart to show when eat type of fruit or veggie is in season is here. 

Why shop at Farmers Markets? CUESA (The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture website explains 10 reasons to shop at Farmer’s markets here. Huffington Post (also affectionately known as HuffPo), finds even more reasons to shop at farmer’s markets in their post, 15 benefits of Shopping at a Local Farmer’s Markets here.

 

Why do you shop at local farmer’s markets?

 

What is your favorite Chicago area farmer’s market?

By Sue Shekut, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

One of my previous posts, Treating Your Sore Muscles: When to Use Ice or Heat gets a lot of website traffic. In my view, that means there must be a lot of people out there feeling muscle soreness! So I thought I’d do a quick follow up to see what my fellow web writers have to say about dealing with muscle soreness.

How-to-Treat-Sore-Muscles-Fast-and-Feel-Good

Men’s Health, one of my favorite magazines about health and fitness, has a short post on the 5 top muscle soreness relievers: They list deep tissue massage, cherry juice, coffee, ice and arnica (nature’s Bengay) as their top 5 Cures for Sore Muscles That Really Work.  And WebMD has a nice post on How to Manage Sore Muscles and Joint Pain. In this post, WebMD lists common pain relievers (mainly NSAIDs), stretching after working out and easing into exercise to reduce muscle soreness.  I really like this article because, 1. it validates much of what I tell clients and believe myself about muscle pain and 2. it emphasizes that any time we do an activity beyond what our bodies are capable of doing or are accustomed to doing, we tend to become sore. This is where mindfulness comes into our workouts!

Image from Huffington Post, Why the Mindfulness Fad Won't Go Away

Image from Huffington Post, Why the Mindfulness Fad Won’t Go Away

It’s one thing to take on an unexpected task like a surprise snow fall that requires you to shovel 8 inches of snow in April. We can’t always plan for these types of tasks and shoveling snow is hard work and does not have a nice stopping point like doing sets at the gym. With some task, you have to keep going until the job is done! However, starting a workout routine or even pushing yourself in your normal routine can lead to joint pain and muscle soreness beyond normal wear and tear if we overdo it. Approaching your workouts (and even snow shoveling) with mindfulness can help reduce not only muscle soreness, but injury as well.

Chris Willitts of Mindful Strength offers  $97 online strength training program centered in mindfulness. I have not completed his program myself but it looks like a good approach to using mindfulness to improve your muscle strength.

Chris Willitts, found of Mindful Strength

Chris Willitts, found of Mindful Strength

Chris looks a bit like a younger Liam Neeson and it sounds like he has a strong background in meditation and mindfulness. If anyone has tried Chris’ program, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!

Another Chris, Chris Presto, writing in Sonima.com, offers up The Surprising Ways Mindfulness Can Improve Strength Training.  Chris offers practical insights into how being mindful, focusing awareness on your muscles and form during resistance training can greatly benefit your workout. I also think it benefits our bodies by helping avoid injury due to mindlessly whipping weights around or going too fast through our sets.

How do you use mindfulness in your workouts?

By Sue Shekut, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

You don’t need to be an Arnold Schwarzenegger to life weights! Read more for ideas on getting started.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Photo by Carter News agency

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Photo by Caters News Agency

Note: Make sure you doctor clears you for exercise before attempting any form of new physical activity.

There are a number of useful articles and videos to help you figure out how to start a resistance training (weight training) program. I like this bodybuilding guide Best Beginner Weight-Training Guide With Easy-To-Follow Workout! for men here, although most of us look nothing like the guy demonstrating the activities.

For women, Nia Shanks, Lift Like A Girl blog has a great post, 11 Beginner Strength Training Tips for Women on getting started with weights for women.

Nia Shanks, Lift Like Girl

Nia Shanks, Lift Like Girl

I like this workout video overall for a basic beginners weight training workout: 15 Minute Beginner Weight Training – Easy Exercises – HASfit Beginners Workout Routine – Strength. Check it out here on You Tube. HASfit also has an Interactive Trainer App for your Android or iPhone: To download the app for Android, click here. For  iPhone, click here.

I also like Scooby 1961’s 20 min Full Body Workout for Beginners on You Tube here. 

Scooby

Scooby

 

Scooby seems like a super nice (albeit fairly muscle-bound) guy, in his 55’s who shows great form, provides slow, simple instructions. Scooby’s website is Scooby’sworkshop here.
What are your favorite weight lifting articles and videos?

By Sue Shekut, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

I’ve been lifting weights (also known as resistance training), since I was  a young woman. I am by no means a body builder and at some points in my life, I have lifted less and my body has paid the price (less energy, less muscle mass, feeling more sluggish and low energy). Overall,  I feel much better when I lift weights, even dumbbells, or especially, dumbbells because many weight machines are made for people who are taller than I am.

Weight training isn't just for young people

Weight training isn’t just for young people

Men’s Health posted an article about a study from Penn State College of Medicine that indicates that lifting weights can help us live longer. Dr. Jennifer Kraschnewsk and colleague’s study, Is strength training associated with mortality benefits? A 15 year cohort study of US older adults, found that adults 65 and older who reported that they participated in strength training twice each week had 46% lower odds of all-cause mortality than those who did not. The association between strength training and death remained after adjustment for past medical history and health behaviors.

Another study, “Mental health benefits of strength training in adults,” by O’Connor, Herring, and Carvalho  shows that resistance training also helps us maintain our cognitive abilities (ability to think clearly), longer as well as having other important mental health impacts such as reducing anxiety (American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 4(5), 377-396.).

I try to lift 2-3 time a week with dumbbells and bodyweight, nothing fancy, just the basic muscle groups.

What is your weight lifting routine?

By Sue Shekut, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Deep breathing from Anxiety Therapy Online

Deep breathing from Anxiety Therapy Online

The Wounded Warrior Project on Facebook. recently posted about another study on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) treatments for veterans.  This study looks at effects of meditation on PTSD in improving outcomes and helping vets become less dependent on medication. (It’s confusing I know, meditation and medication, but follow along!) The article, “Meditation may reduce PTSD, medication in soldiers in UPC.com,” by Stephen Feller, explains that Dwight Eisenhower Army Medical Center’s Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic and Augusta University researchers conducted a study mounted the study that taught active duty military personnel with concussions and PTSD to use transcendental meditation as part of their recovery. The study demonstrated that meditation techniques helped reduce the anxious, hyperactive state that is common with those suffering from PTSD symptoms.

According to Fellers article: “One month into the study, 83.7 percent of the meditation group had stabilized, decreased or stopped taking meditation, while 10.9 percent increased their medication dosage. Of the non-meditation group, 59.4 percent had stabilized, decreased or stopped using drugs, while 40.5 percent increased the amount of medication taken. Similar patterns were seen at two- and six-month follow-ups.” That’s good news for military and civilians with symptoms of PTSD.

How does TM help those with PTSD and concussions? Feller states that meditation helps people tune out distractions and feel an inner calm that helps reduce the amount of stress hormones in the brain while meditating.

Want to learn how to meditate via transcendental meditation? Go to the TM website here and learn more.

By Sue Shekut, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach

The story about lead contamination in Flint, Michigan’s water supply is all over the news the past week. but lead contamination is not solely a problem in Flint. Any home with old pipes, or that obtains water from sources that are contaminated, can have lead in the water coming out of the tap.

From guelph.ca website

From guelph.ca website

Pregnant women and children are most vulnerable to the effects of lead ingestion, but there is no “safe” level of lead exposure. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) website, “Lead in the body is distributed to the brain, liver, kidney and bones. It is stored in the teeth and bones, where it accumulates over time. Human exposure is usually assessed through the measurement of lead in blood.”

The WHO website goes on to explain how the higher lead levels affects children’s health specifically, causing  coma, convulsions and, in some cases, death. Children who survive severe lead poisoning may experience severe cognitive declines and behavioral issues.  Kids with lower levels of lead exposure may have lower intelligence quotient (IQs),  shorter attention spans and increased antisocial behavior, and do less well in academic achievement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has information on how lead can get into your water and how to get your water tested here.

And outside Chicago, according to Vox, lead contamination in water is not just limited to Flint, Michigan water. Check out this article on Vox, “It’s not just Flint — every major American city has hazardous amounts of lead hurting kids” for information on lead contamination in New York City and New Orleans as well as other areas.

Chicago parent has specific tips on how to protect your children and family from lead exposure in your water here.

To learn more about preventing and treating lead exposure, check out, “9 Ways to Prevent and Deal with Lead Poisoning,” from Parents.com.

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