Tai Chi and Blood Pressure Screenings

Tai Chi Howard County

Tai Chi Demonstration

“Grasshopper, take the pebble from my hand…”

Tai Chi is good for the heart!

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports that tai chi is good for heart disease. National Public Radio (NPR) covers the journal article and does a nice job summarizing this medication in motion.

NPR points out that in addition to the advantages noted in this recent JAMA article on heart disease, tai chi has been shown to provide benefit for a wide range of diseases and that the National Institute of Health is funding studies to measure its effect on chronic disease.

Although the Library doesn’t have David Carradine’s Tai Chi video– they have plenty of other educational materials about Tai Chi  for your viewing pleasure. (And, if you are too young to get the Carradine reference, they also have Kung Fu on video.)

Speaking of heart health . . . have you had your blood pressure checked?  Free blood pressure screenings are available throughout the community on a regular basis. (Howard County General Hospital performed more than 6000 blood pressure screenings last year at churches, senior centers, libraries and The Mall in Columbia!)  Call the Wellness Center at 410 740-7601 to find a screening near you!

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Helping Kids Stay Well & Wise…and Safe & Sane

by Angie Engles

Find a copy of The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth at your library

You might have already heard about It Gets Better, an anti-bullying campaign that has received a lot of attention these past few months. Its intentions are one-hundred percent sincere and honorable and hopefully have been making an important impact. Yet it’s all too easy for anyone going through a hard time in school to roll his or her eyes while thinking, “Yeah, right!”

But the truth is, it does get better. Maybe not immediately, maybe not tomorrow or even next week. But it does, eventually. And that’s where The Geeks Shall Inherit The Earth comes in.

Alexandra Robbins, who has written previously on the difficulties of being young and in school, has recently had The Geeks Shall Inherit The Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School receive positive critical press. Through a series of vignettes using fake names, but real people, Ms. Robbins explores the inner workings of a typical high school and the students who attend it.

Whether she’s talking about The Loner, The Nerd, The New Girl, The Gamer, The Band Geek or The Weird Girl, the 34-year-old writer gets inside the mind of outcasts and how they feel about everything from shoes to hair to romance, not to mention parents, siblings and that sometimes seemingly ominous thing called the Future.

One thing that is particularly striking in this age of social media is how student culture doesn’t end when the bell rings at the end of the day. “Facebook is now the online cafeteria,” Ms. Robbins writes, “it’s this public space, largely unsupervised and it mirrors the cafeteria dynamic where you walk in and have to find a place to belong….kids feel they have to be publicists for themselves, maintaining their photos and status. It’s exhausting.”

As I read The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth many things ran through my mind. Besides the fact that it’s well-written and easily accessible to both parents and teens, the book is amazingly authentic and heart-felt and it really does say, “Hey, I know it seems bad now, but it’s not always going to be like this. You’re going to be okay, kid.”

For the geeks, the outcasts, the kids who feel out-of-sorts and lost in a sea of popularity and adults who just don’t get them…Alexandra Robbins is here to reassure: you will not only survive this time in your life, you will thrive because of it. Your offbeat passions and refusal to be the same as everyone else is exactly what will make you succeed in the world.

Another interesting book to help kids navigate the tricky waters of bullying and self-esteem (or help parents understand what their kids may be going through) is Not Much, Just Chillin’: The Hidden Lives of Middle Schoolers by Linda Perlstein.  Making this even more notable, the book was researched at Wilde Lake Middle School!

Angie Engles has been with the Howard County Library System for 17 years, 14 of which were at the Savage Branch. She currently works at the Central Branch primarily in the Fiction and Audio-visual departments. Her interests include music, books, and old movies.

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Obesity by the Numbers

Quick Link Saturday:

Here is a rather disturbing chart about obesity published by NPR.

Did you know:

  • The typical revolving door had to be widened from 10 feet to 12 feet?!
  • In 1950 the average movie popcorn portion size was 3 cups and in 2004 it was 21 cups?!
  • In 2010 more than 60% of the population was overweight or obese?

Yikes! It’s time to push back from the computer and go for a walk…catch you next week!

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Free Medicare Screenings, Men’s Health, Farmers Market

Howard County Health and Fitness Events

  • Do you know that Medicare is offering more than a dozen free tests and services including screenings and annual wellness exams?  The Washington Post recently reported that these services are underutilized because seniors don’t know about them and physicians aren’t sure which tests qualify under the new regulations. The AMA has released a brochure for physicians to help end the confusion. Make sure to ask about these new services at your next doctor’s visit.
  • After the long weekend, don’ forget to stimulate your kids’ brains with the Chess Club at the Miller Branch at 7pm on May 31. Ages 10-17 welcome.
  • Look ahead to the Focus on Men’s Health clinic offered on June 1 by HCGH.  A $50 fee covers a blood chemistry test including blood cell count, thyroid test, a measure of 18 blood chemicals and information about HDL, LDL, and triglyceride levels.  Women are welcome, too!
  • Don’t forget, you only have until June 1 to sign up for the Howard County Library 5K and Family Fun Run on June 4.  Check out one blogger’s own motivations for signing up.
  • June 1, Let It Rot—with composting that is.  Join us at the Savage Branch at 7pm for this interesting installment of our Master Gradeners series on creating your own “black gold.”  Register online.
  • And on June 2, we’re still Calling All Volunteers! Because helping others is good for you. Join us at the East Columbia Branch at 7pm .You could make reading fun for kids and earn service learning hours. To register for orientation session, submit a volunteer application. Accepted applicants will be contacted to confirm registration
  • Stop at the HCGH Farmers Market today from 2-6 p.m. and pick up some strawberries for a strawberry yogurt parfait breakfast treat this Memorial Day weekend.  Or…do you have a better healthy strawberry recipe to share?
  • Also, a gentle reminder that the Howard County Library System will be closed May 28, 29, and 30, so be sure to stop by your favorite branch today between 10am and 6pm if we can help you with anything. Otherwise, we’ll see you Tuesday during regular hours and wish you a fun and healthy holiday until then.

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Get Active! (Even If You Already Are)

by Matt Hall

The Get Active program (a county-wide initiative designed to help Howard County be the fittest county in America) has been going on for nearly 10 weeks, and as a co-captain of the Administrative team for the Howard County Library System, I felt obligated to be an avid participant. As someone who enjoys exercise, I didn’t think I would have much of a problem logging my minutes. That is, until I set my goal at 300 minutes per week.

County residents are teaming up to make Howard County the "fittest county" in America.

At that point, I’d been following a 6-day-a-week workout plan. I had stuck to this program fairly well from around Christmas up until I agreed to be a co-captain. I had lost about 15 pounds and was feeling good. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I was exercising a lot and it seemed to be working. So when I signed up for Get Active, I thought I could continue on in the same way. But at the Get Active Kickoff, I had my body fat percentage checked and realized that I still had plenty of work to do. Plus, once I had signed on and set my goal, I felt like I no longer had a choice to be active. After all, I couldn’t be a co-captain and then take a day off my training schedule, right?

Well, needless to say it has been to my benefit. Being a co-captain and realizing that I was going to try to encourage others to start or continue in a healthy lifestyle helped me to understand that there was more to being fit than aimless exercise programs and endless cardio. I began to really research strength-training programs and how the body reacts to them. I read countless articles on supplements and protein, when to take them, and how much to take. Then I had questions about cardio. What kind is best? How long and how often should I do it? It seemed like every question led to another.

But after all the questions had been answered, different opinions considered, and every last article and forum post I could find was read, I emerged with a wealth of knowledge on diet and workout programming from which I have greatly benefited. I now have a finely tuned training log, and as the Get Active program nears its end, I am very close to meeting my target body fat percentage and other fitness goals.

While the Get Active program is nearly over, it is never too late to begin making healthy changes to your lifestyle. I know that setting my goal at 300 minutes per week was a challenge, but I feel great about meeting that goal each week. I would encourage anyone reading this to make the decision to start getting active and commit to living a longer, healthier life!

Matthew Hall is currently an Operations Specialist for Howard County Library System and a student at Liberty University.

He spends the majority of his free time with his wife and kids. His interests include religious studies, psychology, and fitness.

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HCGH hosts a Stroke Support Group on the fourth Wednesday of every month from 6:30-8:00pm. Please take a few minutes to view the video below, which features several stroke support group attendees sharing their stories followed by a Public Service Announcement from strokeawareness.com.

Stroke patients in Howard County have a much better chance for rapid treatment and significant recovery today, thanks to the efforts of the Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) Stroke Team.

HCGH was designated a Primary Stroke Center in 2008 by the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS). This designation means that when a patient calls 911, the responding emergency medical services team (EMS) is able to make an in-field assessment and has the authority to notify the hospital and activate the Stroke Team. In fact, the collaboration between the HCGH Emergency Department and Howard County EMS has been touted by MIEMSS as a model for other Maryland hospitals.

In 2010, HCGH won the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Gold Plus Award for excellence in stroke care and was listed in US News and World Report among hospitals that have achieved 85 percent or greater compliance with outcome measures in the AHA “Get with the Guidelines” patient management program. Susan Groman is president of the Maryland Stroke Coordinator Consortium, which shares best practices and ensures that stroke data throughout Maryland meets the AHA’s 10 essential guidelines for diagnosing stroke symptoms.

Stroke is a medical emergency and early treatment is critical. Ischemic strokes, which account for 87 percent of strokes, can be treated with intravenous tPA (a life-saving medication that can significantly minimize brain damage for patients having blockage strokes if they are treated in time). “It is unfortunate that tPA is administered only 15 percent of the time,” says Susan Groman, HCGH Stroke Center Coordinator. “The number one reason is that people delay getting to the ED.”

A 2001 National Stroke Association survey reported that many older Americans could not identify stroke symptoms and that only 40 percent of those surveyed said they would call 911 immediately if they thought they were having a stroke.

Know the warning signs of stroke:

  • Sudden onset of numbness or weakness
  • Sudden onset of confusion or difficulty speaking
  • Sudden onset of vision loss
  • Sudden onset of dizziness or imbalance
  • Sudden onset of severe headache

Time is brain.

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Have You Hugged Your Paramedic?

LIFENET System in Howard County

The LIFENET system was officially dedicated on Monday, Nov. 8, 2010.

National EMS Week- A couple of key ways in which Howard County Fire and Rescue and Howard County General Hospital work together:

Paramedic Training
Howard County Fire and Rescue Services provides a unique two-year, intensive program training EMTs to become paramedics.  The Howard County General Hospital Emergency Department supports this training by providing onsite clinical education for the program including a 40-hour physician internship for each student.  Currently there are 19 students in the training program. Walt Atha, M.D., medical director, Howard County General Hospital Emergency Department, explains the importance of Howard County’s first rate emergency medical services (EMS), saying, “EMS provides critical first-line stabilization and care for patients requiring on-scene intervention and emergency transport.”

Heart Attack and STEMI
The Howard Hospital Foundation was pleased to provide a new $50,000 LIFENET® system consisting of 21 machines which allows first responders who are still in the field to send digital EKG readings to the hospital and even the cardiologist’s cell phone.  “The cardiologist and the team are mobilized to be there and save precious minutes as the patient starts the transport to the hospital,” explains Dr. Kevin Seaman, Howard County Fire & Rescue Service’s medical director.  Paramedic William Huber, the Clinical Coordinator for the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Service’s Paramedic Program serves on the STEMI (Heart Attack) committee.  Huber proudly notes that in Howard County, it is the paramedics who activate the catheterization team in preparation for the arrival of a heart attack patient at the Emergency Department. “The hospital trusts us to make that call. Time is muscle – that’s what it boils down to.”

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by Barbara Cornell

A word of introduction: I am not vegan—not even vegetarian.  In fact I enjoy meat at almost every meal.  But I do love vegetables!  Fresh, in season, bursting with healthy flavor…  My favorites are the veggies my husband and I grow in our own garden, fresh-picked a few minutes before eating. But a close second are the many varieties I find at the Farmers’ Market.  I work at the Glenwood Branch of the Howard County Library System, and from May through October almost every Saturday morning will find me at the Glenwood Farmers’ Market just outside the library’s door, which operates from 9:00 a.m to 12:30 p.m.

Some varieties I have seen for sale there are frankly a little exotic looking, like broccolini and turban squash, purple beans and striped tomatoes.  I have determined to learn more about these seasonal gems—some of which will never grace the chilled cabinets of the grocery store.  I’m offering to take you along for the ride!  Once each month from June through October, I will be The Farmers’ Market Chef and show you what I have learned about what’s currently in season.  Join me from 10 ’til 11:30 am, in the Glenwood Branch Library Meeting Room, June 4, July 9, August 6, September 10, and from 12:30-2 pm October 8. And if you can’t attend, be sure to check out my monthly column here on Well and Wise.

Until we can explore the wonders of the Farmers’ Market together, wouldn’t you really rather be picking your vegetables from your own garden?  Howard County Library System has many brand new books to help you learn how to grow your own.

How to Grow Food: a step-by-step guide to growing all kinds of fruits, vegetables, herbs, salads and more by Richard Gianfrancesco. Could there be a more straight-forward title?!  The author starts with “why” you should grow your own, goes on to “where” to site your garden, “how” to succeed so that you will continue in future years, and “what” to grow.  I especially like that for each plant he may show photos of baby plants, pests, or plants ready for harvest.  He gives advice on what to do for that crop during each season and suggestions for the best varieties to plant.  Each plant gets stars (1 to 5) for “value for money,” “maintenance,” whether you can freeze or store it.  He ends the book with a section on “Preserving Your Crop” with safe procedures for canning, drying, and making pickles and chutneys.

Grow Your Own Vegetables by Carol Klein. Klein’s book is a similarly detailed and well-photographed offering for the beginning gardener.  She includes advice on raised beds and how to find a community garden if you do not have your own space.  Within her categories, such as “cabbage family,” “root and stem vegetables,” and so on, she covers where to grow, how to plant, how to care for, how to harvest, storing and cooking tips, and pests to watch out for.  This book will give the new gardener an encouraging start.

Homegrown Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs: a Bountiful, Healthful Garden for Lean Times by Jim Wilson. This began as a syllabus for a course on Advanced Master Gardening and a manual for coordinators of community gardens, but as with most of Creative Homeowner’s publications, it has become a very colorful, well photographed, user friendly book.  There is just so much here for the reader!  Wilson gives advice on life span, how to plant, when to plant, best site, how much to plant, continuing care, harvesting, pests, and some “smart gardener” advice.  He also includes advice on how to find or start a community garden.

Homegrown Harvest: a season-by-season guide to a sustainable kitchen garden Editor in Chief Rita Pelczar, American Horticultural Society I like the season-by-season arrangement of this hefty book.  It helps the new gardener focus on what to do now, beautifully and appropriately photographed.

Container Gardening for Health: the 12 most important Fruits and Vegetables for your Organic Garden by Barbara Barker. Barker has chosen the 12 popular fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide load—the dirty dozen—and gives advice on how to grow your own, organically and, therefore, pesticide free.

The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible by Edward C. Smith. Smith, author of The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible, brings his reputation to bear on the container garden.  His containers are beautiful as well as practical.

Sugar Snaps and Strawberries: Simple Solutions for Creating your own Small-Space Edible Garden by Andrea Bellamy. I love this book!  The gorgeous photographs are sure to make you want to start growing—and eating right away.  Her advice, here and  and on Heavy Petal, applies to more than just small-space gardens.

The Food Lover’s Garden: Amazing Edibles you will love to grow and eat by Mark Diacono. This author, head gardener at River Cottage in Devon, Britain, advises that life is too short to grow unremarkable food.  He says “Make your garden unbuyable,” growing foods that you just can’t find in a market, and “Don’t grow food that’s cheap to buy.”  He includes recipes for these unique vegetables and fruits.

Now I hope you’ll excuse me while I go out an pull a few weeds. The peas are blossoming and the tomatoes are starting to develop personalities. I hope you can join me for a few sessions of The Farmer’s Market Chef!

Barbara Cornell joined the Howard County Library System in 1993 as Assistant Branch Manager at the new Elkridge Branch.

Since 2000 she has enjoyed a shorter commute to the Glenwood Branch.

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Fitness & Sports Medicine Clinic

5/21, 11-3, Columbia Mall

It’s Friday!  Time to shake off the sedentary work week and jump into fitness. National Public Radio recently reported that sitting all day is worse for you than you might think.

According to a study by epidemiologist Steven Blair, a professor of public health at the University of South Carolina, sitting or sedentary activity of more than 23 hours per week increases the risk of dying from heart disease – even if you participate in a regular exercise program.  “We’re finding that people who sit more have less desirable levels of cholesterol, blood sugar, triglycerides and even waist size,” Blair said.  The answer?  Take lots of small breaks.  Get up and get moving periodically throughout the day.  Discovery Fit & Health suggests these 10 exercises that you can do at your desk or even at the copy machine.  Or, if you are even more ambitious, consider asking your boss to invest in a desk treadmill and do your part for health-chair reform!

Be sure to stop by the Columbia Mall tomorrow, May 21 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and visit the free Howard County General Hospital Fitness and Sports Medicine Clinic where you can learn more fitness tips, talk with physician experts and participate in free screenings.  Graduates of HCGH’s Joint Academy are invited to join a walk around the mall at 8:30am before the clinic. Speaking of joint replacement, the HCGH Wellness Center is offering a free seminar on total hip and knee surgery on Tuesday, 5/24.

Finally, consider signing up for the hospital’s “Pre Diabetes and What You Can Do About It” class on June 8, 2011.


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Classes and Events at Your Local Library!

Howard County Health and Fitness EventsOur popular Rube Goldberg & Simple Machines is back on 5/21 at the Central Branch at 2pm. For ages 9-10.  Register online.

Speaking of popular classes, Ask A Master Gardener is still around to help gardeners navigate the change in the planting season: 5/21 at 10 a.m. and 5/23 at 7 p.m. at the Miller Branch.

Calling All Volunteers! – Helping others is good for you. Join us at the Miller Branch at 3 p.m. on 5/21, the Central Branch at 7 p.m. on 5/24, or the Savage Branch at 4 p.m. on 5/25.  You could make reading fun for kids and earn service learning hours. To register for orientation session, submit a volunteer application. Accepted applicants will be contacted to confirm registration.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, play is important in promoting healthy development of a child’s brain, so why not get an early start with Play Partners–stories, baby games, and musical activities at the Elkridge branch 5/21 at 11:15 a.m. and at the Elkridge and East Columbia Branches 5/24 at 10:15 and 11:15 a.m., and at the Central Branch on 5/27 at 10:15 and 11:30 a.m.  Ages infant-23 months with adult.

And while not stimulate the brains of the older children (11-17) with the Science Club at the Miller Branch at 7 p.m. on 5/25.  Register online.

It’s not too soon to sign up for the Howard County Library 5K and Family Fun Run on June 4.  Check out one blogger’s own motivations for signing up.

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Urgent Care and Health Care Reform

Our local government and community organizations are working hard to make sure county residents are aware of the options available to them, whether in an emergency situation or as a result of changing federal law. To that, two public events are coming up in order to help business owners and citizens of Howard County work through the complicated details of urgent care options and the Health Care Reform Act.

The unexpected is one of the most difficult things to prepare for: the sudden injury or the late night illness. The best way to face  the unknown is to have as much information as possible in advance, not only what you can do about your situation, but what you ought to do. Normally, this would be a daunting and time-consuming task.

Fortunately, Monday, May 23, the Howard County Citizens Association (HCCA) and the Howard County Health Department are hosting a forum to explain the urgent care options available to you in the county, and how to determine the best option for your situation.

In addition to representatives from a number of Howard County urgent care facilities, the meeting will feature an impressive array of speakers able to answer authoritatively on a wide range of questions.

Speaking that evening are:
Dr. Peter Beilenson, Howard County Health Officer;
Delegate Shane Pendergrass, District 13, Maryland General Assembly, Vice-Chair, Health and Government Operations Committee;
Victor A. Broccolino, President and CEO, Howard County General Hospital, a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine;
Dr. Walter Atha, Medical Director of Emergency Services, Howard County General Hospital and
Alex Adler, Employee Benefits Consultant.

The Urgent/Emergency Health Care Choices Forum will be held on Monday, May 23rd, 7:00 p.m. at The Hawthorn Center in Hickory Ridge, 6175 Sunny Spring, Columbia. The event is open to everyone.


On June 14, the Health Department will host “Health Care Reform: How Will It Impact Your Business.”  County Executive Ken Ulman will be joined by keynote speaker Dr. Peter Beilenson to discuss the impact the Health Care Reform Act will have on  employees and businesses. This informative discussion will help local businesses work though a complicated, and much debated piece of legislation in order to see the effects on the everyday work of maintaining a business.

“Health Care Reform: How Will It Impact Your Business” will be held on Tuesday, June 14th, 7:30 a.m. at the Howard County Health Department, 7178 Columbia Gateway Drive
Columbia, MD. It is a free event, but you will need to register by June 8th at momlor@howardcountymd.gov or call 410-988-3737 ext 40.

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Celebrate the Official Launch with Us

Join us for a party this Thursday at Union Jack’s to officially launch the Well and Wise blog! Learn more about Well and Wise, a new partnership between Howard County General Hospital and Howard County Library System. You won’t want to miss this party featuring just-for-this-event Pear Martinis, tasty treats, and fun giveaways.

Please register at well-n-wise.eventbrite.com.

Sponsored by Howard County General Hospital and Friends of Howard County Library System in conjunction with hocoblogs. Special thanks to hocoblogs for inviting us to co-host this event!


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Can kids have sleep apnea?

Has the Sandman stopped visiting your kids?

Stacey Ishman, M.D. (Photo by Keith Weller)

Stacey Ishman, M.D. (Photo by Keith Weller)

According to Stacey Ishman, M.D., an otolaryngologist at Johns Hopkins,  2 to 4% of American kids have sleep apnea. Pediatric sleep apnea is a breathing problem that occurs when a child’s airway narrows during sleep.  Common causes include enlarged adenoids or tonsils, but less common reasons such as obesity, facial abnormalities and muscle weakness can also play a role in pediatric sleep apnea.  Signs include snoring, mouth breathing,  daytime sleepiness, difficulty waking in the morning and inattention or daydreaming. “Studies actually show that up to 50 percent of kids with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivy disorder) have sleep-disordered breathing or sleep apnea, “ Ishman says. For more information, read the whole Johns Hopkins Health article, “Good Night Sleep Tight”.


Tune into a free online seminar with Dr. Ishman on Wednesday, May 18, from 7-8pm to learn more about pediatric sleep apnea and treatment options.


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A Chance to Finally Work Off the Winter

By Brian Grim

I don’t know how you feel, but I am not a winter person. I spent most of the months of December through February hibernating. This meant plenty of reading, and even more TV watching. It also meant more fast food, more baked goods, more chips, more soda, and more plain unhealthy eating than anyone should ever inflict upon himself. Needless to say, this busy schedule of self-indulgence left me little time to do much actual exercise. And I even like exercising, having been bitten by the running bug a few years ago. Somehow though, the cold and dark days of winter have a way of thwarting all of my best intentions.

Join us for the HCL 5K and Family Fun Run on June 4

Well, now it’s warm, the sun is shining (in between thunderstorms), the flowers are blooming, my motivation is returning, and I’m ready to get off the couch and get moving again. When it comes to exercise, I think it’s really important to find an activity that you truly enjoy. Fun is a much better motivator than guilt.
That’s why, a few years ago, I became a runner. I love the freedom of being outside and just picking a direction to explore. I love the sights and sounds and smells of the outdoors. I love the challenge of working towards and achieving a goal. When I’m running, I feel like all of my stress and worry fade away. It feels a little like being a kid again.
Like so many experiences, I believe that running and other types of exercise are more satisfying when shared with others. That’s why I can’t wait until June 4, when I will be participating in the Howard County Library 5K and Family Fun Run. This will be my first time running in this event. In fact, this will only be my second-ever race. But it looks like it will be a lot of fun, and very relaxed and laid-back.  The top finishers will get prizes, but most of us will be running for the camaraderie and the excitement, or to achieve a personal goal. You don’t have to be a competitive runner to participate. You don’t even have to be a runner; you can walk the course and just enjoy what will hopefully be a beautiful spring morning.
The Howard County Library 5K and Family Fun Run will be held at 8 a.m. on Saturday, June 4, 2011 at the East Columbia Branch of the Howard County Library System. All proceeds go to Howard County Library System’s educational initiatives.  Also, the Summer Reading Kickoff will run from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at East Columbia Branch that day, so you can bring the family and enjoy all the activities.
Hopefully I’ll see you there!

Brian Grim is a Customer Service Specialist for the Glenwood Branch of the Howard County Library System.

He started at the Savage Branch in 2006. Brian is a sporadic fitness enthusiast, an occasional cook, and a one-time musician.

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Let’s Get the Pear Rolling!

The Well & Wise blog is ready for prime time!

Thank you to our local blogger friends Tales of Two Cities, Swim-Write-Run, HoCoBlogs and Sarah Says who have given us great reviews and a gentle nudge towards prime time.  Also, thanks to Janene Holzberg and the Baltimore Sun who heard rumors of our existence and tracked us down for today’s great story.

Make your reservation and join us on May 19th from 5:30 to 7:30 at Union Jack’s when we officially roll out our Well & Wise blog.  We’ll have fun things for the first 100 bloggers or blog readers! We also promise a fun time for as many people as we can fit inside.

Finally, a big thanks to Union Jack’s for giving us a warm reception and to hocoblogs for inviting us to co-host this event!.  We look forward to meeting all of you!

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Upcoming Health and Wellness Events in Howard County

  • THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL FALL DUE TO IMPENDING RAIN – Participate in the Columbia Association BikeAbout on Saturday or take a walking tour of Columbia Town Center.  The Columbia BikeAbout is celebrating its 11th year this year and will take riders through Town Center, Wilde Lake, Harper’s Choice and Hickory Ridge, highlighting history in Harper’s Choice and in the Middle Patuxent Valley.  Walkers will follow a route to Oakland Mills; explore a historic cemetery and outdoor sculpture, as well as take in the art and architecture of Town Center.
  • Always wanted to take that CPR course? Register today for the Adult, Child & Infant CPR class on June 14th at the HCGH Wellness Center.  Be a heart saver!
  • Get outside tomorrow and see how field-to-table worked in the old days.  Watch draft mules plow and plant a crop at the Spring Field Day at the Howard County Living Farm Museum in West Friendship.

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Classes and Events this Week at Your Library

Well & Wise is still growing and will probably change as we experiment and learn. So, after today, our calendar of Library events will move to Fridays, along with the Hospital events.

This week’s theme is Reasons For You And Your Kids To Be Outside!

Howard County Health and Fitness Events Earth Science Day -A chance to get the kids excited about science and nature on 5/13 at 2pm at the Elkridge Branch when a meteorologist from NASA discusses exciting atmospheric phenomena! Ages 7-10 (7-8 year olds must be accompanied by an adult). Register online.

Rube Goldberg & Simple Machines-Yet another great opportunity on 5/13 to get kids active while exploring the physics and fun of simple machines, creating cool contraptions. For ages 9-10 at the East Columbia Branch at 3pm. Register online.

Calling All Volunteers!-Helping others is good for you. Join us at the Elkridge at 4pm on 5/13 or at 7:00pm on 5/16, you could make reading fun for kids and earn service learning hours. To register for orientation session, submit a volunteer application. Accepted applicants will be contacted to confirm registration.

Ask A Master Gardener-There are lots of opportunities for you gardeners to get some expert advice: 5/14 at 10am at the Central, Miller and Glenwood Branches, and again at the Miller Branch on 5/16 at 7pm.

Geocaching 101-Check out this new sport at the Miller Branch on 5/14 at 2pm that allows you to get active, have fun, and even get prizes. Register online.

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Retired Physician Tackles Childhood Obesity at Columbia Barbershop

Jerry Seals, M.D.

Dr. Seals at Warren's Barbershop

By Diane Dunn

When Jerry Seals, M.D., retired in 2007 from his practice with Charter Internal Medicine, he found numerous ways to continue participating actively in the health and well-being of his community, especially its children.

A New York Times article about a Connecticut town that brought trucks with fresh produce into some of its low-income neighborhoods resonated with Seal’s concern about the growing number of children in Howard County with hypertension and obesity. It motivated him to develop a screening program for children in the Columbia area.  With fellow members of the Howard County chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity (Rogers Lewis, M.D., and Bryant Robinson, Esq.) as well as volunteer physician Ruth Penn, M.D., he won a Horizon Foundation grant to start a blood pressure and body mass index (BMI) screening program at Warren’s Barbershop in the Owen Brown Village Center.

The yearlong screenings started in March and are available on Saturdays from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.  The program targets children and adolescents from 3 to 18 years old to raise awareness of hypertension and childhood obesity as precursors to other preventable diseases and to encourage people to see their primary care physicians for regular checkups.

“Historically, people have thought about hypertension and obesity as adult problems,” noted Seals, “but we are seeing this more and more in young children. If not detected and dealt with early on, these conditions can lead to serious and even deadly medical issues later in life.”

Most people think of Columbia as a relatively affluent and healthy place to raise kids with a multitude of grocery stores and recreation options to keep them active. “For many of us it is,” Seals said. “But for people living in low-income areas, access to healthy food- which is generally more expensive- is not so easy, and high fat, high sugar fast food often becomes the norm.  Also, these parents may not have the time or money to enroll their children in healthy athletic programs.  There is also a cultural component: some ethnic communities have historically eaten higher fat diets.”

Lack of understanding of hypertension, genetic predisposition, the cost of treatment and limited access to health care are factors in the prevalence of high blood pressure in low-income children.  Seals hopes his screening program will serve as both a diagnostic and educational tool.  Children with abnormal findings will be referred for medical follow-up with their family physicians.  If they don’t have a family doctor, they will be referred to the Howard County Health Department.  Seals and his partners also will provide information on diet, exercise and the importance of monitoring blood pressure.

“We are limited in what we can do since we are screening and not treating children,” said Seals. “But we hope that bringing more low-income kids into the program will increase awareness and help to prevent future health problems associated with these conditions.”

Diane Dunn is a senior communications project manager in the Public Relations department at Howard County General Hospital.


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Photo, Woman with Skin Cancer

National Skin Cancer Month

One in five adults will develop skin cancer in the course of their lifetime and skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in the U.S., according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

May is National Skin Cancer Month and in Howard County we take skin cancer seriously. Howard County was the first jurisdiction in the country to ban the use of tanning beds by children under the age of 18.  Since Howard County passed the tanning bed law other groups including The American Academy of Pediatrics, The World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Dermatology have come on board supporting legislation to ban the use of tanning beds by minors.

We know it’s Prom season but a Whiter Shade of Pale is the Well & Wise choice!

In addition to stricter tanning laws for minors, sun safety in Howard County also includes free skin cancer screenings at Howard County General Hospital. Please call 410-740-7602 for more information.

For more statistics, check out the Burning Facts by the EPA.

Finally, visit local blog Tales of Two Cities to view “Dear Sixteen Year Old Me”, a cautionary tale about skin cancer produced by DCMF Canada and consider sharing this  power video with your favorite sun-loving teen.

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Geocaching 101

by Stephanie Darby


Join us at Howard County Library System’s Miller Branch on Saturday, May 14, 2011 for an afternoon of geocaching. What? You’ve never heard of geocaching? Well, we hadn’t  either, but the premise is simple: high-tech hide-and-go-seek. Someone hides a container somewhere in the world, and using latitude and longitude data (and a GPS device) you find it.

A cache container typically contains a variety of objects. Most commonly, there is a logbook that you sign and date to mark your visit. There can be other items in the cache that vary in size and value. If you take something from the cache, you must leave something of equal value in return. Containers may range in size from a film canister to a large storage bin.

The person who hides a cache publishes the coordinates online at www.geocaching.com. Using a handheld GPS, you travel to the posted location. Once you’re there, you will need to search the area to find the cache. Many caches are hidden in rural locations, but some are hidden in public places. Caches are not necessarily located on the ground—they may be hidden up high or camouflaged in other ways.

If you are looking for an exciting new activity, one that is part physical, part mental, part science, part savvy, geocaching may be right up your alley (or tree, or parking lot). For more information, please visit www.geocaching.com or the Maryland Geocaching Society .

Geocaching 101 will be held at the Miller Branch on Saturday, May 14, from 2 to 4 pm. You will learn about the sport, how to use a GPS, and geocaching etiquette. If you have a GPS, please bring it to the class. Register online or by calling 410-313-1950.

Stephanie Darby is the Assistant Manager of HCLS’ Miller Branch. She is a gardener, a beekeeper’s wife, and a proud mom of boys.

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Upcoming Health and Wellness Events in Howard County- Mark Your Calendar!

Howard County Health and Fitness EventsMark your calendar for some upcoming wellness opportunities:

  • FARMERS’ MARKET – Don’t forget to visit the Howard County General Hospital Farmer’s Market TODAY from 2:00p.m. – 6:00p.m for some healthy food options.
  • SKIN CANCER SCREENING – As we move into summer, remember to use sunscreen and think about making an appointment for your free Skin Cancer Screening at Howard County General Hospital on May 17th.
  • $50 MAMMOGRAMS – Finally, during the month of May, screening mammograms are $50 at Howard County General Hospital. For more information, call 410-740-7900.

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Health and Wellness Events at the Library

Each Thursday look to Well & Wise to see what library classes are on offer in the coming week.

Howard County Health and Fitness Events

  • Ask a Master Gardener – We know you gardeners are thrilled to finally be able to get out and get your hands dirty.  The Miller Branch gives you two opportunities this week to get some expert gardening tips, 5/7 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., and 5/9 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.
  • Blood Pressure Screenings – Howard County General Hospital is bringing their expertise to the Savage Branch between 12:30 and 3:00pm to offer free blood pressure screening and monitoring.
  • Ellicott City Seniors – Growing older shouldn’t mean slowing down.  Keep sharp and engage in lively conversation by joining folks at the Ellicott City Senior Center adjacent to the Miller Branch for a book discussion on 5/11 from 1-2 p.m.  This month’s selection is Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson.
  • Acupuncture – Join an expert from the Tai Sophia Institute who will focus on guided meditation in the 5/11 session of an ongoing learning series at the Miller.  It starts at 7:00 p.m.  Register online.

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Spring is in the Air and That Means Farmers’ Markets

Farmers Markets Howard County

Farmers' Market at HCGH

The cold and snow of winter will soon be past us and spring flowers and the planting of the fields is quickly approaching. It also is the time for our farm vendors to begin planting their early produce for the upcoming opening of the Howard County Farmers’ Markets. The opening of the markets each year is greatly anticipated as consumers look forward to the fresh taste of locally grown fruits, veggies and meats.

For many first time visitors to Howard County Farmers’ Markets there is a mixed reaction. Many want a market like the Baltimore market where you can find anything imaginable while others are pleasantly surprised at how local the food is. Howard County Farmers’ Markets are truly special as they are producer-only markets, which means the vendors can only sell product that has been produced or raised on their farm. This allows our consumers to make a connection with the farmer who actually grew the food and learn about the techniques used to provide a safe and healthy product.

So take time this market season to visit our five Howard County Farmers’ Markets and educate yourself on how your food is raised and where it comes from.

Howard County Farmers’ Market Schedule

St. John’s Episcopal Church
9120 Frederick Road
Ellicott City, MD 21042
Open Wednesday, May 4th – October
2:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Howard County  Library System East Columbia Branch
6600 Cradlerock Way
Columbia, MD 21045
Open Thursday, May 5th – November
2:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Howard County General Hospital
5755 Cedar Lane
Columbia, MD 21044
Open Friday, May 6th – October
2:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Howard County  Library System Glenwood Branch
2350 Route 97
Glenwood, MD 21723
Open Saturday, May 7th – October
9:00 am – 12:30 pm

Oakland Mills Village Center
5851 Robert Oliver Place
Columbia, MD 21045
Open Sunday, May 8th – November
9:00 am – 12:30 pm

Post courtesy of Kathy Zimmerman from the Howard County Economic Development Authority. For more information, contact Kathy Zimmerman at 410-313-6524 or e-mail kzimmerman@hceda.org.

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By Michele Hunter

Heirloom Tomatoes by Joost J. Bakker IJmuiden

Stop by Howard County Library System’s Savage Branch on May 4, 2011 to explore the world of heirloom vegetable seeds and plants  in a class taught by Howard County Master Gardener Pat Greenwald. A wonderfully varied group of plants, heirloom vegetables are both delicious and a lot of fun to grow.

I began doing a little vegetable gardening when my children were small. I had, by lucky chance, stumbled upon a wonderful catalog that featured mainly heirloom seeds, promptly ordered lettuces, tomatoes, and the like and we were off! Starting out under lights in my basement, our vegetables progressed to a small garden that we all enjoyed immensely for several years.

As life got busier, I stopped vegetable gardening, but this spring I “caught the bug” again. I have a new raised bed that I’m in the process of planning and planting, and I’m looking forward to Pat Greenwald’s class for some ideas and as a reintroduction to heirloom plants!

I know she’ll have a lot to say and plenty of resources for all of us, but if you can’t wait to get started growing delicious, healthy food, you might take a look at the following books in Howard County Library System’s collection, The Edible Heirloom Garden by Rosalind Creasy and The Heirloom Tomato: from garden to table: recipes, portraits, and history of the world’s most beautiful fruit by Amy Goldman.   You can also check out some of my favorite internet resources, Seed Savers Exchange www.seedsavers.org and Renee’s Garden www.reneesgarden.com.

Edible Heirlooms will be held at the Savage Branch Wednesday, May 4 from 7-8:30pm. Register online or by calling 410.880.5980.

Michele Hunter started with the Howard County Library System in 1998 as a Children’s Instructor at the Savage Branch, then transferred to the Central Branch to work in Research. She returned to Savage as the Assistant Manager in 2004. Her hobbies are ballet, gardening, and needlework.

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Healthy Breakfast Tips

By Becky Ramsing, MPH, RD

Breakfast eaters have all the fun, according to recent research. People who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight and are more successful at losing and maintaining weight loss. They have fewer cravings and choose healthier foods throughout the day. In fact, at the end of the day, breakfast eaters get more fiber, vitamins and minerals. Not only that, they are late for work less often and perform better at work and school, especially on those memory tasks!

High Calorie Breakfast

High Calorie Breakfast

Breakfast is a great opportunity to start out the day right and get some of those food groups that we typically lack:  fruits, whole grains, and low fat dairy or milk. However, breakfast can also start your day out wrong! A deluxe breakfast from your local fast food restaurant can cost you more than half the calories you need for the day as well as your entire limit of fat and saturated fat! Even a quick latte and muffin from the coffee shop will give you 650 calories, 25 grams of fat, and 8 teaspoons of sugar!

What makes a great breakfast? Start with good ingredients. Choose a whole grain, such as high fiber cereal, oatmeal, or a whole wheat English muffin. Then add some protein with peanut butter, an egg, fat free milk, yogurt, or lean sausage. Top it off with fresh, frozen or even canned fruit. Use healthy fats when cooking, such as canola or olive oil. A balance of carbohydrates, lean proteins, and fat causes a more gradual release of energy over the entire morning, maintains your blood sugar levels and delays hunger until it’s time for lunch.

Healthy Breakfast Example

Healthy Breakfast Example

In a hurry? Grab a peanut butter sandwich in the morning or microwave an egg and sandwich it in a whole wheat English muffin. A bowl of cereal with a banana is quick and full of great nutrients. Or what about last night’s leftover?  Keep healthy breakfast foods at the office for those times you miss breakfast at home.  Individual oatmeal packets or cereal boxes are great, but make sure they’re the low-sugar variety. You can also keep yogurt and granola on hand to grab when you’ve missed breakfast at home. And when you are on the road, choose a la carte with an egg or pancake and avoid the deluxe meal! Egg McMuffins without the cheese, yogurt parfaits and oatmeal are good choices too.

Becky Ramsing joined the University of Maryland Extension in September 2009 as a Nutrition, Health and Wellness Educator. Prior to joining UME, she worked with the Howard County Health Department Bureau of Health Promotion, the HC Nutrition and Physical Activity Coalition and Howard County Head Start. Through her work and volunteer efforts, she has been actively involved in promoting nutrition and physical activity throughout Howard County, including schools, work sites, and community settings. Becky is a Registered Dietitian with a Masters in Public Health. Her experience also includes serving as an academic coordinator and instructor at the UM Medical School, public health researcher, and educator in community, academic and clinical settings. Additionally, she spent several years working in East Africa teaching nutrition and working with children and families affected by HIV/AIDS.

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Welcome to the Well and Wise blog!

What is Well and Wise? It’s a new initiative led by Howard County Library System (HCLS) and Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine (HCGH). Our vision is to enhance, advance, and elevate health education in Howard County, improving the health of our entire community.

While we plan to launch the community-wide partnership component of Well and Wise at a fall summit, we are introducing the Well and Wise blog now for two reasons. The first is excitement: we just couldn’t wait!

The second and clearly more pressing reason is that we are confident you will enjoy this blog for its enlightening tips, inspiring stories, schedules of classes and events, and expert advice written by HCLS instructors, HCGH professionals, and guest bloggers.

As to the Well & Wise logo, you may be wondering, “Um . . . why not an apple? As in, ‘An apple a day…’”

In a nutshell, we wanted a logo that, like the partnership, would be unique, compelling, and fun!  While arguably compelling, the ubiquitous apple fell short in the unique and fun categories. So a pear. With a “pair” of glasses. Perfect!

In addition to its distinction, the picture-of-health pear represents “Well.”  And the glasses? As you no doubt have guessed, that’s for “Wise.”

At this site, you’ll soon find:

  • Details about upcoming classes and events, such as HCLS’ 5K and Family Fun Run, skin cancer screenings, sports medicine clinics, and CPR classes;
  • News related to HCLS’ forthcoming Enchanted Garden, a teaching garden centering on growing healthy habits; and, who knows,
  • Maybe even a posting on pears.

Our profound thanks to the creative and visionary HCGH and HCLS staff members who have worked together to develop Well & Wise. The partnership is ideal, as  HCGH seeks to provide the highest quality care to improve the health of our entire community through innovation, collaboration, service excellence, diversity and a commitment to patient safety while HCLS aims to deliver high-quality public education for all ages.

Most importantly, Well & Wise is intended to benefit you and your family. We sincerely hope that this Well & Wise blog becomes a favorite online destination.

Valerie Gross

Valerie J. Gross
President & CEO
Howard County Library System

Vic Broccolino

Vic Broccolino
President & CEO
Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine

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