cardiovascular exerciseI was an overweight and inactive kid and never an athlete during my school years. About 15 years ago, my weight was increasing and my cholesterol was high, so I began going to the gym. I found I liked spin classes, but I wanted to get out of the hot spin studio. My cardiology practice partner at the time, Dr. Jack McWatters, was an avid cyclist and lent me a bike so I could try cycling outdoors. That was the start of my addiction to cycling, which eventually led me to participate in many long-distance bike rides both locally and in such far-flung destinations as California and the French Alps.

Around the same time, a neighbor of mine, who was a ‘couch potato’ and a cigar smoker, announced he was going to do a triathlon and I thought, “Why can’t I do that?”

So, in 2005, I found a triathlon training group. I started competing in local events, like the Columbia Triathlon held in Howard County every May. Triathletes are so exuberant, excited and inclusive—they suck you into their world and you want to be part of the next challenge.

In 2011, a cycling buddy encouraged me to compete in my first IRONMAN in Florida, and it went exceptionally well. In 2014, I completed IRONMAN Lake Placid, which was scenic and beautiful. Afterward, my coach encouraged me to race in another IRONMAN in Lake Tahoe to keep momentum and training. As it happened, an arsonist set a forest fire in the area around Lake Tahoe that week and, just as we were warming up for the swim, the organizers cancelled the event. In every IRONMAN competition, spots are given to winners for the world championship. Because no winners came from that event, those spots were chosen from a lottery, and I was selected for one of those coveted spots as IRONMAN World Championship.

An international race, the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, features the best professional triathletes and best athletes from every age group. For this event, 2,300 athletes started the race and 2,144 finished on a 97-degree day with 100 percent humidity and 20 mph headwinds during much of the bicycle portion. During the race, I burned 10,500 calories!

I train between eight and 17 hours a week, depending on the season. I swim, bike and run, but adding strength training has kept me injury-free for the past three years. I limit processed carbohydrates. I don’t eat out of a box, I eat foods in their least processed form. I eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, grains, nuts, dark chocolate and I drink almond milk.

Why do I do this? I like a challenge, I like how it feels and I want to set an example for my patients. I know the profound effect that exercise and diet have on your heart. My lipids were terrible before I started exercising regularly, and now they are off the charts good! My HDL/good cholesterol was under 30, now it’s 86; my LDL/bad cholesterol was 150-160, now it’s 79; my triglycerides were 250, now they are 38.

High, intense and regular levels of exercise cause a release of endorphins—cycling is my legal addiction.  If I can’t exercise because it’s snowing or I am too busy, you can tell by my lousy mood.

I tell my patients who don’t exercise that anything is possible—if I can do this, you can do this. You’ve got to start somewhere and build exercise into your routine. You don’t have to be like me, because I’m nuts! But you must build muscle mass and participate in aerobic exercise.

After running, biking and swimming the IRONMAN, I feel an overwhelming elation that I can’t even describe. Coming across the finish line makes me feel like there’s nothing I can’t do.

You don’t have to be like me and do extreme exercise, but you should exercise regularly. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise (or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise) every week for adults. This translates into 30 minutes a day, five times a week—but ANY amount of exercise is better than none!

In September 2014, Michael Silverman, M.D., started a year of intense training in preparation for the IRONMAN World Championship. The training included biking 3,915 miles, swimming 414,240 yards, running 898 miles and completing 98 hours of strength training. A cardiologist with Cardiovascular Associates of Central Maryland, Dr. Silverman could be seen on the roads of Howard County starting his day running or biking at 5:30 a.m.

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DD5kHeaderImage2015WebV2Howard County Library System has teamed up with the Downtown Columbia Partnership for the second annual Discover Downtown Columbia Running Event happening September 27, 2015. The event kicks off at 9 a.m. with a one mile Fun Run for children up to 10 years old. The 5k begins at 9:07 a.m. at the Plaza at The Mall in Columbia and will finish at the People Tree on the Downtown Lakefront. This is also listed as a Road Runners Club of America member event.

Runners will experience the iconic landmarks of Columbia like Symphony in the Woods and Merriweather Post Pavillion in a new way. The course will guide runners past Howard County Library Central Branch and onto Columbia Association’s newly renovated pathway around Lake Kittamaqundi, and set runners toward the finish line at the People Tree.

Participants can enjoy myriad post-race activities courtesy of Downtown Columbia Partners including live music and entertainment for all-ages. In fact, it’s rumored live entertainment may be present along the course with a post-race concert awaiting finishers. Clyde’s “Beer Garden” and Whole Foods Market’s “Runners Garden” will be on site offering free beer and food to participants. Friends and family of the runners will be able to purchase food and beverages.

While the course will close at 10 a.m., it’s certain that the last of the runners across the finish line will be greeted with cheers and fun festivities. Register for the event today!

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15301843831_faa5506137_zI just completed a 30-day squat challenge. Let me tell you, it was quite the experience. I’m not one for exercise and tend to stick to a work-out routine for a short amount of time (or until I get distracted). One of my biggest challenges is falling back into a healthy routine once it has been interrupted. However, this squat challenge forced me to keep going. I didn’t allow a busy day to get in my way or cause me to call it quits (even though there were plenty of times that I wanted to). I was inspired after seeing one of my favorite bands perform at the end of March. The whole concert had an uplifting vibe and many motivational words were spoken. It triggered something in me. I told myself that I had to do something to better my life in some way (no matter how big or small). I simply needed a change. I decided to start small with a work out challenge. I chose the squat challenge and mentally prepared myself for the days to come. I didn’t go into it with an “I got this!” attitude. I knew there would be days that would make me curse myself for being motivated to make a change like this, and that there’d be days where I would want to give up and binge watch shows on Netflix instead. I knew I had to prove something to myself. I needed to make it through the next 30 days no matter how many times I’d try to creatively convince myself to quit.

I researched the proper form, typical number of squats in a set, and general tips. This information helped me to feel more prepared and confident. As the number of squats increased each day from the starting number of 50, I felt many emotions. I would have good days where I was motivated and looking forward to my small bit of exercise. I also had days where I would avoid it until the last minute and power through because I had to. The last day of the challenge concluded with 250 squats. The thought alone made me tired. As the number per day got above 100, I would break my exercise into segments to be completed throughout the day instead of over-exerting myself in one sitting. This certainly helped and made those numbers a lot less daunting. I soon figured out that it was all about finding what worked best for me.

I chose to start with one goal instead of compiling a huge list that would otherwise be disappointing if not accomplished. I knew that if I were to go from little to no exercise to a three hour workout every day that I would fail. I knew that I needed to set realistic goals in order to be successful. Guess what? It worked! I completed the challenge and survived to tell you about it.

When it comes to healthier living, it’s important to make manageable changes at a realistic pace.

Now that the squat challenge is over, I’ve made squats a part of my daily routine. I rest every fourth day in order to give my muscles a break. Now that I have added something new to my lifestyle, I am ready to add another form of exercise. This time I think I might go with something a bit more fun… maybe hula hooping!

Editor’s Note: Please consult your physician before making any kind of exercise or diet change to your daily routine.

Laci Radford is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch and STEM Education Center. She is a music lover, writer, and an avid reader. She enjoys attending concerts, plays, and other forms of live entertainment. Her favorite activities include scoping out unique items at thrift stores, bonfires with friends, and having tie-dye parties. She is studying Psychology and plans to become a music and art therapist sooner rather than later.

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Did you know that exercise videos are just a click away? We want to get in shape and have fun doing it. Variety keeps us motivated as well as taking on all aspects of fitness, including aerobic capacity, endurance, strength, toning, balance, and flexibility. If you have a computer and a Howard County Library System card (special 75th anniversary edition available right now), you can stream health and fitness videos. While you’re at it, download energizing music to keep you moving on your walk or select an inspirational audiobook about nutrition.

Go to, look at the bottom right corner of the home page, and click on streaming. You will then find links to Freegal and Hoopla. Explore the choices, pick your movie, music or book and you’re on your way. Freegal has an entire category of movies devoted to health and fitness. Hoopla has the option to explore movies by genre and also has health and fitness selections. The websites walk you through how to register and download materials.

Freegal’s fitness videos include a collection of pilates instructional movies. In addition to general pilates, choices include pilates for men as well as pilates for pregnant women. You can also stream videos of exercise routines addressing joint pain, core strength and emotional stress. HCLS customers may stream up to 3 videos per week and each may be borrowed for 2 days. Freegal allows you to build your music library because you can download and keep 3 songs per week. HCLS customers can also stream up to 3 hours of music per week.

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Hoopla offers an even more extensive selection of fitness videos. Hoopla is a great site to explore for yoga instruction. The selection includes several yoga for kids videos. There are videos with yoga techniques targeted to patients with hypertension, diabetes, joint pain, digestive problems, and sleep disorders. There are movies to assist with weight loss, learning Tai Chi, and improving flexibility. There are even videos for fans of Forks over Knives and The 5 Love Languages. Hoopla movies can be streamed or temporarily downloaded through the app for a viewing period of 3 days.

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Hoopla has a large selection of audiobooks as well. By genre, take a look at personal development and health and nutrition. Topics include running, pilates and reversing the aging process. You can learn about meditation, how to lose belly fat, strength training, and breaking unhealthy habits. Explore the music collection too. Albums can be borrowed for 7 days and audiobooks for 21 days.

Computers don’t have to cause us to be more sedentary; they can connect us to activity and healthy lifestyles. The Freegal and Hoopla collections are always expanding. These applications do not have wait lists as the content is available to stream to multiple users at once. You can explore new ways to improve your body and mind today.

Cherise Tasker is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch and has a background in health information. Most evenings, Cherise can be found reading a book, attending a book club meeting, or coordinating a book group.

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I’ll be the first to admit that I’m just not an exerciser. I’ve always disliked going to the gym, or finding time to exercise outside of one. I have plenty of excuses for not doing even those exercises I enjoy, like walking, running, or biking: “It’s too hot/cold/raining,” “There’s nobody to go with me,” or “I don’t have anywhere specific to go.” But, there is one type of exercise that I can always fit into my schedule, and that’s simple bodyweight exercises. Stuff like push-ups, crunches, and dips. Plus, I can do them in the comfort of my own home in just a few minutes.

you are your own gymAs the title of this book describes, You Are Your Own Gym, Mark Lauren and Joshua Clark’s self-named Bible of Bodyweight Exercises, contains 141 bodyweight exercises that can be performed pretty much anywhere. Some of them are the obvious favorites that everyone knows like push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and lunges, plus numerous variations on each. Others are more unusual like the whimsically named “the roof is on fire,” “shrugs and kisses,” “good mornings,” and “little piggies.”

The authors also provide some program ideas for various levels of experience and fitness, from beginner to “elite.” These programs call for different types of workouts each day, with recommended exercises meant to improve varying aspects of fitness (endurance, strength, and power). They call for performing 3-4 exercises a day for a total of 20-30 minutes of exercise – an easy amount of time to fit into any busy person’s schedule. One thing I particularly appreciate about this book is that it isn’t meant for one gender or age, and half the pictures depicting the exercises are of a female. It’s written in a very friendly manner that makes it easy to understand and makes exercise a simple and easily personalized task. It’s objective is to teach readers how to build their own basic exercise routines around the exercises that will work best for them – and why that’s what they should be doing.

7 weeks to 50 pull upsIf you want to get more specific, there’s also 7 Weeks to 50 Pull-Ups by Brett Stewart. This program promises to “help you build a stronger body and sculpt your physique in just 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week.” I speak from experience when I say, “You don’t even have to be able to do a single pull-up to begin a program like this.” I started out having to hop up to perform one chin-up on the pull-up bar I have at home (bad form, I know), and now, I can consecutively knock out 5 chin ups (or 3 pull ups). It may not sound like much, but it’s better than none! In fact, there’s a prep level program included for those of us who aren’t at the “7 pull-up minimum” recommended for starting the real program.

Why bother? Well, one day when I fall off a mountain and can pull myself back up without assistance, I’ll know my simple exercise routine was a success!

Jessica Seipel is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch. She has worked for the Howard County Library System, in various positions, since 2003. When not at work, she spends her time reading science fiction and comics, visiting local breweries, watching horror movies, and playing video games.

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Incorporating physical activity into our daily lives is one of the biggest challenges in today’s world. We all know the importance, but still seem to find getting into a routine difficult. Instead of listening to the media and government recommendations, figure out what works in your schedule! Here are some tips to help you build a lifetime of healthy living:

Editor’s Note: If you want to live healthfully and you want to be active, there is no better way than to start! Get moving! However, always consult your physician before starting a new exercise or diet regimen. We at Well & Wise, want you to get well, stay well, and be wise about how you do it. 

Lisa Martin founded the Girls on the Run program in Howard County in 2009. Lisa is AFAA & NSCA certified, has more than 15 years of personal training experience, and practices a multidimensional wellness approach at her studio, Salvere Health & Fitness. Lisa says that one of the best things about being in the health and fitness industry is watching people accomplish things they never thought possible.

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