“Exercise affects your whole body and makes your bones and muscles stronger. It improves your heart, lungs and brain function. It also reduces weight, increases lean body mass and can improve a child’s immune system,” said Suzie Jeffreys, an exercise physiologist at Howard County General Hospital.

Not only does exercise help children physically, but mentally as well. “Kids need to get up and move every day. It is a natural part of living and gets our blood flowing and allows more oxygen to reach the brain, which can result in clearer thoughts, better grades, more energy and focus, and improved test scores,”  noted Jeffreys.

“If you get them moving while they are young, it becomes a way of life. They don’t have to get drenched with sweat. Anything they do is better than sitting on the couch or in front of a video game or on their phone,” said Jeffreys.

Know Your Child’s Fitness Personality
With all the latest technology distractions geared toward children, they may sometimes need a little encouragement from their parents to get moving. “There are different fitness personalities. Not everyone is a born athlete and not everyone wants to be—so get to know your child,” remarked Jeffreys. Fitness personalities include:

The “Non-Athlete” – These children need more encouragement and help to get and stay active. They are not inclined to physical activity due to either lack of interest, ability or both. For these children, it is important to introduce exercise gradually and make it fun. To pique their interest, schedule time for activity, invite friends and find something they enjoy.

The “Casual Athlete” – These children find enjoyment in being active, but may not be a star athlete and are most likely not comfortable in a competitive environment. If you get these children out and moving, they will lead you, and you can introduce them to new activities and inspire them with new equipment or attire.

The “Athlete – These children do not need to have you encourage them as much as support them. Continue to provide support by recognizing their talents and suggest trying a variety of activities.

Low Cost Exercise Options in the Howard County area:

  • Team sports through leagues or school
  • Get Active/Stay Active Howard County has a variety of programs and allows kids to try out different activities.
  • Howard County Striders is a great opportunity to run and walk with other kids at a variety of fitness levels.
  • Girls on the Run is an after-school program through the schools: 443-864-8593, director@gotrcentralmd.org
  • Howard County Recreation Centers (Glenwood, North Laurel, Roger Carter) are great resources for families to play basketball, walk/run on an indoor track, jump rope or swim for a reasonable fee.
Suzie Jeffreys is an exercise physiologist for Howard County General Hospital.



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5892760393_1666c64567_zOne of the major factors contributing to different forms of stress, bodily afflictions, mental illnesses, high anxiety levels, and general dissatisfaction with modern life can be found in the lifestyles we have voluntarily chosen. For example, our inability (or unwillingness) to bring about an appropriate balance among the various components of what should be a “well balanced life” exacts a heavy toll on our body and psyche. For many people, undue, excessive emphasis on any one aspect of life—such as –office work, career, climbing the corporate ladder, pursuit of wealth, etc. leads inevitably to wanton neglect of other important ingredients of a well-balanced life. This type of personal choice leads to various ailments, imbalances and misalignments. In consequence, anxiety, worry, stress, and mental tension ensue.

Our sedentary lifestyles, with its emphasis on income producing activities, and neglect of other important aspects of living, (such as rest, recreation, exercise, relaxation, and adequate sleep), can and does result in irritability, fatigue and poor physical health. Some of us seem to have no time for anything other than the economic aspects of living. Consequently, we become victims of such an unbalanced life style. The neglected areas of life cry out for attention. They manifest themselves in many warning signs – many physical and mental ailments—and we tend to ignore them at our peril.

So the obvious question is: what should be done? What is the remedy? How do we correct this obvious imbalance? Fortunately, the answer is not far to seek!

thriveVarious aspects of daily life, such as: earning and spending; work and career aspirations; family responsibilities; social obligations; activities that promote physical and mental well being—these must be properly balanced—to produce good health and peace of mind. The resulting improvement in life satisfaction will be immeasurable. Whenever we lose sight of this balancing principle, and ignore the vital contribution that each of these components contribute to our sense of life fulfillment, the result is: physical and emotional distress. Happiness and contentment elude us. Life seems empty—filled with worry, anxiety, tension and stress.

The paradox of our unbalanced lifestyle is this: What we think of as enhancing the quality of life—money, power, position, prestige and recognition (all good things in themselves)- can be pursued to excess, to the detriment of our overall quality of life. This is a trap that should be avoided.

So, it is up to each one of us to recognize the importance of balance in life. Engage yourself in a variety of activities—physical, mental, spiritual, and whatever else you want—but do it NOW. Make it a habit. This would be a wise and welcome choice we can and should make; the benefits would be immeasurable.

Dr. Gopal C. Dorai is an author, economist, statistician, and Professor Emeritus at William Paterson University.

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pregnancy and exercises


You’re expecting a baby and you want to stay fit and healthy. But you probably have some questions about what kind of exercise and how much is safe for you and your baby. Lahaina Hall, M.D., an obstetrician on staff at Howard County General Hospital, has some answers for you.

Q: Can I exercise when pregnant?
You can exercise while pregnant, as long as you do not have any medical or obstetrical issues that put your health at risk. Some conditions that would limit exercise are vaginal bleeding, premature rupture of membranes, incompetent cervix, low placenta or risk factors of preterm labor. You should always speak with your doctor first before starting any exercise regimen.

Q: What is a healthy amount to exercise?
If you don’t already exercise regularly and you are beginning an exercise regimen during pregnancy, start slowly and work up to a goal of at least 30 minutes a day. This can have significant health benefits and help with the process of labor.

Q: Is there a time when I should stop exercising?
There is no set time to stop exercising if your pregnancy remains uncomplicated. Certain exercises may be more challenging as the pregnancy progresses, and those exercises will need some modification. Avoid excessive exercise in hot, humid weather. Stay hydrated. Stop exercising if you experience pain, vaginal bleeding, contractions, leakage of fluid, chest pain, shortness of breath, headache, decreased fetal movement, muscle weakness or are feeling faint or dizzy.

Q: Why should I exercise while pregnant?
Exercise during pregnancy has many benefits. It helps build muscle, bone and stamina; improves energy, mood, sleep and posture; promotes strength and endurance; relieves stress; and may possibly help to prevent and treat gestational diabetes.

Q: Which exercises are best for pregnant women?
The best exercises for pregnant women include swimming, walking (if you don’t exercise, walking is a good way to start and build endurance over time), cycling, low impact aerobics and running, especially if you were a runner before pregnancy.

Q: Are there any exercises I should avoid?
You should avoid exercises with an increased risk of falling and contact sports.  Skiing, horseback riding, gymnastics, hockey, soccer, football, basketball, volleyball and boxing are not recommended. After the first trimester, you should avoid exercises requiring you to lie on your back.

Q: How can I avoid injury?
Always warm up before exercising. Stretching is particularly important. This can help avoid stiffness and injury. Hormones during pregnancy cause ligaments to become more relaxed, enabling joints to be more mobile and at risk of injury. Always cool down after exercising by slowly reducing activity and then stretch.

As pregnancy progresses, be aware that your center of gravity will shift with your growing abdomen; this can make you less stable and more likely to lose balance and fall.

STAY HYDRATED!!!!! Make sure to drink water before, during and after exercise.

Lahaina Hall, M.D., is an OB/GYN with Signature OB/GYN in Columbia. For an appointment, call 410-884-8000.





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3972610159_b741c629b8_zThe snow is melting and the temperature is finally rising and I could not be happier. How about you? It’s amazing how much happier I am now that the weather has made a change for the better and we are in daylight savings time. I feel like things are possible again. I can go for a walk after work, finally clean out the car, and I generally feel so much better. I can’t explain it.

I’m also excited because I know that the outdoor pools will be opening in just a few short weeks. I love to swim and I love to go to water aerobics. A couple of years ago my son was working at one of the outdoor pools in Columbia that offered water aerobics and I decided to give it a try. It is now one of my favorite ways to exercise. There is something that I just love about being in a pool outdoors.

I’m not alone. Swimming is a popular way to exercise and with good reason. Swimming puts very little stress on your bones and joints and it’s a good exercise for all ages. You can even increase muscle strength and endurance due to the water’s built-in resistance. There are a growing variety of water workouts, including water walking or jogging, water yoga, water Zumba, deep-water exercise, and water therapy and rehabilitation classes. You can read more about the benefits of water-based exercise here. You can also check out the many books and instructional DVDs available throughout Howard County Library System. So, if you’re looking for a low-intensity workout that offers benefits for any fitness level, head to your nearest pool. (FYI: The Roger Carter Community Center in Ellicott City has a pool with a retractable roof for the indoor/outdoor pool feel and is ADA accessible with a chair lift and a pool wheelchair.)

7422182864_ca9d79b18e_zOne of the other benefits of swimming is that it doesn’t require specialized gear. You really only need a swimsuit. My kids are always amazed that I don’t even wear goggles. I like to open my eyes under water. I think it reminds me of when I was growing up and my family would visit the lake near my grandparent’s home. We would play a game and throw a small rock and then try to find it again on the lake bottom. Also, I never want to look like I am serious about swimming. After all I am just having fun in the pool!

The best reason to get in the water is that you never need to retire from swimming like you do from some other sports. Now if you prefer to exercise on land you can try Boot Camp in the Park at the Corporate Pavilion at Centennial Park every Saturday morning from 8-9 am beginning Saturday, March 21st. This camp is free and for all fitness levels and ages. More details about the kick-off of Boot Camp in the Park and Get Active Howard County can be found here.

Whatever you decide to do, be sure you’re having fun and feeling good about it, that way you’ll be more likely to keep on doing it. Let’s get moving!

Nancy Targett is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Miller Branch. She lives in Columbia and is the proud mom of three boys and a girl and a Siamese cat.

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As many of you are aware, I’m a runner. I started two years ago and this Spring, I have decided to run a marathon (26.2 miles). Am I crazy? I guess that I am. I was contacted to be a race ambassador by a running company and they wanted to follow me as I train and run my first marathon. I am terrified of this distance. All of my running friends have told me that if I can run a half marathon (13.1 miles), I can run a full marathon. Why would this frighten me? I’m not sure, but I think it’s more the distance and the time involved in training that worries me. So, in an effort to stay motivated, I’ve decided to list what running has taught me in the last couple of years. Here are my top ten things that running has taught me:

My marathon is this May (2015)! Wish me luck as I venture on this new journey with my running. Happy trails!

Anna Louise Kallas is a Customer Service Specialist at the Miller Branch. She is an avid reader and enjoys Disney, music and her passion for running. She has been a race ambassador for several local races, and is a Sweat Pink Ambassador for promoting women’s health. Follow her journey towards being physically fit with running and healthy lifestyle choices here on Well & Wise.

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walking shelfie
The slow melting of all our snow has inspired me to get out of my winter hibernation and get active and moving once again. My favorite type of exercise is very simple: taking walks around my neighborhood. When the weather is nice, my husband and I try to take a walk once every day. We get to meet some of our neighbors (and more importantly, their pets), see how others have landscaped to get ideas for our own yard, and get some light exercise in to boot. I can really tell the difference in my mood on days when I have walked, and it’s the easiest, most simple exercise possible.

All walking helps to meet the goal of getting a little more active, but obviously it can be performed with more of a goal in mind. Fitness walking can be done both outside or in the privacy of your own home – as proven by Leslie Sansone’s series of Walk at Home DVDs.

On the other hand, there’s always hiking. It doesn’t have to be structured, hours long, big name hikes like the Appalachian Trail, either, although that’s certainly a worthy trip! There’s a plethora of local options close to Howard County, with the Patuxent Research Refuge and Patapsco Valley State Park nearby. But for locals looking for other fun hikes, there are numerous guidebooks for the region, including 50 Hikes in Maryland: Walks, hikes, & backpacks from the Allegheny Plateau to the Atlantic Ocean. Sometimes I want to get a little more urban, and luckily for me there are guides for that too, like Walking Baltimore: An insider’s guide to 33 historic neighborhoods, waterfront districts, and hidden treasures in charm city, which can take you on a bunch of different tours of the city. With all these places to choose from, I’m sure to get my walking in this spring!

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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