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 hclibrary.org, 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.

freegal pilateshoopla yoga


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.

hoopla audiobookshoopla music





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.

read more

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.

read more

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.

read more

exercise and sleep“There is a reciprocal relationship between sleep and exercise,” said Charlene Gamaldo, M.D., medical director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep at Howard County General Hospital. “Most of us recognize the fact that when we sleep well we feel better and have more energy during the day, which includes feeling more motivated and having more energy to exercise. Those who sleep well tend to lead a more active lifestyle.”

On the flip side, studies show that the average person who exercises regularly has a tendency to fall asleep more quickly and go into deeper sleep stages. “These individuals also appear to prime their body and brain to be better and more efficient sleepers, which results in waking up feeling more rested and restored,” noted Dr. Gamaldo.

Exercise and insomnia
People suffering from insomnia are unable to fall asleep or struggle with staying asleep. For those who don’t respond to treatment, recent data suggests that exercise may help.

In one study, participants suffering with long-standing insomnia exercised moderately (with an increase in heart rate) for 50 minutes, three times a week, for six months,” said Dr. Gamaldo. “The results showed a significant improvement in their insomnia. This was not just a subjective measurement on how they felt, but also based on their sleep quality as measured in a sleep lab. This is exciting news, and there is no downside of exercise, no bad side effects. Patients also reap the health benefits that come with increased physical activity along with better sleep.”

Exercise when you can!
Although this study showed that the time of day that people exercised didn’t negatively impact the participant’s sleep, Dr. Gamaldo warns that everyone is different.  “I encourage my patients to exercise and, if they can fit it in more practically in the evening without hampering their sleep, then they should do so. For a long time we felt you shouldn’t exercise in the evening before sleep, and for some people that may still be the case. Listen to your body and try to incorporate physical activity at some point in your day that works for you.”

Charlene Gamaldo, M.D., is the medical director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep at Howard County General Hospital and associate professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins Medicine. For an appointments, call 800-937-5337.

read more

fitness mythsIn a very health-conscious society where the media is overrun by fitness and nutrition studies and reports, people still struggle with losing weight and living an overall consistently healthy lifestyle. The media gives so much information on the “right” foods to eat, the “right” way to exercise, and the “right” way to live that many people are confused and frustrated. Is there a “right” when it comes to eating and exercising?

As the fitness industry continues to research and discover more information, the public is constantly exposed to new and updated recommendations. After facts have been passed from source to source, challenged and changed, health and fitness news can become distorted and misinterpreted not to mention overwhelming. Let’s take a look at some of these confusing misconceptions regarding fitness.

How about we start with spot reduction? For example, in order to lose “weight” around your belly, focus on sit-ups or some other abdominal exercise regularly. This will give you a smaller waist, right? Well, this theory of “spot reduction” is impossible. You can specify where you build muscle, unfortunately, a person has no control over where his or her body chooses to burn fat. Muscle helps improve metabolism, resulting in an increase in the amount of calories the body burns but your body has a mind of its own and will lose from wherever.

Speaking of building muscle, another misinterpreted fact concerns weight-lifting. Women commonly believe that weights will make them big and bulky like a man and they should lift only light dumbbells. In fact, only a very small percentage of women have the necessary hormones to naturally do so. Men tend to build bulk and carry more muscle, whereas women tend to create tone and definition. Often, the feeling of bulk comes from adding muscle and not burning the overlying body fat. Womens bodies naturally carry more fat than men, in a healthy way. Increasing muscle improves metabolism, decreases risk of injury, makes daily activities easier and builds strong bones.

how to think about exercsieSo we know exercising is important, but how long? “Research says” 60-90 minutes of physical activity most days. Raise your hand if you have that much time in a day to dedicate to exercise. Very few of us do. Do what you can make time for – but do something! If you only have 20 minutes, move and challenge yourself to work hard during that time. Break it down into shorter segments and use the weekends for a little longer workouts.

Looking at when to schedule your workout, exercising in the morning is best, right? As a trainer, I first ask clients who think this if they will actually wake up at 5 am to exercise (or anything else for that matter!). Most of the time, the answer is “no!” So this brings us to science vs. real life. If you know it’s not something you will do, then the science does not matter. Set yourself up for success and consistency, plan to do it at a time when you feel your best. The benefits may be slightly greater but not greater then doing nothing.

Many fitness recommendations out there promise to be the best. Be sure to find out the best way for you to maximize your results based on your goals, body, time frame and resources. Simplify fitness and eating; if it came from the earth, eat it in moderate portions; work out regularly on a consistent basis. No matter what the media claims, choosing your own health path is essential to getting the best results for you.

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.

read more

hcls chair exerciseThe past several weeks have been full of exercise suggestions at Well & Wise, and I’ve very much been enjoying reading about walking, running, sneaking (sneaking in exercise during the day, that is), swimming, and a host of other interesting articles. My own recent contribution was about standing, believe it or not. I had vowed, when writing it, that I was going to try to work some traditional-desk-friendly exercise into my routine. I started this process by taking home the DVD No Sweat! Office Fitness for the Mind and Body in attempt to learn some simple exercises.

The workout in No Sweat! Office Fitness for the Mind and Body is lead by Blanche Black, who is the owner/operator of Fit as a Fiddle Productions and creator of the popular Chair Fitness video series. Ms. Black has also been a Geriatric Rehabilitation Nurse and Fitness Instructor. One of her guiding principles to fitness seems to be: “Movement is the key to the health and consciousness of our bodies.” This is something I can totally get behind. I’m probably not going to become a marathon runner or even a mildly avid exercise enthusiast in this lifetime, but I do acknowledge that I need to keep active (both physically and mentally).

Black offers some options for moving and stretching at work that seem completely doable. She even performs these exercises wearing a skirt and in a limited space to better replicate an office setting (though the wisenheimer husband did keep commenting that it looked suspiciously like the reception area of a funeral parlor). Is the production quality a little on the rough side? Are the exercises a bit on the low-impact side (you definitely won’t have to worry about getting sweaty at work)? Do some of the stretches seem a bit silly, especially if you are doing them in front of coworkers? Yes to all of the above. BUT the directions are clear, the DVD is reasonably short (17 minutes), and, after giving it a try, I did feel a little looser, especially in the shoulders and neck (where I tend to carry all my tension).

Black gives you some simple exercises that could totally be done on the job. She’s not out to pump anyone up, but her simple stretches and exercises could help relieve some stress and keep you a little more limber at work. And, if you choose to learn them at home like I did, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to be joined by your favorite smart-aleck.

Joanne Sobieck-Lingg is glad to blog about her many, disparate interests (though expert in none, except maybe parenthetical asides). In past lives, she was a writer, proofreader, editor, project manager, teacher, and even co-coordinator of a certain health blog. She has been happily ensconced among the fiction and teen books at the Central Branch of HCLS since 2003.

read more