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  • 5 Ten-Minute Workouts to Supplement Your Busy Life

    workout - play with kids! Bonus tip: Play with your kids!

    At the time of posting, we're just barely cracking into 2016. So how are you doing on your New Year’s goals? Chances are some of you (including me) resolved to be better at exercising. It can be hard, huh? But it’s pretty important to stay in shape. In fact, physical activity has many benefits besides simply weight loss and not getting winded while chasing after your young kids. According to Mayo Clinic, exercising can help prevent a wide range of health problems, make you happier, and even sleep better.

    Sometimes, though, it can take a little more effort that we can seemingly muster to get out there and exercise. You’re a busy person, after all, so what makes the world think you have time for an hour-long workout, or even a half-hour workout? The fact is, sometimes that just isn’t an option. Fortunate, a study has shown that exercises split into 10-minute segments helps people exercise more consistently and lose more weight than those who did a longer workout. Neat, huh?

    Which brings us to the next question…How do you do shorter workouts?

    One thing you can do is take normal, everyday things and turn them into an exercise routine. For example, if you’re going to the mall or grocery store, try parking at the far end of the parking lot and turn your walk to the store into a makeshift workout. Likewise, take the stairs instead of the elevator. It’s all about finding the little things to change in your daily routine that can help this work.

    Of course, this method isn’t the be-all end-all of exercise programs. You’ll still want to have ten minutes here and there to work your body. Those ten minutes can come while waiting for a pot of water to boil, microwaving last night’s left overs for tonight’s dinner, or taking a five-minute detour while going out to check your mail. These little sessions, over time, can add up to a nice little workout that will start to reshape your life.

    During these spare moments of time, there are a variety of different things to try.


    1. Jumping Jacks

    This is a classic workout, and can be done just about anywhere. Jumping jacks are good for more than just burning calories. According to Live Strong, jumping jacks “function as cardiovascular, strengthening and stress-relieving exercises.” Pretty good for a simple exercise, am I right?


    2. Dancing

    The rockout workout Rock out while cleaning. Not only will it work your body, but will make your chores go by faster!

    Dancing can really get you moving, which is one of the things we’re aiming for when we exercise. If you’re into swing, ballroom, or other kinds of dancing, take time to teach your significant other some fancy moves, and then turn it to music. If you’re a little less coordinated (like me), then there are other ways to move and grove. When I’m in my kitchen cooking, I like to turn on my favorite ska songs and just go crazy. By the time I’m done making whatever it is I’m cooking, I’m usually pretty out of breath. It helps that my 6-month old son is sitting there laughing at me the entire time. Having an appreciative audience tends to be a good motivator. Officially, the Victoria State Government in Australia claim dancing to have a wide range of both physical and mental benefits, so you can’t go wrong by busting a move!


    3. TV and Treadmill

    Have a favorite television show you watch on a daily basis? TV time is prime time for getting in a workout. If you have a treadmill at home, move it in front of your television set and walk, jog, or run while watching. Don’t have a treadmill? Hit up the gym during your favorite show times. They’ll most likely be showing it, and if they aren’t, I’m sure they’d be willing to change the channel. Since you’ll be watching the show(s) anyway, you might as well get in a workout in the process.


    4. Be the Stair Master

    I had a roommate while in grad school who would take to the stairs of our town home during the cold, wintery months. Living in a winter wonderland made it difficult to get out and run, so he found a way around it. I was impressed with his dedication, because every day he would do multiple circuits until he was a sweaty mess – up and down, up and down, on and on and on. This is a relatively simple workout routine that you can do pretty much anywhere with stairs. If you live in a home with stairs, an apartment building, or anywhere else with some steps, you can turn your location into a stair workout, and you tame your body whilst mastering the stairs.


    5. Dumbbells

    mental and physical workout Work your body while working your mind.

    No no, not you. I’m talking about those little hand-held weights! Keep a set of dumbbells laying around the kitchen or anywhere you might have some time to kill and do a few repetitions. Do some reps while waiting for water to boil, while brushing your teeth (switch hands after a certain amount of reps to keep it even), or while waiting for your kids to get ready and out the door.


    Life can be very busy, and it can keep us from staying in shape. These are just five simple workouts you can do during those short moments of free time. Of course, there are many other workouts you can try. Take a look at your home and work space and see what you can turn into your own personal gym.


    What other quick, effective workouts do you do? Let us know in the comments!


    Health Banner - workout

  • A Highly Unusual Winter Is Upon Us

    Today is the first day of winter. The key word for the season so far has been “unusual.” Seriously, count the number of times that word shows up. In the last month and a half, the U.S. has seen a flood of coffee cans, a 115-year-old snow-free record fall, and a combination hurricane and ice storm for Thanksgiving. Yep, it’s good to prepare for all sorts of contingencies.

    That showed in the first snowstorm, November 10, which dropped up to 18 inches of snow on the Reno, Nevada metropolitan area, closing schools and leaving more than 36,000 without power.

    “That one-and-a-half foot amount, that’s very unusual for us,” National Weather Service meteorologist Jon Mittelstadt told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “It’s been several years since we’ve had a good storm.”

    Lots of snow - The Weather Channel - unusual winter via The Weather Channel

    The second storm November 15-16 dumped more than a foot of snow in mountains from California to Colorado and caused a whiteout that closed Interstate 70 for from eastern Denver to the Kansas border. It also triggered at least 27 tornadoes in Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. In an unusual winter weather problem, the Goodland, Kansas National Weather Service office couldn’t investigate Kansas tornadoes because of the I-70 whiteout, according to weather.com.

    The storm showed how important it is to be prepared when you travel. Have tools, food and clothes for all kinds of inclement weather. Emergency Essentials has car emergency kits and portable food and water packages.

    The next winter storm the weekend before Thanksgiving finally brought snow to the Midwest. It also brought this viral video of a dog making a snow angel.

    Pets need to be prepared too. Ready.gov has information about how to prepare pets for emergencies. Emergency Essentials also sells freeze-dried pet food.

    The Thanksgiving weekend saw another set of unusual U.S. weather events: a simultaneous ice storm and hurricane. Hurricane Sandra formed on November 24 in the eastern Pacific. It was unusually late – only three other eastern Pacific hurricanes have formed later since 1949, according to weather.com.

    It dissipated southwest of the Baja peninsula and never landed. But its remnants caused heavy rain in the peninsula and parts of Mexico and may have added to winter storm Cara in the southeast, according to weather.com.

    Ice Sign - Credit - Barbie Jeffers - unusual winter Photo credit: Barbie Jeffers

    November is early for Great Plains ice storms, according to weather.com, but Cara’s blast of arctic air brought sleet and freezing rain into the plains as far south as Texas. Inch-thick ice on the ground in Oklahoma left more than 100,000 without power and created a perfect ice copy of this speed limit sign.

    If possible, ready.gov suggests you be prepared for power outages with appropriate backup heating. Emergency Essentials sells small propane heaters. Be cautious. Make sure all fuel-burning equipment vents to the outside away from the home. Install carbon monoxide detectors. Be ready to go to a shelter if you lose power for an extended time.

    While it was freezing the Midwest, Cara’s warmer side added to an unusually wet year in the southeast. According to weather.com, Dallas broke its record for annual rainfall on Thanksgiving Day. Fort Worth did the same on Black Friday. The Trinity River flooded around Dallas when it crested more than 10 feet above flood stage.

    Weather models suggest uncommon levels of rainfall will be common this season, thanks in part to El Nino. If you live in a flood-prone area, be prepared to evacuate and consider flood insurance.

    El Nino is also bringing a record warm December to the eastern side of the U.S. Buffalo, N.Y., didn’t get any snow until December 18, obliterating by two weeks a record set in 1899. Usually by this time the city has about 22 inches.

    Meteorologists are predicting a wet Christmas, but not a white one, for the east. New York has a predicted high temperature of 70 degrees for Christmas day.

    In the meantime, cold and snow will continue in the west. Last week, rain, snow, sleet and ice from winter storm Echo soaked the west from Minnesota to Arizona and from California to Nebraska. Inclement weather caused hundreds of car crashes, two of which were fatal.

    A similar winter storm is hitting the west now. If you’re traveling this week, please be careful.

    Christmas Coffee - unusual winter Cans of coffee washed up on shore - via The Weather Network

    Finally, on December 8, the tide washed in an unusual marine find: thousands of cans of coffee that fell off a container ship. Other grocery items followed, from ramen noodles to laundry detergent.

    There’s no preparedness lesson there. Enjoy the “Christmas coffee,” Florida.


    What's going on in your area that makes this an unusual winter?


    unusual winter

  • 5 Black Friday Facts

    The day after Thanksgiving is renowned for its midnight shopping sprees, crazy low prices, long lines, and possibly violent crowds. But there’s a lot more to it than that. Many people believe Black Friday came about because that’s the first day (or close to) that retail sales go out of the red and into the black. However, the BBC report that there is no evidence of that. So what can you even believe? Well, here are five fun Black Friday facts to help sate your curiosity.


    1. Holiday Shoppers Determined Thanksgiving’s Date (Sort Of)

    While not necessarily about Black Friday itself, it does play a large role in the day in which we celebrate Thanksgiving. According to the BBC report, Thanksgiving was always on the last Thursday of November. Sometimes, this became the very last day of the month. In a tizzy, retailers petitioned President Roosevelt to move the date a week earlier so as not keep holiday shoppers back from their stores any longer. To this day, the holiday shopping officially begins the day after Thanksgiving, and for that, you can thank Franklin D. Roosevelt.


    1. Black Friday is a World-Wide Event

    The United States is no longer the solitary observer of this shopping holiday. Now, many countries throughout the world participate in the retail revelry. This is becoming easier and easier, since many companies are online. Countries that participate in Black Friday include Canada, the United Kingdom, Romania, Norway, South Africa, Panama, and many others.


    1. The Day’s Name Is Based On Heavy Traffic

    1960s-traffic-jam - Black Friday FactsIt’s true. At least In Philadelphia, the day after Thanksgiving saw heavy vehicle and pedestrian traffic. The term started in the early 1960s, and expanded out from Philly from then on. Other explanations also came about, but the blackness of the post-Thanksgiving shopping rush is too enjoyable a thought to dismiss, especially since that rush has only grown immensely over the years.


    1. It’s a Weeks-Long Camping Trip

    The record for longest campout in front of stores awaiting Black Friday deals is 22 days. This year, a man has already been camping out since October. If he succeeds in his camp, he’ll be living in a tent, in front of a store, for 33 days. But he’s also doing it to raise awareness for homelessness and is collecting toys and other things for needy local children, so at least he’s doing some good in the process. Other campers, like the ones who slept outside for 22 days, do it to be first in line. No matter what your goal, however, camping is camping, and you’ll most certainly want to have some good ol’ camping gear along for the ride (HydroHeat, anybody?).


    1. Grey Thursday
    Black Friday Store Times - Huffington Post - Black Friday Facts via Huffington Post

    It’s a thing. In recent years, big-name stores would open bright and early on Friday morning around 6:00 a.m. (or, if you’re crazy like Kohl’s, 4 a.m.). As the years went on, the time to open the doors for Black Friday got earlier and earlier until stores were opening at midnight, the earliest possible time while still being in Friday. But, pretty soon, that wasn’t early enough, and Black Friday faded to Grey Thursday, and shops were open late at night on Thanksgiving, then in the evening, and now…right after turkey.

    More and more stores are opening their doors to Black Friday deals on Thursday. Now, once the turkey’s been scarfed down, it’s out the door to wherever it is you're going that’s opening early. According to some, this makes the actual shopping experience less crazy. Hey, it’s something, right?



    Now while you wait for Black Friday to roll around, you can “wow” your friends with these nifty tidbits of information. You’re welcome.



    What other fun Black Friday facts do you have?



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