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April is Earth Month

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4 Tips for Keeping Both Yourself AND the Planet Healthy

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April is Earth month. I think that 2009 may become known in the history books as "Earth Year".  Much focus is now being given to alternative energies, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, the effects of global warming and according to a recent magazine article that I read; Baby Boomers are now growing their own organic vegetables and purchasing more organic food than any generation before them.  When gas prices skyrocketed last year, many drivers started riding their bicycles around town.

1.  Healthy habits like biking and walking can save money, reduce air pollution, and decrease your own stress levels!  Studies show that walking just 30 minutes a day can reduce your risk for cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and depression.  We would all be so much healthier if we walked, rode bikes, etc.  Many people in other countries drive smaller cars, walk more, use bikes for transportation, grow more of their own food or barter locally for home grown food, and they do not have health issues like diabetes, obesity, heart disease in such high numbers as we do here in the US.  Think of the gas you'll save by carrying your own cloth bag when you walk to the grocery store for smaller purchases or put a basket on your bike and ride in the fresh air.  No plastic grocery bags (made from petroleum) and a healthier you J

Remember to stretch your Hamstrings and Piriformis before and after you go out for your walk.  Begin sitting on the floor or on your bed with your legs extended.  Bend your left knee and bring it towards your chest, moving your foot to the top of your thigh.  Then let that knee relax to the floor or bed.  If it doesn't go down to the floor, rest it on a blanket or pillow.  Inhale deeply as you face your right leg and stretch yourself down over that leg.  Breathe deeply for at least one minute and stretch.  Inhale your body back up, extend the left leg back out and then repeat with the right leg.  This will help you to begin breathing better before your walk and also prevent tightening of the muscles that cause sciatica.

 

2.  Growing your own veggies is another great idea.  You can start with a small patch of lettuce and spinach or even just a few planters of tomatoes.  Home grown tomatoes just seem to taste better than grocery store tomatoes.  And if you grow them yourself, you can keep the chemicals away – good for the planet AND for your health.

If you're going to do some gardening, complete stretch and flexion of the spine is a good way to begin.  Start sitting tall in a straight chair with your feet on the floor.  Inhale deeply as you slowly arch your spine, bringing your belly forward then exhale slowly as you curl in the opposite direction.  Start your movement each time with your tailbone so that you don't strain your neck.  Continue for 1-2 minutes.  Do this before you start your gardening project and repeat afterwards to avoid back pain from stooping over your plants or shoveling.  Happy planting!

 

3.  Hydration is very important, however the numbers of plastic bottles filled with water on grocery store shelves shocks me every time I see it!  Plastic is a petroleum product which means it's made from foreign oil.  It also leaches harmful chemicals into the water you're drinking and plastic is not biodegradable.  Purchasing a water filter for your tap water that attaches to the tap is a much better option.  There are several of these on the market that are priced under $30.00 and work very well.  The replacement filters are much less expensive than buying all those bottles at a dollar each.  And they use carbon filters which do not clog up landfills.  In addition, most department stores and catalogs now carry a variety of lovely stainless refillable water bottles.  I have one which I carry with me in the car or take hiking and feel confident that I know exactly what's in (or not in) the water that I'm drinking.  Plus, I can toss it in the dishwasher to clean it.  How easy is that? And remember, sipping slows your metabolism so drink 4 or 5 ounces or more whenever you are thirsty.  A better habit to get into is drinking a full glass of water when you are thirsty and then another when you’re thirsty again or a glass before and after exercising to replace the fluids your body used up during exertion. 

 

4.  Fresh air is so important to the health of every living thing on the planet.  One way to help preserve this gift of nature is to plant a tree.  Most parks, recreation centers, nature preserves have provisions for the planting of trees by school or community groups, in memory of a loved one, or families wanting to give this wonderful gift to others.  You can usually find garden clubs or charities that have spring planting sales this time of year.  Find a sale, pick up a small tree and plant it in your yard or a park and then sit down by your tree and breathe deeply for several minutes.  Smell the fresh air and know that you are helping to keep the air fresh for the next generation.  The deep breathing will also bring fresh oxygen throughout your whole body, helping your organs, glands and muscles become healthier, reducing the amount of stress hormones floating around inside you and even help lower your blood pressure.  That's multi-tasking at its best!     

 

If everyone agreed to use even two of these simple suggestions this month to reduce our wear and tear on the planet, ourselves and our pocketbooks, what a great impact we could make!

 

For all of my readers this month, I'm offering a 40% discount on my "Get Ready For Pilates" DVD.  http://www.kathicaseypilates.com/products.html choose the Get Ready for Pilates DVD and when your shopping cart asks for a coupon number put in PROMO50+. 

 

Best of Health to you all!

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