Archive for the ‘Exercise & Health’ Category

Beat the Heat

DSC_1063_smThe dog days of August are finally here: today’s temperature is expected to rise nearly to 100 degrees, folks.  In fact, the heat index was already at 85F before 9:00 AM today.  We Metbloggers worry about you, DC, and we want to be sure you have some handy-dandy tips on beating the heat.

Drink lots and lots of water, or other non-alcoholic fluids.  And don’t wait until you’re thirsty!  If you do, it means you’re already dehydrated, which can be downright dangerous on hot days like today.  And it’s OK to be sweaty; your body’s just trying to stay cool.  If, on the other hand, you find that you’re not sweating (or you encounter someone who isn’t) when exposed to this heat, seek help immediately.  It could be a sign of hyperthermia.  Other signs include nausea, cramping, or confusion.

Don’t go crazy with the exercise, either, DC.  Do you usually walk five or ten blocks from the Metro to your  home or office instead of taking a bus?  Swallow your pride and hop on that bus today.

If you must be active outdoors, then try to restrict activity to the early morning or late evening hours, when the sun’s rays won’t be beating down directly over your head.  Be sure  to replenish with extra cool water or sports drinks while you’re doing anything outside.   Rest often, in the shade if you can.  In fact, everyone should try to stay in the shade as much as possible on hot summer days – while the temperature is of course just as high, the air can feel as much as ten degrees cooler.   It’s worth it to cross to the shady side of the street!

Protect your skin with sunscreen, and a wide-brimmed hat if possible. (Well, this is good advice no matter what the weather.  Even on cloudy days or in the winter, those UV rays are still whizzing down from space!  I always say, “there’s no such thing as a healthy tan.”)

Never, ever, leave anyone (human or animal) in a car!  Windows up or down, the temperature inside a vehicle skyrockets in a matter of minutes! And don’t forget that your pet is wearing a fur coat that can’t be taken off.  Be sure they also have extra cool water and a place to relax with some cool air.

If you’re like me, you have an elaborate strategy in place to ensure that you’ll be exposed to the heat as little as possible, and will instead stay indoors, in air-conditioned comfort.  However, not everyone has A/C in the home or workplace.  If you don’t have A/C, then I highly recommend escaping to an air-conditioned public place.  We all know DC has plenty of free attractions like museums and historic places you can visit for free.  (The Kogod Courtyard at the Smithsonian American Art Museum/Portrait Gallery even has free wi-fi!)  Public libraries, other government buildings, or even shopping centers are also good bets.  Then there are my two favorite choices:  the movies, or the ice rink.  And if you can’t leave your  home, try taking a cool shower or bath.

More tips available from the EPA, CDC, and Red Cross.

Highlights from Bike To Work Day


Photo props to WABA

Photo props to WABA

WABA again did an excellent job with Bike to Work Day in downtown DC on Friday, May 15.  For those of you who aren’t hardcore cyclists, I have to say I recommend this event highly even if you only bike to work one day a year!  A few highlights:

  • Most importantly, the weather held out – perfect temperatures and no raindrops on Freedom Plaza!
  • The food was excellent – bagels and schmears, apples and oranges all nicely quartered, hot coffee and cold tea — and plenty of  it.  Yay, sponsors!
  • The Coast Guard contingent was particularly impressive, led by Admiral Thad Allen
  • A surprise visit by the Secretary of Energy and Nobel Laureate, Stephen Chu, who clearly knows his way around a bike.    Here’s hoping he has reversed the insane disincentives to bike to work at the Forrestal Building.
  • Excellent giveaways and raffles; the drawings are the only time during the event that everyone on the plaza pays strict attention.  Again, yay, sponsors!
  • A lot of other speakers (of varying degrees of interest) allowing plenty of time to chat with friends. :)  Amazing who you run into at this thing.  I swear, every year it’s someone else.
  • All kinds of kids, dogs, and bikes; a great opportunity to shop for new gear by talking to folks who already own it.
  • The Tune Ups, always a treat at BtW, did a memorable rendition of Smart Bike Ditty, which I am still humming.  Where’s your website, kids?  I want youtube videos!
  • I didn’t stick around to see Mayor Fenty (as I had to, you know, actually bike to work).  Just FYI, the festivities normally run from 8 to 9 am.

Toward a Trash-Free DC

Springhill Lake Elementary School Cleanup. Photo by Cindy Murray.

Springhill Lake Elementary School Cleanup. Photo by Cindy Murray.

Mark your calendar for Saturday morning, April 4 for the Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, organized by the Alice Ferguson Foundation.  The goal is to pick up as much trash as possible before spring rains wash it into the creeks, streams, rivers, and bays (and eventually back into our drinking water and recreational areas).  According to their website, “since 1989, more than 40,000 volunteers have teamed with 300 partner organizations to tug over 1,500 tons of trash from the watershed´s streams, rivers and bays. Last year´s haul of over 291 tons included more than 18 tons of recyclables, 2,625 tires, 13,000 balls, 25 bicycles, 26 shopping carts, 100lb of metal piping, 6 TVs and 2 bathtubs!” 

This is a fun event for all ages and abilities, with 22 sites in the District ready to roll, and lots more across the region. But this is only part of what individuals can do as part of the Trash-Free Potomac Watershed Initiative.  Here’s a handy checklist for everyone to improve the health and human enjoyment of rivers and streams of the Potomac River Watershed.  Consider pledging to do your part by:

  • properly disposing of trash
  • picking up one piece of litter each day
  • purchasing products made of recycled materials and with less packaging
  • recycling at home, office, school, and any public event
  • using reusable shopping bags
  • limiting use of single-use beverage containers

My personal goal this year is to limit (or eliminate) purchases of things that don’t go in the recycling bin, compost vegetable scraps, and always carry a reusable shopping bag.  I’m also pledging to talk about this to people in my neighborhood, neighborhood businesses, my officemates–and you.  I’ll be posting more about technologies that turn waste into resources, so stay tuned!


Via the WashCycle, word is that BikeDC is a go!  At the end of September, a 17-(car-free)mile ride through Washington, DC.  See the sights of Embassy Row, Cathedral, and Capitol Hill, and take a spin with the local cycling team at RFK.    Check it out!

Headphones on the bike trail?

W&OD Trail
Photo by ktylerconk, used under Creative Commons license

I’ve got a couple of weeks off of work – despite House Republicans’ best efforts, Congress has adjourned for the traditional August recess and things at the office are slow – so I hit the W&OD bike trail yesterday afternoon.

I got into riding thanks to an old roommate who was an avid outdoorsman and competitive cyclist. One of his safety tips for the W&OD trail is that you should never ride with an iPod on. Naturally, I ignored that bit of advice yesterday. I was only out for a relatively short trip – 20 miles, from my house to Reston and back – but I much prefer working out with a soundtrack.

Any of you who also read DCist will have seen some of their extensive comment threads on cycling in and around the city. This is one point, though, that I haven’t really seen addressed extensively. Is it kosher to ride/run/rollerblade with the music on while out on a bike trail?

Just about every jogger I saw yesterday had headphones on, though none of them seemed to have any problem hearing me when I passed. I’m not about to go out on the trail with tunes on a sunny Saturday afternoon when every yuppie with tight shorts in Northern Virginia will be out for a stroll, but aside from that, I say go for it. Just use your head – and, obviously, keep the volume at a reasonable level for those “on your left” calls. I can’t imagine that it’d be a good idea on the Capital Crescent trail in Bethesda, either, but maybe you Murrahlanders disagree.

And for goodness’ sake, please, stop at the stop signs!

Jesus loves you, and dispenses aspirin along the way

Photo courtesy of MeI actually took this picture a few weeks ago when out in Chantilly to have dinner with a friend, but the Washington Post got around to writing about the pro-life pharmacy before I did. [and let me assure you, we were at a nice little Indian place a few doors over, not at any of the crap chain restaurants mentioned in the above story]

I don’t know that I have a lot to say about the matter, other than it being somewhat interesting that this kind of thing crops up wayyyyyy out in the burbs rather than in the city. I wonder who their market is, or what their necessary purpose might be. After all, if you don’t approve of Plan B, you’re just as able to not get a prescription for it filled at CVS as you are at DMC Pharmacy. Is it that important to be able to fill your prescription for penicillin somewhere that there’s no condoms on the rack, tempting you?

Perhaps it’ll all a way to get a job for a friend or family member who is a pharmacist who finds himself unemployable at the majors because he won’t dispense birth control pills. Beyond that I’m hard pressed to understand the need for this business – when you open an alternative to Outback you don’t serve everything BUT meat, you have an entirely different set of offerings. What’s DMC Pharmacy going to bring to the table other than… what it doesn’t put out on the table?

It’s a Beautiful Day for a Photowalk

As I climbed up from McPherson Square Metro this morning and walked up to Thomas Circle, I was struck by the light. It’s spring sunlight. Warm, crisp and citrusy against the brick and concrete. It’s a distinctly different light than the crystalline, icy light of December and January, where all the colors are pale and muted, and where none of the jewel tones of Spring and Summer shine out.Soon we’ll have leaves on the trees, and the flowers will be up. The forsythia along I-66 was starting to bloom as we went for a drive yesterday, which means the one outside my door should be along in the next week or so, and the rising daffodils are coming up like weeds.So take a walk this afternoon and bring your camera with you. Doesn’t matter if it’s a cellphone cam or a DSLR, it’s worth it to capture some of the very best light this city has to offer.

Morning rush at Thomas Circle – Originally uploaded by tbridge

Charity Yoga

Georgetown Yoga is offering you the opportunity to accomplish three goals in a single Sunday afternoon: take a yoga class, make a donation to a worthwhile charity, and help someone move forward in their career. A reasonably productive hour!

The charity yoga classes offer students who are working through the Yoga Works yoga teacher training program an opportunity to work with members of the public. You get an hour-long mixed-level class at the popular Georgetown studio, for a donation of $5 or more.

Money raised from the donations will be given to a charity selected by the students, The Wendt Center for Loss & Healing and Pediatric AIDS/HIV Care. The Wendt Center says it “is a premier resource for addressing grief in adults and children. Pediatric AIDS/HIV Care works to preserve, assist and strengthen the well-being of children ages 5-18 infected and affected by HIV/AIDS in metropolitan Washington, DC.”

Charity-slash-training yoga classes will be held on Sundays, from 5:30-6:30 on February 24th, March 30th, April 27th, May 25th, June 15th, and June 29th.

For those who have been thinking about trying yoga for the first time this seems like an especially great opportunity – no commitment, and if you decide it is not for you, at least you made a difference for the student and for the charity.

Our share of the fuct nursing homes

By way of Consumerist we have a list of the nation’s worst offenders in the elder care system, 128 facilities singled out for “special focus.” Here in our area there’s two getting the skunk-eye from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Carolyn Boone Lewis Health Care Center in DC proper has been on the list for a full 34 months. You can see the full assessment here, but if I had to hazard a guess I’d say this is a facility on the short road to losing funding toot sweet. Some joyous little bits are a below-average percentage of residents getting flu and/or pneumococcal vaccines (60% & 19% vs District averages of 83% and 68%), below average number of RN minutes per resident (11min vs 30min DC and National average) and 18 health deficiencies cites, rather than the DC average of 15 or the National average of 8.

Ruxton Health Of Woodbridge is the only Virginia facility on the list and a comparative newcomer with only 18 months on the list. Their percentages also looked better with regards to bedsores, vaccinations, and other items. It’s when you get into the citations that this for-profit agency looks worse with 21 health citations and 6 fire safety citations, versus the average 8 and 3. Scarily, the few items that supposedly impacted “many” rather than “few” residents was their failure to “Store, cook, and give out food in a safe and clean way” and “Get rid of garbage properly.” Yuck.

Falls Church’s Influenza Self-Care Guide

I got an email from the City of Falls Church saying that the Fairfax County Health Department is mailing an Influenza self-care guide to all Falls Church City residents. Cool, I thought. That’s great that the County is stepping up to help us out with a major source of illness by encouraging us to sneeze into tissues or even a sleeve instead of our hands and to stay home when we are sick and not be like that douchebag kid who got perfect school attendance and then kicked in the nuts by Don as a reward. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t fault Don. That kid had it coming for spreading disease through his school for all those years. A regular Typhoid Mary, that one.

Yeah, that’s all cool, but why would they send this email to me if I don’t live in Falls Church or Fairfax County? Why rub my nose in it? What about the rest of us? Here I am, your humble servant, presenting you with the whole of the document. Click here and take two sips of room-temperature Sprite. It has medicinal effects.

What special tricks do you have to avoid the flu? Are you like my old boss, who would slather himself with antimicrobial gel immediately after shaking someone’s hand?

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