Posts tagged Marina Hodson
Sing Like No One is Listening

Submitted by Marina Hodson

If you are one of the millions of Canadians who enjoy singing in the shower, keep it up!

While you may have heard of some of the benefits associated with singing such as its mental health impacts which have been linked to reducing depression and lowering stress levels, other benefits might surprise you.

One little known finding may not only benefit you, but also your partner. According to one recent article, experts believe that singing works to strengthen throat and palate muscles which can reduce snoring and sleep apnea, improving both of your sleep. Aside from the throat, singing can also strengthen the diaphragm and stimulates overall circulation as you pull in more oxygen while singing than during many forms of exercise. Studies at the University of Frankfurt even showed that singing boosted the immune system and if you practice correct singing techniques you will be forced to stand up straighter to allow your chest cavity to expand which will serve to improve your posture.

Of course if you take it one step further and opt to sing with others, it can also serve to let you meet new people and boost your confidence. But if all of the health benefits are not enough for you, why not simply sing because it makes us happy? There is a reason it has been an age old tradition during times of trouble to carry us through and during happy times as part of celebration. 

So take a deep breath and sing!

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

Enjoying the Not So Great Outdoors...

Submitted by Marina Hodson

It must be spring in Ontario when we move from dodging snowflakes to dodging black flies and it certainly is an abundant harvest this year!

Living in the country brings its joys and frustrations this time of year. As I move outside to plant my gardens and clear my flower beds, I am under constant barrage by my pesky little companions. In fact as I cleaned our vehicles of the salt and grime from the winter this weekend, I believe I had more mosquitos and black flies in the vehicles than remained outside. So what is one to do? Sure, hunkering down indoors is an option, but non-winter is short and we want to have an opportunity to enjoy it.

So I for one, opt to win the battle, even if I have some itchy scars to show for it. First and foremost in my arsenal is definitely good apparel.  Whether that is light coloured clothing to reduce attraction or my favourite bug jacket, I may not win a fashion contest, but it does keep me protected. Unfortunately there are times it simply gets too hot or uncomfortable to wear such items, especially the face veil and that is when I do opt to resort to the repellents. My personal favourite this year is the PIActive Deet free line.  While I have to admit that the 12 hour protection claim is likely extended by ten-fold, I have found it to be effective if re-applied and without the use of any Deet.

Of course as always, try to remove any standing water to limit the breeding cycle. Screen off water barrels, dump standing water that should not be around and add mosquito dunks to water you cannot or do not wish to drain. Made with a bacterium that kills larva, the dunks are safe for pets, wildlife and fish so can be used in bird baths and ponds. Lastly is a mosquito magnet or similar contraption to break the breeding cycle of the hatched adults. While none of this is perfect, it does seem to get me through the season relatively unscathed. At least until deer fly season!

In the end, every time you swat a pesky fly that just bit you, just remember, you may be itchy, but that bug is dead, so you still won!

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

Our Journey...

Submitted by Marina Hodson

I recently attended a celebration of life and had the opportunity to reflect on what it means to be a part of a community. 

As I stood in the hallway of the standing room only ceremony, I was struck with how little it takes to become a part of something bigger than ourselves and what impact that has on our feeling of connection. The person being commemorated was not a politician, she was not rich and she did not hold a well-known position; yet almost 300 people congregated to remember her in a small community church.  So what does this have to do with active living? Don’t ever underestimate the impact your life and the little things you do will have not only on others but also on your wellbeing!

I am not going to pull up the scientific evidence (ok, I might later…), but leading a fulfilling and rewarding life not only makes every day rewarding, but it also provides us with the purpose to carry on into an age well beyond our anticipated years. I don’t think it is coincidental that Mother Teresa lived to be 87 despite a difficult life or that the Guinness Book of Record’s oldest volunteer was still active at 99 years of age. Feeling useful makes us want to contribute and to be happy to do so.

I know I wasn’t going to quote science, but…. it may be as simple as that according to Duke Medical School research, “Every increase of one point on the happiness score lowered the chance of dying due to any cause among participants by an additional nine percent.” Perhaps being kind and being part of our community just makes us happy which makes us live longer.

So as I reflect on that celebration of life and how happy she made herself by helping others, I can’t help but think that maybe we will all live longer if we make us all happier.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

Get Involved and Improve Your Health!

Submitted by Marina Hodson

You may be familiar with Margaret Mead’s famous quote:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

But did you know that it will not only change your community, it can also improve your health? Studies over the past 20 years, including an extensive Canadian Community Health Survey on Healthy Aging, have found that people who volunteer have lower rates of depression and mortality than people who don’t volunteer.

Evidence suggests that community involvement can have a positive effect on a person’s mental health by providing meaning and purpose and has been shown to decrease blood pressure in adults over 50 which may improve cardiovascular health. Rush University Medical Center reported that people with chronic pain experienced less pain and disability when they volunteered 1-2 hours each week.

And of course we cannot forget the positive feelings created by helping someone who needs it. So do something that will benefit both you and your community and may even change the world – Volunteer!

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

Dirt-Free Gardening

Submitted by Marina Hodson

It would not be spring if I did not write at least once about gardening, but what about those of you who don’t have a green thumb or simply are unable to get out and get dirty? Don’t despair, gardening is still for you.

Whether you lack the interest, aptitude, or option to actually garden, it can still be a way to get outside and get involved. This time of year, options for gardening-related activities abound. Why not attend one of the many local plant sales, for example? Even if you have no intention to buy, similar to attending a yard sale, plant sales can simply be a fun morning out and a way to make some new acquaintances. Many of the plant sales are run by the volunteers of your local Fenelon Falls Horticultural Society and going to check out some of their meetings can be sociable and informative regardless of whether you choose to put your new knowledge into action. 

Looking for something on a bigger scale? While you have missed your opportunity for this year, why not check out Canada Blooms in 2020? Hosted in Toronto early each year, it is Canada’s largest garden and flower show and sure to put you in the mood for spring.  Of course, if you don’t want to wait until next year, you can always opt for one of Ontario’s Botanical Gardens or experience the splendour of Ottawa’s tulip festival, one of the largest displays of tulips in the world.

So whether you like to get dirty or not, take the time to stop and smell the roses. There is more to gardening than meets the eye.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

Finding Hidden Treasure...

Submitted by Marina Hodson

As spring continues to evade us, you may be trying to find reasons to venture outside for some fun and activity. Well the search is over, or just beginning if you try geocaching!

If you have ever driven through Highlands East in Haliburton around the area of Wilberforce, you may have seen the signs advertising the “Geocaching Capital of the World.” Don’t be fooled into thinking this is merely a tourism ploy - Highlands East is in fact rated as one of the top geocaching destinations in the world. Whilst I have to confess that I do not know what the criteria are that would add you to the list, I do nonetheless find it intriguing.

If you are not yet familiar with geocaching, it is the outdoor recreational activity of searching for and, ideally, finding a hidden object by means of GPS coordinates posted on a website. Yes, it is a good old fashioned treasure hunt. With smart phones a common accessory, most of us have access to GPS (global positioning systems) at our fingertips and with a little bit of practice, you too can be a treasure hunter. You will definitely not get rich, as you will be leaving the treasure for the next seeker, so the joy is in the find. I guess it’s a little like catch-and-release fishing.

So, why not try an activity that you can do with the whole family or set up a little competition with your friends as a way to get outside and active?

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

Mourning Winter...

Submitted by Marina Hodson

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As we approach the spring Equinox I enter stores to the Canadian salute of “I am so ready for this snow to be gone”.

I have to say, I probably am too. I have my first seeds sprouting in my living room and the snow is collected in ugly black piles in parking lots, but there is a part of me that mourns the departure of the season. I shall miss the sparkling “diamonds” of the early morning snow fall, the wonder of the snowmobile ride and the ability to assess my animal companions by the prints in the snow by my door each morning.

 So as one season departs, let us embrace the joy of spring! Put on your walking shoes and enjoy the feel of grass and pavement without the fear of falling as we await the first blooms. For me, it means a transition from my basement treadmill back to nature, and while I will miss the beauty of the sparkling snow banks, I will embrace the brown and grey surroundings as I transition. My heart beats in anticipation for gardening and healthy outdoor living as we move to the beauty of the greenery.

I know this is a difficult time in Central Ontario, but enjoy the anticipation and move back to the outdoors to stay active as we see the colours return. 

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

Have a Heart...

Submitted by Marina Hodson

February is obviously known for hearts related to Valentine’s Day, but it is also heart month for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

I have recently been thinking about heart health as my husband is trying to address his high blood pressure and it certainly brings home the reality of looking after our hearts. Being in his 40’s and exercising regularly, we felt assured that such things as high blood pressure were on the worry list for our neighbours not us, but lo and behold – not so.

Following a visit for an unrelated health check, a reading of 185 over 80 brought things into instant focus and made me re-evaluate how we eat and in particular how much caffeine and sodium we consume. We are already active and at a healthy weight, both important contributing factors, and his age and gender are strikes against his blood pressure outside of my influence so that left limited control for me. 

First off, I am NOT his doctor, so I told him to go see him instead. I may work for a health care facility, but at the end of the day, this may require medication and that is outside of my purview. What I am, however, is the cook in the house. So I did review what we eat and overall we eat very healthy, but whilst I don’t have a sweet tooth, I like my salt. So that was the main adjustment. Of course in your home, make sure you limit fried and fatty foods, get your fruits and vegetables and then like myself, assess your sodium. I think the most eye opening was the unknown sodium consumption. I already tried to limit how much salt I used in my cooking, but on looking at things like the stock and sauces I use, it started to add up quickly.

So start by checking your blood pressure to assess your heart health and make sure you are looking after yourself and your loved ones.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

It's Sneezin' Season...

Submitted by Marina Hodson

This past Christmas, my husband had the flu for the first time in his life. Both of us tend to be healthy and rarely catch any of the bugs going around, so it came as such a shock to him that he would barely believe it was “just the flu” as he was quite certain it was far more serious and likely life-threatening.

While it completely knocked him out of commission for several days, he is fortunate in that he does not have a compromised immune system, is in his 40s and has no other illnesses. Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky. In Canada the flu leads to approximately 12,000 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths each year.  Particularly at risk are young children and adults over 65, so protect yourself and those around you.

  • First and foremost – wash your hands thoroughly and frequently! Good hand hygiene is the number one way to protect against both flu and colds.

  • Of course you should get your flu shot every year as it has been proven to reduce your likely hood of getting ill. As the flu virus is different every year, it is important to have the shot annually for your best chance of protecting against the current strain.

  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze using a tissue or your upper sleeve. 

  • And disinfect common surfaces such as keyboards, phones and door handles which may be touched frequently and by different people.

So protect yourself from the flu this season, but if you are one of the unfortunate ones to come down with it, remember to stay home to limit exposure to others and get plenty of rest and fluids.

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT

Where's the Beef?

Submitted by Marina Hodson

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On Tuesday, Canada revealed its most recent edition of Canada’s Food Guide.  The first iteration, called “The Official Food Rules,” was introduced in July of 1942 in an attempt to mitigate nutritional deficiencies during wartime food rationing.

Over the years, the “Food Guide” has formed the basis of many Canadians’ nutritional knowledge, basing their healthy eating on the four food groups. Unfortunately, recent interviews by CBC showed that many Canadians have never heard of it, leaving me to question how valuable was the guide and what impact, if any, will it continue to have.

In my personal life, while I have not always followed it to the letter, it has definitely been the basis of what I consider to be a healthy diet. Certainly, the new pictorial provides a quick glance reference to remind us that our healthy diet should include a variety of fruits and vegetables which should ideally constitute 50% of our meal. Gone are milk and milk products as well as meat and alternatives from the 2007 edition, having been replaced by “Protein Foods.”

Additionally, what has been added and what dietitians and nutritionists will find heartening, is very basic and common sense eating advice such as drinking water, cooking more frequently, and sharing meals with loved ones. 

So why not take this opportunity to restart your healthy habits for the new year using Canada’s Food Guide as inspiration?

Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT