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One cause of health problems can be mistaken for aging

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One condition, not uncommon in women, can be misdiagnosed as a typical problem in aging.

An underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) can be responsible for a number of conditions throughout the body. But, often patients just experience one of the many possible symptoms. To make matters worse, the symptoms resemble problems typical of normal aging.

Joint and muscle pain is a classic symptom, according to Harvard Health. Large muscle groups, like those in the legs, can begin to ache. Sometimes it is the only symptom of hypothyroidism in an older person.

If you suddenly start forgetting the names of your grandkids and maybe your memory seems shorter, it could be hypothyroidism, especially if it has gone undiagnosed for some time.

Another common symptom is depression. Like muscle pain, depression can be the only noticeable symptom of hypothyroidism. In severe, untreated cases, adults can even experience hallucinations.

Constipation may be dismissed as a routine problem, but it often accompanies low thyroid.

Unexplained high cholesterol can pop up in tests and be a sign that the thyroid should be checked.

Finally, low thyroid levels can even make your heart work poorly with weaker contractions and a slower heart rate.

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4 foods that help with digestion

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If you frequently experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation, you might benefit from making a few adjustments to what you eat. Here are four types of food you can incorporate into your diet to promote healthy digestion.

1. Ginger
This popular spice has strong anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce bloating, cramping, gas and indigestion. You can add fresh or powdered ginger to a variety of dishes, or steep thin slices of the root in hot water to make a digestive tea.

2. Whole grains

Oats, quinoa, brown rice, and other whole grains are an excellent source of fiber, which helps move waste through the digestive tract and prevent constipation. Whole grains also contain prebiotics, a substance that promotes healthy bacteria growth in the intestines.

3. Bananas
In addition to being a good source of fiber, bananas are packed with potassium, which helps muscles in the digestive system function smoothly. This relatively bland fruit is also a great option to restore your electrolytes if you have an upset stomach or diarrhea.

4. Leafy greens
Swiss chard, kale, spinach, and other leafy greens contain an abundance of fiber and nutrients that facilitate digestion such as vitamins B-9 and C. Research shows these vegetables also contain a particular sugar that promotes healthy gut bacteria growth.

In addition to adopting healthier eating habits, you can improve your digestion by drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly, and taking steps to manage stress. For personalized advice, or to get to the bottom of persistent gastrointestinal issues, consult your doctor.

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How women can stay physically and mentally fit in uncertain times

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The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the lives of women across the country. Some are on the frontline of the crisis, others have lost their jobs and others still are working from home while taking care of their children.

Regardless of how the pandemic has affected your life, it’s important to be aware that ongoing stress can take a toll on your health. This can result in a loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, weight gain, frequent headaches, problems with digestion, and more.

In these uncertain and unsettling times, here’s a look at what you can do to take control of your physical and mental well-being.

Adopt healthy habits

Whether you’re 17 or 70, there are steps you can take to improve your physical and mental health. Here are some habits you can adopt that’ll serve you well during the pandemic and long after it’s over.

• Get some fresh air every day (preferably somewhere you can connect with nature)

• Exercise for at least 150 minutes per week (dancing, running, weight training, etc.)

• Limit your consumption of coffee, alcohol and tobacco products

• Reach out to a professional if you notice a decline in your mental health

• Keep in touch with friends and family (opt for phone and video calls rather than text messages and emails)

• Eat a healthy, balanced diet (although the occasional treat is good for morale)

• Make time for relaxing activities every day (meditate, listen to music, read, etc.)

• Avoid spending too much time watching the news or scrolling through social media

• Create an evening routine to help you sleep (start by putting away your devices at least 30 minutes before bed)

Take checkups seriously
Regardless of your age, it’s important to attend follow-up appointments after any treatment or surgery. In addition, be sure to keep up with the screening tests recommended for a woman your age. This might include a mammogram, pap test, bone density test or fecal immuno-chemical test (to look for signs of colon cancer). Your family doctor might also advise that you get vaccinated against certain illnesses such as shingles, influenza and human papillomavirus.

Contact specialists as needed
If you experience pain or discomfort, don’t hesitate to seek treatment. Reach out to the right health-care professional, and schedule a consultation before the situation deteriorates. Remember that mental health ailments are as important to treat as physical ones.

By adopting healthy habits, taking checkups seriously and contacting specialists as needed, you’ll help mitigate the potential health consequences of living in turbulent times.

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How to follow the pegan diet

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The pegan diet purports to focus on improving health by reducing inflammation and stabilizing blood sugar. Created by American physician Dr. Mark Hyman, it combines certain key principles from veganism and the paleolithic diet. Here’s a look at what the pegan diet entails.

Recommended food
Unlike veganism, this hybrid diet doesn’t prohibit eating meat. However, the pegan diet encourages eating grass-fed, pasture-raised sources of animal protein, and making meat a side dish rather than the main course. Fish and eggs are also permitted.

As for fruits and vegetables, they should make up three-quarters of your diet. However, low-sugar fruits and non-starchy vegetables are preferable. Gluten-free whole grains and sources of healthy fats, such as nuts and seeds, are allowed in limited quantities.

Restricted food
While the pegan diet is arguably less restrictive than a vegan or paleo diet, certain foods are strongly discouraged. These include:

• Gluten
• Sugar
• Processed foods
• Refined oils
• Food additives
• Dairy products

The diet also discourages eating most grains and legumes.

Pros and cons
On the plus side, the pegan diet focuses on consuming an abundance of healthy, nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, and fats. Eating these foods can help foster good heart health, prevent disease and reduce inflammation.

The downside is that the diet restricts a number of healthy foods, which can potentially result in nutritional deficiencies. It can also be an expensive and time-consuming diet to maintain.

Always keep in mind that before you make a significant change to your diet, you should consult with your doctor, a nutritionist, or a dietitian.

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5 activities to boost your endurance

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Some workouts get your heart pumping faster than others. If you’re looking for a way to improve your cardiovascular endurance, here are five activities to try.

1. Boxing. Fast footwork and dynamic punching combinations keep you on your toes, improving both your muscular and cardiovascular endurance. Boxing is also a great way to relieve stress and boost your confidence. If you prefer, you can opt for classes that focus on solo boxing drills rather than sparring.

2. Cross-country skiing. This sport provides a full-body, aerobic workout that can be sustained for hours. The smooth gliding motion is easy on your joints and improves your balance. Plus, you can enjoy winter landscapes as you ski along trails blanketed in snow.

3. Swimming. The sustained effort required to swim laps increases your heart rate and lung capacity but places limited stress on your joints. This makes swimming a low-impact workout that’s suitable for people of all ages. It also engages various muscle groups, especially if you learn different strokes.

4. Running. This activity is a simple way to boost your cardiovascular endurance, and it can be done almost anywhere. Keep in mind that speed isn’t key. Instead, start slow and focus on running longer distances to see improvements in your stamina.

5. Zumba. This fitness program combines Latin-inspired dance moves, muscle-toning exercises, and lively music to get your heart pumping and your hips swaying. Zumba is both a fun workout and a healthy way to burn calories and lose weight.

If you want to boost your endurance by participating in these activities, consider signing up for a class or joining a club in your area.

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5 reasons to increase your flexibility

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Flexibility plays a key role in your overall fitness. In fact, stretching your muscles and joints on a regular basis can make a variety of everyday activities easier. Here are the five main benefits of increasing your flexibility.

1. It improves your posture and balance

2. It increases your range of motion

3. It reduces your risk of getting injured

4. It helps your muscles work more effectively

5. It reduces aches, pains, and muscle tension

Furthermore, stretching after your exercise facilitates muscle recovery and repair. It also prevents lactic acid from building up and causing muscle soreness.

Keep in mind that stretching shouldn’t be painful. Though it’s normal to feel a pulling sensation, a sharp or stabbing pain means you’ve over-extended your muscles or joints, which can result in injury.

Activities to try
Stretching is just one of many ways to improve your flexibility. You can also try yoga, tai chi, water aerobics, Pilates, ballet, and more. Consider signing up for a beginners’ class in your area.

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Make daikon part of your diet

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Daikon is a sweet, mildly spicy root vegetable that resembles a plump white carrot. Also known as white or Japanese radish, daikon is popular in many types of Asian cuisine and a great addition to your winter meals.

Benefits
This crunchy cruciferous vegetable is an excellent source of vitamin C, folate, and antioxidants. In addition to being low in calories, some studies indicate that eating daikon:

• Helps protect against certain cancers and chronic conditions like heart disease

• Slows cognitive decline by helping to protect cells against oxidative damage
• Increases satiety and promotes a healthy body weight

How to eat it
Daikon can be served raw or cooked. Often, it’s thinly sliced for pickling or to be used as a garnish. However, it also makes a tasty addition to a variety of hot and cold dishes and can even be used in baked goods. This winter, try daikon pan-fried or roasted. Additionally, the greens can be used in salads, soups, and stir-fries.

How to store it
Keep daikon in a perforated plastic bag or wrapped in a damp towel in the fridge. It should last for several weeks. Store the greens separately.

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Upcoming Events

Mar
9
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 9 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Mar
13
Sat
10:00 am HSWC Polar Plunge @ Culpeper Lake at the 4-H Center
HSWC Polar Plunge @ Culpeper Lake at the 4-H Center
Mar 13 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
HSWC Polar Plunge @ Culpeper Lake at the 4-H Center
The Humane Society of Warren County “Polar Plunge” delayed from February 20 due to “too-polar” weather here in northwestern Virginia has been rescheduled to Saturday, March 13 – Don’t worry, it will still be a[...]
Mar
16
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 16 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Mar
23
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 23 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Mar
28
Sun
2:00 pm Pictures with the Easter Bunny @ Warren County Community Center
Pictures with the Easter Bunny @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 28 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Pictures with the Easter Bunny @ Warren County Community Center
Come join the staff of Warren County Parks and Recreation and get your picture taken with the Easter Bunny! Pictures will be taken and printed on site; upon departure you will be given an Easter[...]
Mar
30
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 30 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Apr
3
Sat
12:00 pm Egg-stravaganza! @ Sky Meadows State Park
Egg-stravaganza! @ Sky Meadows State Park
Apr 3 @ 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Egg-stravaganza! @ Sky Meadows State Park
Eggs are popping up all over Sky Meadows State Park. Visit our egg-laying free-range chickens by taking our Chicken Walk. Go on an egg-citing Geocache adventure. Kids, use your scavenger hunting skills using clues from[...]
Apr
17
Sat
all-day Shenandoah Epic @ Caroline Furnace
Shenandoah Epic @ Caroline Furnace
Apr 17 all-day
Shenandoah Epic @ Caroline Furnace
This tried and true Epic 24-hour AR will test your biking, paddling, trekking, and navigation skills as you explore two state parks (one of them brand new!) and national forest lands. Join soloists and teams[...]
Apr
24
Sat
10:00 am Earth Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Earth Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Apr 24 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Earth Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
On this Earth Day, celebrate safely by doing your part to restore our earth and joining the Great Global Cleanup. Stop by one of our tables at the Explorer Outpost, Picnic Area, or Lost Mountain[...]