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The benefits of robot pet therapy



Photo: Ageless Innovation LLCC /

You’ve probably heard of pet therapy, a type of animal assisted intervention used to improve a patient’s social, emotional and cognitive functioning. It’s been shown to be particularly helpful for seniors. But what you may not realize is that using robotic cats and dogs may be just as effective. Here’s what you should know about battery-powered pets.

Cats, dogs and dinosaurs
Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, today’s robot pets employ motion sensors to simulate surprisingly realistic behaviors. They, purr, wag their tails, blink, vocalize and respond when petted.

One upside of adopting robot pets over real ones is that you’re not limited to common domestic animals. Aside from cats and dogs, you can purchase seals and even dinosaurs. Additionally, robotic animals won’t trigger allergic reactions. They also never get sick, don’t need to be fed and won’t leave you unpleasant surprises on the carpet.

Reducing loneliness
Owning a cat, dog or other pet can help seniors combat social isolation. Similarly, interacting with robot pets provides social benefits. They’re great conversation starters and encourage exchanges among residents in retirement homes, possibly because they remind people of pets they might have owned in the past.

A soothing presence
Robot pets can help stressed or anxious seniors to relax. They’ve also been shown to alleviate distress in patients with dementia. In some cases, they can help reverse language loss and may reduce the need for medication. Finally, they promote healthier lifestyles by giving seniors a reason to move and can sometimes help families connect.

Robot pets usually cost between $150 and $200, which make them a relatively affordable way to put a smile on a loved one’s face.


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Seven ways to hammer hay fever



If you are among the one-in-four people who are sensitive to pollens or mold spores, remember these ways to fight mother nature.

1. Stay inside most of the time between 9 a.m. and sunset. Doctors at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver say that thermal currents and winds toss ragweed pollen and mold spores around in the air during the day.

2. Protect your eyes from flying pollen. Wear glasses, sunglasses, or wraparound goggle sunglasses.

3. Go out after a downpour. Heavy rains wash pollen away. Stay inside after light rain, which could worsen the pollen situation.

Front Royal Virginia

4. Check your local air quality. Pollution makes allergies worse. If there is a pollution alert, stay inside as much as possible.

5. Use your air conditioner. It recirculates air instead of bringing pollen-laden air inside. Change the filter frequently. Use the air conditioner in your car as well.

6. Use a dehumidifier in damp areas to fight mold. Wash the shower curtain and bath rugs frequently.

7. Talk to your doctor. If your medication is barely keeping up with the high pollen count, ask if you can increase it.

Work with your doctor to determine which medication is best for you. Often, people have to try two or three before finding the one that works best for them.
The editors of Prevention magazine say hypnosis may decrease the effects of allergies. The allergies are not psychosomatic, but studies show that the mind controls more of your physical responses than many doctors or patients realize.

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Low-fat or full-fat dairy? It’s complicated



Stick to low-fat or fat-free dairy, nutrition guidelines frequently advise and receive all the nutritional benefits of dairy (like calcium and protein) without the saturated fat that can raise cholesterol and lead to heart attacks and strokes.

For decades, that was advice from venerable sources like the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, and even the United States Department of Agriculture. But newer research suggests that fat in dairy isn’t necessarily bad — and could offer some useful benefits.

In a 2020 literature review published in the journal Advances in Nutrition, researchers concluded that instead of increasing risk factors for cardiometabolic health conditions like heart diseases or type 2 diabetes, full-fat dairy was associated with neutral or improved outcomes. Another study, published in 2021 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that among 73 patients with metabolic syndrome, eating at least three servings of full-fat dairy each day had no effect on their blood pressure or cholesterol compared to other patients who avoided dairy or consumed reduced or fat-free versions.

Researchers are still trying to figure out how full-fat dairy works and who is most likely to benefit. According to the British Heart Foundation, the nutrients found in milk may work in combination to confer health benefits. According to National Public Radio, the higher fat content may also increase satiety, which can lead to eating less overall.

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Fitness gadgets to avoid



The global home fitness equipment market is big business — more than $10 billion in 2020, according to Fortune Business Insights, with years of continued growth expected.

For health-conscious consumers, this means more options than ever before. But exercisers should be cautious — some available gadgets do nothing, or worse, can put their safety at risk. Some of the most famous offenders include:

  • Abdominal stimulation belts. At best, these devices will do nothing to slim or tighten the midsection; at worst, they can lead to shocks, burns, bruising, and other injuries.
  • Toning shoes. These shoes offer no calorie-burning or muscle-strengthening benefits and can increase the wearer’s risk of injury due to a reduced base of support.
  • Sauna suits. These full-body suits retain body heat and force wearers to sweat more, which can lead to dehydration, fainting, and heat-related illness.
  • Vibration plates. While vibration training may offer some benefits, these devices often exceed safety standards for vibration intensity and can be dangerous when used improperly or by people with certain medical conditions, such as heart disease or joint replacements.

There are no shortcuts when it comes to fitness, so exercisers should be skeptical of any gadget that relies on a gimmicky approach or promises dramatic results with minimal time and effort. And despite what manufacturers may want consumers to believe, fitness equipment — even useful, versatile items like dumbbells and jump ropes — aren’t necessary to get an effective workout. For many at-home fitness enthusiasts, the only necessary items are a comfortable pair of shoes and a good workout playlist.

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Are roller coasters safe?



If you wonder how safe it is to ride a roller coaster, you should probably worry less about the hardware and more about the software in your body.

Most accidents, injuries, and fatalities are not from mechanical failure but from medical conditions.

The Formula Rossa roller coaster in Abu Dhabi reaches top speeds of 149 mph in five seconds. That’s the fastest coaster in the world.

You should literally not ride it — or any other roller coaster, for that matter — if you have heart disease.

In fact, a scientific study of roller coaster fatalities in the U.S. found that most deaths were from medical conditions caused or exacerbated by riding a coaster.

Of the 29 patrons who died during the 10-year period ending in May 2004, 18 died from medical conditions, and 15 were cardiac problems or intracranial hemorrhages. Just 11 were from external causes such as falls or collisions.

A 2017 study published in the Journal of Neurotrauma found that coasters did not present an immediate risk of acute brain injury (although they didn’t do the test on subjects riding the Formula Rossa). In fact, researchers found that brain strain during roller coaster rides was similar to running and lower than soccer head hits.

Another study suggests that if you have a bad back, you might skip the coaster. Neck and back injuries are not unknown, but it depends on the person, according to a study published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

That study looked at roller coaster injuries during a 19-month period in 1992. There were a total of 656 neck and back injuries among the 932,000 riders of the coaster studied. Of those injuries, 72 percent had a cervical disk injury.

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4 symptoms you shouldn’t ignore



As you age, you may notice minor changes in your overall health. While some symptoms are a normal part of aging, others require immediate attention. Here are four changes in your health you should never ignore.

1. A wound that won’t heal
Do you have a wound that’s slow to heal? If so, it may be a good idea to see your doctor. If you have a low-grade fever or the injury becomes red and increasingly painful, seek immediate help.

2. An abnormal presence of blood
Unless you have a known medical condition, you must alert your doctor if you notice blood in your stool, urine, or spit. If the bleeding is new or recurring and accompanied by other symptoms, go to the emergency room right away.

3. Unusual stomach pain
Abdominal pain that increases gradually lasts a long time or appears suddenly should be taken seriously. If this is happening to you, visit your doctor. They may refer you to a gastroenterologist for further testing.

4. Increasing shortness of breath
Shortness of breath that prevents you from doing everyday activities like climbing stairs and going on walks should be investigated. This could be a sign of a serious health problem, especially if accompanied by a fever or chest pain.

If you have any doubts, don’t hesitate to consult a health care professional.

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How a school psychologist can help your child



School psychologists play several roles in your child’s school. They work with various educational departments to prevent dropouts, intervene when students are struggling and develop strategies for their success. Additionally, school psychologists often advise parents and consult with teachers. Here are a couple of reasons your child might benefit from seeing this professional:

• Your child is experiencing stress or psychosocial problems like bullying. School psychologists establish a climate of unconditional acceptance. By building a trusting relationship, they can propose solutions to your child and encourage their progress.

• Your child is differently-abled or struggling to learn. The school psychologist will assess your child, identify their needs, establish objectives and develop interventions. In addition to therapy, they may provide companionship, emotional support, and encouragement.

If a student is in crisis, the school psychologist can intervene. Their reassuring presence makes it possible to soothe the child who sees them as a trusted adult.

In short, you can count on school psychologists to help in various situations. If your child is going through a challenging time, meeting with this professional may be the solution.

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Aders Insurance Agency, Inc (State Farm)

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Apple Dumpling Learning Center

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Blue Ridge Education

BNI Shenandoah Valley

C&C's Ice Cream Shop

Christine Binnix - McEnearney Associates

Code Ninjas Front Royal

Cool Techs Heating and Air

Down Home Comfort Bakery

Downtown Market

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Edward Jones-Bret Hrbek

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First Baptist Church

Front Royal Women's Resource Center

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G&M Auto Sales Inc

Garcia & Gavino Family Bakery

Gourmet Delights Gifts & Framing

Green to Ground Electrical

Groups Recover Together

House of Hope

I Want Candy

I'm Just Me Movement

Jen Avery, REALTOR & Jenspiration, LLC

Key Move Properties, LLC

KW Solutions

Legal Services Plans of Northern Shenendoah

Main Street Travel

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Marlow Automotive Group

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Merchants on Main Street

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No Doubt Accounting

Northwestern Community Services Board

Ole Timers Antiques

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Philip Vaught Real Estate Management

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Royal Blends Nutrition

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Samuels Public Library

SaVida Health

Skyline Insurance

St. Luke Community Clinic

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Warren Charge (Bennett's Chapel, Limeton, Asbury)

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Upcoming Events

6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Aug 12 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
…and be sure to attend our Fourth of July event!
9:30 am Forest Bathing Walk @ Sky Meadows State Park
Forest Bathing Walk @ Sky Meadows State Park
Aug 13 @ 9:30 am – 12:00 pm
Forest Bathing Walk @ Sky Meadows State Park
Picnic Area Join Kim Strader, ANFT Certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide, for a gentle walk (no more than a mile or two) where we will wander and sit. Through a series of invitations and[...]
11:00 am Monarch Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Monarch Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Aug 13 @ 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Monarch Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Carriage Barn in the Historic Area Habitat loss has caused Monarch butterfly populations to reach dangerously low numbers. Join the Park Naturalist and Virginia Master Naturalists as they set out to collect Monarch caterpillars and[...]
2:00 pm Pregnancy Center’s Community Bab... @ Living Water Christian Church
Pregnancy Center’s Community Bab... @ Living Water Christian Church
Aug 13 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Pregnancy Center's Community Baby Shower @ Living Water Christian Church
The Living Water Christian Church of the Shenandoah Valley is having a “Community Baby Shower” in support of the Pregnancy Center of Front Royal. We are inviting the public to attend and bring wrapped gifts[...]
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Aug 17 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
7:00 pm Appalachian Chamber Music Festiv... @ Barns of Rose Hill
Appalachian Chamber Music Festiv... @ Barns of Rose Hill
Aug 18 @ 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Appalachian Chamber Music Festival - Opening Night @ Barns of Rose Hill
The Appalachian Chamber Music Festival is delighted to be returning to the Barns of Rose Hill on Thursday, August 18, at 7pm, for the opening night concert of our 2022 summer season. The festival celebrates[...]
6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Aug 19 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
…and be sure to attend our Fourth of July event!
11:00 am National Honeybee Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
National Honeybee Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Aug 20 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
National Honeybee Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area The bees are buzzing at Sky Meadows State Park! Meet the Beekeepers of Northern Shenandoah as they perform a honey extraction. Learn about beekeeping, honeybees and the art of apiculture. Support beekeeping and[...]
12:00 pm Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Aug 21 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Carriage Barn in the Historic Area. What’s that buzzing? Meet with local apiarists of the Beekeepers of Northern Shenandoah (BONS) and discover the art of Apiculture (a.k.a. Beekeeping). This monthly program series examines all aspects[...]