Household Remedies to Help You Ease the Itch of Bug Bites and Poison Ivy

There’s nothing like the itch of a bug bite or poison ivy to bring down your mood in the summer time. Instead of heading to the drugstore for relief, there are few household remedies you can use to ease the itch. (Some say they might work just as well as any over-the-counter medicine!) Here are some tips to help ease your poison or bites.

  • Wrap ice cubes in a towel and press it against your bites for around 10 minutes. The ice will numb the bite area and can help control the swelling.
  • Press a used tea bag against your bites until the itching seems to calm down. Tea contains natural tannins that act as an astringent, which removes the toxins from your skin.
  • Tea tree oil can help treat both bug bites and poison ivy. Just dab a little onto a cotton swab and rub it on to your bite or rash. The oil's antiseptic properties will help calm the itching and promote healing.
  • Use a mixture of water and baking soda to apply directly onto your bite and allow it to dry. This will help neutralize the pH and reduce itching. Apple cider vinegar will also do the trick.

DIY: 7 Best Natural Mosquito Bite Remedies [Gardenista]
Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac [American Academy of Dermatology]
9 Genius Ways To Relieve Bug Bites [Women's Health]

Easy Ways to Squeeze in a Workout

Between work, keeping up with chores, and spending time with friends and family, you may find it difficult to make time in your day for exercise. But as busy as you may feel, you should be able to uncover a few extra minutes hiding in your day. Here are a few ways to fit more fitness into your busy schedule.

  • For two days, keep track of how you spend your time. Writing this down helps you find more downtime that you could use for working out.
  • Pencil it in. Decide on a set time for exercise and enter it in your calendar as a daily event. When you see it every morning, you'll make a mental note that you’re going to exercise and this can help you to stay motivated.
  • Start small. Five-minute walks every day can easily turn into 30-minute walks.
  • Do small exercises while you’re watching TV. You can do crunches, planks, squats, lunges, or pushups while you’re catching up on your favorite shows.
  • Keep a positive attitude. Editing your negative thoughts is a great way to support healthier lifestyle choices.

4 Ways to Squeeze In That Workout [Women’s Health]
25 Ways to Make Time for Fitness [Experience Life]
10 Ways to Sneak In a Workout [Fitness Magazine]

How to Safely Exercise Outdoors During the Summer

Even if you’re a very fit person, exercising outdoors in hot summer weather can be dangerous. Unless you take the necessary precautions, the heat and humidity can cause dehydration, dizziness, and exhaustion. Here are a few smart tips to help you exercise safely outside all summer long.

  • Stay hydrated. This one may seem obvious, but dehydration is the leading cause of illness and injury during hot weather exercise. Be sure to drink a lot of water not only during and after exercise, but also beforehand to fuel your body for your workout.
  • Choose smart times. Because the sun is lower (and so is the temperature) during the morning and evening, these are the smartest times to exercise outdoors.
  • Wear the right clothes. While you might wear sweatpants to exercise outdoors in the fall, you should invest in something lightweight and absorbent in the summer. Try synthetic fabrics like Spandex and Lycra, as these wick away moisture.
  • Listen to your body. Even if you’ve only been running for 10 minutes, that might be too much for your body in the dog days of summer. If you start to feel lightheaded and dizzy while exercising, make sure that you stop or slow down, no matter how long it’s been.

5 Ways to Exercise Safely in the Heat [U.S. News]
8 Tips for Exercising in Summer Heat [Active]
Essential Tips for Outdoor Exercise [Arm & Hammer]

What Are Aerobic Exercises?

Does walking count as an aerobic exercise? Is playing golf an aerobic workout? These are common questions, and many people don’t understand what qualifies an activity as an aerobic exercise. If you want to learn more about aerobics, these informative facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can help:

  • Aerobic activity, or “cardio”, is any activity that increases your heart rate and makes you breathe faster. Aerobic activity isn’t just reserved for working out – biking, dancing and even walking up the stairs are all aerobic activities.
  • The intensity is how hard your aerobic activity is. Aerobic activity is grouped into light, moderate or vigorous intensities, and light intensity activities usually don’t count toward fitness guidelines.
  • Moderate-intensity activities include things like walking quickly or playing tennis..
  • Vigorous-intensity activities include running, swimming laps or playing basketball.
  • If you haven’t worked out regularly or have taken time off from working out, don’t start out with vigorous-intensity activity. Begin with moderate-intensity activities and work your way up to avoid injury and build stamina.

Visit the CDC's website to learn more about aerobic exercises.

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Find these Fresh Veggies at the Farmers Market this Fall!

One of the best things about farmers markets is that they offer fresh veggies, in season. Of course, since growing seasons change, farmers market visitors will find different produce from week to week and month to month. For many crops, fall marks the end of the season, so you'll find fewer berries and tomatoes than you might've seen in July.

However, some fruits and vegetables come into their own in the fall. Here are few to find at your farmers market in the next few months.

Squash
A hearty gourd, many varieties of squash appear throughout the fall. You might find zucchini and butternut squash. You'll also see pumpkins, another member of the squash family. These veggies make welcome additions to pies, risottos, and much more.

Apples
In many places, the peak of the apple harvest lasts from late summer through fall, so you'll likely find quite an abundance of apples at the market. They're great as snacks (either on their own or with peanut butter), and also in baked treats like pies.

Radishes
Radishes also make great snacks, eaten either alone or with hummus. They're delightful in salads, and even work well in stews.

Turnips
A root vegetable with a distinctive flavor, the turnip might be an acquired taste. Prepared well, however, they're often quite enjoyable. Like radishes, turnips can be added to stews; like potatoes, they can be mashed or roasted for a tasty side dish.

Muscle Building Tips for People at All Fitness Levels

The goal of many fitness regimens is to burn fat and build muscle. Muscle development helps harness calories into positive growth for your body, but it can be tricky to get the best results. Here are some tips to guide you to the best results. Be sure to check with your doctor before undertaking any new exercise regimen!

High-volume, medium-intensity training will give you the best results over time. For each exercise you do, the sweet spot is ten to fifteen repetitions with less than a minute between sets. This stimulates the production of lactic acid in the muscles, making you “feel the burn” and encouraging growth.

Push yourself as close to failure as you can. The ideal feeling when you’re lifting or working with weights is that you can’t do one more. Nearing that “failure point” means that you have worked your muscle to its current limit, which spurs it to develop more.

Work out at least three days a week. Too much time off between sessions gives your muscles time to contract and undo all your hard work. When you’re first starting out, two sessions a week might be sufficient, and if you’re really pushing yourself four or more are doable, but three is the magic number.

Manage your diet to ensure that you are eating the proper amount of calories and protein to give your body the fuel it needs. Building muscle requires a baseline amount of protein, so if you do feel the need to reduce your intake, try to take it from carbs and fats instead. 

Great Low Impact Exercises

Do you want to get a good workout without putting too much stress on your joints? Here are five of the most effective low impact exercises to help you stay in shape without risking any damage to your body:

Walking
Walking may not strike you as a particularly rigorous exercise but there are endless variations that can make it as heart-pumping as many forms of high impact activity. A few suggestions: try interval training (in which you intersperse bursts of speed-walking with regular-paced walking), walk stairs or hills, or go on nature hikes with challenging terrain.

Step Aerobics
This time-tested form of low impact exercise gets results while sparing your joints. Because you’re stepping onto an elevated platform, you’re able to get your heart rate up without jumping. You can enjoy a step aerobic video in the comfort of your home or join a class so you can work out with others.

Swimming
This is an exercise that works your entire body, elevates the heart rate, and burns calories at a powerful clip. Swimming laps is a great option for those with some solid pool skills but, if you’re in the beginning stages as a swimmer, you can get fantastic health benefits from joining a water aerobics class.

Yoga
Yoga gives you a significant calorie burn while promoting flexibility, balance, and mind-body wellbeing. Most gyms offer yoga classes for exercisers at all levels, and you can also choose to start your own at-home using an instructional yoga dvd or book.

Stretching
People don’t often think of stretching as an exercise in and of itself, but if done conscientiously, it can have major benefits for your health. Keeping your joints pliable will enhance your flexibility and make it easier for you to avoid injury from other activities. Stretching will also help you stave off the back problems, balance difficulties, and osteoarthritis issues that can accompany the aging process.

Say Cheese: Five Great Classic Cheesecakes

Cheesecake is one of the most popular dessert dishes out there – it’s relatively simple to prepare and can support a wide variety of flavors. While a plain cheesecake is often satisfying enough, you can kick it up a notch with some of these exciting and unique cheesecake recipes.

–          New York style cheesecake has rightfully secured a space in America’s palates. As made by the famous deli Junior’s in Brooklyn, it’s characterized by the use of heavy cream to make the cake exceptionally smooth.

–          You can add a variety of fruits to the cheesecake batter during the baking process, but one of the most popular is pumpkin. The sweet, earthy flavor of the gourd is exceptional.

–          Cheesecake is very popular in Asian countries, and people there add a number of unique ingredients to their batter. One that always gets people talking is matcha, sweet green tea powder. It turns the cake an attractive color, adding a deep, complex flavor.

–          In St. Louis, they make what is called “Gooey Butter Cake” by baking a traditional flour cake with a second cheesecake layer atop it. This makes a delicious mélange of the two flavors.

–          Marbled cheesecakes are gorgeous to look at and delicious to eat. To make the best marbling, spoon 2/3 of the cheesecake batter into the crust, then melt chocolate chips and swirl them into the remaining third.

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