Your body and mind, are they sustainable? You'll hear ReNewable Now often say that “sustainability starts with us, and that means our personal well being." ReNewable Now Health & Fitness provides you with different forms of exercises and training methods that can help build a stronger and more limber body. We also look into ways that you can become more stress free, from getting a great therapeutic massage, to how to look for a personal trainer that is right for you.

So when it comes to you being your personal best, let Renewable Now help you find just the right resource that will let you enjoy a environmentally fit body.

 Mosquito Pesticides Used for Zika Virus Resulting in Millions of Dead Bees

Photo credit Matthew Romack

Beyond Pesticides urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to immediately alert local and state mosquito control officials, elected officials, and the public throughout the U.S. to the fact that EPA's key data review on the safety of widely used mosquito control pesticides, including naled and synthetic pyrethroids, is outdated and incomplete and the scientific literature raises safety concerns. In a letter to EPA, Beyond Pesticides said, "As local and state officials implement mosquito abatement programs to address the Zika virus, it is critical that they have complete transparent safety information that they are not currently getting from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)."

Beyond Pesticides continues, "This information, specific to residential exposure to the insecticides naled and its main degradation product dichlorvos (DDVP), as well as synthetic pyrethroids, is necessary for officials on the ground to make fully informed decisions and for public right to know."

According to EPA documents, the agency did not meet a planned 2015 deadline for a final review decision evaluating residential exposure to naled, a neurotoxic organophosphate insecticide that is currently being used in community mosquito spraying, and its highly toxic breakdown product DDVP In addition to the toxic properties of naled, EPA has stated in review documents that it "has determined that the adverse effects caused by dichlorvos [DDVP] that are of primary concern to human health are neurological effects related to inhibition of cholinesterase activity." There is also "suggestive" evidence of DDVP's carcinogenicity, as well as concerns associated with its neurotoxicity, mutagenicity, and reproductive impacts. Similarly, EPA has recognized in their documents that synthetic pyrethroids, including permethrin and phenothrin (sumithrin), must also have their assessments updated and completed, calling into question safety statements from EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Several pyrethroids are associated with cancer, hormone disruption, and reproductive effects, and thus have hazard and exposure concerns regarding widespread application for mosquito control. Phenothrin, for instance, "lacks acute, chronic, and developmental neurotoxicity studies that are required to fully evaluate risks to infants and children," and for permethrin there are outstanding concerns regarding its developmental neurotoxicity.

According to EPA's final work plan, published in 2009, the agency planned to begin public comment on a registration review decision for naled in 2014, with a final decision in 2015. "Given the widespread use of naled in South Florida, Puerto Rico and other states and territories over fears of the spread of the Zika virus, it is imperative that an updated risk assessment be presented for public review and comment, especially since there are important outstanding data and concerns regarding naled/DDVPexposures to residential bystanders," Beyond Pesticides told EPA.

The use of naled in a South Carolina community last month also resulted in the death of 2 million bees. In 2012, the European Union banned naled, citing "potential and unacceptable risk" to human health and the environment.

In light of the identified hazards and unknown effects of exposure to both naled/DDVP and synthethic pyrethroids, Beyond Pesticides urges local and state officials to consider more closely the lack of efficacy associated with massive spray programs. Researchers question the efficacy of spray programs for adult mosquitoes, especially given the biology of the targeted mosquito, Aedes aegypti. This mosquito stays close to its breeding sites in residential areas and inside homes, suggesting that community spray programs are the least effective control measure.

Beyond Pesticides encourages an integrated approach to mosquito management that focuses on prevention through public education encouraging frequent removal of standing water, larviciding, and use of repellents. If prevention measures are enforced, the need to spray should be extremely limited, and balanced against the potential public health impacts of hazardous pesticides.  

Can LED Street Lights be a Health Risk?

Strong arguments exist for overhauling the lighting systems on U.S. roadways with light emitting diodes (LED), but conversions to improper LED technology can have adverse consequences. In response, physicians at the Annual Meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA) today adopted guidance for communities on selecting among LED lighting options to minimize potential harmful human and environmental effects.

Converting conventional street light to energy efficient LED lighting leads to cost and energy savings, and a lower reliance on fossil-based fuels. Approximately 10 percent of existing U.S. street lighting has been converted to solid state LED technology, with efforts underway to accelerate this conversion.

"Despite the energy efficiency benefits, some LED lights are harmful when used as street lighting," AMA Board Member Maya A. Babu, M.D., M.B.A. "The new AMA guidance encourages proper attention to optimal design and engineering features when converting to LED lighting that minimize detrimental health and environmental effects."

High-intensity LED lighting designs emit a large amount of blue light that appears white to the naked eye and create worse nighttime glare than conventional lighting. Discomfort and disability from intense, blue-rich LED lighting can decrease visual acuity and safety, resulting in concerns and creating a road hazard.

In addition to its impact on drivers, blue-rich LED streetlights operate at a wavelength that most adversely suppresses melatonin during night. It is estimated that white LED lamps have five times greater impact on circadian sleep rhythms than conventional street lamps. Recent large surveys found that brighter residential nighttime lighting is associated with reduced sleep times, dissatisfaction with sleep quality, excessive sleepiness, impaired daytime functioning and obesity.

The detrimental effects of high-intensity LED lighting are not limited to humans. Excessive outdoor lighting disrupts many species that need a dark environment. For instance, poorly designed LED lighting disorients some bird, insect, turtle and fish species, and U.S. national parks have adopted optimal lighting designs and practices that minimize the effects of light pollution on the environment.

Recognizing the detrimental effects of poorly-designed, high-intensity LED lighting, the AMA encourages communities to minimize and control blue-rich environmental lighting by using the lowest emission of blue light possible to reduce glare. The AMA recommends an intensity threshold for optimal LED lighting that minimizes blue-rich light. The AMA also recommends all LED lighting should be properly shielded to minimize glare and detrimental human health and environmental effects, and consideration should be given to utilize the ability of LED lighting to be dimmed for off-peak time periods.

The guidance adopted today by grassroots physicians who comprise the AMA's policy-making body strengthens the AMA's policy stand against light pollution and public awareness of the adverse health and environmental effects of pervasive nighttime lighting.

The Power of One: Muhammad Ali,

Beyond the Boxer

You may be asking, what does Muhammad Ali have to do with sustainability? Well actually more than we might realize. The principles of sustainability employ three areas of our society: economic, social, and environmental. We could make a case that Muhammad Ali made an impact on each of these to some extent.  What RNN wants to focus on is his impact on a global society, and what one person achieved against all odds to become the most recognized name in the world, while at the same time becoming the GREATEST.

Having grown up in the mid-70s there were two people that caught the imagination of many young boys of my generation; one was Evel Knievel, and the other was Muhammad Ali. Both incredible showmen whose professions had them tempting death every time they performed, and leaving them both with lifelong debilitating injuries that most other athletes would never survive. Both had the admiration and the attention of millions, but there was a major difference that separated the two: one engaged in social issues, while the other didn't. This is what made Muhammad Ali the greatest and why his legacy will be felt for many generations to come. Muhammad Ali understood that boxing was more than a sport- it was a podium that afforded him an opportunity to be heard, and he didn't squander what he had. "I've always wanted to be more than just a boxer," Ali said. "More than just the three-time heavyweight champion. I wanted to use my fame, and this face that everyone knows so well, to help uplift and inspire people around the world."

In 1967, Muhammed Ali took a stand against the very unpopular war in Vietnam when he refused the draft. Part of his statement was, “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?” After his stand, Ali was convicted of draft evasion, sentenced to five years in prison, fined $10,000 and banned from boxing for three years. He stayed out of prison as his case was appealed and returned to the ring on October 26, 1970. Many say those three years lost would have been his best years, a heavy price was paid for his actions. Regardless of what one may think of his politics you have to respect him for standing behind his belief, right or wrong, in the end he had to live with his decision, and what we saw is that history embraced him, and some say vindicated him considering the U.S. current positive relationship with Vietnam.

Many of Muhammad Ali’s other social causes were less controversial and had much more of a giving nature, such as work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Special Olympics. He visited soup kitchens and raised money through celebrity fight nights and public appearances. Ali traveled with Disarm Education Fund and Direct Relief International to deliver $1.2 million-worth of medicine and medicinal supply to Cuba in 1998. He brought humanitarian aid to the Ivory Coast. He made mission trips to both Afghanistan and North Korea to promote goodwill.

Ali also excelled in preaching religious tolerance. Though he was devoutly Muslim, he regularly met with leaders of other faiths to impart a greater understanding between the religions of the world.  "Rivers, ponds, lakes, and streams — they all have different names, but they all contain water. So religions all have different names, but they all contain the same truths," Ali was quoted as saying by CNN.

When you visit the United Nations Messengers of Peace, the very first name at the top of the list is Muhammad Ali . it says, “Mr. Ali first came to the UN in 1978 to address the UN Special Committee against Apartheid with a message of peace and spirituality. He brings people from all races together by preaching "healing" to everyone irrespective of race, religion or age. Over the years Mr. Ali has been a relentless advocate for people in need and a significant humanitarian actor in the developing world, supporting relief and development initiatives and hand-delivering food and medical supplies to hospitals, street children and orphanages in Africa and Asia.

For RNN, who is celebrating the whole month of June with Sustainability and Sports, it seems only appropriate that we dedicate our efforts to Muhammad Ali. Boxing may have made him a champion, but his contribution back to society has truly made him "THE GREATEST." Rest in peace, champ!

Unique Two-Sided LiveWall Green Wall Welcomes Patients and Staff at the Spectrum Health Medical

When patients arrive at the Spectrum Health Medical Group Heart and Vascular Center on Bradford Street N.E. in Grand Rapids, Mich., they are welcomed by a living, thriving symbol of heart health. The Center’s LiveWall green wall features a distinctive design of three heart shapes expressed in dark red foliage within a background of green plants. The design has been selected for's project of the week for the week of May 23, 2016.

For the Center’s clinical and support staff, as well as the patients, the green wall offers an unexpected extra. It was designed and installed as a freestanding, two-sided structure. The side facing the building is a vertical garden with a variety of vegetables and herbs.

“As a growing, changing emblem of healthy hearts, the heart planted wall invites patients, their families and our staff into the Center,” said Sarah Chartier, sustainability program manager, Spectrum Health. “The vertical herb and vegetable wall invites them to think about healthy eating and the sources of our food.”

Measuring 5’4” high by 20’ long, the green wall was constructed in June 2015 with the LiveWall® system from LiveWall, LLC, the green wall subsidiary of Hortech, Inc., Spring Lake, Mich. The planted heart side faces out towards the parking area and features perennials, with Heucheras (Coral Bell) forming the three red hearts. The vertical edibles side grows a variety of vegetables (including tomatoes, green peppers, Swiss chard, kale, and leeks) and herbs (such as oregano, basil, rosemary, and mint.)

The decision to install the green wall came out of broader conversations about sustainability, local sourcing of food, and promoting healthy eating habits. Spectrum Health has two community gardens, one at its South Pavilion facility and the other at the Spectrum Health Continuing Care Center.

“In the area at the entrance to the Center, there was limited space for additional landscaping,” said Bruce De Vrou, project manager, ground services, Spectrum Health Hospitals. “As a vertical landscape feature, a green wall was more practical than a garden.”

Dave MacKenzie, president of Hortech and LiveWall, assisted Spectrum Health in planning the green wall installation for the Center. MacKenzie suggested a two-sided, freestanding wall. The idea for the heart design was the inspiration of Kathleen Nickerson, R.N., charge nurse, clinical team, cardiovascular medicine, Spectrum Health Medical Group.

“In 2013, I learned from the LiveWall ArtPrize installation, ‘Back to Eden,’ that a planted wall can be an art piece,” she said. “I wanted our green wall to have a heart — a design that would convey a living, healthy heart.”

“The three-heart design takes advantage of the length of the wall,” explained MacKenzie. “The hearts are visible all year from the parking lot and sidewalk leading up to the Center, even in winter when the plants are dormant.”

Clinical and administrative staff enjoy the green wall in summer. They sit outside during work breaks and at lunchtime at picnic tables and benches placed on the lawn near the wall. They also pick vegetables and herbs to take home.

“The response from everyone has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Chartier. “We have also experienced an unanticipated benefit. The area around the green wall provides a gathering place where staff from different departments meet, interact, and connect.”

“The LiveWall is bigger and better than what I thought we could achieve with an ordinary garden,” said Nickerson. “I love to go out to our garden wall. I get outside, feel the breeze, see the plants. It is a brief respite in my busy day,” said Nickerson. “And I can pick a tomato to put in my salad for lunch. There is nothing more beautiful than a sun-ripened tomato on the vine.”

Philadelphia Celebrates Earth Day With 35th Anniversary of Clean Air Council's Run for Clean Air

Clean Air Council presents Philadelphia's largest Earth Day celebration with the 35th Run for Clean Air Presented by Toyota Hybrids. Nearly 2,500 participants ran and walked on Saturday, April 16, 2016, that started at 7:00am, outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Participants choose from four races (5K Run, PHLY 10K Run, 3K Walk, Kids' fun run) while family and friends cheered them on. Afterwards, they enjoyed Earth Day at a special open-air festival in front of the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art that featured an eco-beer garden, food and drink, games, vendors, music and interactive displays.

"During the 35 years it has existed, the Run for Clean Air has grown and become a significant source of funds to support the Council's mission to protect everyone's right to breathe clean air," said Clean Air Council's Executive Director Joseph Otis Minott, Esq. "2016 marks the largest group of registrants the race has seen. We are ecstatic to welcome close to 2,500 runners. The Run for Clean Air is a true Earth Day community event. The Council thanks our partners and sponsors like Toyota Hybrids who provide not only financial, but logistical support, and who help the Council increase public awareness of air pollution.  Strong support from businesses, organizations, and individuals demonstrates how important clean air and a healthy environment are to people in our region."

The Run for Clean Air started as a small race in Wissahickon with just over 100 runners, and now sees thousands of runners and walkers of all ages. Over 50,000 people have participated in the Clean Air Council's Run for Clean Air, making it the largest celebration of its kind in the Greater Philadelphia area and a favorite local charity event. The Run supports the Council's mission to protecting everyone's right to breathe clean air.

Over the Run's 35 years, while the number of participants has expanded, so has the number of race options.

Natural Grocers launches 'good4u Challenge'

30-Day wellness revolution kicks off in the Valley

Natural Grocers, the Colorado-based specialty retailer of natural and organic groceries, dietary supplements and body care products, has launched a creative way to inspire people to engage a healthy diet. They make it fun, creative, educational, and best of all- fresh and tasty. ReNewable Now took a closer look at one of the cities that the campaigned has launched and how they are getting the community involved.

The Salt Lake City community was invited to join the wellness revolution with its "good4u Challenge℠," started on April 2 at all SLC area Natural Grocers stores.

The good4u Challenge encourages the community to live a healthier lifestyle by exclusively using Natural Grocers' organic and natural foods, supplements and body care products for 30 days and attending free good4u℠ nutrition education classes at their local store. The goal of the challenge is simple: learn how to eat better, so that you can live better and feel better.

Interested participants can register for the challenge through {N}power℠, Natural Grocers' customer appreciation program. Challenge participants will receive exclusive, weekly good4u offers (up to $40 worth of savings) over the four week period. This is in addition to Natural Grocers' Everyday Affordable Prices that allow participants to save money year-round on products throughout the store. Participants will also receive access to free good4u classes, hosted by the store's Nutritional Health Coach, that address the importance of all-around health and wellness.

The following good4u Challenge classes are available at the Salt Lake City area Natural Grocers stores:

  • good4u Nutrition 101

  • A good4u Breakfast

  • Snacking Can Be good4u!

  • good4u Vegetables

  • The good4u Lifestyle

For a complete schedule of class days, times and locations please visit the Salt Lake City good4u Challenge page on the Natural Grocers website.

The good4u Challenge will provide participants with Healthy and Delicious Recipes every week that revolve around the principles of Natural Grocers' healthy meal wheel. Week one recipes include: Spaghetti Squash with Hearty Meat Sauce, Pumpkin Seed Breakfast Bars, Root Vegetable Latkes, Ginger Glazed Carrots, Gluten-Free White Bean Coffee Cake and Homemade Nut Butter.

The good4u Challenge is just one of the many ways in which Natural Grocers supports and empowers the health of its local communities—a core component of the company's Five Founding Principles.

The Troubled Waters of Flint, Michigan

Is Flint, Michigan ground zero in the United States when it comes to authorities being held accountable for unhealthy, and what some consider to be poisonous drinking water from the result of their own actions?

The contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan (United States), started in April 2014, after the change in source from treated Lake Huron water (via Detroit) to the Flint River, the city's drinking water had a series of problems that culminated with lead contamination, creating a serious public health danger. According to some reports 90% of this problem could have been avoided if an anti-corrosive agent treatment, at a cost about $100 a day, was applied. But for reasons that are now be investigated by the Feds and the State Attorney General, those in-charge choose not to administer the treatment to the contaminated water. The fall-out so far has seen four government officials—one from the City of Flint, two from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and one from the Environmental Protection Agency—resign over the mishandling of the crisis, and Michigan Governor Snyder issued an apology to citizens, while promising money to Flint for medical care and infrastructure upgrades.

We all need to pay particular attention to what is happening at Flint, while not forgetting the disaster of Gold King Mine when on August 5 , 2015 millions of gallons of toxic wastewater was released in rivers in three states by an EPA error. Clean drinking water shouldn’t be a pricey luxury in fancy (mostly plastic) bottles, with slick names, and most of all our water shouldn’t be contaminated by avoidable mistakes by those in government offices, and agencies.

ReNewable Now came across an interesting post on FLINT WATER STUDY by Dr. Marc Edwards that we wanted to share with our readers. We were particularly shocked when Dr. Edwards wrote, “Consultants also openly bragged about approaches, that would make lead in water look low during EPA compliance sampling, even when it was high when people were drinking the water, at national meetings right in front of OGWDW officials.” This reminds us of what Volkswagen did with emission testing. Maybe these consultants need to be named, and if such testing took place those involved need to be held accountable. To read the rest of Dr. Edwards article click here.

Weaker Breaths in Kids Linked to Early Pesticide Exposure

 Photo credit: Chuck Simmins

Taking a deep breath might be a bit harder for children exposed early in life to a widely used class of pesticides in agriculture, according to a new paper by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.

A new study has linked the levels of organophosphate pesticide metabolites in the urine of 279 children living in California's Salinas Valley with decreased lung function. Each tenfold increase in concentrations of organophosphate metabolites was associated with a 159-milliliter decrease in lung function, or about 8 percent less air, on average, when blowing out a candle. The magnitude of this decrease is similar to a child's secondhand smoke exposure from his or her mother.

The findings, to be published in the journal Thorax, are the first to link chronic, low-level exposures to organophosphate pesticides -- chemicals that target the nervous system -- to lung health for children.

"Researchers have described breathing problems in agricultural workers who are exposed to these pesticides, but these new findings are about children who live in an agricultural area where the organophosphates are being used," said study senior author Brenda Eskenazi, a professor of epidemiology and of maternal and child health. "This is the first evidence suggesting that children exposed to organophosphates have poorer lung function."

The children were part of the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS), a longitudinal study in which the researchers follow children from the time they are in the womb up to adolescence.

The researchers collected urine samples five times throughout the children's lives, from age 6 months to 5 years, and measured the levels of organophosphate pesticide metabolites each time. When the children were 7 years old, they were given a spirometry test to measure the amount of air they could exhale.

The study accounted for other factors that could affect the results, such as whether the mothers smoked, air pollution, presence of mold or pets in the home and proximity to highways.

"The kids in our study with higher pesticide exposure had lower breathing capacity," said study lead author Rachel Raanan, who conducted the research while she was a postdoctoral scholar in Eskenazi's lab. "If the reduced lung function persists into adulthood, it could leave our participants at greater risk of developing respiratory problems like COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)."

The study did not examine the pathways for the children's exposure to pesticides, but the researchers did recommend that farmworkers remove their work clothes and shoes before entering their homes. They also suggested that when nearby fields are being sprayed with pesticides, children be kept away and, if indoors, windows should be closed. Pesticide exposure can also be reduced by washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating.

"This study adds exposure to organophosphate pesticides to the growing list of environmental exposures -- including air pollution, indoor cook stove smoke and environmental tobacco smoke -- that could be harmful to the developing lungs of children," said Raanan. "Given they are still used worldwide, we believe our findings deserve further attention."

The authors noted that although organophosphate pesticides are still widely used, most residential uses of organophosphate pesticides in the United States were phased out in the mid-2000s. In California, use of organophosphates in agriculture has also declined significantly from 6.4 million pounds in 2000, when the study began, to 3.5 million pounds in 2013, the year with the most recent pesticide use data. Just last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed eliminating all agricultural uses of chlorpyrifos, one of the most heavily used organophosphates, and others are also under evaluation, steps that will continue the trend of declining use.

"Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is an increasing cause of death around the world," said study co-author and pulmonary specialist Dr. John Balmes, a UC Berkeley professor of environmental health sciences with a joint appointment at the UC San Francisco School of Medicine. "Since we know that reduced lung function increases the risk for COPD, it is important to identify and reduce environmental exposures during childhood that impair breathing capacity."

Story Source:  University of California, was written by Sarah Yang

WE CARE Solar Wins UN Award

The organisation behind the Solar Suitcase has received a USD $1 million grant to support its efforts in providing portable power sources to medical facilities in developing nations.

WE  CARE Solar is the recipient of the first United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) Energy Grant; part of the UN’s Powering the Future We Want program.

Approximately 1,000 Solar Suitcases have been sent to 25 countries. WE CARE Solar have established regional programs in Sierra Leone, Uganda, Malawi, and the Philippines and has been expanding into Ethiopia, Tanzania and the Philippines this year.

The organisation’s co-founder, Dr. Laura Stachel, started the initiative after witnessing deplorable conditions in state facilities in Northern Nigeria; where at times procedures such as emergency caesarean sections were being carried out by torchlight and treatment of critically ill patients was delayed due to electricity outages.

Globally, as many as 300,000 health centers lack reliable power and more than 280,000 women die from pregnancy and childbirth complications each year; with most of these deaths occurring in Africa and Asia.

The United Nations is shining a light on an area that has all too often been overlooked — the lack of reliable electricity in health facilities,” said Dr. Stachel. “I have had the privilege of working with hundreds of health workers who have seen the miracle of light and power in saving lives, and we have much more work to do.  This award is the beginning of a brighter future for women and babies everywhere.

Is Your Diet & Exercise Routine Sustainable?

5 Ways to Know

We all want a sustainable approach to exercise and nutrition that helps us stay healthy, fit, lean and happy Many of us refuse to “diet” because it sets us up for failure. Many lose before they even start because by definition, a diet is short-term.

So, are you dieting or are you fat-loss-lifestyling it? Here are 6 quick ways to find out:

1) Are you on a contest diet?

The bottom line is that eating tilapia and asparagus out of a tupperware forever is no way to spend your life. At some point, you might want to have a single slice of pizza again, and aome diets doesn’t allow for that.

2) Are you suffering from the instant-gratification mindset?

Ask yourself, “Could I see myself eating like this forever?” If the answer is no, then let’s reevaluate your mindset. Are you suffering from the instant-gratification mindset where you are focused on fast fat loss? Fine. But realize that the faster it comes off, the faster it comes back on once you resume old habits. If you are looking for sustainable results quickly, it doesn’t exist.

Sustainable results, by definition, take time and patience–because they are the results of habit, and not that of harnessing willpower short-term.

3) Are you forming new HABITS?

The bottom line for something to become a lifestyle is that it is based on BEHAVIORS and not on simply results. As you know, results aren’t linear, nor predictable, but you are always in control of your ACTIONS. You can practice BEHAVIORS day after day, year after year and move your physique down the leanness/health spectrum.

But you can’t begin with outcomes, simply because you can’t control outcomes. You must start with actions because those are in your control. The more you practice fat loss behaviors, the more likely you are to move down that spectrum.

4) It your exercise routine efficient?

If your exercise regimen is exhausting, then it is not sustainable. It’s as simple as that.

Are you working out at a back-breaking pace day after day, never taking a day off? Counting down the minutes of cardio day after day?  Ask yourself, is my current routine sustainable? Or can I fix it so that it takes up less time and I get more out of it? For many doing hours of cardio a day, cut it back to 1/4 of the time, up the intensity and watch as you get the same results.

5) Is your nutrition plan effortless?

Meal plans are a way for people to start out. Many need direction or ideas, especially at the beginning, and meal plans and recipes help with this. However, as you become more in tune with your body and your individual reactions to food, it’s important to move away from the meal plan and begin creating your own menu that works in your schedule & with your personal preferences. Because if you are following someone else’s plan, it wasn’t made for you and will ultimately be unsustainable. Your personally-customized menu needs to come about as a result of your own experiences with food–what works and what doesn’t. This takes time. This takes introspection.

Solar Powered Healthcare

Samsung Electronics South Africa have provided a Solar Powered Health Centre (SPHC) to the Maubane Clinic in Dihibidung Village, Ga-Maubane, South Africa.

Designed for use in remote rural areas, the SPHC is housed in a shipping container fitted with an array of medical equipment and Samsung solar panels on the roof. All SPHCs are equipped to run a fully functional general practice, including basic lab facilities.

According to the North West Department of Health, which will be covering the operating costs, the Centre will be able to see up to 300 patients a day and a doctor will visit twice a week.

Many in rural South Africa have little access to professional health care and this impacts on their overall quality of life.

Solutions like the SPHC help address this issue and we are appreciative of this partnership with Samsung whereby we can use their unique expertise to improve the living standards of our people,” said North West Health MEC Masike.

The solar aspect isn’t just a warm and fuzzy add-on. In areas where the SPHC’s operate, reliable electricity supply can be a major challenge and the solar panels ensure the facility’s non-stop operation.

Our goal at Samsung is to positively impact African lives,” said Head of Corporate Citizenship for Samsung Electronics Southern Africa, Pitso Kekana. ” We have seen tremendous success thus far and I have high hopes that the village of Dihibidung will enjoy the benefits of high quality, professional medical care.”

Samsung also provided a Mobile Mother and Child Health Centre for the benefit of the villages in the Bojanala District.

Samsung’s Solar Powered Health Centre initiative kicked off in 2013. The first to benefit from SPCH concept was Oasis Itsoseng Community Clinic in Cosmo City in Johannesburg. Another community to recently receive an SPHC was Sokhulumi in Bronkhorstspruit last month.

Samsung uses shipping containers combined with solar to benefit underserved African communities in other ways. In April this year, the company launched a Digital Village at the Volo community in the Volta Region of Ghana that features a solar powered Internet School able to accommodate up to 24 learners. The Digital Village also incorporates a solar powered Tele-Medical Center.

Renewables on The Front Line Against Ebola

Dr. Ahmed Abd El Wahed & Dr. Christiane Stahl-Hennig, laboratory in a suitcase

While the Ebola crisis may not feature as heavily in headlines now; the battle rages on – and solar power is set to assist in the rapid detection of the virus.

The recent Ebola epidemic is the largest in history and has affected a number of countries in West Africa.

To date, a total of 21,086 cases have been reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone; with 13,376 of those laboratory confirmed. According to the USA’s Center for Disease Control (CDC), 8,289 people have died as a result of the virus in those countries so far.

Diagnosis in the early stages can be difficult as initial symptoms are not specific to Ebola infection and often present in other diseases, such as malaria and typhoid fever.


Current tests rely on the detection of Ebola genome using a technique not suitable for on-site screening. This means potentially very dangerous samples need to be transported over long distances to suitably equipped laboratories for testing. As well as increasing the risk of infection through accidents, the transporting of samples faces the threat of hijacking for political motives. There has already been a case of a vehicle transporting infected materials being stolen.

To speed up diagnosis and to minimize other risks, Dr. Ahmed Abd El Wahed, a scientist in the Unit of Infection Models at the German Primate Center (DPZ), has developed Diagnostics-in-a-Suitcase. The unit contains all reagents and equipment needed to detect the Ebola virus within 15 minutes on-site.

Among its features, Diagnostics-in-a-Suitcase incorporates a solar panel and battery bank.

“In remote field hospitals, resources such as electricity and cold storage are often in short supply,” said Dr. Abd El Wahed. “The Diagnostics-in-a-Suitcase will therefore contribute to a better management during the Ebola-outbreak”.

The mobile suitcase laboratory is about to begin a field trial in Guinea. The project has been funded by the British Enhancing Learning and Research for Humanitarian Assistance (ELRHA); hosted by Save the Children Fund as part of the Research for Health in Humanitarian Crisis (R2HC) programme.

Yoga Boosts Brainpower, Kills Stress and Increases Happiness

It turns out that the benefits of practicing yoga may reach much farther than physical fitness, weight loss and increased flexibility. In fact, new research is suggesting that those who do yoga regularly are reaping important benefits for their brains as well.

Less Stress = Greater Happiness

For many people, practicing yoga provides a welcomed chance to step away from their busy, hectic lives and gain some necessary quiet and deepened perspective.  The great news is that yoga’s ability to decrease stress and lower anxiety is actually supported by science. In a study at the University of California, Los Angeles, participants who did yoga for just 12 minutes a day for 8 weeks showed a lowered response in their immune systems’ inflammation. This physical response, which happens when the body is overstressed, is a main contributor to many stress-related chronic diseases. The world-renowned Mayo Clinic is one of the many institutions which encourage yoga as a way to battle stress.

When we can pull our minds out of a state of stress and be present, we open the doors to increased happiness. Research has shown that the simple act of living in the moment improves mood and boosts levels of reported contentment. Yoga helps participants stay present by combining physical and mental exercises which encourage reflection and inner peace during class and in the world outside.

Yoga Helps Manage Bipolar Disorder

New research published in The Journal of Psychiatric Practice suggests that regular yoga may help people manage bipolar disorder. A group of 100 was surveyed and asked to rate the influence of yoga practice on their lives and their ability to cope with the diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Participants commonly responded that yoga provided positive emotional effects and reduced anxiety, while 1 in 5 called their experience with yoga “life-changing.”

Yoga Boosts Brainpower

According to a study conducted at the University of Illinois, doing as little as 20 minutes of yoga helps increase brain function, improve focus and boost information retention. If you find yourself drinking coffee or eating sugary snacks in order to focus at work, doing a simple yoga routine every morning may be a much healthier option for your body and brain.

Martial Arts and Medical Outreach

MIT Senior Christina Lalani applies lessons she learned from karate to global health disparities.

Training for a black belt in karate requires patience and focus — and, above all, support. While in high school, MIT senior Christina Lalani would practice for more than 10 hours a week at her karate school in Scottsdale, Ariz., but never without her partner, an effervescent mother in her 30s. When her training partner passed away from colon cancer, Lalani harnessed her grief and turned it into motivation.

She passed away in the middle of training, and it was the first time I had to deal with loss,” she says. “That experience pushed me to get involved with cancer research at the end of my time in high school, and to continue at MIT.”

Lalani, a biology major who will graduate in February, spent her freshman year in the lab of Michael Cima, the David H. Koch Professor of Engineering, where she researched a drug-delivery device for treating ovarian cancer, the fifth-leading cause of cancer death among American women. Lalani, who was tasked with optimizing the device, says the experience expanded her research focus beyond the basics of biology, and into materials science and engineering.

International medical outreach

Lalani sees research as “an opportunity for problem-solving and overcoming challenges.” An aspiring doctor, she has worked in a hospital in Mumbai — through the MIT International Science and Technology Initiative, or MISTI — and in Lima, with MEDLIFE Brigade. In both places, she found the absence of science education in poverty-stricken populations to be a major challenge — but one that energized her.

In Lima, Lalani encountered a young boy who had never seen a toothbrush. The boy had blackened teeth, and was scheduled to have an extraction that day. Lalani knew that when his adult teeth grew in they would meet the same fate, unless he learned to use a toothbrush. The experience was sobering, but she turned it into a teaching moment, and watched as the effect of her lesson multiplied before her.

“After I taught him, he went over to his mom and sister, explaining to them why brushing your teeth is important, and showing them how to do it,” she says. “Seeing that the change I affected in one person could go on and have this domino effect was really inspiring.”

Lalani maintains her relationship with MEDLIFE as president of MIT’s chapter, but it was her experience in Lima that really highlighted the need to understand local cultures, as well as the personal experiences of patients, before trying to implement medical practices.

At the hospital in Mumbai, Lalani spent several weeks observing patients with joint and muscle disorders. Many of the patients had family members with similar health problems, but could only afford medication for one person. She saw how often older children would try to give their own medication to their parents — realizing that in the U.S., the opposite would be more common.

“I’ve found, in my experiences looking at health care globally, that it’s so important to understand the culture of the place that you’re going to,” she says. “If you don’t take the time to try to understand their needs and their backgrounds, then you really aren’t going to affect any change.”

Lalani used this observation to pitch a patient noncompliance study to her overseeing physicians, who were at first reluctant. But three weeks into her 10-week internship, persistence got her the green light. Her study’s results ultimately showed that the biggest reasons for patient noncompliance in Mumbai were related to living conditions.

“Meeting health needs was just a lower priority for many of these [low-income] people than meeting their basic needs, or finding food to eat,” she says. Additionally, her study found that refrigeration and preservation of medicine played a large role in noncompliance.

Nutritional value

Back in the U.S., Lalani fuses health education with individual experience through a pediatric nutrition program that she designed and implemented. Some 800 students in Boston Public Schools and 300 students in Phoenix now participate. The program, called “LAHL: Living a Healthy Life,” uses individual goal-setting activities to address six pillars of health: reducing time spent in front of screens, eating appropriate fruits and vegetables, increasing physical activity, reducing intake of sugary drinks, eating out infrequently or ordering responsibly, and reducing intake of candy.

Lalani maintains a close relationship with her youngest brother, who is 11, and the nutritional program was born from her interactions with him.

“I realized how little my brother and his friends knew about nutrition,” she says. “Also, knowing how my brother functions and how short his attention span is, I knew I had to base the program on doing things, not talking about things.”

Lalani also has a “sister” through the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston. Her little sister, who is 12, aspires to be a veterinarian, so Lalani recently organized a trip to the New England Aquarium.

“It’s something that she enjoys because she gets away from home for a little bit,” Lalani says. “And it’s something I really enjoy because it’s a break from my normal routine.”

Karate’s true lessons

Over the course of her undergraduate years, Lalani’s research focus has shifted from cancer to infectious disease; she now works in the lab of Deborah Hung at Massachusetts General Hospital studying cholera, a bacterial infection caused most commonly by human consumption of contaminated water. Lalani focuses on how the bacteria actually cause the disease, hoping to better direct treatment and prevention in the future.

Despite her move away from cancer research, as president of MIT’s Colleges Against Cancer chapter she remains an advocate for the field, and her experiences at her karate school in Arizona have gone on to influence other aspects of her life beyond her initial research focus.

After countless hours of training, and a 13-hour exam, she failed her first attempt at attaining a black belt because she could not break a wooden board. The failure was hard on her, but also a moment of personal growth. Her instructor chalked the failure up to a confidence issue, not a lack of skill, and immediately challenged her to try again.

“The first thing my instructor did when I came back was come up to me with the board and say, ‘You’re going to break this right now,’” she says. “Even though I failed the exam, I found this new resolve and drive, and I was able to break that board. He made me break it over and over again, and after that it was never an issue.”

It’s the same resolve and drive that Lalani channels when exposing an aspiring veterinarian to animal life, understanding why impoverished patients in Mumbai are not taking their medicine, or teaching a Peruvian boy how to brush his teeth.

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Solar Powered Smart Toilet

The emergency Sanitation Operation System (eSOS) is a solar powered toilet for use in area experiencing the aftermath of a disaster.
Poor sanitation can often kill as many people as the disaster itself and it becomes a particularly pressing issue when people are concentrated into temporary camps during the recovery process. Temporary latrine facilities can also be responsible for pathogens spreading through flooding or a high groundwater table.
Developed by UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education in collaboration with other groups and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation project, SaniUP, the eSOS system is a lightweight unit that is easy to deploy in a disaster zone. Disassembled, the entire system can fit on a fit onto a 120 x 80 cm pallet.
eSOS features remote-sensing monitoring, a battery, GSM/GPS sensor/card, occupancy sensors, urine/faeces accumulation sensor, an S.O.S. activation button, electric locking and a communication system that will send out alerts when the toilet requires maintenance such as waste tank emptying or the water tank requires filling.
All this "whizz"-bang gadgetry is powered by a solar panel and once the battery is fully charged, the power system can sustain up to 7 days use.
eSOS is also fitted with a UV germicidal light to disinfect the toilet interior surfaces. The floor, seat and toilet bowl surfaces are coated with non-stick hydrophobic nano coating to help keep the toilet clean.
The prototype eSOS toilet will be further tested in a refugee camp in the Philippines next month and subsequent manufacturing will be based on the results and feedback obtained from the field testing.
Based in the Netherlands, the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education is the largest international graduate water education facility in the world. It envisions a world where water is managed in a sustainable manner and where all people can reap the benefits of basic services.
More than 2.5 billion people, a third of the world's population, do not have access to a clean and safe toilet.

Yoga Fest 2014

When it comes to sustainability there is no question that it starts with each of us as individuals, and as we go through our lives, we need to make sure we take time to make ourselves sustainable. Yoga is a great practice when it comes to helping ourselves, whether it is from the physical, spiritual, or philosophical perspective, there is something in yoga for everyone.

Chris BelangerReNewable Now was on location to cover the 2nd Annual Yoga Festival held in Providence, Rhode Island where instructors from throughout New England were sharing their knowledge with one another and the public. We caught up with event producer Chris Belanger, who shared his dream of making the Yoga Festival a reality and introduced us to three great Yoga instructors: Coral Brown, John Calabria, and Linda Sparrowe. They took time out of their busy schedule to provide us with a "One Minute Yoga Tip," something we can all do and apply in our everyday lives.

Coral Brown
John Calabria
Linda Sparrowe

While at the festival we also got a chance to catch up with Laura Barlow, President of Rhode Island Vegan Awareness and Board Member Cindy Limoi. They had a great table with a lot of fantastic alternatives when it comes to our eating habits. They also gave us some direction on how we can all gradually move towards becoming more vegan.

And if that weren't enough for one report, we think we may have uncovered the youngest yogi ever to be attending a Yoga event. Check out the video and let us know.

Dealing with Muscle Soreness After Working Out
Joe Pilates

Muscle soreness happens when you create small tears in the connective tissue around the muscle. Don’t worry, this is not the same as a muscle tear. Muscle soreness is a part of the healing process. When sore muscles rest, they rebuild and repair into stronger muscles. So make sure you don’t interrupt this process by doing heavy, intense exercise.

How Sore Is Too Sore?

If you’re extremely sore—i.e. so sore you can’t even shampoo your hair—you probably overdid it at the gym. This much soreness is common for people who are working out for the first time in a while. The bad news: this type of usually soreness gets worse on the second day. This level of soreness calls for three to four days of rest. On the third or fourth day (depending on when you feel better), you should stick to light cardio to help loosen you up.

If you’re just noticeably sore, but not so much that normal activities are killing you, take one to two days off and try doing a cardio workout or some stretching the next day.

If the soreness you’re experiencing feels like a bit of tightness, try doing a light to moderate cardio workout the next day followed by some stretching.

How Do I Reduce Muscle Soreness?

You have a couple of options:

Light exercise: Doing a light workout in the form of yoga, very light resistance training, or light cardio has been shown to reduce the effects of delayed-onset muscle soreness.

  • Massage: Although some studies conflict with others, many show that massage can alleviate muscle soreness. Just steer clear of deep-tissue massage, and keep the pressure on the lighter side.

  • Anti-inflammatory medication: Medication, such as ibuprofen, may help reduce the pain and inflammation that comes with soreness. Just like any medication, there can be side effects, so make sure to consult your doctor before taking it.

  • Stretching: Stretching can help loosen tight muscles by improving the range of motion. Stretches can be repeated after exercise, before bed, after waking, etc.

  • Time: Time really does heal all wounds. Taking time to rest will gradually decrease your muscle soreness to a more manageable level.

How Do I Avoid Muscle Soreness?

While it’s almost impossible avoid all muscle soreness (hey, it’s the mark of a good workout, right?), you can minimize the effects of muscle soreness drastically. Some tips:

  • Gradually increase the intensity: If you haven’t worked out in two months, working out really, really hard will get you back in shape in only one workout, right? Wrong.  In fact, overdoing it when you haven’t worked out in a while will actually cause more harm than good. Not only will it take you almost a week to get back to normal, but you run the risk of injuring yourself by pushing a previously sedentary body too hard.

  • Start slow: Find out what your body can handle by trying exercises you know you can do first. If you can do it with ease and don’t feel sore the next day, try increasing by a small amount the next workout. For example, say you can perform 10 reps on the leg press with 100 pounds of weight; if you don’t experience any soreness the day after, you could try 10 reps with 110 pounds the next time.

  • Consistency is key: If you’re able to perform a workout without getting too sore, make sure you continue to be consistent and work out regularly. If you continue to workout regularly, your body will be able to maintain that level of strength until you are ready to increase your workload and intensity.

Remember, muscle soreness isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It means you’ve challenged your muscles to a level that they’re not quite used to yet. When you challenge your muscles, they will eventually get stronger. Just make sure not to overdo it by performing a workout that’s too challenging for you. Use the right intensity and resistance and you’ll experience steady gains for long periods of time.