Category: Opinion

Consumer Counselor – September 19, 2018

Items to consider when outfitting a home gym
Home gyms can make working out more efficient, saving time driving to a fitness facility and enabling people to stick to a workout regimen during inclement weather. Having a gym at home also may motivate people to work out more frequently and more effectively, as they can exercise at any time of day they choose and won’t need to share equipment with fellow fitness enthusiasts.
While workouts will vary from individual to individual, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend adults should combine both aerobic and strength training to achieve optimal health. The CDC recommends adults do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. In addition, the CDC advises adults to include moderate- or high-intensity muscle-strengthening activities, involving all major muscle groups, in their workout regimens two or more days per week. When constructing their home gyms, homeowners should keep CDC recommendations in mind so they can enjoy as complete a workout as possible.
The following are some items homeowners can consider when outfitting their home gyms.
Barbells: Barbells aren’t just for biceps. Barbells can be used to work all the major muscle groups, including arms, chest, shoulders, legs, and back. Purchase a set of barbells of various weights so workouts can be varied depending on the muscle group being targeted.
Bench, bar and plates: A bench, bar and plates also can be invaluable to people who want a fitness facility-quality workout at home. Purchase plates of various weights but remember to be cautious with the amount of weight you lift when no partner or spotter is present. When shopping for a bench, look for one that can incline and decline, which increases the range of exercises you can perform at home.
Land line: If the gym will be in a basement or another area of the home where access to a mobile network is unreliable, the presence of a land line in the room can help in the case of emergencies. Those who work out at home will be doing so without gym staff or other fitness enthusiasts nearby, so the land line can be invaluable should someone suffer an injury when exercising alone. If possible, place the land line in the middle of the room so it’s not too far away from any particular area.
Flooring: Homeowners have various flooring options when outfitting their home gyms. Carpet tiles, rubber flooring, foam flooring, and vinyl tiles are popular options. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and the right choice may depend on how the gym will be used. For example, foam flooring may be compressed under heavy equipment, which may be problematic for homeowners who want to include lots of equipment in their home gyms. Before considering which flooring material to lay down, write down your likely workout routine before taking that write-up with you to a flooring contractor who can recommend the best material for you.
Cardiovascular equipment: Homeowners don’t have to reinvent the wheel when purchasing cardiovascular equipment for their home gyms. If a treadmill worked for you at the gym, purchase one for your home gym as well. Cardio equipment can be expensive, but savvy homeowners may be able to find fully functional secondhand equipment online. If you currently have a gym membership, speak with the owner about purchasing a used item directly from the facility.
Outfitting a home gym requires homeowners to give careful consideration to their workout preferences so they can tailor their gyms to their specific needs. headline and replace “Title of Essay” in headline with appropriate title.

ViewPoint: Farmers face risk when adopting new practices to improve water quality

By Katie Rock, Center for Rural Affairs
Water quality is a contentious issue across the country. For example, in Iowa, continued high nitrogen, phosphorous, bacteria, and sediment levels in surface waters threaten public health and outdoor recreation.
In 2012, the state released a strategy to reduce nutrient and sediment loading in surface waters. However, the best plan forward remains uncertain. This lack of clarity leaves farmers feeling frustrated.
Farmers face risks, both real and perceived, to their production systems when adopting a new practice, and often need technical and financial support to counter these risks.
We recently released “Catching Waves: Farmers Gauge Risk to Advance Water Quality In Iowa,” which examines perceived production and social risks to adopting water quality improvement practices in the state.
Results show a majority of farmers do not feel social pressure to install additional conservation practices to improve water quality. Beyond potential regulation, respondents identified soil health, nutrient retention, and cost savings as top reasons for new practice adoption.
Farmers say weather and shifting climatic patterns are the largest perceived threats to their operations. They also identified agricultural consolidation, fluctuating commodity prices, and nutrient and soil loss as top concerns.
As Iowa and other states continue to expand their watershed approach to water quality, understanding the needs, risks, and barriers farmers face will be critical.
These findings can help guide water quality efforts by researchers, farmers, watershed organizations, and government officials. The Center for Rural Affairs is dedicated to facilitating research-based solutions that elevate rural communities and people.
To view the report, visit

Consumer Counselor – September 12, 2018

Explaining common terms found on food labels
When shopping for groceries, some consumers may feel as if they need a degree in nutrition sciences to determine just what it is they’re buying. Food labels can be complex and include various terms that may be unknown to consumers. Understanding these terms can help people make sound decisions regarding the foods they eat.
Cage free: Eggs labeled “cage free” means that the hens that laid the eggs were not raised in caged housing systems, which the Humane Society of the United States has described as inhumane. The organization Food and Water Watch notes that living conditions for hens raised in cage-free environments may still be poor.
Daily value: According to the medical resource WebMD, daily value indicates the percentage of a certain nutrient in a food, based on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet. WebMD notes that 8 percent is general considered to be good.
Dietary fiber: The Mayo Clinic notes that dietary fiber refers to the parts of plant foods that the human body cannot digest or absorb. Fiber is typically classified as soluble, which refers to types of fiber that dissolve in water, and insoluble, which is used to describe types of fiber that promote movement of material through the digestive system. Soluble fiber can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels, while insoluble can help people who suffer from constipation or irregular stools.
Enriched: Foods that are labeled as “enriched” have had nutrients added to them to replace those that were lost when the food was processed.
Fortified: Fortified describes foods that had nutrients added to them that were not present initially. A common example of a fortified food or beverage is milk, which is fortified with vitamin D to help the body absorb the calcium present in milk.
GMO: GMO stands for “Ògenetically modified organisms,” which are organisms that have had their genetic material artificially manipulated in genetic engineering labs. The Non-GMO Project says that a growing body of evidence has connected GMOs with an assortment of health problems and environmental damage.
Grass fed: Grass fed implies that the animals used to produce meat and dairy were fed only grass. Consumer Reports advises consumers to look for seals such as American Grassfed or PCO Certified 100% Grassfed to ensure that manufacturer claims have been verified and that the animals were fed 100 percent grass and raised on pasture.
Hormone free: The federal government of the United States prohibits the use of hormones to raise poultry and hogs, so manufacturers who label their foods as “hormone free” have not gone above and beyond to make their foods healthier.
Organic: The United States Department of Agriculture has strict criteria in regard to labeling foods as “organic.” To be labeled “organic,” dairy, eggs, meat, and poultry can come only from animals that were not given antibiotics or growth hormones. Fruits and vegetables can only be labeled “organic” if they were produced without conventional pesticides, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients, bioengineering, or ionizing radiation.
Processed: Many consider processed foods to be bad and loaded with additives. But that’s not always the case. The USDA defines processed as foods that have undergone a change of character. For example, cut, prewashed spinach qualifies as a processed food.
Sodium: Otherwise known as salt, sodium is necessary to maintain nerve and muscle health. However, many people consume too much sodium, oftentimes because of processed foods. WebMD notes that sodium intake should be limited to 2,300 milligrams or less per day. Certain people, such as those over the age of 51, African Americans or those with certain conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes, should consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day.
Understanding food labels is a great first step toward eating healthy.

ViewPoint: A healthcare solution both parties can support

By Janet Trautwein
Over 20 million Americans may soon pay less in taxes and medical bills. Lawmakers recently introduced a bipartisan bill that would expand “health savings accounts.” HSAs allow people to save money for future medical expenses tax-free. And they incentivize people to secure care from the healthcare providers that give them the biggest bang for their buck. The bill would expand HSAs so that they cover more medical expenses, such as chronic and preventative care.
This common-sense bill — the Bipartisan HSA Improvement Act — deserves the support of Congress. Advancing these important reforms into law will save patients and the nation’s healthcare system a significant amount of money.
HSAs are “triple tax-advantaged” — contributions are tax-deductible, the accounts accrue interest, dividends, and capital gains tax-free, and withdrawals are not taxed as long as they’re spent on health care. Individuals can put away up to $3,450 per year tax-free; for families, the contribution cap is $6,850.
Unlike flexible spending accounts, there’s no “use-it-or-lose-it” requirement or limits on rollovers, and money in an HSA stays with the account-holder even if she gets a new health plan or job.
These advantages have made HSAs popular. In 2018, HSA assets will likely exceed $53 billion.
One issue that some healthcare consumers take with HSAs is the fact that you can only open an HSA after enrolling in a high-deductible health insurance plan. High-deductible plans feature lower premiums. But individuals must cover the first $1,350 of their healthcare expenses out-of-pocket. Families must pay $2,700 before insurance kicks in.
Some individuals aren’t used to assuming responsibility for a few thousand dollars in health costs.
But high deductibles are a powerful way to battle America’s health cost crisis. Since patients have to spend their own money — typically, from their HSA — on care, they’re more likely to shop around for better prices on procedures or to insist upon cheaper generic drugs instead of expensive brand-name ones. Consumers who switch from traditional plans to HSA-eligible plans spend 21 percent less, according to a RAND study.
In other words, patients stopped visiting overpriced healthcare providers and opted instead for those that offered better value.
A separate study found no evidence that these savings stemmed from HSA patients deferring needed or preventive care.
The Bipartisan HSA Improvement Act would enable more people to share in these savings. The bill would allow high-deductible plans to cover the cost of routine primary care check-ups, medications for chronic conditions, and preventive tests before enrollees hit their deductibles. It also would allow people to use HSA funds to cover gym memberships and various fitness classes and sports programs.
The bill also would amend the definition of dependent in the tax code to mean children through age 26. That would allow parents to use their HSA funds to pay medical expenses for their older children.
These changes would make high-deductible HSA plans more consumer friendly — and more attractive. That means more savings for consumers and downward pressure on prices as more people shop around for high-value care.
The bill would offer millions more families the benefits of HSAs. It’s time for both parties to support it.
Janet Trautwein is the CEO of the National Association of Health Underwriters.

Changes coming for Union High School Homecoming Week

Editor’s note: The following letter was submitted for publication on behalf of the Union High School Student Council by Wayne Slack, UHS Assistant Principal/Activities Director.
To all parents, students, and community members in the Union Community School District:
The student council would like to go over the Homecoming changes that were made this year and explain why the changes were made. This was a student council vote and compromise with the administration.
We will not be having a bonfire this year. This change was made due to the low number of people in attendance.
The Powderpuff Game will be moved to Monday night to kick off Homecoming week, and to make sure that all juniors and seniors who want to play get the chance. The game will start after the JV football game. If weather happens to cancel the game we will have a dodgeball tournament in the lower gym.
We will not be doing attendants this year. We know that this was a way for underclassmen to be a part of Homecoming, so we will be having a talent show during the pep rally open for all students.
The crowning of the king and queen will be during the pep rally on Friday. This will be open to the community. Before the game on Friday, we will still have the parents escort the candidates onto the track to be recognize. The past kings and queens are still invited to the game to be recognized as well.
A new addition this year will be the induction of new Union Athletics Hall of Fame members. This will happen during half time, with the marching band performing afterwards. We wouldn’t have time to recognize our past hall of fame members, recognize the attendants, crown the queen, and give the band time to perform.
These changes were made to benefit the whole school and Union Alumni.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact the student council or administration. We are very excited about these changes and ready to be a part of a great homecoming! Go Knights!!!


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