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Health & Fitness  
Lifestyle Tips from the Plow & Heart Fitness Team: Improve your Zzzzs!
By Plow & Hearth
8/23/2014 12:04:00 PM  

Healthy Lifestyle Tip: Exercise is Key to Good Sleep

 

Exercise can affect your sleep. "Exercise is great for sleep. For the millions of people who want better sleep, exercise may help," says David Cloud, CEO, National Sleep Foundation.

 

Self-described exercisers report better sleep than self-described non-exercisers even though they say they sleep the same amount each night (6 hours and 51 minutes, average on weeknights). Vigorous, moderate, and light exercisers are significantly more likely to say "I had a good night's sleep" every night or almost every night on work nights than non-exercisers.

 

"If you are inactive, adding a 10 minute walk every day could improve your likelihood of a good night's sleep," says Max Hirshkowitz, Ph.D., poll task force chair. "Making this small change and gradually working your way up to more intense activities like running or swimming could help you sleep better."

 

Those who report exercising close to bedtime and earlier in the day do not demonstrate a difference in self-reported sleep quality. In fact, for most people exercise at any time seems to be better for sleep than no exercise at all.

 

"Exercise is beneficial to sleep. It's time to put exercise – any time – at the top of our list for healthy sleep habits," says Dr. Barbara Phillips, poll task force member.

 

We wish you an active, healthy week with some good rest!

 

-Your Plow & He♥rt Fitness Team


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Tags: fitness, Plow & Heart Fitness Team, Lifestyle, sleep
Categories: Health & Fitness
Health & Fitness  
Lifestyle Tips from the Plow & Heart Fitness Team: New Sneakers
By Plow & Hearth
8/16/2014 10:30:00 AM  




Developed to be protective and add traction, running/walking shoes have  evolved to incorporate lightweight materials that cushion the foot from the trauma of walking or running. Most cushioning comes from EVA foam, a lightweight material injected with air cells designed to absorb impact.

 

But, like all good things, the foam eventually loses its magic, that can happen anywhere from 300 to 500 miles after the first wear. For a runner/walker doing five 3-mile runs or walks per week, that comes out to a new pair every five to six months. (Let’s hope Santa comes twice this year!).

 

“According to some researchers, running/walking shoes should be replaced anywhere from 300 to 500 miles after the first wear.”

 

Why rush to pick up a new pair? Once that foam wears out, the risk of overuse injuries increases, because the material has lost its ability to absorb shock. While some overuse injuries (like shin splints are minor, others (like tendinitis) might require more serious treatment. One good way to avoid these issues: Regularly trading in your old shoes for new kicks.

 

Your Action Plan

Why do experts give such a big range for the appropriate time to replace old sneaks? Every runner/walker has a different weight and foot strike, both of which affect the cushioning of shoes in various ways (For instance, a heavier runner/walker who runs or walks on their heels may wear out the shoe cushioning faster than a light runner/walker who runs or walks on their toes.). To eliminate all those miles of guesswork, here are some quick signs that those running/walking shoes need to be replaced:

 

  1. Try the press test. Press a thumb into the center of the shoe, where the midsole is. If the midsole feels tough and unyielding (rather than cushy with some "give"), then it may be time for a new pair
  2.  Look for signs of creasing in the sole. Look at the midsole, then use your thumb to press on the outsole into the midsole. When the midsole shows heavy compression lines before you press into it, and doesn't compress much when you press into it, that's a sign that the cushioning is pretty much worn out.
  3. Pay attention to aches and pains. While some say pain is weakness leaving the body, others say it’s an indication that something is wrong. A little twinge at the bottom of a foot could be your body's way of saying that a shoe is past its prime.
  4. Compare new shoes with old ones. Trying on an old pair of shoes immediately before trying on a new pair gives runners/walkers a direct comparison of which feels better. Once an old pair of shoes stops feeling comfortable, it may be time to change it out. 

-Your Plow & He♥rt Fitness Team



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Tags: fitness, Plow & Heart Fitness Team, Lifestyle, shoes
Categories: Health & Fitness
Pets  
Parker's Story
By Jennifer Whipple
8/12/2014 5:28:00 AM  



Parker thinks he’s a normal cat, says his “mom,” Jessica. Granted, he can’t carry his tail proudly in the air like most kitties, and it can’t be denied that his walk is a bit crooked. But he runs about and plays like most young cats, pounces on his favorite toys (catnip mice), teases his big “brother,” Captain (another ginger cat), loves to cuddle with his humans, and has a healthy appetite (too healthy, sometimes, Jessica admits).

 

A Photogenic Kitty

 

Parker is also a Plow & Hearth pet model.

 

You may have seen Parker in our catalog and on our web site over the past year, lounging around in our latest pet beds like the Kitten Caboodle Cat Bed Pouf (#53359), the Rattan Cat House (#53266) and the Waterproof Heated Outdoor Cat House (#52626), or snuggling into our Cozy Comfort Micro Velour Blankets (#93130). But he had a lot of healing to do before he was able to join the Plow & Hearth team as an employee.

 

Rescued

 

A year ago this month, Parker was found hiding behind a woodpile in the parking lot outside our photo studio. Starving, dehydrated, riddled with worms and badly injured, the tiny kitten probably would not have lived through another day had the studio team not immediately rushed him to a nearby veterinary. Though not more than six weeks old by the veterinarian’s estimate, there was no sign of his family, nor any indication of how he might have managed to escape from the animal that apparently (going by the teeth marks in his little body) had picked him up and shaken him, leaving him with a hernia, broken rib, punctured liver and damaged spine.

 

“He was miserable, but desperate for help,” recalls Assistant Photographer Jessica. “When [Plow & Hearth Producer] Matt pulled him out of the wood pile and handed him off to me, Parker just clung to my shirt, crying. I knew right away that I wanted to adopt him.”


Parker relaxing between takes.


A New Home

 

It was the best thing that could have happened to Parker (whose name was inspired by the parking lot in which he was found). Jessica’s fiancé, Hayes, works from a home office, so he was able to give Parker the frequent attention, feeding and treatment the kitten required after the surgery for his hernia and liver. Before long, Parker became strongly bonded to Hayes.

 

“It was like Parker imprinted on Hayes,” Jessica recalls with a smile.

 

Hayes also took Parker to most of his therapy sessions.

 

“The worst injury was the nerve damage to his spine,” Jessica explains “Every single disc had scar tissue, and he had to go through six months of acupuncture and laser therapy treatments.”

 
Parker patiently sits through an accupuncture treatment.


Improved Health and a New Career

 

As Parker underwent treatment, Jessica noticed that, while a little shy with strangers at first, he warmed up to them very quickly. Additionally, he was good-natured, patient and cooperative – qualities that make pets successful models. As his health improved, she decided to try bringing him along on photo shoots where a cat was required.

 

Good cat models are hard to find: being cute and photogenic (Parker is both!) is not enough. Many cats become uneasy in a strange environment and won’t stay in the beds or cat houses they’re meant to be trying out; others are happy to investigate the products, but get curious when they see the camera pointed at them and break the pose so they can investigate before the shot is taken. Perhaps it’s because he’s received so much care and handling from the humans in his life, but Parker willingly takes direction and stays put (mostly) for photos, making him an ideal pet model.

 

“He travels so well in the car,” Jessica says. “He doesn’t even need to stay in the carrier during short trips. And he’s very relaxed on-set. Also, he’s very small, which helps.”


Career Kitty: Parker shows off one of Plow & Hearth's pet beds.

 

Star Quality

 

Small he is – at only five pounds, Parker is undersized for his age. His veterinarian thinks his growth was stunted from all he's been through. But what he lacks in size, he more than makes up for in personality. And unlike many models, he hasn’t let all the attention from his new career go to his head!

 

“He’s really sweet and cuddly, always sleeps on the bed with us,” Jessica shares. “Very chatty and talkative, and he looks you right in your eyes when he’s talking to you!

 

“He even ‘talks’ to the birds through the window,” Jessica adds with a laugh. “He’s an indoor-only cat, and sitting and watching the birds is one of his favorite activities.”

 

And though his body may be small, his appetite certainly isn’t.

 

“We have to watch his food intake carefully because his system is so sensitive, and he hates it,” Jessica says. “He gets one treat daily, and I think that’s the highlight of his day!”

 

Follow Parker!

 

Want to keep up with Parker? “Like” us on Facebook to see more photos, keep checking our blog for updates, and follow him on Twitter. Parker also appears (along with some other four-footed friends) on the Plow Pets board on our Pinterest page. For a closer look at Parker’s 5-purr products, follow the links above.


Parker (left) with big brother Captain.

Thinking of adopting a pet? Consider one with “special needs” – they need a home, too, and have a lot of love to give. Jessica says that Parker makes all the effort of taking care of him well worth it!


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Tags: Parker's Picks, Parker the Plow Cat, Plow Pets, Parker the Cat, Pet Model
Categories: Pets
Sustainability  
Better World Betty 2014 Awards
By Jennifer Whipple
6/25/2014 10:27:00 AM  
Plow & Hearth took home the Grand Prize in the Large Business Category at the Charlottesville Area Better Business Challenge Awards last night! We were nominated in the categories: Kilowatt Crackdown, Biggest Loser, Green Leader and Top Innovator.

The Better Business Challenge is a friendly competition among businesses to incorporate sustainable practices in their day-to-day operations. Plow & Hearth wishes to thank the members of our Sustainability Committee for their hard work in making our company more eco-friendly and helping us to adopt more sustainability practices.


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Tags: awards, sustainability, about Plow & Hearth, company news, Plow & Hearth family
Categories: Sustainability
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