You play a significant role in loving your heart by developing a healthy lifestyle that will last a lifetime. Do you know a heart beats about 2.5 billion times over the average lifespan? The heart’s never-ending workload is like a love between a mother and her daughter. A mother and daughter will have bumps during their lifespans, such as teenage rebellion, a fight for independence, and the battle to become a woman. The love for your heart can also have bumps during your lifespan, such as poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, unlucky genes, and much more.
As human beings, we all have our favorite go-to food or foods. My mother and I love to eat chips. We need to focus on eating various healthy foods. MyPlate can show how everybody can make food choices for a healthy diet. Each food group provides energy and almost every nutrient we need. No one food group is more important than the other. For good health and proper growth, individuals need to eat various types of food every day. By eating healthy, you love your heart. My mother and I should replace the chips for fruits during the day for a healthy snack.
Exercising is an essential step in loving your heart. When I was growing up, my mother and I would clean the house on Saturday mornings. The fun thing about cleaning was listening to a favorite song while dancing in the living room. Physical activities are a great tool to help you stay active during your lifespan. A person should aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day. Young children should participate in 60 minutes of physical activity a day. In 2022, love your heart by “KEEP MOVING!” and check out the Let’s Walk Florida program at your local Extension Office.
Atherosclerosis is a condition in which your arteries narrow and harden due to the buildup of fats in the artery wall. There are chemicals found in tobacco smoke that can harm your blood cells. The chemicals can damage the function of your heart and blood vessels. When this happens, you do not love your heart, and you can risk atherosclerosis. I will say, my mother and other family members are tobacco users. Each year, over 1 million Americans quit smoking. You can use many strategies to stop using tobacco, such as going to a behavior support group, breathing exercises, healthy snacks, remembering your smoking triggers, and remembering that you are saving money. Reminder: give your heart a huge hug by stopping using tobacco.
The Love for a Mother through Heart Surgery. Photo source: Gretchen Thornton
Do you know that many types of heart disease are passed down through the “Family Tree?” Heart disease can affect the heart muscle and electrical system and cause high cholesterol levels. There is much to learn about the connection between genes and heart disease within a family. Researchers continue to learn about the outcomes of the connections between the two. Communication is an essential tool to keep your family tree healthy. My mother had a heart attack when she was 60 years old. She went to the hospital for a low oxygen level due to allergies. The doctor noticed that she had a heart attack in her past. She has a pacemaker and cardioverter-defibrillator to help with her heart rhythm now. During this stage of my life, I make sure that I schedule my yearly wellness check doctor’s appointment. Love your “Family Tree” by communicating about your health history because your family grows from the same seed.
You may think it is too early to think about heart health in children. Heart disease can start early in life. A healthy lifestyle can decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular disease later in life. A child that is living a healthy life can listen and participate in school, sleep at night, have healthy bones and muscles, increase self-esteem, and adopt a lifelong habit.
Loving your heart may not be straightforward at times. A healthy lifestyle is a day-to-day process that takes time and hard work. Loving your heart is unique because we all share the same common goal to live a healthy life. In 2022, remember to follow MyPlate.gov and eat healthily. Each day, turn the television off and exercise for at least 30 minutes. Make this year tobacco-free; learn the benefits of quitting by contacting Tobacco Free Florida for more information. Spending time with your family is an excellent time to communicate about family health history and genetics. For more information about heart health, contact your local doctor about how you can become more heart-healthy.
FSHN20-56/FS426: Reducing Your Risk for Heart Disease: The Power of Food (ufl.edu)
Genetics of Congenital Heart Disease | Circulation Research (ahajournals.org)
Tobacco Free Florida | Smoking Cessation Information & Programs
National Fair Housing Month supports affordable housing by helping make affordable housing a reality for many working families, representing many backgrounds, races, and colors. The Fair Housing Act was enacted into law in 1968 to protect Americans from discrimination when selling or buying houses, including rental properties and mortgage financing, based on color, race, and even gender. According to the Fair Housing Amendments Act, it is illegal to discriminate against any person because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.
The Fair Housing Act protects consumers from following unlawful, discriminatory housing practices in:
The Fair Housing Act protects buyers and renters from discriminatory housing practices. Photo Credit: Pam Tribue, UF/IFAS Extension Gadsden County.
- the rental or sale of housing properties, including residential lots
- the establishment of real estate brokerage services
- the marketing or advertisement of properties for sale or rent
- the appraisal process of housing properties
- the housing finance process
Marcia L. Fudge, Secretary, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), states that “Fair Housing Month is a time to recommit to our nation’s obligation to ensure that everyone has equal access to safe, affordable housing. Unfortunately, housing discrimination still exists, from individuals and families being denied a place to call home because of the color of their skin or where they come from, to landlords refusing to allow persons with disabilities to keep assistance animals, to individuals being denied a place to live because of who they love.”
Are you a victim of unlawful housing discrimination?
Anyone who believes they have suffered unfair housing practices or discrimination can file a complaint with HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777. You can also report housing discrimination online by using the following link: https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/online-complaint#_How_to_File
To learn more about Fair Housing, contact UF/IFAS Extension Gadsden County at (850) 875-7255.
HUD Commemorates National Fair Housing Month 2022 | HUD.gov / U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Did you know that all-terrain vehicle (ATV) injuries went up 50% from 1982 to 2017? ATVs have increased in popularity here in the United States and worldwide. The products are great if used appropriately. Nearly 75% of the accidents result in brain and spinal cord injuries. Many parents ask the common question, “How can we make ATV riding safe for everyone?” The main goal for ATV riding is for each rider to have their best, and safest, possible riding experience.
ATV riders should wear protective equipment and carefully follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for safe operation. Photo source: UF/IFAS.
When the ATV is purchased, the buyer and rider must follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. First, make sure there is an operator’s guide with the product when it is purchased. The buyer needs to ensure everyone reads and follows the operator’s guide. It is a good idea to read the operator’s guide when seated on the ATV so the rider understands the controls and how they work. The rider and any passengers need to read the safety warning label on the ATV. The label specifies the age recommendation for the rider. Reminder: Nobody of any age should ride an ATV if they cannot be responsible. Parents need to ensure the child is age-appropriate for that ATV, receives proper training and instructions, and takes an approved riding safety course. Parents should never leave a child alone, especially when the child is operating an ATV.
The rider should be familiar with the surrounding terrain where the ATV will be driven. The rider should reach all controls, sit correctly, and reach the foot rest on the ATV. The rider must avoid anything that impairs their abilities.
Second, the rider needs to do a pre-ride inspection. Before each ride, the rider should inspect the ATV to ensure the vehicle is in good condition. The rider can find the pre-ride inspection information in the operator’s guide. The rider can contact the local dealership if there is a problem with the ATV.
Third, the rider needs to wear protective gear on an open-air vehicle. The protective gear includes an approved helmet, eye protection, closed-toe footwear/over-the-ankle boots, long pants, long sleeve shirt, full-fingered gloves, and rain gear, if needed.
Fourth, the rider should understand the rules for riding with passengers. The rider should never carry passengers in the cargo area. The passenger should review the manual and safety labels on the ATV before riding. Passengers must sit up correctly while placing their feet flat on the footrests, and hold onto the handhold device. Hand guards can be added to the ATV to provide additional protection. If the rider is not advanced, he or she should not ride with a passenger.
Fifth, the rider should understand the stability of the ATV. ATVs are easy to roll or tip over quickly when riding. The rider should never attempt maneuvers that can be dangerous to the rider or the passenger.
Sixth, turning the ATV too fast or sharp is the leading cause of accidents. The rider needs to pay attention to the movement of the ATV when turning and shift their weight accordingly. The passengers also need to pay attention to the road, lean with the rider, and keep their hands on the handhold device.
Seventh, braking the ATV is very important to the rider. The proper way to stop the ATV is found in the operator’s guide. The weather and terrain can affect the braking distance when riding. The rider needs to adjust their driving according to the towing, weight, and equipment on the ATV.
There are more components to learn about ATV Safety including reversing, carrying cargo, and understanding the terrain. For more information about ATV safety and product inquiry, contact your local ATV store.
For more information, visit:
ATV Safety | 4-H in the Panhandle (ufl.edu)
ATV Safety – Safety Rules for ATV Riding | Kids and Adults
OHV Safety / Off-Highway Vehicles (OHV) / State Forest Recreation / State Forests / Our Forests / Forest & Wildfire / Home – Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (fdacs.gov)
Prudence Caskey, Santa Rosa County 4-H Agent. Photo source: UF/IFAS
Written by Prudence Caskey, Extension Agent II – 4-H Youth Development, UF/IFAS Extension Santa Rosa County
The hot Florida summer is approaching, and we all need to make sure we focus on hydration in the heat. Dehydration is very common in hot, humid environments. Many people do not drink the recommended amount of water. Many of us have our coffee in the morning and unless we go out to lunch and someone gives us water, we seldom think about water during the day. Another confusing concept is how much water we should drink. Growing up, we were told to get eight glasses of water a day. That is 64 ounces. Let’s see if that adage still holds true today.
How much water should I drink?
The best way to calculate how many ounces of water to drink is to multiply your weight by .67 or 67%. For example, a person weighing 150 pounds would need 100½ ounces or a little over 12½ cups. On the other hand, a person weighing 200 pounds would need 134 ounces or 16¾ cups.
Is that all the water I need?
No, as you sweat, you lose the water you have already consumed. If you are sweating for 30 minutes, you need to replenish your hydration with 12 additional ounces of fluid.
What fluid should I drink?
The main thing to remember when it comes to hydration is, just because it is wet does not mean you are being hydrated. Different fluids are absorbed by our bodies differently. Some alcoholic beverages remove hydration from our bodies as we drink them. Below is an example of how our bodies absorb some common beverages:
- Water absorbed at 100%
- Sparkling Water absorbed at 100%
- Skim Milk absorbed at 90%
- Buttermilk absorbed at 90%
- Whole Milk absorbed at 80%
- Apple Juice absorbed at 88%
- Decaffeinated Coffee absorbed at 90%
- Coffee absorbed at 80%
- Sports Drinks absorbed at 50%
- Energy Drink absorbed at 40%
- Wine absorbed at negative 150%
- Beer absorbed at negative 60%
- Sake absorbed at negative 180%
Staying hydrated in the heat of summer is an important part of sun safety. (Photo source: UF/IFAS File Photo)
- Liquor absorbed at negative 300%
This is a huge concept to grasp if you plan on being out at the beach with your friends this summer. With this example, a well-hydrated 150-pound person consumes the required 100½ ounces of fluid. Then, at a gathering, they have three glasses of wine. The standard five ounces per glass would mean they have removed 22½ ounces from their hydration after drinking only 15 ounces of wine. Be cognizant of what you add to your coolers this year.
What are the signs of dehydration?
There are many signs our bodies will give us to signal dehydration. Headache, nausea, and muscle pains are common. However, the most common sign of dehydration is thirst. That’s right, if you are thirsty, it is your body’s way of letting you know you need fluids. Just be careful which fluids you choose this summer when you are out enjoying the Florida sun.
Learn more at: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/FY1409
UF/IFAS is an Equal Opportunity Institution.
“Stressed is just desserts spelled backwards.” When I was younger, I took this saying to heart. If I was stressed, I reached for the sweets. That instant rush of sugar to my brain provided a feeling of happiness and contentment. But it was only temporary. Once the sugar high wore off, I went back to feeling overwhelmed with stress, which just made me reach for more sweets.
It took me much too long to realize this was an endless and unhealthy cycle. Stress eating, especially stress-eating junk food, was such an ingrained habit for me, I did not even think about it having negative consequences such as weight gain and high blood sugar, both of which can be exacerbated by stress itself.
More recently, I have taken an interest in healthier coping strategies. Stress is an inevitable and integral part of our lives. We cannot avoid it. But we can seek ways to deal with it that do not add even more stress (or calories) to our body. One of the most helpful strategies I have adopted to cope with stress is to strive to live more mindfully.
Spending time in nature has been shown to decrease feelings of stress, lower blood pressure, and increase feelings of calm. (Photo source: UF/IFAS File Photo)
Mindfulness has become a bit of a buzzword over the last few years, but do not let that trick you into thinking it is just a fad. Mindfulness and everything it entails has been around for decades (even longer!). Practices such as mindful breathing, tai chi, and meditation are all part of mindfulness, which is simply an umbrella term used to describe strategies for dealing with difficult emotions, managing stress, and staying present in everyday life.
One of the things I have found most valuable in my foray into mindfulness is the ability to better recognize the signs of stress in my body. Early recognition of stress signals allows me to put one of my new mindfulness skills into practice to combat their effects. This may include simply pausing for a few moments and consciously breathing or taking a short walk in the sunshine while allowing the sounds around me, and not my stressful thoughts, to become the focus of my attention.
Another good practice for stress reduction in general is to immerse yourself in nature whenever possible. Whether that is hiking one of the many local nature trails, kayaking in the springs, or relaxing at the beach while listening to the waves, spending time in nature has been shown to alleviate stress. Even watching a brief nature video online has been shown to lower blood pressure and elicit feelings of calm.
April is Stress Awareness Month. I challenge everyone to take some time this month to really think about what stress looks like for you and how it shows up in your mind and body. How do you usually cope with it? If the answer involves over-indulgence in a substance such as food or alcohol, I urge you to try a new, healthier way to cope. Go for a walk. Focus on your breath. Even try meditation with the help of a mindfulness mobile app. It may feel weird at first, but if you keep at it, it will soon become a new healthy habit that you will reach for instead of that bag of chips.
UF/IFAS is an Equal Opportunity Institution.
Taxes, without a doubt, can conjure up responses from elation,” Yeah! I get a refund!,” to dread…” Darn, I owe!” The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted another response…What in the heck happened to my 2019- and 2020-income tax return?
While it is quite normal for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to face a bit of backlog every year, according to The Washington Post, the IRS closed last year’s tax season with an unprecedented large number of returns unprocessed due to budget cuts and staff issues.
Most recently, IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement, “The pandemic continues to create challenges, but the IRS reminds people there are important steps they can take to help ensure their tax return and refund don’t face processing delays.”
Know that having all the information needed to file an accurate return helps the whole process and helps to avoid delays. The US 2022 (2021 tax year returns) income tax season will:
- Begin on January 24, 2022. This is the day the tax agency will begin accepting and processing 2021 tax year returns.
- The deadline to file 2021 federal taxes for most people is April 18, as April 15, Emancipation Day, is a holiday in Washington, D.C.
- Maine and Massachusetts residents have until April 19 to file their federal returns, as April 18 is Patriot’s Day in those two states.
- The deadline for filers requesting an extension is Oct. 17, 2022.
- The IRS is urging to file your tax return electronically and, if you are due a refund, to choose direct deposit.
- The IRS anticipates that most taxpayers will receive their refund within 21 days if they file electronically and choose direct deposit.
Please, do not be influenced to apply for a tax refund anticipation loan, typically known as an RAL, if you are not in an emergency for the loaned money. An RAL is a loan based on the anticipated amount of your federal income tax refund. Many tax filing services will offer you a RAL if… you file with their service. Know that your loan amount will be based on the value of your anticipated refund minus fees and/or interest charges.
Know, too, that your loan will be deposited directly to the lender once the IRS processes your income tax return. Be VERY careful with refund anticipation loans. An obvious positive attribute of the loan is you get money quickly – before the season even opens. Another benefit is that, once the lender receives your refund, the loan is paid. But what happens if your tax refund is smaller than the anticipated income tax refund? You now will have an outstanding loan that will need to be paid back.
As with many income tax seasons, there are changes to the tax code. Important changes for the 2022 income tax season include:
The standard deduction for taxpayers who do not itemize deductions on Form 1040, Schedule A, has increased. The standard deduction amounts for 2021 are:
- Married Filing Jointly or Qualifying Widow(er) – $25,100 (increase of $300)
- Head of Household – $18,800 (increase of $150)
- Single or Married Filing Separately – $12,550 (increase of $150)
Taxpayers who are 65 and Older or are Blind
For 2021, the additional standard deduction amounts for taxpayers who are 65 and older or blind are:
- Single or Head of Household – $1,700 (increase of $50)
- Married taxpayers or Qualifying Widow(er) – $1,350 (increase of $50)
Earned Income Credit (EIC)
By law, the IRS cannot issue your refund before February 15. This includes your entire refund, not just the part that’s related to the credit you claimed on your tax return. This law change, which took effect in 2017, helps ensure that taxpayers receive the refund they are due by giving the IRS more time to detect and prevent fraud. If you claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC), you can expect to get your refund by the first week of March if:
- You file your return electronically
- You choose to get your refund by direct deposit
- The IRS finds no issues with your return
For 2021 only:
- More taxpayers without qualifying children can qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The maximum EITC credit is nearly tripled for these taxpayers and, for the first time, is made available to both younger workers and senior citizens.
- EITC is available to both taxpayers without qualifying children and families with qualifying children. (Taxpayers filing married filing separately can claim this credit in 2021.)
- EITC can be figured using 2019 income, as long as it was higher than 2021 income. In some instances, this option will give a larger credit.
For 2021, the maximum EITC credit increased to:
- $6,728 with three or more children
- $5,980 with two children
- $3,618 with one child
- $1,502 with no children
- $51,464 ($57,414 if Married Filing Jointly) with three or more qualifying children
- $47,915 ($53,865 if Married Filing Jointly) with two qualifying children
- $42,158 ($48,108 if Married Filing Jointly) with one qualifying child
- $21,430 ($27,380 if Married Filing Jointly) with no qualifying child
- Taxpayers whose investment income is more than $10,000 cannot claim the EITC.
For 2021, the following rates are in effect:
- 56 cents per mile for business miles driven
- 16 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes
- 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations (no change)
American Opportunity Tax Credit for 2021 is gradually reduced (phased out) if taxpayers’ MAGI (Modified Adjusted Gross Income) is between $80,000 and $90,000 ($160,000 and $180,000 if Married Filing Jointly). Taxpayers cannot claim a credit if their MAGI is $90,000 or more ($180,000 or more if Married Filing Jointly).
Lifetime Learning Credit for 2021 is gradually reduced (phased out) if taxpayers’ MAGI is between $80,000 and $90,000 ($160,000 and $180,000 if Married Filing Jointly). Taxpayers cannot claim a credit if their MAGI is $90,000 or more ($180,000 or more if Married Filing Jointly).
Student Loan Interest Deduction begins to phase out for taxpayers with MAGI in excess of $70,000 ($140,000 for joint returns) and is completely phased out for taxpayers with MAGI of $85,000 or more ($170,000 or more for joint returns).
The IRS announced that convertible virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, would be treated as property and not as currency, thus creating immediate tax consequences for those using Bitcoins to pay for goods and services. Taxpayers having transactions in virtual currencies are out of scope for the VITA/TCE programs.