A look back: Pandemic results in greater awareness of health in all forms – The Mercury

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The year 2021 is officially over, and since it felt like an extension of 2020, people are probably not that upset to see it end.
Although 2020 and 2021 are now considered years in the past, it was a time when health was the number one topic of discussion. The coronavirus pandemic resulted in a deeper awareness of general overall wellness including physical fitness, mental health and nutrition.
Reflection of the past is often part of moving forward into the New Year so below are five “Fit Friday” wellness stories from 2020 and 2021.

Emily Urbanski hangs upside down while inside a silk hammock during an aerial yoga class in Pottstown. (MediaNews Group File Photo)

Women use a silk fabric suspended from the ceiling during an aerial yoga class. (MediaNews Group File Photo)

Elly Haigh, 10, poses for a photo with her Golden Retriever named Clover, who is wearing a bike helmet. The dog and her owners celebrated her eighth birthday on the Schuylkill River Trail in Pottstown. (MediaNews Group File Photo)

Married couple Aaron and Emma de Long opened the Red Dog Market in June 2021. (MediaNews Group File Photo)

These tart cherries are sold at the Red Dog Market and come from Beechwood Orchards. (MediaNews Group File Photo)

This poblano corn chowder with chicken was prepared during an online cooking class with Chef Chris Welsh. (MediaNews Group File Photo)

This chili-lime butternut squash salad was prepared during an online cooking class with Chef Chris Welsh. (MediaNews Group File Photo)

The image shown includes a woman smiling while wearing a mask. The image is now available on a billboard along Route 100 in Pottstown as part of the “Connect with a Smile” campaign. (MediaNews Group File Photo)

The year 2020 came with a lot of challenges, one being connecting with others. A simple smile became difficult to give since most people only saw others outside their household when they were behind a mask. A campaign called “Connect with a Smile” encouraged people throughout the region to turn that frown upside down, even while wearing a mask, to spread hope. Representatives of Creative Health Services explained why continuing to smile with a mask and making eye contact was important for social, emotional and mental health reasons. Read the full story at https://bit.ly/32BrshO.
Married couple Aaron and Emma de Long opened the Red Dog Market, a small organic grocery store in Warwick Township, to connect people with local food providers. Much of the fresh produce sold in the market comes from Kneehigh Farm in South Coventry, which Emma de Long owns and operates. The vegetable farm has a Certified Naturally Grown accreditation which is given to farmers who grow food naturally without synthetic chemicals or genetically modified organisms, also known as GMOs. The de Longs created a 100-mile commitment for the Red Dog Market and work with small suppliers from the region. Aaron de Long said the goal is regional food security, especially after the impacts witnessed during the pandemic. Read the full story at https://bit.ly/3JyznNN.
Families found comfort in the companionship of their pets during the pandemic. The pandemic resulted in a lot of changes very quickly such as stay-at-home orders and physical distancing guidelines. Marie Haigh, of Pottstown, homeschooled her three children before the pandemic so she didn’t have to adjust to virtual learning, but her family found it challenging to adapt to the other circumstances caused by COVID-19. Haigh’s Golden Retriever named Clover was a motivator when it came to getting fresh air by taking outdoor walks. Dogs weren’t the only pets providing peace. Pet owners of the region said they found comfort in their chickens, cats, and guinea pigs as well. Read the full story at https://bit.ly/32OguFI.
Jennifer Fischer, the owner of the Samana Holistic Center in Pottstown, began offering aerial yoga classes in 2021. During aerial yoga, participants still focus on breathing and fluid movements but all while hanging inside a piece of silk. The hammock allows for support during some very interesting poses such as being upside down. Aerial Yoga Instructor Bobby Dietrich said participants must trust that the fabric will keep them suspended. He usually encourages that trust by making the class fun and helping his students to think of aerial yoga as an opportunity to play like a kid. Yoga in suspension is a full-body workout. It includes core crunches, upper body strength, and leg support movements. Read the full story at https://bit.ly/3EGtien.
People have started to make more meals at home since the pandemic began. Chef Chris Welsh, the owner of the personal chef service Secret Ingredient, started giving virtual cooking lessons in 2020. Her first virtual cooking program was with a women’s networking group looking for a safe holiday activity to do together since they couldn’t meet in person. Welsh did an online food demonstration for the group and received rave reviews from participants. The interactive online cooking classes are a great way for families and friends to celebrate together when they can’t see each other in person. For a virtual food lesson, participants are sent a grocery list to buy ingredients. Then, everyone signs onto Zoom for a 60-to-90-minute interactive cooking lesson. Read the full story at https://bit.ly/3Hp4Ks3.


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