The Havre de Grace Marine Center offers yoga on its Susquehanna River barge from May through September.

The Havre de Grace Marine Center offers yoga on its Susquehanna River barge from May through September. (photo courtesy Havre de Grace Marine Center / February 6, 2014)

Studies show a healthy lifestyle can prevent a number of illnesses and diseases, ranging from high blood pressure and high cholesterol to obesity and certain types of cancer. And in Harford County, achieving that lifestyle is easier than you might think. Here are 14 ways to keep your mind, body and soul healthy in 2014.

1. Try yoga on the water

Sure, yoga can reduce stress, reduce back pain, lower heart rate and blood pressure and help relieve anxiety and depression. But how about some fresh air and Susquehanna River views as you slowly move into mountain pose? The Havre de Grace Marine Center offers yoga on its barge, as well as on stand-up paddleboards (SUP) May through September. “It’s just a really peaceful setting,” says Lachelle Scarlato, co-owner of the center. “It’s a great yoga session and way to unwind.” Barge sessions are for beginners through advanced yoga practitioners, while SUP sessions are for more advanced practitioners, she says.

Cost: Yoga on the barge is $10 per class. SUP sessions are $40 a person and include paddleboard rental.
Where: Havre de Grace Marine Center, 723 Water St. in Havre de Grace.
When: Barge sessions Wednesdays 6 to 7 p.m. SUP 90-minute sessions by reservation.
Information: hdgmarinecenter.com or 410-939-2161

2. Shake your booty

Zumba, a fitness program that combines Latin music with dance moves, is an easy, fun way to burn 800 calories in just one hour, says Juan Alzamora, Zumba instructor at the Bel Air Armory. “You don’t realize you’re working out,” he says. “You’re just dancing to the music.” Like most cardiovascular workouts, Zumba can increase one’s stamina, aerobic threshold and bone density, as well as improve muscle tone and lower blood pressure. And don’t forget your core. “Your abs get a heck of a workout,” Alzamora says. Participants need not worry about their dancing skills, as choreography is simple, Alzamora says.

Cost: $5 a class, 5 classes for $20 or 10 classes for $40.
Where: Bel Air Armory, 41 N. Main St. in Bel Air.
When: Mondays at 6:30 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m.
Information: belairzumba.com or 410-322-5117

3. Ditch the meat for a night

Going vegetarian and even vegan can be challenging for those who have eaten meat their whole lives. So why not try it just for a night? Your body may welcome the change. Plant-based diets, which focus on fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and nuts, are rich in fiber and vitamins. In general, vegetarians also eat fewer calories and less fat and have a lower risk of heart disease than meat-eaters do. Try turning Mondays into “Meatless Mondays” by serving a plant-based dish for dinner. Or visit a monthly potluck held by DineKind Harford, a group created in 2010 to educate the community about the health and environmental benefits of plant-based diets. The first Friday of each month, participants each bring a meatless, plant-based meal to share with six to eight others. Dishes range from basic macaroni and cheese to quinoa salad with kale and cranberries. “It’s very casual,” says Jill Stankis, a DineKind Harford founder. “There’s no pressure. Everybody just sits around the table and eats.” Potluck dinners occasionally feature guest speakers, as well.

Cost: $5.
Where: McFaul Activity Center, 525 West MacPhail Road, Bel Air.
When: 6:30 to 9 p.m. first Friday of each month.
Information: dinekindharford.com or David’s Natural Market at 410-836-0808. In Havre de Grace, a similar plant-based potluck is held by the Havre de Grace Green Team on the fourth Friday of the month. Details are available on the group’s Facebook page at facebook.com/HavredeGraceGreenTeam.

4. Sip some tea

According to the Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic, tea leaves contain a mix of substances including antioxidant compounds called polyphenols. These compounds might offer protection from cancer, cardiovascular disease, cavities and Parkinson’s disease. Specifically, green tea could help prevent gastric, pancreatic, bladder and ovarian cancers. Green tea also may lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, while both green and black tea are linked to a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke. Tea also takes longer to prepare than coffee, forcing drinkers to slow down -- even if just for a few minutes, says Erin Bradley, co-owner of  Tea by Two in Bel Air. “Mentally, that whole process is sort of calming,” she says.

Cost: Tea, whether loose leaf or bagged, can range in price. At Tea by Two, a small pot costs $3.39.
Where: Tea by Two, 814 S. Main St. in Bel Air.
When: Tuesdays through Saturdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Last reservation at 3:30 p.m.
Information: teabytwo.com or 410-838-8611

5. Go to therapy

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in four adults experiences mental illness in a given year. The medical condition, which can include everything from anxiety disorders to schizophrenia, affects people of all ages, disrupting their thinking, feeling, mood and daily functioning. The Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) at University of Maryland Harford Memorial Hospital (UM HMH) is a short-term group therapy program designed to support those battling mental illness. “Our goal is to provide a compassionate, person-centered environment where personal struggles and difficulties are transformed into opportunities for growth and healing,” says Pamela Llewellyn, manager of outpatient, social work and psychotherapy services. Participants attend group therapy sessions for three hours a day, three days a week.

Cost: Varies. The IOP accepts most commercial insurance.
Where: UM HMH, 501 S. Union Ave. in Havre de Grace.
Information: 443-843-8800

6. Shop with the farmers

Harford County has a series of farmers markets spring through fall that offer fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses and baked goods. By buying locally, residents get food that is ripe and in-season. They also can experience new fruits and vegetables not easily found at chain supermarkets. And with access to all this fresh food, residents can easily squeeze in an extra serving of fruits and veggies a day.

When: Bel Air, Saturdays 7 to 11 a.m. Edgewood, Thursdays 3 to 6 p.m. Havre de Grace, Saturdays 9 a.m. to noon.
Where: Bel Air Farmers Market, 2 S. Bond St., Bel Air.
Edgewood Farmers Market, intersection of Edgewood and Old Edgewood roads.
Havre de Grace Farmers Market, Pennington Avenue between Washington Street and Union Avenue.
Information: belairfarmersmarket.com, harfordfarms.com, hdgtourism.com/farmer

7. Stroll with parents