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West Virginia Workout

Welcome to the West Virginia Workout! This series of exercises — inspired by our state's most iconic critters, plants and landscape — will take your body through a series of motions that will increase your balance, improve flexibility and strengthen your muscles.

West Virginia State Animal: Black Bear (Ursus americanus)

Exercise: Bear Crawl

Start on your hands and toes with knees just slightly off the ground.  Engage your core — tighten your tummy — and try not to rock side to side. Crawl forward, backward and to side. 

Fun Facts
  1. The black bear officially became the West Virginia State Animal in 1973.
  2. Not all black bears are BLACK! They come in many different colors from a rusty brown to a light blue-grey coat. Some have even been spotted with white coats in parts of Canada.
  3. Though large, black bears are very quick and agile! They can run up to 30 miles per hour and can climb a tree in seconds.
  4. Black bears are as big as humans! A female blackbear can weigh between 100 – 150 pounds, and the males between 150 – 180 pounds.
  5. Black bears like to snack. They will spend up to 8 hours a day foraging for foods including berries and nuts. They are also drawn to cabins and campsites to find food and, if they find it, they’ll be back — because they have excellent long-term memory.

West Virginia State Bird: Cardinal (Cardinalis cardina lis)

Exercise: Standing Bird Dogs
While standing upright — with a fitness partner, tree or walking stick if needed — extend one arm and the opposite leg.  Tighten your tummy and keep your head, neck and spine in a straight line. Return to original starting position and repeat with your other arm and leg. 
Fun Facts
  1. The cardinal became the state bird of West Virginia on March 7, 1949.
  2. Cardinals do not migra te. Most cardinals can be spotted year-round in their natural habitats. Like many West Virginians, cardinals like to stay home in tough weather conditions. Cardinals can be seen from the Appalachian Mountains to the Rocky Mountains and down to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
  3. Cardinals are known for their beautiful color. While the male cardinals are famous for their bright red feathers, the female cardinal (who is most often brown) still sports a beautiful crest and red accents.
  4. Cardinals are very territorial. A male cardinal will aggressively defend its territory from other males. You will often see male cardinals fighting their own reflection in glass surfaces like car mirrors or windows. 
  5. Unlike many other northern songbirds, female cardinals sing just like the males do. If you listen closely, you can pick up on song phrases that couple cardinals share. 

WV State Tree: Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)

Exercise: Tree Pose
Begin by standing tall with your arms down. To help with balance, extend your arms out to either side. Bend one knee to the side and set your toes on the ground and your heel against your ankle. Lift your hands up to the sky. Hold this pose for a couple of breaths, then lower your arms and stand on both legs. Repeat on your opposite side.

As your balance increases and you are ready for a challenge, try placing your foot higher on your leg — just be careful to avoid pressing it against your knee.

Fun Facts

  1. Public school students throughout West Virginia voted to make the sugar maple West Virginia's state tree on March 7, 1949, the same day the cardinal became our state bird. 
  2. Sugar maple trees can live for over 300 years. The oldest known sugar maple in North America is called the Comfort Maple and is found in Pelham, Ontario. It is over 500 years old and more than 80 feet tall. 
  3. Sugar maples make syrup, but not as much as you think. It can take up to 40 gallons of sap from a sugar maple tree to make 1 gallon of syrup for your pancakes!
  4. Sugar maples are beloved by humans and creatures alike. Many mammals like deer and squirrels along with insects use the maple as a source of food, while woodpeckers and other birds make their homes in its branches. 
  5. The sugar maple has leave with five points. They are green with a pale underside and turn red, orange and yellow in the fall. Its seed is known as a helicopter and is about an inch long

West Virginia’s Mountain Range: The Appalachian Mountains
Exercise: Mountain Pose

Stand tall and strong like our West Virginia hills. It seems very simple, but this activity has several benefits and is a great foundation pose. 

Stand tall with your toes touching and feet slightly apart, like a triangle. If it is more comfortable, you may keep your feet a few inches apart. Allow your body to gently sway back and forth. Slowly bring the swaying to a standstill. Stop with your weight balanced evenly on your feet. Press your shoulders back and straighten your arms beside your torso. Pull your head up to the sky and push your feet into the ground like roots. Feel the stretch through your whole body. Breathe deeply and hold this pose for a couple of breaths.

Fun Facts

  1. The Appalachian Mountains are close to 2,000 miles long. They span from Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada south to Alabama. This mountain range crosses through 13 American states, covering the entirety of West Virginia and 5 Canadian provinces. 
  2. The oldest parts of the Appalachian Mountains are more than 1 billion years old. These mountains have emerged and eroded back down several times over their life span. In their current topography, the Appalachian Mountains date to 20 million years ago with rocks being found that are more than 1.2 billion years old!
  3. Appalachia houses some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in North America. Forests can include up to 140 species of trees. Wildflowers, ferns, moss and a variety of mushrooms and West Virginia delicacies like ramps can be found throughout as well. 
  4. The Appalachian Mountains is home to the Eastern Continental Divide. This divide separates the Chesapeake Bay and the Mississippi River watersheds. In West Virginia, the divide passes just above Fairfax Stone State Park in Davis, WV: the point where the Potomac River begins its journey to the ocean from a tiny spring. 
  5. The Appalachian Mountains are home to the world-famous Appalachian Trail. This footpath is over 2,190 miles long. It was started in 1921 built my private citizens and completed in 1937 and hosts 3 million visitors each year. 

West Virginia State Fish: Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis)

Exercise: Standing Swimming Strokes
Stand tall with hips facing forward. Pretend you're doing the backstroke in the pool. Now pretend you're doing a front crawl. Now bend at the waist, put your arms in front of your head with your palms facing out and push forward, swinging your arms back behind you and then back to face position, like a breaststroke. 

Fun Facts

    1. Brook trout is the only trout species native to West Virginia and only live and reproduce in our coldest and purest mountain streams.
    2. Brook trout are dark green in color with small markings, blueish sides and pink bellies. They can be seen covered in yellow and red dots with orange-red fins with a white stripe. 
    3. The brook trout became the official West Virginia state fish in 1973. The longest brook trout was caught in the Lost River in 1981 at 23.5 inches, and the heaviest in 2004 in Shavers Fork weighing 7.64 pounds.
    4. Brook trout spawn mostly in October. Their nest, called redds are built where the lower end of pools that is clean of silt and where fresh oxygenated water is ample. 
    5. Brook trout are not picky eaters. During the winter and early spring, they like aquatic insects like mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies along with other fish. In the warmer months, they can be seen snacking on grasshoppers, beetles and bees. 

    West Virginia State Frog: Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus)

    Exercise: Frog Hops
    Sit back like you are going to sit in a chair with your feet in a wide stance and with your toes turned out at an angle. Hold your shoulders back and tighten your belly. Make sure your knees don’t go over your toes. Jump forward, coming down to land softly on your toes. Jump forward or backwards and see how high you can go!  

    Fun Facts

    1. Wood frogs most striking characteristic is a black marking across its eyes which some say resemble a mask. 
    2. Wood frogs have adapted to cold climates by freezing over the winter months. They stop breathing, their hearts stop beating and their bodies produce a special substance that prevents ice from freezing in their cells. When the weather warms, frogs thaw and begin feeding and mating again.
    3. Wood frog tadpoles have been shown to have the ability to recognize their own brothers and sisters. This is thought to be a survival skill allowing for temperature control and defense against predators.
    4. A wood frogs call sounds similar to a quacking duck or squawking chicken. The males like to repeat their call several times in a row when trying to attack females.
    5. Wood frogs have many predators including other larger frogs, snakes, raccoons, skunks, and herons. 

    West Virginia State Insect: Honeybee (Apis melifera)

    Exercise: Bent-Over Reverse Flys 
    Holding your hands in loose fists, stand with knees slightly bent. Keeping your back flat, bend forward at your hip joint. Exhale and lift both arms to the side, keeping a light bend in the elbows and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Then slowly lower your fists back toward the ground. Repeat.

    Fun Facts

    1. Honeybees are important pollinators for flower, fruits and vegetables. They pollinate 1/3 of the human diet, and over 50 types of crops in the United States.
    2. Honeybees can fly at a speed of 15 miles per hour and will travel up to 3 miles to collect their nectar and pollen. 
    3. The honeybee became West Virginia's official state insect in 2002 and is more important to the state’s economy than any other insect. 
    4. A honeybee beats its wings 11,400 times a minute. The sound of bees buzzing is due to the beating of their wings. 
    5. A bee visits 50–100 flowers in one trip with it taking 2 million flower visits to make 1 pound of honey. 

      West Virginia State Butterfly: Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

      Exercise: Jumping Jacks 
      Start by standing with your legs spread and your hands touching overhead. Jump into the air, at the same time bringing your legs together and pull the arms down to your sides. Without resting, jump again and return to the starting position. Repeat for 30 seconds.

      Fun Facts

      1. The monarch butterfly was designated West Virginia's official state butterfly on March 1, 1995 by the state Legislature. 
      2. Monarch butterflies are famous for their migratory behavior. They travel between 1,200 and 2,800 miles with Eastern Monarchs heading to central Mexico and Western Monarchs to coastal California where they overwinter from November to March.
      3. The beautiful coloring of a monarch butterfly tells predators, “Don’t eat me, I am poisonous.” The butterflies get their toxins that make them poisonous to predators from milkweed which is their only food source when they are still in the caterpillar stage. 
      4. The entire egg to butterfly process is called metamorphosis and takes about one month. 
      5. You can help monarch butterflies thrive and survive by establishing a wildflower garden, planting milkweed near your field or yard and planting native wildflowers along your driveways and fences. 

      West Virginia Native Rabbit: Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus)

      Exercise: Bunny Hops
      Crouch down into a low squat with feet together and hands clasped behind your head. Start on the balls of your feet with heels off the ground. Hop on the spot (or slightly forward) on the balls of both feet. Keep torso as upright as possible and land softly on the balls of your feet. Repeat.

      Fun Facts
      1. The eastern cottontail is the most familiar rabbit in West Virginia and is reddish brown, with a short fluffy tail that is white.
      2. Some people think rabbits are rodents but they are lagomorphs, a type of mammal made up of rabbits and hares. 
      3. When being chased, an eastern cottontail will run in a zigzag pattern making it harder to follow and causing predators to lose its scent.
      4. The eastern cottontail can run up to 18 miles per hour and twitches its nose between 20 and 120 times a minute.
      5. An eastern cottontail rabbit has an amazing sense of smell which can help keep them safe. They have around 100 million receptors in their noses, which helps them to sniff out danger.