Affordable Ways to Make Self-Care Your ‘New You’ Resolution

Every year around this time, we start to think about how we can be better “for the new year.” It’s time to stop thinking in terms of January 1st because you matter the rest of the year, too. Instead of making goals you probably won’t work toward past February, make a resolution to yourself to take care of your needs. The best part: Self-care is affordable.

Here are a few ways to get started.

Ditch the soda and tea, and drink water.

You already know that you should drink water. Not only does it supply the cells in your body much of what they need to function, but it also flushes out toxins. Unfortunately, the sugary beverage industry is thriving (though soda sales are down). Americans consume nearly 13 billion gallons of soda each year, according to MarketWatch. However, if you knew what a single can of carbonation did to your body, you might think twice. First, it doses your bloodstream with sugar, which turns into carbs. While carbs are not a bad thing, your muscles don’t need the excess, so your liver takes over converting them into fat. Sugar also sticks to your teeth (hello, cavities!) and, even worse, has an effect on your brain similar to drugs. Drop your soda habit in favor of water, and you’ll not only save at the grocery store, but on your overall health as well.

Do something that makes you feel beautiful every day.

Beauty is only skin deep, right? Well, yes, but feeling confident on the inside starts with looking the part on the outside. You don’t have to hit the salon to achieve a look that makes you feel your very best. Whether you choose to try one of Marie Claire’s 10-second hairstyles or don a new makeup look, you can save money on all of your beauty accessories. There are many health stores that offer discounts on skincare and makeup products in the form of sales and coupon codes. Blogs like Rakuten Smart Shopper offer tips and tricks for finding the best deals while you shop. You can also emphasize your healthy glow by supplementing your daily nutrition regimen with vitamins and minerals that boost collagen growth and supply nutrients to your hair and nails. Incidentally, if you have been drinking your water, your skin will look fabulous.

Grab your sneakers and go for a walk.

Walking is one of the easiest forms of exercise and one that won’t cost you a dime. In addition to helping you burn off fat around your midsection, a simple 30-minute stroll around the neighborhood can improve your overall quality of life. According to Reuters Health, women who walk for 200 minutes each week are less depressed, have elevated energy levels, and are more socially engaged. And if you are over 50 and suffer from mental health issues, walking may have an even more profound effect on your psychological wellness. Make a point to walk after dinner — bonus points if you can convince your spouse, kids, or a neighbor to go with you.

Give yourself a predictable sleep schedule.

Sleeping for seven to eight hours each night is an essential form of self-care that far too many adults neglect. However, the truth is that sleep should take precedence over pretty much everything else. When you haven’t gotten enough rest, you make more mistakes. You’ll also have less emotional control and will probably forget where your keys are more often than not. Poor sleep can also lead to reduced problem-solving skills. Push sleep to the top of your to-do list by turning off all devices 30 minutes before you go to bed. Schedule yourself to settle in approximately eight hours before you have to be awake, and go to bed at the same time every night. You can promote healthy sleep habits by getting into a routine, such as taking a warm shower and then stretching before putting on your favorite pajamas and turning out the lights.

You don’t have to have a movie star’s budget to shine. But you do need to put yourself first this and every year. The ideas can get you going and might be the start of a new you.

Image via Pexels

The Best Glute Exercises for People with Bad Knees

If you have knee pain, it can be frustrating to find exercises that don’t hurt but will still target and tone your booty. We’ve got you covered with five of the best butt exercises-plus two bonus moves-that are still totally doable if you have bad knees. Yep, that means no squats or lunges! Even if your knees are A-OK, these alternative glute moves are great for switching up your go-to routine. (Because doing the exact same moves every time is fine, but you’ll see even more results with a little exercise variation.)

How it works: Do each move for the number of reps indicated and then repeat the circuit one to two times. Watch the video for full move demos and form tips. (Want to get your upper body involved too? Try this arm circuit workout next.)

You’ll Need: a set of medium-weight dumbbells and a medium- to heavy-weight kettlebell.

Romanian Deadlift
A. Stand with feet hip-width apart, dumbbells in front of the hips, palms facing in.

B. Hinge at the hips to lower dumbbells in front of shins. Make sure to keep core engaged and back straight throughout the movement.

C. Lift torso to return to standing.

Do 15 to 20 reps.

3-Point Glute Kickback
A. Stand on the right leg, hands together at chest level with the left foot hovering just off the ground to start.

B. Pulse kick the left leg directly to the side, then return to start.

C. Pulse kick the left leg diagonally back, then return to start.

D. Pulse kick the left leg directly back, then return to start. That’s 1 rep.

Do 10 to 15 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

Split Stance RDL (Romanian Deadlift)
A. Start in a split stance position: left foot forward, foot firmly planted on the ground. Right foot is about six inches behind, balancing on the ball of the foot. Hold dumbbells in front of hips, palms facing in.

B. Hinge at the hips to lower dumbbells in front of the left shin. Make sure to keep the core engaged and back straight throughout the movement.

C. Lift torso to return to standing.

Do 15 to 20 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

Glute Bridge
A. Lie face-up on the ground with heels planted and knees pointing up to start.

B. Pressing the heels into the ground, lift the hips up, and squeeze the glutes at the very top (hold for one second).

C. Slowly lower hips down to hover just off the floor, then lift hips to begin the next rep.

Form tip: To make it harder, perform single-leg glute bridges: extend one leg into the air, and perform the movement on the other leg.

Do 15 to 20 reps.

Super Hydrant
A. Start in tabletop position, on all fours with hips over knees and shoulders over wrists, core engaged.

B. Lift right knee off the floor and perform a hydrant: lift knee out to the side, maintaining 90-degree bend.

C. Return to start without touching knee to the ground, then lift right leg backward and up, bent at a 90-degree angle with foot flexed so the bottom of the right foot is pointing toward the ceiling.

D. Return to start without touching knee to the ground. That’s one rep.

Do 10 to 15 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

Kettlebell Swing
A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, kettlebell on the floor, arms-distance away from the toes. Hinge at the hips with a soft bend in the knees to grab the top of the kettlebell with both hands.

B. Hike the kettlebell backwards between the legs.

C. Thrust hips forward up to standing, swinging the kettlebell forward to about chest height.

D. Let the kettlebell swing back through the legs, hips back, then thrust up to standing again. Continue to Repeat.

Form Tip: Remember, this is not a squat-it’s a hip hinge. There should be minimal bending at the knees. The power is driven by your hips, so send them back as far as you can while maintaining a flat back and strong core throughout the exercise. (Think of sending the butt back versus dropping the butt low.)

Do 15 to 25 reps.

Single-Leg RDL
A. Stand on left foot, with right foot slightly behind, toes touching the floor for balance. Hold a dumbbell in the right hand in front of hip, palm facing in.

B. Hinging at the hips, lower dumbbell to shin height while kicking the right foot back. Keep hips and shoulders square throughout the movement.

C. Reverse the motion to return to start.

Do 15 to 20 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Mike’s YouTube channel for free weekly workouts. Find more of Mike on Facebook, Instagram, and his website. And if you’re looking for full-length 30+ minute workouts, check out his newly launched subscription site MIKEDFITNESSTV.

The Best Foods to Eat Before and After Your Workout

When it comes to fitness, there are certain universal questions that experts hear almost every day: How can I get the most out of my workouts? How can I lose weight faster, burn the most calories, and feel energized enough to power through every training session? While there are other elements that may affect your unique situation, there’s one simple answer that applies to all of these questions: Eat! More specifically, eat the right foods at the right time.

Like many women, I used to think the best way to lose weight was to work out hard and wait until mealtime to eat. I now know that the key to getting and maintaining a knockout body is a combination of regular exercise and eating the right foods at the right times. (Read: Not starving myself!)

Keep reading for pro tips about what to eat before and what to eat after a workout to burn the most calories, stay energized, build lean muscle, lose weight, and speed up recovery.

The Importance of Eating Before Your Workout

Whether you eat or don’t eat before exercise, research shows the body burns the same amount of fat. However, you can actually cause muscle loss if you regularly work out on an empty stomach. (Related: Everything You Need to Know About Burning Fat and Building Muscle)

Here’s why: When you’re hungry, your body goes into survival mode and draws protein from muscle instead of from your kidneys and liver, where the body normally looks for protein. When this happens, you lose muscle mass, which can ultimately slow your metabolism and make it harder for you to lose weight. Plus, if you exercise on an empty stomach, you’re not giving yourself the fuel you need to power through an intense training session. (Eat one of these snacks before your next workout and turn your body into a fat-burning machine!)

What to Eat Before a Workout

The best pre-workout bite contains some form of complex carbohydrate and a protein. The key is to have a mixed bag of complex and simple carbs so that the release of energy during your workout is slow and steady throughout your routine.

Here are some of the best pre-workout meals and snacks to keep energized during your workout.

Brown rice (1/2 cup) with black beans (1/2 cup)
Small sweet potato with steamed or lightly salted broccoli in olive oil (1 cup)
Banana with almond butter (2 tablespoons)
Apple with almond butter (2 tablespoons)
Multi-grain crackers (10) with hummus (3 tablespoons)
Oatmeal (1/2 cup) with berries (1 cup), sweetened with stevia or agave
Apple and walnuts (1/4 cup)
Whole-wheat toast (1 slice) with a sliced banana and dash of cinnamon
Greek yogurt (6 ounces) with trail mix (1/4 cup)
The Importance of Eating After Your Workout
During exercise, your body taps glycogen (the fuel stored in your muscles) for energy. After you’ve cranked out that last rep, your muscles are depleted of their glycogen stores and broken down. When it comes to what to eat after a workout, eating or drinking something that combines protein and carbohydrates 30 minutes to an hour after your workout refills energy stores, builds and repairs your muscles that were broken down, and helps keep your metabolism burning strong.

The sooner you start refueling, the better off you’ll be. Research shows that your body’s ability to refill muscle stores decreases by 50 percent if you wait to eat just two hours after your workout compared to eating right away. Try to plan ahead and bring your recovery drink to the gym, or pack a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to eat when you’re finished. (Jelly isn’t the only way to enjoy PB. Whip up one of these healthy peanut butter recipes for your next snack or meal.)

What to Eat After a Workout

According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, consuming protein and a little carbohydrate is best immediately after exercise.

Try these quick post-workout meal ideas to speed up recovery, maximize exercise benefits, and help maintain lean muscle:

Protein shake made with half a banana, one scoop of protein powder, almond milk, and hemp seeds (excellent protein source)
Salad with roasted chickpeas (1/2 cup), light olive oil, and vinegar
Sautéed or steamed vegetables (1 cup) with non-GMO tofu (1/2 cup)
Quinoa bowl (1 cup) with blackberries (1 cup) and pecans (1/4 cup)
Whole-wheat bread (2 slices) with raw peanut butter (2 tablespoons) and agave nectar
Burrito with beans (1/2 cup), brown rice (1/2 cup), guacamole (2 tablespoons), and salsa
Grilled chicken (4 ounces) with sautéed or steamed vegetables (1 cup)
Omelet (2 eggs) stuffed with sautéed vegetables (1/2 cup) and avocado (1/4 of fruit, sliced)
Grilled salmon (4 ounces) with a baked sweet potato (5 ounces)
Whole-wheat bread (2 slices) with tuna (3 ounces) mixed with hummus (2 tablespoons), spinach leaves (1/2 cup)
Chocolate milk (1 cup)

6 Things to Know About Working Out On Your Period

Your period and all that comes along with it is enough to make you want to ditch the gym and stay in bed with a hot compress and a bag of salt-and-vinegar chips. But that bag of chips isn’t doing that belly bloat any favors—while a good sweat sesh can. Here’s what you need to know about working out on your period.

Working Out on Your Period? What Type of Exercise You Do Matters

Don’t get us wrong, you earn yourself a fist-bump just for getting your butt to the gym. Any exercise is better than none—especially when you’ve committed to working out on your period—but if you’re looking to get the most sweat-equity for your efforts, then make this workout a high-intensity one. “Higher-intensity exercise can release more endorphins, which are the feel-good chemicals released in our brains when we exercise,” says Alyse Kelly-Jones, M.D., an ob-gyn at Novant Health Mintview OB/GYN. Endorphins help relieve pain and get rid of prostaglandins, which are chemicals that are produced during menstruation (and at other times, like when you get injured) that can cause inflammation, muscle contractions, pain, and fever. So the more endorphins you release, the less period pain you feel. (You’ll also score these eight major benefits of HIIT training at the same time.)

Another reason to go for box jumps over yoga? Sex hormones. Progesterone and estrogen levels are actually at their lowest point during menstruation, says Kelly-Jones, and that means your body is able to access carbohydrates and glycogen more easily than they can when estrogen is at an all-time high (the middle of your cycle). That means the fuel your body needs to power through an intense set is more readily available, and you can push harder to get the most out of short bursts of fast-paced movements.

Cardio Is Better Than Strength Training

If your goal is to alleviate PMS symptoms, then the week of your period is when you should focus more on the treadmill and less on the barbell. Research shows that there’s a direct correlation between aerobic capacity and the severity of PMS symptoms: When your aerobic exercise goes up, the PMS symptoms go down. But when the scientists looked to see if the same thing happened with anaerobic power—so, strength training—they found that there was no significant connection between the two variables.

Not to mention that your body temperature is actually lower when you’re on your period, thanks to the drop in hormones. This increases the amount of time it takes your body to tire, and you can store more heat without exhausting your central nervous system. What that means for you: Those sprint intervals are going to feel easier than they did mid-cycle. (Related: How to Make the Most of Sprint Interval Workouts)

Workout Out On Your Period Won’t Lighten Your Flow

The first few days, when your period is usually the heaviest, is when you’re probably least likely to book a TRX class. But if that’s part of your regular routine, then it could pay off to go anyway. Kelly-Jones says that regular, moderate exercise could reduce your flow each month, making it a solid preventative method. That’s because “estrogen is decreased when body fat is decreased, and estrogen stimulates growth of the uterus lining [that you shed when you have your period],” she explains. Translation: Regular exercise (plus a healthy diet) can mean less body fat, which means less estrogen and a lighter menstrual flow.

Unfortunately, that TRX class won’t have an immediate impact on your flow, says Kelly-Jones. “Once the cycle starts, it’s going to be what it is,” she says. Since your uterus lining has already been thickened throughout the month, by the time you get your period it’s simply in the process of shedding it because you’re not pregnant. So working out on your period won’t change how heavy things are flowing right now. (Also worth noting: everything you need to know about having sex on your period.)

But It Can Help With Other Symptoms

Working out on your period can help with other symptoms, though, like that god-awful belly bloat. “As you sweat during exercise, your body is shedding water, which may relieve some bloating,” says Kelly-Jones. “There have [also] been studies that connect a higher level of overall physical fitness with fewer PMS symptoms.” Case in point: Research published in the Crescent Journal of Medical and Biological Sciences shows that if you work out three times a week, specifically making time for moves that get your heart rate up, then symptoms like headache, fatigue, and breast pain can be lessened.

You’re Not More Likely to Get Injured

Yes, it’s a good idea to squeeze in a quality HIIT session when working out on your period. And no, there is no reason to worry about an increased risk of injury. “Adjusting your activity while you have your period is really a myth,” Kelly-Jones says. “Everything is fair game, unless you bleed very heavily and become anemic. Then you might feel more fatigued,” so you may not be able to go as hard as you normally do.

Research backs her up: While scientists have found that women are more likely to get ACL injuries at certain points of their cycle, that risk increases during the preovulatory phase, which is when hormones start being produced again, the ovaries are stimulated, and an ovarian follicle starts to mature. That typically occurs from days 9 to 14 of a 28-day cycle, so yeah, it’s after you get your period (the first day of your period is considered day one of your menstrual cycle, Kelly-Jones explains).

Not to mention that, even though a woman’s risk of injury is higher, research also shows that neuromuscular training can cut that risk in half. Researchers discovered that the risk increases because there’s a difference in the way women’s knees move during menstruation compared to ovulation. But Timothy E. Hewett, Ph.D. (who’s been studying the effect of the menstrual cycle on injury for more than 15 years), found that when athletes were taught how to reduce load on their knees and ankles and build up strength and coordination, the rate of ACL injury, ankle injury, and knee-cap pain fell by 50 to 60 percent. So simply strengthening and learning how to properly move your body while you work out can help—period or not. (Related: Does It Matter What Order You Perform Exercises In a Workout?)

In other words, have no fear and keep on busting reps like your badass self.

And Your Performance Will Still Rock When Working Out on Your Period

Unless you have extremely heavy bleeding, like Kelly-Jones mentioned above, it’s not likely that your performance will be impacted. After surveying 241 elite athletes about how their menstrual cycle affected their performance, researchers noted that about 62 percent of them thought their workout was just as good when they had their periods compared to when they didn’t. (Plus, 63 percent of them said their pain decreased during training and competition as opposed to recovery time.) And lest you think they’re simply better at powering through because they’re elite-level, know that that just isn’t so. Another study from West Virginia University found that, when analyzed during both the first and second half of their menstrual cycles, female runners still performed just as well on their periods as they did when off. So go on and grab those sneaks—it’s time to start sweating.

Simple Home Workouts

By Kara Mayer Robinson

For days when you don’t feel like going to the gym or gearing up for an outdoor workout like running or biking, make it simple with these at-home cardio workouts.

Circuit Train

Circuit training pumps up your heart rate and builds strength in a short amount of time.

To create an at-home circuit, first choose three to four cardio exercises like jumping jacks, jogging in place, step-ups, mountain climbers, burpees, and jumping rope. Then choose three strength training exercises like pushups, planks, abdominal crunches, tricep dips, wall sits, lunges, and squats.

Alternate between cardio and strength training exercises. Do 30-second bursts of each for 3 to 4 minutes. Repeat this circuit two to three times.

Jump Rope

Jumping rope burns calories, elevates your heart rate, and improves coordination, muscle elasticity, and brain function. Plus, it’s fun, easy, and takes up very little space.

After a short warmup, do 30-second intervals of jumps, followed by 15 to 30 seconds of rest. Mix it up with a combination of single-leg jumps, split-leg jumps, wide-to-narrow jumps, running in place, and taking off and landing on both feet.

Bump up the time as you get better. Cool down with calf and quadriceps stretches.

Box or Kickbox

“Think inside the box,” says Grant Roberts, an Internal Sports Medicine Association-certified fitness trainer who works with celebs like Eva Longoria and Zachary Levi. Boxing and kickboxing are stellar conditioning workouts you can easily do at home while channeling your inner aggressor and relieving stress.
Fire up YouTube or on-demand TV for a wide range of boxing and kickboxing workouts to follow along with at home. Or create your own. Alternate 1-minute intervals of jabs, crosses, and kicks and 1-minute intervals of active recovery like shadow boxing, jogging in place, or skipping rope. Gradually increase the time of your active intervals. “If you can work your way up to three 12-minute rounds with 1-minute rests in between, you’ll feel like a champion,” Roberts says.

Climb Stairs

“Got some stairs in your home?” asks Roberts. “Include them in your cardio workout.” An at-home stair-climbing workout is about as simple as it gets. Set a timer for your preferred workout length, walk up and down your stairs, and repeat until it beeps. Start with just a few minutes, then work your way up to longer stair-climbing workouts as you feel stronger.

Strength training bonus: Take breaks for calf raises. Put the balls of your feet on one step, then use your calf muscles to raise up as high as you can. Lower your body as far as you can, then return to your starting position and repeat.

Physical fitness in middle aged linked to later risk of COPD

Ingrid Torjesen

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

High cardiorespiratory fitness in middle age is associated with a lower long-term risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), suggests Danish research* published online in the journal Thorax.

Previous studies have suggested that a high level of physical activity and/or leisure time exercise is associated with a reduced risk of COPD, and that physical inactivity may speed up its progression. To explore this further, the researchers tracked the respiratory health of 4,730 healthy middle-aged men from the Copenhagen Male Study, who were recruited from 14 large workplaces in Copenhagen between 1970 and 1971. Their average age was 49. Those with a previous diagnosis of COPD, asthma, or with symptoms of chronic bronchitis were excluded, and the men were monitored for up to 46 years to January 2016.

All participants provided information on smoking, alcohol intake, physical activity levels, educational attainment, occupation, and medical history. Height, weight, and resting blood pressure were measured, and cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) was calculated as low, normal, or high, using a VO2 max test. National registers were used to identify cases of COPD and death from COPD.

Compared with low CRF, the estimated risk of COPD diagnosis was 21% lower in men with normal CRF and 31% lower in men with high CRF. Similarly, compared with low CRF, the estimated risk of death from COPD was 35% lower in men with normal CRF and 62% lower in men with high CRF. High CRF in middle age was also associated with a delay to both diagnosis of, and death from, COPD by 1.5 to two years.

The results were largely unchanged after excluding those who were diagnosed with COPD or who died during the first 10 years of monitoring, suggesting that the findings withstand scrutiny, say the researchers.

While the processes that link CRF with the development and progression of COPD aren’t clear, the researchers nevertheless speculated that inflammation, linked to physical inactivity, may have a key role. However, they added that this was an observational study, and as such, can’t establish cause, and that is possible that participants with high levels of CRF were more resilient to underlying COPD, delaying time to diagnosis.

A short bout of exercise enhances brain function

Most people know that regular exercise is good for your health. New research shows it may make you smarter, too.

Neuroscientists at OHSU in Portland, Oregon, working with mice, have discovered that a short burst of exercise directly boosts the function of a gene that increases connections between neurons in the hippocampus, the region of the brain associated with learning and memory.

The research is published online in the journal eLife.

“Exercise is cheap, and you don’t necessarily need a fancy gym membership or have to run 10 miles a day,” said co-senior author Gary Westbrook, M.D., senior scientist at the OHSU Vollum Institute and Dixon Professor of Neurology in the OHSU School of Medicine.

Previous research in animals and in people shows that regular exercise promotes general brain health. However, it’s hard to untangle the overall benefits of exercise to the heart, liver and muscles from the specific effect on the brain. For example, a healthy heart oxygenates the whole body, including the brain.

“Previous studies of exercise almost all focus on sustained exercise,” Westbrook said. “As neuroscientists, it’s not that we don’t care about the benefits on the heart and muscles but we wanted to know the brain-specific benefit of exercise.”

So the scientists designed a study in mice that specifically measured the brain’s response to single bouts of exercise in otherwise sedentary mice that were placed for short periods on running wheels. The mice ran a few kilometers in two hours.

The study found that short-term bursts of exercise — the human equivalent of a weekly game of pickup basketball, or 4,000 steps — promoted an increase in synapses in the hippocampus. Scientists made the key discovery by analyzing genes that were increased in single neurons activated during exercise.

One particular gene stood out: Mtss1L. This gene had been largely ignored in prior studies in the brain.

“That was the most exciting thing,” said co-lead author Christina Chatzi, Ph.D.

The Mtss1L gene encodes a protein that causes bending of the cell membrane. Researchers discovered that when this gene is activated by short bursts of exercise, it promotes small growths on neurons known as dendritic spines — the site at which synapses form.

In effect, the study showed that an acute burst of exercise is enough to prime the brain for learning.

In the next stage of research, scientists plan to pair acute bouts of exercise with learning tasks to better understand the impact on learning and memory.

7 Most Effective Exercises

Does Your Workout Really Work?
Done right, these seven exercises give you results that you can see and feel. You can you do them at a gym or at home. Watch the form shown by the trainer in the pictures. Good technique is a must. If you’re not active now, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor first, especially if you have been diagnosed with health concerns. For example, if you have advanced osteoporosis some of these exercises may be too aggressive.
1. Walking
Why it’s a winner: You can walk anywhere, anytime. Use a treadmill or hit the streets.

How to: If you’re just starting to walk for fitness, begin with five to 10 minutes at a time. Add a few minutes to each walk until you get to at least 30 minutes per walk. Then, quicken your pace or add hills.
2. Interval Training
Why it’s a winner: Interval training boosts your fitness levels and burns more calories to help you lose weight. The basic idea is to vary the intensity within your workout, instead of going at a steady pace.

How to: Whether you walk, run, dance, or do another cardio exercise, push up the pace for a minute or two. Then back off for 2 to 4 minutes. How long your interval should last depends on the length of your workout and how much recovery time you need. A trainer can fine-tune the pacing. Repeat the intervals throughout your workout.
3. Squats
Why it’s a winner: Squats work several muscle groups — your quadriceps (“quads”), hamstrings, and gluteals (“glutes”) — at the same time.

How to: Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and your back straight. Bend your knees and lower your rear as if you were sitting down in a chair. Your weight should be evenly distributed on 3 points of your feet — heel, outaside ball, inside ball — that form a triangle. Your knees won’t stay in line with your ankles that way, but there will be less strain on other parts of your body. Add dumbbells once you can do 12 reps with good form.

Read more

Bedroom Light at Night Might Boost Women’s Weight

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, June 10, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Women, beware: Sleeping with a light on or the TV going in your bedroom could make you put on weight.

That’s the finding of new research published in JAMA Internal Medicine. While the study doesn’t prove that sleeping with a light on causes weight gain, it suggests the two may be linked, the researchers said.

“Turning off the light while sleeping may be a useful tool for reducing a possibility of weight gain and becoming overweight or obese,” said lead author Dr. Yong-Moon Mark Park. He is a postdoctoral fellow at the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

Park said that exposure to artificial light at night may suppress the sleep hormone melatonin and disrupt the natural sleep-wake cycle.

“It also may disturb day-to-day variations of stress hormones and affect other metabolic processes in ways that contribute to weight gain,” Park added.

Keeping a light on might also result in poorer sleep. Shorter sleep could prompt you to exercise less and eat more, he noted.

For the study, Park’s team relied on self-reported data from nearly 44,000 women, aged 35 to 74. They weren’t shift workers, daytime sleepers or pregnant when the study began.

Women who slept with a light on were 17% more likely to gain 11 pounds or more over five years, the study found. And the level of artificial light seemed to matter, Park said.

“For example, using a small nightlight was not associated with weight gain, whereas women who slept with a light or television on were,” he explained.

The findings didn’t change when researchers accounted for women’s diet and physical activity, which suggests that light during sleep may be important in weight gain and obesity.

Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Conn., reviewed the findings. He said the link between exposure to artificial light at night and obesity may not indicate that one causes the other.

“As with any study of association, two findings are true — true, but not directly related,” he said.

The key takeaway relates to poor sleep, Katz suggested.

“Sleep deficiency and impairment is a known obesity risk factor, for reasons ranging from mood and reduced restraint, to changes in hormonal balance,” he said.

It’s also possible that reliance on artificial light at night and obesity are both linked to other factors, such as “loneliness, anxiety or some form of social insecurity,” Katz said.

The report was published online June 10.

Americans Sit Way Too Much, But Exercise May Help

April 23, 2019 — Tethered to our televisions and computers, Americans are sitting even more than in years past, according to a new study.

And while prolonged sitting has long been linked with a higher risk of obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and death, another new study found that exercise may blunt some of the risks.

While researchers say it’s no surprise that we’re all sitting more, they don’t all agree about how much exercise can help.

Sitting Study Details

In the U.S., total sitting time from 2007 to 2016 rose by about an hour a day, to 8.2 hours for teens and 6.4 hours for adults, says Yin Cao, ScD, assistant professor of surgery in the Division of Public Health Sciences at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. She is the senior author of the study that tracked Americans’ sitting habits. (Data on children’s total sitting time was not collected.)

Cao’s team used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2001 through 2016 to track the sitting behaviors of nearly 52,000 children, teens, and adults.

The survey had separate questions on time spent sitting to watch TV or videos and time spent sitting for computer use outside of school or work needs.

By age group, the percentage of people who watched at least 2 hours a day of TV or videos in 2015-2016 included:

  • 62% of children
  • 59% of teens, and
  • 65% of adults (84% of those 65 and above).

Those times are averages. Overall, across all the age groups, up to 38% watched 3 hours a day or more, and up to 23% watched for 4 hours or more daily.

While these daily TV and video viewing times remained fairly stable over the 15-year period, leisure time computer use rose, driving the overall increase in sedentary behavior, Cao says.

Time spent on computers — meaning traditional desktop computers or laptops — outside of school or work increased in all age groups over the 15-year period. Comparing 2015-2016 to 2001:

56% of children spent an hour or more on computers, up from 43%.
57% of teens did, up from 53%.
50% of adults did, up from 29%.
And these numbers don’t capture all sedentary behavior. “A missing component is how much time is spent sitting and using handheld devices,” Cao says. That data is not collected in the NHANES survey.

“The findings on computer use are not surprising as we know technology changes,” she says. “We were surprised that time on TV and video [viewing] was stable, as we thought it would be decreased with the increase in computer time.”

Some groups are more likely to sit too much, Cao found, including non-Hispanic black people, overweight people, and boys.

Exercise Study Details

In the other study, researchers looked at the sitting and exercise habits of nearly 150,000 Australians ages 45 and older, from 2006-2009, to see if higher levels of exercise could eliminate the health risks of sitting.

As exercise levels rose, risks declined, says lead author Emmanuel Stamatakis, PhD, a professor of physical activity, lifestyle, and population health at the University of Sydney. He calls 150 minutes of activity a week ”the magic threshold” when risks start to decline.

The participants reported how many hours a day they spent sitting, standing, and sleeping, as well as how much time they took part in moderate to vigorous physical activity.

The researchers tracked deaths from any cause until June 2017, nearly 9 years after the original survey, and death from heart disease through December 2015, a follow-up of more than 7 years. During that period, more than 8,600 of the 150,000 study participants died (more than 1,600 from heart-related causes).

Sitting more than 6 hours daily was linked with a higher risk of death and was strongest in people who did not meet the recommendation of at least 150 minutes of activity a week, Stamatakis says.

Among people who reported no physical activity, those who sat more than 8 hours a day were 1.5 times more likely to die during the follow-up than those who sat less than 4 hours a day.

While risks began to decline with 150 minutes of activity a week, people taking part in the study needed to get more than 300 minutes a week to eliminate the risk, Stamatakis says.

Replacing sitting time with standing ”doesn’t seem to do much,” he says, but replacing sitting with physical activity was consistently linked with less risk.

“Moderate to vigorous activity includes walking, sports, and exercise such as running or playing tennis, hiking, strenuous work in the garden, or vigorous housework,” Stamatakis says.

U.S. guidelines say adults should get at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity activity; 75 minutes to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity; or an equal combination of both.

Few Americans get the recommended amount of activity, with 65% reporting doing less than the minimum.

‘Just the Tip of the Iceberg’

Not everyone agrees that exercise can combat the effects of hours of sitting.

In its 2016 scientific statement, the American Heart Association says that being sedentary could make you more likely to have heart disease and stroke, and that moderate to vigorous physical activity does not cancel out the impact of being sedentary.

Nieca Goldberg, MD, medical director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU Langone Health in New York City, calls the exercise study results promising, but she says more research is needed.

Both studies show the unhealthy downside of technology, she says, and Stamatakis agrees.

“The health risks of excessive screen media use go well beyond the increase in sedentary behavior they impose; sitting is just the tip of the iceberg,” he says. He cites social isolation, screen addiction, and other mental health issues. Figuring out how to moderate screen media use is an ongoing challenge for health professionals, he says.