Balance Training

How It Works
Though it might not cross your mind, you need good balance to do just about everything, including walking, getting out of a chair, and leaning over to tie your shoes. Strong muscles and being able to keep yourself steady make all the difference in those and many other things you do every day.

Balance training involves doing exercises that strengthen the muscles that help keep you upright, including your legs and core. These kinds of exercises can improve stability and help prevent falls.

Doing balance exercises can be intense, like some very challenging yoga poses. Others are as simple as standing on one leg for a few seconds. Or you can use equipment that forces your body to stabilize itself, like a Bosu half-circle stability ball or a balance board you use along with a video game.

Examples of balance exercises include:

Standing with your weight on one leg and raising the other leg to the side or behind you
Putting your heel right in front of your toe, like walking a tightrope
Standing up and sitting down from a chair without using your hands
Walking while alternating knee lifts with each step
Doing tai chi or yoga
Using equipment, like a Bosu, which has an inflatable dome on top of a circular platform, which challenges your balance
Over time, you can improve your balance with these exercises by:

Holding the position for a longer amount of time
Adding movement to a pose
Closing your eyes
Letting go of your chair or other support
You can do balance exercises as often as you’d like, even every day. Add in two days a week of strength training, which also helps improve your balance by working the muscles that keep you stable.

Intensity Level: Moderate
To balance train, you don’t have to run, jump, or do any other high-impact or high-intensity exercises. Usually balance training involves slow, methodical movements.

Areas It Targets
Core: Yes. You need strong core muscles for good balance. Many stability exercises will work your abs and other core muscles.

Arms: No. Most balance exercises are about balancing on your feet. So unless you’re doing moves that involve your arms, or you’re holding weights, they don’t work your arms.

Legs: Yes. Exercises in which you balance on one leg and then squat or bend forward also work the leg muscles.

Glutes: Yes. The same balance exercises that work the legs also tone the glutes.

Back: Yes. Your core muscles include some of your back muscles.

Type
Flexibility: No. Balance training is more about strengthening muscles and improving stability than gaining flexibility.

Aerobic: It can be, but often is not. It depends on how intense the activity is. If you’re moving fast, then it may be aerobic. Slower balance exercises do not make you breathe faster or make your heart pump harder.

Strength: Yes. Many of these exercises will work your muscles, especially the muscles of your legs and core. Some moves may also use your chest and shoulder muscles, like the plank position in yoga.

Sport: No. Balance training involves a series of exercises. It is not a sport.

Low-Impact: Yes. There is no impact involved in doing balance exercises.

What Else Should I Know?
Cost. No. You can do balance exercises on your own, with nothing more than a chair. There is a cost if you want to take a tai chi or yoga class, or buy a stability ball, video, or other piece of equipment.

Good for beginners? Yes. Balance training is good for people of any age and fitness level. It’s recommended for older adults to help prevent falls.

Outdoors. Yes. You can do balance exercises anywhere: in your backyard, on a beach, in a park.

At home. Yes. You can do these exercises at home.

Equipment required? No. You only need your own body to do balance exercises: for example, by standing on one leg. Or you can buy a piece of equipment like a Bosu ball to challenge your balance even more.

What Dr. Michael Smith Says:
The beauty of balance training is that anyone can, and should, do it. Balance training improves the health, balance, and performance of everyone from beginners to advanced athletes, young and not-so-young.

If you’re new to exercise, it’s a great place to start. Focusing on your core and balance improves overall strength and gets your body ready for more advanced exercise. Start off easy. You may find that you need to hold onto a chair aft first. That’s absolutely fine.

If you’re an advanced exerciser, you’ll likely find you still need to start with somewhat simple moves if balance isn’t your thing. Then push yourself to perform more complex moves that both challenge your muscular strength and your aerobic stamina. If you think balance exercises are easy, you haven’t tried yoga’s warrior III pose.

Is It Good for Me If I Have a Health Condition?

If you have back pain, balance training is one of the best ways to strengthen your core and prevent back pain. If you’re recovering from a back injury, get your doctor’s OK and then start balancing. It’ll help prevent more problems in the future.

When you strengthen muscles, it also helps arthritis by giving more support to painful joints. You may need to adjust or avoid certain moves to decrease pressure on your knees. For example, a balance move that involves a lunge may be more than your knees can handle. Good news is there are many exercises to choose from.

If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or even heart disease, exercise is a must to help you get control of your condition. Balance training is an excellent place to start. The first step of resistance training should focus on core and balance exercises, according to the American Council on Exercise. As you get stronger and become able to perform more intense exercises, balance training can give you an aerobic workout that even helps control blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure along with other aerobic exercise.

If you’re pregnant, choose your balance exercises carefully. Women can and should exercise during pregnancy. The main concern with exercise during pregnancy is falling, so moves that make you unstable are not a good choice. Choose balance moves that either keep both feet on the floor or that you do on all fours, like plank (you may need to support your body with one knee on the ground). As with any exercise, if you did it before pregnancy, you’re likely OK doing it after pregnancy. It’s always good to check with your doctor to be sure.

8 At-Home Back Exercises for a Stronger Upper Body

Most people head into a workout focusing on the areas we consider the most noticeable—butt, stomach, legs, etc. But here’s a secret: Strong upper-body muscles (and back muscles, specifically) are not only key for an overall defined look, but they’re your best defense against pain, injury, and poor posture for years to come.

Try these eight back exercises at home or at the gym to sculpt a strong, sexy back, and shoulders all at once.

How it works: Three or four days a week, do 1 set of each of these exercises for back fat, with little or no rest in between moves. After the last exercise, rest 1 to 2 minutes and repeat the full circuit 2 more times (3 times total).

You’ll need: A pair of light-weight dumbbells and a pair of medium-weight dumbbells

T-Raises

This at-home back exercise proves that you don’t need huge weights to make some huge strength gains.

Grab a pair of light-weight dumbbells and stand with feet hip-width apart.
Take a slight bend in knees as you shift hips back and lower torso until it’s parallel to the floor.
Bring weights together and turn palms to face forward.
Keeping arms straight, lift weights up to shoulder height then lower back down. (Make sure to keep core and glutes engaged the entire time.)
Do 15 reps.

Read more…

Kettlebells

How It Works
Burn up to 400 calories in 20 minutes: That’s what you’ll get from a kettlebell workout.

A kettlebell looks like a cast-iron cannonball with a handle on top. They come in various weights. You’ll use them as you do things like lunges, lifts, and shoulder presses.

The workout gets your heart pumping and uses up to 20 calories per minute: about as much as running a 6-minute mile.

Kettlebell workouts offer a lot of flexibility. You can include a few of the moves in your own workout or do a dedicated kettlebell workout a few times a week.

Buy a DVD or sign up for a kettlebell class at the gym to learn how to do the moves safely. It won’t take long to understand why celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Biel, and Katherine Heigl are huge fans of kettlebell workouts.

Intensity Level: Very High
You’ll work up a sweat doing a series of fast paced cardio and strength-training moves like kettlebell swings, lunges, shoulder presses, and push-ups.

Areas It Targets
Core: Yes. Most kettlebell workouts include squats, lunges, crunches, and other moves that work your abs and other core muscles.

Arms: Yes. The kettlebell is used as a weight for arm exercises like single-arm rows and shoulder presses.

Legs: Yes. Lunges and squats are among the most popular moves in a kettlebell workout.

Glutes: Yes. Your tush will be toned by using the kettlebell for added weight during lunges and squats.

Back: Yes. Using a kettlebell for a dead lift helps tone your back muscles.

Type
Flexibility: Yes. Working out with kettlebells will improve your flexibility.

Aerobic: Yes. This is a high-intensity workout that will get your heart rate pumping.

Strength: Yes. The kettlebell is an effective weight that will build muscle strength.

Sport: No. This is a fitness activity, not a sport.

Low-Impact: No. You can expect to be running, jumping, and doing other high-intensity moves.

What Else Should I Know?
Cost: The cost of a kettlebell ranges from $10 to $100 depending on the weight of the kettlebells (heavier ones are more expensive). You may want to buy DVDs or sign up for classes to learn the basics of a kettlebell workout.

Good for beginners? Yes, if you take a class or pick a DVD that’s for beginners and use a lighter kettlebell. There are also more advanced kettlebell workouts for those who are more fit.

Outdoors: You can do a kettlebell workout outside or indoors.

At home: You can use kettlebells at home.

Equipment required? Yes, a kettlebell. You can buy kettlebells in weights ranging from 5 pounds to 100 pounds at sporting goods stores and online retailers.

What Dr. Melinda Ratini Says:
Using kettlebells can be a great way to pump up your workout. You will be burning more calories in a shorter period of time.

Depending on the program, you may be getting both your strength training and your aerobic workout at the same time. Ask your doctor first.

Treat this workout with respect. If you choose a kettlebell that is too heavy or if you have poor form, you are likely to lose control of it. This can lead to a serious injury to your back, shoulders, or neck. Start out with an experienced trainer who can correct your technique before you hurt something.

Adding a kettlebell to your existing workout is great if you want to burn more calories in less time. It will quickly add muscle and stamina.

This type of high-intensity workout is not for you if you would rather do a more meditative approach to body sculpting, or if sweating isn’t your thing.

If you are trying to get into top form or keep in top shape, then swinging a kettlebell can help you reach your fitness goals.

Is It Good for Me If I Have a Health Condition?

With your doctor’s OK, you can include kettlebells in your fitness routine if you have diabetes. You will be building muscle while losing fat. Muscle burns energy more efficiently, so your blood sugar levels will go down. Depending on the workout, you may also get some cardio to help prevent heart disease.

This routine can also be a great way to help lower your blood pressure and your “bad” LDL cholesterol. Check with your doctor first, especially if you already have heart disease.

Using kettlebells in your workout puts some serious demands on your hips and back, as well as your knees, neck, and shoulders. It is a high-impact program. If you have arthritis or pain in your knees or back, then look for a less risky strength-training program.

If you have other physical limitations, ask an experienced instructor for advice on how to modify your workout.

If you are pregnant and have never used kettlebells, then this is not the time to start. If you worked out with kettlebells before becoming pregnant and are not having any problems with your pregnancy, then you will likely be able to continue using them — at least for a while. Check with your doctor first.

You will need to make some changes as time goes on. As your pregnancy hormones kick in, your joints will become looser. You can adjust by using lighter kettlebells and avoiding certain moves. Talk to your instructor and your doctor; they might suggest switching out your kettlebells during your last trimester.

Yoga : How It Works

Workout fads come and go, but virtually no other exercise program is as enduring as yoga. It’s been around for more than 5,000 years.

Yoga does more than burn calories and tone muscles. It’s a total mind-body workout that combines strengthening and stretching poses with deep breathing and meditation or relaxation.

There are more than 100 different forms of yoga. Some are fast-paced and intense. Others are gentle and relaxing.

Examples of different yoga forms include:

Hatha. The form most often associated with yoga, it combines a series of basic movements with breathing.
Vinyasa. A series of poses that flow smoothly into one another.
Power. A faster, higher-intensity practice that builds muscle.
Ashtanga. A series of poses, combined with a special breathing technique.
Bikram. Also known as “hot yoga,” it’s a series of 26 challenging poses performed in a room heated to a high temperature.
Iyengar. A type of yoga that uses props like blocks, straps, and chairs to help you move your body into the proper alignment.

Intensity Level: Varies with Type
The intensity of your yoga workout depends on which form of yoga you choose. Techniques like hatha and iyengar yoga are gentle and slow. Bikram and power yoga are faster and more challenging.

Areas It Targets
Core: Yes. There are yoga poses to target just about every core muscle. Want to tighten those love handles? Then prop yourself up on one arm and do a side plank. To really burn out the middle of your abs, you can do boat pose, in which you balance on your “sit bones” (the bony prominences at the base of your pelvic bones) and hold your legs up in the air.

Arms: Yes. With yoga, you don’t build arm strength with free weights or machines, but with the weight of your own body. Some poses, like the plank, spread your weight equally between your arms and legs. Others, like the crane and crow poses, challenge your arms even more by making them support your full body weight.

Legs: Yes. Yoga poses work all sides of the legs, including your quadriceps, hips, and thighs.

Glutes: Yes. Yoga squats, bridges, and warrior poses involve deep knee bends, which give you a more sculpted rear.

Back: Yes. Moves like downward-facing dog, child’s pose, and cat/cow give your back muscles a good stretch. It’s no wonder that research finds yoga may be good for relieving a sore back.

Type
Flexibility: Yes. Yoga poses stretch your muscles and increase your range of motion. With regular practice, they’ll improve your flexibility.

Aerobic: No. Yoga isn’t considered aerobic exercise, but the more athletic varieties, like power yoga, will make you sweat. And even though yoga is not aerobic, some research finds it can be just as good as aerobic exercise for improving health.

Strength: Yes. It takes a lot of strength to hold your body in a balanced pose. Regular practice will strengthen the muscles of your arms, back, legs, and core.

Sport: No. Yoga is not competitive. Focus on your own practice and don’t compare yourself to other people in your class.

Low-Impact: Yes. Although yoga will give you a full-body workout, it won’t put any impact on your joints.

What Else Should I Know?
Cost. Varies. If you already know your way around a yoga mat, you can practice for free at home. Videos and classes will cost you various amounts of money.

Good for beginners? Yes. People of all ages and fitness levels can do the most basic yoga poses and stretches.

Outdoors. Yes. You can do yoga anywhere, indoors or out.

At home. Yes. All you need is enough space for your yoga mat.

Equipment required? No. You don’t need any equipment because you’ll rely on your own body weight for resistance. But you’ll probably want to use a yoga mat to keep you from sliding around in standing poses, and to cushion you while in seated and lying positions. Other, optional equipment includes a yoga ball for balance, a yoga block or two, and straps to help you reach for your feet or link your hands behind your back.

What Family Doctor Melinda Ratini MD Says:
There are many types of yoga, from the peaceful hatha to the high-intensity power yoga. All types take your workout to a level of mind-body connection. It can help you relax and focus while gaining flexibility and strength. Yoga can also boost your mood.

Even though there are many instructional books and DVDs on yoga, it is well worth it to invest in some classes with a good instructor who can show you how to do the postures.

Chances are, there’s a type of yoga that suits your needs and fitness level. It’s a great choice if you want a holistic approach to mind and body strength.

Yoga is not for you if you like a fast-moving, competitive workout. Be open-minded, since there are physical and mental benefits you can gain by adding some yoga into your fitness plan, even if it isn’t your main workout.

Is It Good for Me If I Have a Health Condition?

Yoga is a great activity for you if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease. It gives you strength, flexibility, and mind-body awareness. You’ll also need to do something aerobic (like walking, biking, or swimming) if you’re not doing a fast-moving type of yoga.

If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart problems, ask your doctor what you can do. You may need to avoid certain postures, like those in which you’re upside down or that demand more balance than you have right now. A very gentle program of yoga, coupled with a light aerobic activity like walking or swimming, may be the best way to start.

Do you have arthritis? Yoga can help you stay flexible and strong without putting added stress on your joints. You get the added benefit of a mind-body approach that can help you relax and energize.

If you’re pregnant, yoga can help keep you relaxed, strong, and in shape. If you’re new to yoga or have any health or pregnancy related problems, talk to your doctor before you give it a try. Look for an instructor who’s experienced in teaching prenatal yoga.

You’ll need to make some adjustments as your baby and belly grow and your center of gravity shifts. After your first trimester, don’t do any poses that have you lying on your back. And don’t try to stretch any further than you did before pregnancy. Your pregnancy hormones will loosen up your joints and make you more likely to get injured.

While you’re pregnant, avoid postures that put pressure on your belly or low back. Don’t do “hot” yoga, where the room temperature is very high.

Smart Fitness

This is next-century exciting. From apps that automatically adjust your workout when you’re sore to pants that help you nail your yoga pose, artificial intelligence is quickly morphing into your new personal trainer.

“While AI can’t do everything a human personal trainer can do, it’s an affordable way to get useful feedback each and every time you work out,” says certified personal trainer Jeanette DePatie. Here’s a taste of what’s out there.

Smart Apps
“With AI technology, you can get all-inclusive personal coaching through smartphone apps,” says certified personal trainer Caleb Backe. AI-powered apps measure variables like your fitness level, eating habits, and data from your wearables, then bring them together to tailor your workout to your needs.Brainy Machines

The running app Vi, for example, gets to know your daily routines, music preferences, and effort zone and personalizes instructions based on how you’re doing. It uses a human voice to give you real-time feedback as you run. Other apps, like SportMe, Podium, and AND/life, measure changes in your activity to tell you how to level up.

Brainy Machines
AI is helping gym machines get to know you better so you can ratchet up your results.

Nautilus, for example, has a new platform called Max Intelligence for the Bowflex Max Trainer M6 and M8 cardio machines. It uses cloud-based, adaptive technology to coach you through personalized workouts. It gives you voice directions and encouragement to help you power through. TrainerRoad uses AI technology for cycling workouts. It measures your cycling efficiency to help you get stronger and faster.

Yoga Gurus
Yoga is getting technical, too. Several companies offer AI yoga instruction with pose detection to give you feedback on your form even without a teacher in the room.

High-tech fitness wear makes it seamless. Nadi X yoga pants measure your movements and use gentle vibrations to help you perform perfect yoga poses, says DePatie. Pivot Yoga just introduced a shirt with 16 sensors that track your movements and tell you if they need tweaking.

Wise Wearables
Speaking of wearables, you’ll find an AI-coaching wearable for just about every body part.

Smart sneakers like Under Armour’s Hovr Connected Sneakers measure your speed, pace, distance, and gait for real-time feedback.

Sensoria has AI-powered running socks. “Besides monitoring pace, distance, and time, these socks come with pressure monitors that feed data to an AI coach that helps you with your running form,” says DePatie.

Hexoskin’s Tech Shirt has wires and sensors to measure your breathing, heart rate, and how well you sleep. Athos Core’s shorts and shirts measure your heart rate and muscle activity.

Polar recently unveiled its newest watch, Ignite, which collects sleep and recovery data overnight. In the morning, it suggests specific workouts based on how rested you are.

Next up in AI fitness tech? We can only imagine.

4 Tips
DePatie shares tips for working out with AI-powered technology.

1. Use your brain

“Your AI trainer isn’t a doctor. If you feel pain or if something about your workout doesn’t feel right, get professional help.”

2. Open your eyes

“Stay aware of your surroundings. Don’t obsess over your tracker to the point where you’re unaware of traffic or people around you.”

3. Broaden your view

“Not all progress is measurable. Don’t forget to enjoy the better mood and quality of life that comes with fitness but may not be tracked by your watch.”

4. Monitor your privacy

“Think carefully about how and when you share your tracking data and make sure you set a good, solid password. Devices can be a source of data breach.”

Golf May Be a Recipe for Longevity

If you’re a senior, playing golf regularly may do more than improve your swing: New research suggests it could reduce your risk of early death.

Researchers followed nearly 5,900 adults, 65 and older, for 10 years and found that those who were regular golf players (at least once a month) were more than 8% less likely to die from any cause than non-golfers, CNN reported.

The study will be presented later this month at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles.

Golf is an option for older adults who want to be physically active, according to researchers from the Zeenat Qureshi Stroke Institute.
“The intensity level of the activity is such that it can be maintained for a longer period of time, and it’s something that maintains the interest of the individuals so people can continue it on a regular basis,” study author Dr. Adnan Qureshi, a neurology professor at the University of Missouri, told CNN.

But an expert who wasn’t involved in the study said he doesn’t “think we can conclude from this study that golf reduced the risk of early death,” because it didn’t consider other factors about non-golfers such as smoking or other unhealthy lifestyle habits, and it didn’t say whether regular golfers walked or used golf carts while out on the links.
“Other studies have consistently shown that physical activity of any intensity is associated with a reduced risk of death,” Ulf Ekelund, a sports medicine professor at the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences, told CNN.

“If older individuals like to play golf, they should continue, but I am sure regular walking is equally good for health and longevity,” Ekelund added.

Muscle Strain

Muscle Strain Overview

Muscle strain, muscle pull, or even a muscle tear refers to damage to a muscle or its attaching tendons. You can put undue pressure on muscles during the course of normal daily activities, with sudden heavy lifting, during sports, or while performing work tasks.

Muscle damage can be in the form of tearing (part or all) of the muscle fibers and the tendons attached to the muscle. The tearing of the muscle can also damage small blood vessels, causing local bleeding, or bruising, and pain caused by irritation of the nerve endings in the area.
Muscle Strain Symptoms

Symptoms of muscle strain include:

Swelling, bruising, or redness due to the injury
Pain at rest
Pain when the specific muscle or the joint in relation to that muscle is used
Weakness of the muscle or tendons
Inability to use the muscle at all

When to Seek Medical Care

If you have a significant muscle injury (or if home remedies bring no relief in 24 hours), call your doctor.

If you hear a “popping” sound with the injury, cannot walk, or there is significant swelling, pain, fever, or open cuts, you should be examined in a hospital’s emergency department.

Exams and Tests

The doctor will take a medical history and perform a physical exam. During the exam, it’s important to establish whether the muscle is partially or completely torn, which can involve a much longer healing process, possible surgery, and a more complicated recovery.

X-rays or lab tests are often not necessary, unless there was a history of trauma or evidence of infection.

Muscle Strain Treatment Self-Care at Home

The amount of swelling or local bleeding into the muscle (from torn blood vessels) can best be managed early by applying ice packs and maintaining the strained muscle in a stretched position. Heat can be applied when the swelling has lessened. However, the early application of heat can increase swelling and pain.

Note: Ice or heat should not be applied to bare skin. Always use a protective covering such as a towel between the ice or heat and the skin.

Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as naproxen or ibuprofen to reduce pain and improve your ability to move around. Do not take NSAIDS if you have kidney disease or a history of gastrointestinal bleeding or if you are also taking a blood thinner — such as Coumadin — without first talking with your doctor. In that case, it is safer to take acetaminophen, which helps lessen pain but does not reduce inflammation.

Protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation (known as the PRICE formula) can help the affected muscle. Here’s how: First, remove all constrictive clothing, including jewelry, in the area of muscle strain.

Then:
Protect the strained muscle from further injury.
Rest the strained muscle. Avoid the activities that caused the strain and other activities that are painful.
Ice the muscle area (20 minutes every hour while awake). Ice is a very effective anti-inflammatory and pain-reliever. Small ice packs, such as packages of frozen vegetables or water frozen in foam coffee cups, applied to the area may help decrease inflammation.
Compression can be gently applied with an Ace or other elastic bandage, which can both provide support and decrease swelling. Do not wrap tightly.
Elevate the injured area to decrease swelling. Prop up a strained leg muscle while sitting, for example.
Activities that increase muscle pain or work the affected body part are not recommended until the pain has significantly improved.

Medical Treatment

Medical treatment is similar to the treatment at home. The doctor, however, also can determine the extent of muscle and tendon injury and if crutches or a brace is needed for healing. The doctor can also determine if you need to restrict your activity or take days off work and if rehabilitation exercises or physical therapy are required to help you recover.

Next Steps Prevention

Help avoid injury by stretching daily.
Start an exercise program in consultation with your doctor.
Stretch after you exercise.
Establish a warm-up routine prior to strenuous exercise, such as gently running in place for a couple of minutes.

Easy Mindful Eating Tips That Are Actually Worth Following

See other great workout at home videos at Grokker.com.
By now you know that what you eat is important for achieving weight loss goals. But did you know that how you eat also plays a role in your success? At its simplest, mindless eating is defined as “eating food without paying attention,” and this kind of distracted (and often emotional) eating can cause you to ignore your body’s signals that you’re full. That, in turn, can lead to weight gain, says Chris Mohr, Ph.D., R.D. (Did you know these words sabotage your weight loss goals?)

In the video below, Dr. Mohr shares his best strategies for becoming more mindful with your eating habits. Don’t have time to watch? Bookmark these tips to help you become a more mindful eater.

When you plan to eat, set a timer for 20 minutes. Take the entire 20 minutes to eat the meal, focusing on each bite so you don’t wolf it all down in five minutes.
Try eating with your non-dominant hand. This won’t feel as natural, forcing you to slow down and be more conscious about your food.
Eat silently for five minutes, thinking about what it took to produce that meal—everything from the sun’s rays to the farmer’s work, getting it from the grocery store and finally cooking the meal.
Take small bites, and thoroughly chew your food before reaching for another forkful.
Before opening the fridge or cabinet, take a breath and ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” You can even do something else first, like reading, drinking water, or going on a short walk, to help you figure out the real answer.

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.

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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.

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