Top 4 Exercises for Back Pain Relief

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Standing up straight – easy, right? Wrong! If most of your day is spent sedentary and slumped at a desk, your posture will suffer – and back, neck and shoulder ache will be the norm. In fact, 43 per cent of us suffer aches and pains on a daily basis.

Bad posture reduces your strength and flexibility. It can result in disabling back and neck pain as well as major wear and tear on your joints.

To strengthen your back,  you will need to realign your body’s structure to relieve niggling aches and pains, and create a taller, slimmer physique. Here are the top 4 exercises to help with your back pain.

1. STRETCH SITTING

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Technique: Sit comfortably back on a chair, then come away from the backrest.

Steps:

  1. Using one forearm across your lower ribs, push back to help you curl forwards at the waist, lengthening your back.
  2. Staying curled over, put your hands on the seat or the armrests. Press down with your hands, pushing your top half away from your bottom half. Feel your waist getting longer.
  3. Stay curled and hinge back from the hips to trap this increased length against the backrest.
  4. Now relax.

2. SHOULDER ROLL

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Technique: Do the very beginning of a squat, keeping your weight in your heels.

Steps:

  1. Keeping your arm relaxed, roll one shoulder a little forward, then a little up. Then roll it as far back as you comfortably can.
  2. Repeat on the other side.

3. LUNGE

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Technique: Stand with your feet hip-width apart.

Steps:

  1. Bend forward with a straight back, placing your hands to the floor outside your feet or resting on your knees. Bend your knees as necessary.
  2. Extend the right leg behind you. Rest the right knee on the ground if necessary. Keep your hips level.
  3. Let your pelvis gradually relax towards the floor.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

4. DONKEY KICK

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Technique: Stand near a chair, table or wall for balance, with feet turned out a little.

Steps:

  1. Shift your weight to your right foot. Bend your right knee a little, ensuring it doesn’t turn inward. Rest your right hand on your hip to make sure your pelvis stays still.
  2. Rotate your left leg outwards and raise it back behind you. Feel your upper, outer buttock muscle squeezing to do this action. Your right buttock will also be working to keep your pelvis level.
  3. Lower and repeat the leg raise, while keeping the rest of your body still.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

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The Ultimate Secret To Being Fit

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There is only one secret to changing your lifestyle, no matter where you’re starting from or what your ultimate goal is:

Make little changes and make them slowly

What does this mean? Isn’t it obvious? Well, no. We get a lot of women coming to us wanting to find that one workout, that one diet, or that one superfood-juice-cleanse-detox-blah-blah that will turn them from a couch potato to one of those girls running past a sunset in a health insurance commercial.

Unfortunately, changing anything in life is not easy, and it’s not quick. It takes time, commitment, patience, and the ability to not get ahead of ourselves. We live in a society of instant gratification, and it is tempting to look for that when we are disappointed with how we feel or how we look. The answer isn’t to “OVERHAUL YOUR LIFE!!” – it’s to think about what changes are the easiest to make, and then making those changes slowly, over time.

The easiest change to make is usually a positive one: Adding something in. Rather than trying to STOP eating chocolate, STOP drinking wine, STOP sitting on the couch… You should try to START drinking a few glasses of water every day, START having one piece of fruit at breakfast, START with a 15-minute walk this weekend. For most people, these changes are manageable. It could be that you hate water (I used to!) so you start with sparkling water with a slice of lemon in it. Perhaps you start with just one glass of water a day, then after two weeks of that you add another glass of water each day. This is how slowly I’m talking about.It should feel absurdly easy to meet your short-term goals and stick to them.

If you expect perfection, you will always be disappointed

Particularly in the new year, it’s tempting to jump on the fitness bandwagon and just GO! But this is simply an A+ strategy to burn out and end up miserable and disappointed in yourself within a month or two. Following the secret of fitness, you only need to stick to one new habit per month. We cover extensively in our FAQ the steps you can take to achieve your goals, but although the information is displayed all together, that doesn’t mean you should attempt to do it all at once.

Almost all of our success stories in this subreddit come from women who have followed a plan to about 80-90%. Build flexibility into your plan and you’ll find those small changes far easier to achieve. You can do this by aiming to complete an action 2-3 times a week. There’s nothing stopping you from doing it more, but if you set a gym goal for 7 days a week and your child becomes ill, suddenly you’re a ‘failure’ for not going, as opposed to a real person dealing with real life using realistic targets.

The basic categories for any changes you make

Becoming fitter and healthier is a process of adaptation for your body. To successfully achieve this adaptation, you need to fulfill the criteria below. These four things should form the basis for the small changes you make in your life. Remember, when starting out you do not need to fulfill all of this criteria right away – but over the year it should be your goal to improve in each category:

  1. Challenge yourself with whatever exercise your do:If you do the same exercise for the rest of time without changing anything, your body will never continue to develop and adapt. Challenging and ‘stressing’ your body during a workout is the only way for adaptation to be stimulated, so that your body grows stronger and fitter while recovering. e.g. walk a bit further or a bit faster every week; Lift a little more weight each workout; Stay 5 more minutes at the gym than last time.
  1. Eat food that supports and fuels your body:Don’t eat too little and make your ‘vehicle’ run out of gas; but also don’t eat too much and overburden your body with energy it can’t use. e.g. eat a piece of fruit each day; get more veggies in your diet; increase the level of protein in your diet; track calories or macronutrients using an app.
  1. Drink water to stay hydrated:Imagine a thickshake. If you suck on the straw of a thickshake it can be hard to get the liquid moving. Now imagine you add water to that thickshake – suddenly, it’s a lot easier to move the liquid through the straw. Your heart is similarly trying to move blood around your body through your blood vessels. If you’re dehydrated, your heart will have a much harder time circulating your blood, making both exercise and life just that bit more difficult.
  1. Rest and recover from your workouts:Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night; Splitting weights workouts into upper/lower or push/pull/legs; Giving yourself rest days; Taking power naps.

Prioritise what you think is easiest or what you’re most excited for

How do you know what small changes to make and the order to make them? Simple. If you’ve joined a gym and you’re dying to get going in that Zumba class you walked past the other day, that should be your #1 goal. Attend 1-2 Zumba classes every week for a month. Change nothing else in that month unless it happens naturally.

In the second month, keep attending your Zumba class, but now strawberries are in season! So you’ll attend the class 1-2 times a week and have strawberries as your dessert 2-3 times a week. Yum!

It sounds almost too simple, right? But by taking steps you enjoy, and taking them slowly, you’ll find that they become built into your week far more naturally than trying to force-feed yourself a “fitness lifestyle” which is completely separate from your own individual desires.

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Revealed! The Real Secret to Fat Loss

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If you’re a regular reader of fitness magazines or blogs, you’ll probably know that we reckon weight training is just as important as cardio for fat loss. Not only does weight training boost your metabolism and firm you up all over, it’s also great for shifting those stubborn bulges. But there’s more science behind it than you may think, and it’s all to do with your muscle fibres. By knowing how they work, and how to get the best from them, you can blitz your wobbly bits forever. Hurrah!

Which twitch is which?

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Our muscle fibres are split into two main types: slow twitch and fast twitch. Slow-twitch fibres contract slowly and rely on oxygen as their main energy source. They can be used for longer periods of time; for instance, athletes who run long distances need more slow-twitch fibres in their legs.

Fast-twitch fibres, on the other hand, contract quickly and provide strength and speed, though they also fatigue more quickly. Sprinters require short but intense bursts of energy and so need more fast-twitch muscle fibres. Fast-twitch muscle fibres rely on the energy-carrying molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and glycogen as their main energy sources. As ATP sources can be rapidly depleted and lactic acid is a by-product of the breakdown of glycogen, fast-twitch fibres can only be active for a short time.

Different types of exercise will determine whether your fast- or slow-twitch fibres have to work to complete the task ahead. Basically, aerobic exercise will stimulate your slow-twitch fibres and weights, sprints and circuits will stimulate your fast-twitch fibres.

Fast weight loss

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It has been drummed into us that for maximum weight loss, we should focus on our slow-twitch fibres by doing steady-state cardiovascular exercise. But in recent years, sports science has proven that women who focus on stimulating their fast-twitch fibres by doing weight training, sprints and kickboxing lose fat and overall body weight far quicker. A U.S. study revealed that the increase in muscle mass you get by pumping iron can reduce your body fat, which in turn reduces overall body mass and lowers the risk of adult diabetes.

You don’t need to panic about putting on bulk by weight training, either. This ultimately comes down to hormones and calories. Women simply don’t have the testosterone to bulk up, even if they are doing weight training. This is the most misunderstood message among female exercisers, and it’s really important that you don’t let it get in the way of your dream body.

Weights and sprint training will help you lose fat because of the effect that our muscles have on the body’s ability to burn calories at rest (our metabolic rate). If your workouts involve fast-twitch muscle stimulation by using weights, sprints or kickboxing moves, your body will continue to burn fat for up to eight hours after a session. Slow-twitch workouts (such as long runs, extended swims or cross-training sessions) are a different story. You will only burn fat for about an hour after a slow-twitch session.

Mix it up

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An effective fat-loss programme will focus on stimulating all of your muscle fibres by mixing up weights, circuits and cardio. Women reach a plateau in their fitness when they focus 100 per cent of their gym time on their slow-twitch muscles fibres (i.e. running or cross training). Weight training and high-intensity exercise are far more powerful fat-loss tools. Ultimately, a combination of exercises that stimulate slow- and fast-twitch fibres is the recipe for weight-loss success.

The fat-burning workout over the following pages is a good example of how to stimulate your fast-twitch muscle fibres, provided you lift heavy enough weights. Each set should be so tough that you are struggling to finish the last rep!

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Mermaid Workouts for Serious Abs

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Yogalates, Zumba, underwater yoga and even the sexually suggestive shake weight have all been big fitness trends, so it’s safe to say people are more than willing to try out anything for the sake of losing a few pounds. But this new exercise routine might just be the strangest (and coolest) of them all. All around the world, women are donning monotails, taking to the water and attempting the mermaid workout.

Schools have opened in the Philippines, Germany, Thailand, Florida, Hawaii and most recently in Montreal that are teaching girls, women and even a few men, how to flip their way to a better body. A take on the dolphin kick, the mermaid workout allows girls to live their Disney fantasy while promoting good exercise habits, not to mention giving those abs a serious workout. Did you know that Olympic swimmers use the monofin to train butterfly and freedivers use it for records? Mermaid swimming is all about the core—the power comes from there because you are gyrating all day.

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While some Mermaid schools offer the full fairytale experience complete with makeovers and beachside photo shoots (Prince Charming not included), others focus on the workout and creating a space that is fun and educational for young girls.

But are people actually willing to don a glittery pink tail and flop around in the water just for the sake of getting better abs? It seems like it. Mermaid schools are popping up around the world and fitness enthusiasts seemed pretty eager to try the Ariel-inspired workout in lieu of their spin classes. Plus, since swimming is one of the best workouts for the body, one can only imagine how the ab-focused class would give us a glorious Shakira-worthy stomach.
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Get Fit And Lean With The 100 Workout

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The 100 Workout is a fast, all-encompassing workout that any girl can do, at any time of day, and from the comfort of her own home.

What makes The 100 Workout so appealing is the short amount of time it takes to exercise the whole body (glutes, quads, thighs, core, and hamstrings) as well as the convenience of not having to go to the gym.

Thinking of giving the workout a try? Here’s the breakdown of The 100 Workout:

  • 100 jumping jacks
  • 90 crunches
  • 80 squats
  • 70 leg lifts
  • 60 jumping jacks
  • 50 crunches
  • 40 squats
  • 30 leg lifts
  • 20 jumping jacks
  • 10 minutes of running

That’s it! For those of you not used to exercising on a regular basis, it is recommended that you work on each exercise one step at a time and adding the next step when you think you’re ready. To learn how to do each of the 4 exercises, please see below.

1. Jumping Jacks

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Stand with your feet a few inches apart and your arms at your sides, then simultaneously raise your arms out to the sides and over your head, and jump your feet out so they are slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Without pausing, quickly reverse the movement. Repeat.

2. Crunches

Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip width apart. Place your hands slightly either side of your head, do not lock your fingers or pull the head up.

Push the small of your back into the floor to engage the abdominal. Begin to roll your shoulders off the floor. Your shoulders should leave the floor by about 4 inches and your lower back should always remain on the floor. Hold for a moment at the top then slowly move back down.

3. Squats

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Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor.

Pause, stand back up, and repeat.

4. Leg Lifts

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Lie faceup on the floor, and raise your upper legs until they’re perpendicular to the floor. Bend your knees slightly. Without changing the arch in your lower back or the angle of your knees, brace your core and try to take 3 to 5 seconds to lower your feet as close to the floor as you can. One trick: Press your lower back toward the floor as you perform the movement. Once your feet touch the floor, raise them back to the starting position and repeat.

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Flabby Arms, Be Gone!

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This circuit is the perfect way to keep your bingo wings in check for party season and work your upper body to sculpt those arms into lean, mean, cocktail-holding machines… It’s simple, easy and effective. What are you waiting for?

How to do it

Perform a full set of the exercise, then take 20-30 seconds rest and move on to the next exercise. Repeat for the prescribed number of sets.

Beginner: 2 x 8 reps each move

Intermediate: 3 x 10 reps each move

Advanced: 4 x 10 reps each move

1. Alternating bicep curl

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Hold a pair of dumbbells by your sides.

Keeping your upper arm close to your body, curl one dumbbell up to your shoulder.

As you lower, do the same with the other arm.

Repeat this fluidly.

2. Front raise

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Hold a pair of dumbbells in front of your thighs.

Keeping a slight bend in the elbow, raise one dumbbell up in front of you to shoulder height.

Lower and repeat with the other arm.

3. Lateral raise

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Hold a pair of dumbbells by your sides.

Keeping arms slightly bent at the elbow, raise the dumbbells up and out to shoulder height.

Lower and repeat.

4. Lying extension

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Lying on your back, hold a pair of dumbbells with arms bent by your ears.

Keeping your upper arms still, extend the dumbbells to the ceiling.

Lower and repeat.

5. Shoulder press

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Hold a set of dumbbells with palms facing you at shoulder height.
Push up to the ceiling as you rotate your palms to face away from you.

Lower and repeat.

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16 Perfect Tips To Abs Of Envy

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It may not be a secret that the best way to a six-pack is regular exercise and a healthy diet (even if it’s no diet at all), but there’s a right way and wrong way to a flat stomach. Read on for the ultimate tips to getting toned and enviable abs.

1. Know the balance

Getting flat abs isn’t about starving yourself or living at the gym. Reducing belly fat involves a mix of smart eating and effective exercise. Make sure you eat enough food to keep your body from experiencing hormone imbalances; eating too little (fewer than 1200 calories a day) reduces the amount of the fat-burning hormone leptin in your body, which will slow down weight loss. And if you’re just exercising without changing your diet, you’ll spend a lot of time at the gym with little result.

2. Stand up straighter

Doing regular posture-building exercises pack a double punch when it comes to busting that belly. Having good posture helps you look slimmer instantly, while sticking to a posture-building routine every day will strengthen your ab muscles, and help get you well on your way to a six-pack.

3. Fight the Flab

Abs exercises will help define those muscles, but don’t forget cardio for overall weight loss; otherwise all those sit-ups will go to waste. If you want results fast, try high intensity interval training, which has been proven to be one of the best ways to fight belly fat.

4. De-Stress

Having too much stress can lead to higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your body, which can increase the amount of fat you store around your belly.

5. Start your mornings with oatmeal

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The secret to getting flat abs includes a diet that helps shrink that midsection. The best things to eat include foods high in fiber and other foods that help you beat the bloat. Swap your normal breakfast for a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries, for example; the fiber in the oatmeal will aid in digestion, and the antioxidants in blueberries may help you shed ab fat.

6. Detox and cleanse

It’s not in the foods you eat—what you drink can help de-bloat and flatten your tummy as well, so bottoms up! Drinking a glass of water every morning, for example, will help you alkalize your body—which helps you burn fat and detox your system.

7. Don’t touch certain foods

There are those foods that help slim your middle, and those that make you feel like a bloated balloon. As you continue your ab-flattening workout plan, be sure to avoid foods that cause bloating, like broccoli and cabbage, when things start getting serious.

8. Full-body exercises is the solution

If you’re looking for killer abs, don’t waste your time focusing solely on crunches, since they tone just one muscle group and exacerbate bad posture, especially if you sit with a rounded spine at a desk all day. Instead focus on full-body exercises, like squat to overhead press. Not only do these types of exercises save time by working multiple body parts while engaging your core, they also do so without the posture-wrecking position of a rounded spine.

9. You have layers in your belly – work them all

If you’ve only go one type of ab workout in your routine, your midsection is missing out. Working your core involves exercising all your abdominal layers, not just the top part that you can see. The inner muscles help pull in your belly for a slimming look, so be sure to work all of your ab muscles.

10. Don’t forget the muffin top and saddlebags

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Getting rid of a muffin top involves many of the same strategies you’re employing when it comes to washboard abs, but if you’ve got a little extra padding all around your waistline, there are a few more tricks you should have up your sleeve. Read labels carefully, for example; lurking trans fats in your favorite foods can increase the amount of fat you hold around your waist. And while you’re focusing on your abs while you work out, don’t forget back exercises like the Superman or the side bridge if you’ve got a muffin top to lose.

11. Eat clean and whole

Salt, sugar, and fatty foods can all lead to bloat, while fresh fruits and veggies and whole grains do just the opposite. Pay attention to labels as you shop and train your taste buds to prefer fresh produce.

12. Practice portion control

Even if you’ve been working on your abs, no one will see your strong, defined midsection if you’ve got a few extra pounds covering it. Keeping portions under control can help you lose weight.

13. Don’t be afraid to add weights

Think weights won’t help you get a six-pack? Think again. Grabbing hand weights for your ab work will increase the difficulty and challenge your ab muscles further.

14. Work out your back

A strong back will make you look taller and slimmer, and especially helps such in that pooch area.

15. Eat lean protein

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Lean protein burns fat and helps keep you full so you don’t overeat. Whether you opt for fish, turkey, or tofu, make sure your diet includes enough lean protein to keep you satisfied and your belly flat.

16. Plank it up

Planks are an amazing ab-definining move to incorporate into any workout. The plank focuses on your entire core, helping you work the muscles that tighten your midsection while also strengthening your arms and legs.

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14 Simple Ways To Be Healthier Everyday

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It’s probably safe to say we all wish we lived healthier lives, full of many 6 a.m. yoga classes and absolutely zero 10 p.m. ice cream sundaes. Alas, life. Still, bettering oneself is a noble pursuit, and we’re committed to seeking out small improvements that have big impacts. That way, the road to healthy living doesn’t feel quite so insurmountable that we throw in the towel entirely. To inspire you to live healthier each day, we’ve rounded up 14 simple habits that make all the difference. Read on.

1. Get moving.

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Bike to work. Do a set of jumping jacks in the morning. Buy a jump rope and spend five minutes perfecting your double dutch. Put on a playlist of four or five songs, and dance like no one’s watching. Do leg flutters under your desk while you work at your computer (no one will even notice!). Set an alert for yourself for every hour or so and make a point to walk to the kitchen for a cup of tea or stroll to a co-worker’s desk to say hi.

2. Cool off.

Though a hot, steamy shower is the stuff of daydreams, it can actually be damaging to your skin and hair health. Because no one really wants to take an icy shower, try to find a happy medium and cool it down a touch, or at least turn the temperature down during the last two minutes of your shower. Even this burst of cold will do your body good, closing your pores and hair follicles (and waking you right up).

3. Stretch.

Throughout the day, pay attention to your body, and stretch when you’re feeling cramped, tired, or just generally in need of a pick-me-up. Try a couple of sun salutations first thing in the morning to get your blood flowing, and end your day with a slow, seated stretch of bending at your hips to touch your toes. Hang out in these positions for as long as feels necessary.

4. Look up.

The next time you’re walking down a street, put your phone away and allow your eyes to wander. Notice details. Challenge yourself to pay attention to things you might normally ignore. Pause before going inside, and look up at the sky, the clouds, or the moon.

5. Hydrate.

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Drink an extra glass of water every day. Better yet, drink a few extra glasses. To help in this, try drinking a glass of water before every meal. Oftentimes we mistake thirst for hunger, and drinking a tall glass of H2O will actually help you feel fuller, longer.

6. Commit to citrus.

Drink a cup of warm water with lemon juice in the morning. The benefits of sipping the antioxidant-rich beverage are numerous: It reduces inflammation, aids digestion, and boosts energy, to name just a few.

7. Be one with nature.

Whether that means taking a break from your office to stand outside in the sunshine, waking up a little earlier to take a walk around your neighborhood, or beelining it to the beach at morning’s first light, it’s all good. The health benefits of nature are well documented, with studies suggesting being outside can ease depression, improve focus, increase creativity, and even strengthen your immune system.

8.Take the stairs.

Whether it’s at work or home, there’s always that moment of pause where you can opt to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Challenge yourself to get walking. While you’re at it, inject a little bit of training into your flight climbing. As you take a step, plant your foot more firmly into the floor, allowing the entirety of your foot to meet the step, then burst out of your step and into the next.

9. Perfect your posture.

Sit up a little straighter and stand a little taller! Bad posture has all kinds of negative health impacts, including chronic muscle pain, reduced circulation, headaches, and even bad moods. Sitting up straight and assuming the body language of victory actually has a proven-positive impact on your health, both physical and mental.

10. Practice mindful eating.

Many of us are in the habit of eating at our desks, in front of the television, or absentmindedly while we do another task (or two or three). Try to slow down the act of eating. Focus on taste, consistency, and your enjoyment. When you can, eat your meals sitting down at a table, where all you are doing is eating and reflecting.

11. Meditate.

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The best times to take a stab at some meditation are first thing in the morning before you’ve caffeinated (but after you’ve gotten up and splashed some water on your face) and in the evening before dinnertime. Take some time to sit quietly and close your eyes. Find a comfortable spot to sit that has back support, and tuck yourself into a cozy blanket. Repeat a mantra, concentrate on positive thinking, focus on deep breathing, or just allow your mind to wander. The benefits of meditation are manifold, and even a “failed” attempt provides a much-needed break.

12. Wind down.

Turn off all your technology 15 to 30 minutes before bedtime. Even something as harmless as checking your phone just before going to sleep can disrupt your sleep pattern, as the bright screens excite optic nerves and make your eventual sleep less restful.

13. Give your eyes a break.

Eye health experts recommend the 20-20-20 rule in order to preserve eye health, cut down on eye strain, and reduce eye strain–related headaches. For every 20 minutes you spend on the computer, glance away from the screen for at least 20 seconds by looking at something 20 feet away.

14. Get enough sleep.

Not getting enough sleep is one of the most consistent indicators of poor health. Though everyone is different, adults generally require between seven and eight and a half hours of sleep per night. If you aren’t sure how much you require, pay attention to your energy levels and mood each day, and tweak accordingly.

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10 Best Exercises To A Fit And Toned Body

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Every woman is familiar with those tricky trouble zones that take a little extra work to tighten and tone (lower abs, anyone?). After a lot of exercise trial and error, I’ve finally found a solid set of moves that help me shape up and feel confident in a swimsuit, my favorite skinny jeans, or a sexy cockatil dress.

Read on for the top 10 exercises that I find work wonders for my stomach, inner thighs, booty, and shoulders plus tips on how to add them into your workout routine.

1. Single Leg Deadlift

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I love this exercise because it lifts and tones the glutes and activates my entire core (which helps prevent back pain).

How to do it: Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand on your left foot. Lift your right foot behind you and bend your knee so your right lower leg is parallel to the floor.

Bend forward at your hips, and slowly lower your body as far as you can. Pause, then push your body back to the starting position. As you come up, think about using your glutes to push your hips forward instead of lifting from your back. Keep core engaged and chest up during the entire movement.

2. Side Plank

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This exercise is my secret weapon to help tighten and shrink my waistline. It works the deep abdominal muscles (obliques, transverse abdominus) that many abs exercises don’t reach.

How to do it: Lie on your left side with your knees straight. Prop your upper body up on your left elbow and forearm. Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Turn around so that you’re lying on your right side and repeat.

3. Classic Push-Ups

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I’m a huge fan of this classic exercise because it works the entire body, burning a significant amount of calories, as well as tightens my chest muscles to keep thing perky in your bikini.

How to do it: Get down on all fours and place your hands on the floor so that they’re slightly wider than and in line with your shoulders, feet close together. Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor and then push yourself back to the starting position. Make sure to keep your hips lifted and your core braced the entire time.

4. Second Position Plies

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This ballet move sculpts the inner thighs as well as tones the gluteus minimus (side of butt) for lean legs like a dancer.

How to do it: Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned out slightly. Lower your body down by bending your knees until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Bring arms overhead and shoulders down and back. Pause, then slowly push yourself back up to the starting position.

5. Cardio Intervals

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Incorporate high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into your routine to burn more calories in a shorter amount of time, as opposed to long, slow endurance exercise.

How to do it: Choose any piece of cardio equipment (elliptical, jump rope, treadmill, bike, etc) and repeat the following pattern 10 times total:
3 minutes at 50 percent of your maximum effort
20 seconds at 75 percent of your maximum effort
10 seconds at your absolute maximum effort

6. Triceps Extensions

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This is my favorite exercise for toning the back of shoulders and triceps. I use light weights and perform a high number of reps (25+) for this exercise.

How to do it: Come into a lunge position, with your back heel on the ground. Lean over your front bent knee as your lift your arm straight up by your side, top of the weight facing the ceiling. Lift and lower the 2-3 pound weight about an inch (30 times each side).

7. Step-Ups

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This exercise targets the muscles of your glutes and hamstrings to create leaner, stronger legs, and a tighter, lifted rear. Stepups also work your quadriceps since they require you to straighten your knee against resistance.

How to do it: Stand in front of a bench or step and place your left foot firmly on the step. Press your left foot into the step and push your body up until your left leg is straight. Lower your body back down until your right foot touches the floor and repeat.

Keep your chest up and core engaged the entire time. Keep your weight balanced evenly, not leaning too far forward or too far back.

8. Bridge

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Bridges are not only the perfect exercise for a perfectly rounded rear, but they will also help keep your back healthy and pain free.

How to do it: Lie faceup on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Raise your hips so your body forms as straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Pause in the up position, then lower your body back to the starting position.

9. Plank With Arm Raise

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Adding an arm raise to an already excellent exercise like the plank improves posture and core strength, which makes me feel better, look taller, and feel more confident.

How to do it: Start to get into a pushup position, but bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms instead of on your hands. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Brace your core and maintain your hip placement as you lift your right arm straight out in front of you. Draw your shoulder blades down and back as you lift your arms. Hold the position for 5-10 seconds and then switch arms.

10. Should Stand

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There are so many physical and mental benefits to yoga. Inversion postures are great for helping to reduce the appearance of cellulite. I do a shoulder stand or put my legs up the wall for 5 minutes every night before I go to bed.

How to do it: Lie down on your back and lift your legs and hips off the ground, bringing your legs up over your head until your toes touch the floor behind you. Place your hands behind your back and extend legs straight in the air, creating a straight line from shoulders to ankles.

Keep your neck relaxed as your hold the shoulder stand. Try to hold it for at least one minute and then slowly come out of it.

Bringing It All Together

  1. Total-Body Workout

For a quick, total-body tone up, pick five of the moves and do 3 sets of each exercise 10 times (unless otherwise noted below). Move as fast as possible between moves for maximum calorie burn.

The next day, do the other five exercises. You can incorporate a few sets of cardio intervals into the total-body training session or do it separately for a longer period of time.

  1. Target Your Trouble Zone

If you want to tighten up one specific area, pick the exercises that focus on those places and incorporate them into your daily routine. Just remember to continue challenging your body by gradually increasing the weight or number of reps as you get stronger.

Original Article and Image Source: By Nora Tobin 

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8 Simple Exercises You Can Do While Watching TV

In a perfect world, you’d like to make it to the gym, but sometimes (okay, most times) after a long day of work, lacing up your sneakers and hitting the treadmill could not sound more unappealing. Curling up with Netflix usually wins out over a good ab-tightening, glute-toning workout. But who said the two had to be mutually exclusive?

Keep reading to find out about the workout you can do from the comfort of your bed!

1. Pillow Crunches

Stack two pillows at the foot of bed. Lie flat on your back with your feet resting on the pillows and arms crossed over your chest. Inhale to pull your core in, and then exhale as you lift your upper body towards your feet. Slowly lower your body down and repeat ten times to strengthen your entire core.

2. Roundhouse Kicks

Lie on your back with your arms and legs extended. Lift your right leg an inch or two off the bed and rotate it out in a wide circle, keeping your leg straight. Once your leg is level with your hip, bring it up to the center of your body and lower it back down to the starting position. Repeat your circle in a slow and controlled motion five times. Then reverse the direction. Once you’ve completed ten glute- and ab-toning roundhouse kicks on the right leg, switch to the left leg.

3. Leg Circles

Lie on your back with your legs extended out in front of you. Squeeze your legs together and lift them up about three inches off of the bed. Draw a basketball in the air with your toes. Do this 20 times, and then switch directions. For more of a challenge for your lower abdominals, swap the basketballs for figure-eights.

4. Sit and Twist

Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat. Place your hands behind your head, elbows bent. Exhale as you sit up. Once you reach sitting position, twist your right elbow towards your left knee. Come back to center and lower down. Do 20 sit-ups, alternating the side you twist to each time. You’ll be working your entire core and your hamstrings.

5. Seated Floor Taps

Sit on the edge of the couch or bed, legs slightly wider than wide-distance. Extend your arms straight overhead. Keep your shoulders down and stomach pulled in as you lower your body. When your hands reach the floor, raise back up to the upright position. Repeat this slow and controlled movement 15 times to strengthen your back muscles and your core.

6. Oblique Twists

Sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor and your abs engaged. Hold your arms at a 90-degree angle, elbows in line with your shoulders. Keeping your head stationary, start twisting side to side. Do this for 60 seconds to tone your obliques. To increase the calorie burn, pick up the pace and add a punch each time you twist.

7. Knees To Chest

Sitting on the edge of the bed or couch, bring your knees up into your chest, legs squeezing together, core engaged. Lean back as you extend your legs out straight to a 45-degree angle. Your body should be in the shape of a V. Hold that position for a few seconds then return to starting position. Do this 15 times to tone your inner thighs and lower abdominals.

8. Hip Rotations

Lie face down on the bed with your legs extended behind you and your arms folded under your head. Bend your right leg and place your foot on the back of your knee. Keeping both hips flat against the bed, contract your right glute and lift your right knee a few inches off of the floor. Hold that position for a few seconds, and then release. Repeat ten times on the right side before switching to the left. The movement is small, but don’t be fooled—you’ll feel the burn in your glutes and hips.

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