TIME Exercise/Fitness

13 Fun Ways to Work Out With Your Dog

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The versatile furry friends can do anything from running to yoga to boot camp with you

Dogs make the best workout buddies. They never complain about hills or cancel on you last-minute. And they’re always stoked to follow you out the door. That energy can be contagious: research from Michigan State University found that canine owners were 34% more likely to get the recommended 150 minutes of exercise a week than folks who didn’t have a dog. Even if you’re just taking your pup for a walk, that counts. (Move at a brisk clip and you can burn as many as 170 calories in half an hour.) But there are lots of other activities you and Fido can do together—all while strengthening your bond.

Check out these fun ways to get fit with your furry pal.

Running

Because dogs are creatures of habit, they can help you keep up your weekly mileage: Once your pup gets into the routine of a morning run, she won’t let you wimp out if it’s drizzling, or you’re just feeling bleh, explains J.T. Clough, author of 5K Training Guide: Running with Dogs($8; amazon.com). “She’ll wait by your sneakers, tongue out, tail wagging,” says Clough, who runs a dog-training business on Maui. “Her excitement can be enough to change your attitude.”Concerned your little pooch won’t keep up? No need to worry, says Clough: “The truth is most small dogs have more energy than the big breeds.” Just be careful in the heat and humidity, since dogs don’t sweat like we do. And if you have a flat-faced breed (think pugs and Boston terriers), keep your runs under five miles, Clough suggests, since these dogs have a harder time taking in air.

Stand-up paddleboarding

It’s almost as if stand-up paddleboards were designed for canine co-pilots: Dogs of all sizes can ride on the nose (while you get a killer ab workout). Pick an ultra-calm day on a lake or bay for your first excursion together, so your pup can develop his sea legs. If you’re struggling to balance the board, try paddling on your knees, which lowers your center of gravity, until your dog is comfortable. Still, odds are you’ll both take a dip, which is why Clough recommends outfitting your dog with a life preserver. It’ll make it easier for you to lift him back onto the board, too: Most doggie vests have an easy-to-grab handle, like the NRS CFD (from $35; amazon.com).

Is your dog a born swimmer? Bring a stick or throw toy and play fetch once you’ve paddled out.

Kayaking

You can also take your dog out for a spin in a sit-on-top kayak. Smaller breeds may perch up front, while larger dogs might feel safer closer to your feet. Teach your buddy to get in and out of the kayak on land first; then practice in the shallow water close to shore. (If he seems nervous about sliding around, you could lay down a small mat or piece of carpet so his paws can get some traction.) The trick is to keep the first few outings relaxed and fun (read: brings treats!). Stick to inlets and slow-moving rivers without too much boat traffic. You can let your dog paddle alongside you if he wants to swim. If not, that’s okay too: “He’s getting lots of stimulation just by riding in the boat,” says Clough—all while you ton your arms and core and burn hundreds of calories.

Cycling

Is your dog so exuberant on walks you worry she might one day pull your arm off? If so, try letting her keep up with you as you pedal: “Biking is perfect for dogs with tons of energy,” says Clough. “They are totally psyched to flat-out run.” Meanwhile, you’re getting a great workout (cycling can torch 500-plus calories per hour) and building your leg muscles.

If your girl likes chasing squirrels and skateboards, consider using a device called the Springer. It attaches the leash to your bike’s frame or seat stem and absorbs much of the force of sudden tugs ($130; amazon.com).

Biking with your dog may actually help with any behavioral issues she has, Clough adds. “The biggest problem I see with dogs is that they’re not getting enough exercise.” Indeed, veterinarians at Tufts University’s Animal Behavior Clinic say aerobic exercise stimulates the brain to make serotonin, a hormone that helps dogs, especially those who are anxious or aggressive, to relax.

Rollerblading

This is another great way to burn off a dog’s excess energy—as long as you’re an expert inline skater, that is. If not, “it can be disastrous,” warns Clough. “Your dog will be like ‘Woohoo!’ and you’ll be like, ‘Where’s the break?!” But even if you’re super confident on wheels, she suggest rollerblading in an area free of traffic, like a park or boardwalk, so you can enjoy the excursion as much as your pal. Chances are, you’ll have so much fun you’ll forget you’re seriously working your core.

Dog-friendly boot camp

Fitness classes designed for people and pups—like Leash Your Fitness in San Diego and K9 Fit Club in Chicago —are becoming more and more popular. In a typical class, you’ll run through high-intensity moves for strength, balance and cardio while your four-legged companion practices obedience drills. “I recommend that people at least try out a class,” says Clough, who helped launch Leash Your Fitness. “The focus is more on the person’s workout than the dog’s,” she explains, but your dog is learning to feel comfortable in a distracting environment—and that will make it easier to take him along on other fitness adventures.

Dog yoga

Yep, “doga” is a thing, and it turns out pooches are naturals at this ancient practice. Can’t picture it? Think about your girl’s morning stretches: She probably does a perfect cobra, right? In a doga class, you’ll help her try more poses—and she’ll (hopefully) act as a prop for your own poses. But really doga is all about the pet-human bond. There’s often some doggy massage and acupressure involved. And while you’re in such close contact, you’ll have the opportunity to do a regular health check, feeling for any lumps beneath her fur.

Active fetch

You throw the ball and your pup goes bounding after it. But who says you have to just stand there? While he’s retrieving, bust out some muscle-building moves like crunches, lunges, squats, and more—until you’re both panting and worn out. Better yet, race him for the ball and squeeze in some sprints. Fetch can be a game you play, too.

Soccer

Believe it or not, some dogs love soccer—especially herding breeds like Border Collies and Australian Shepherds. Pet brands sell soccer-style balls (resistant to sharp teeth) in different sizes, like the 5-inch Orbee-Tuff ball from Planet Dog ($20; amazon.com). Once your boy learns to “kick” or “dribble” with his nose or paws, get your heart rates up with keep-away, or by punting the ball and racing for it.

Not a soccer fan? Try engaging him with other toys (like rope tugs) and activities (such as hide-and-seek). “Put yourself into kid mood, come up with a game, and show him,” Clough suggests. “He’ll most likely play it with you.”

Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing

Cold weather doesn’t mean you have to leave your dog cooped up. Some breeds—like Huskies and St. Bernards—have snow in their DNA, but many dogs enjoy a good romp in the white stuff. And whether you’re on snowshoes or skis, you’ll get in a low-impact, total-body workout. But the best part comes later, when you both curl up for a snooze by the fire.

If your dog gets chronic snow build-up between the pads on her paws, you can outfit her with booties. Brands like Ultra Paws (from $32; amazon.com). and Ruffwear ($90; amazon.com) make rugged footwear for winter walks.

Stair-running

Thanks to the vertical element, climbing stairs (or bleachers) makes your quads, hamstrings, and glutes work extra hard. You’ll tighten up your lower half, while Spot burns off the biscuits.

Join a canine charity race

You have the perfect training buddy. Why not work toward the goal of finishing a dog-friendly race? Events for four-pawed runners and their owners—such as the Fast and the Furry 8K in St. Paul, Minn. and the Rescue Me 5K9 in Irvine, Calif. —are held all over the country.

Don’t have a dog?

You can still work out with one. Call a local animal shelter and volunteer to take dogs out for walks or runs. Pound puppies are often desperate for exercise and attention, and your commitment to your new furry pal is great motivation to stick with a fitness routine. Best of all, as an anxious or unruly dog learns to walk on a leash and behave in public, you’ll be improving his chances of finding a forever home.

This article originally appeared on Health.com

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Why the Beach Is So Much Grosser Than You Thought

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Dirty sand can make you sick

With all the news reports—about everything from shark activity to “flesh-eating” bacteriathe ocean is getting a lot of nasty press this summer. But actually, it may be the sand that’s the ickier part of the beach, according to a new study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. It harbors far more fecal bacteria (yes, that means poop) than the water.

“Beach goers should be aware of the health implications of contaminated beach sand, and should not assume that sand is always safe,” lead researcher Tao Yan, PhD, explained to Health.

It turns out that previous studies have shown that the sand is actually grosser compared to the water; it often has 10 to 100 times the fecal bacteria than the water, the study authors note.

For the most recent investigation, however, Yan and his team wanted to understand why.

In a lab, the researchers created a set up of three “microcosms” using samples from three Hawaii beaches, including sand and seawater normally found in those places, and then contaminated them with fecal bacteria commonly found on beaches. They then watched the samples to see how the bacteria populations changed over time. Ultimately they found that the decay process of harmful bacteria was much slower in the beach sand than in the water, which might explain why sand seems to be more of a hotbed.

But can this bacteria really hurt you? A 2012 study in the journal Epidemiology suggests that yep, it’s possible dirty sand can make you sick. The researchers analyzed sand samples from two beaches (one in Alaska and one in Rhode Island) within two miles of waste-water treatment facilities. Then, they surveyed nearly 5,000 visitors to those beaches, and found that those who played in the sand or got buried in the sand were more likely to develop diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or other GI upset in the weeks after their visit.

Still, researchers insist their findings are no reason to quit the beach all togetherjust take the obvious precautions.

“The symptoms we observed are usually mild and should not deter people from enjoying the beach, but they should consider washing their hands or using a hand sanitizer after playing in the sand or water,” senior author Timothy Wade, PhD, said in a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency press release.

Also, rinsing off in the public access showers ASAP, and following that with a good shower at home after a day at the beach might not be a bad idea either. Just sayin’.

This article originally appeared on Health.com

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15 Weird Risk Factors for Kidney Stones

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Your love for leafy greens may increase risk for kidney stones

Anyone who’s ever passed a kidney stone before has probably wondered how something so small (usually, anyway!) can cause so much pain. Unfair, we know. About 1 in 11 people will suffer from a kidney stone in their lifetime—and once you’ve already had one, you’re about 50% more likely to have another. More bad news: At one time, stones primarily affected men, but new research shows that this gender gap has almost closed, possibly due to the rise in obesity.

What are kidney stones, exactly?

Most kidney stones are a solid mass of minerals that have congealed and lodged itself somewhere in your urinary tract. The majority of them are made of calcium—usually a combination of calcium and oxalate, but, in rarer cases, calcium and phosphate—and, to a much lesser extent, uric acid.

Now for the good news: With a few dietary and lifestyle tweaks, you might be able to slash your odds of ever suffering from a kidney stone again—or, even better, prevent one entirely.

Too little calcium

Since calcium is present in most kidney stones, it makes sense to just cut the nutrient right out of your diet, right? Nope. That was the old thinking. Now experts know that people who consume more calcium are less likely to encounter a kidney stone than those on low-calcium diets, according to one 2013 study by researchers from Harvard Medical School. “It’s all about balance,” says Mantu Gupta, MD, the chair of urology at Mount Sinai Roosevelt and Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital. Dr. Gupta goes on to explain that if your diet is deficient in calcium, chemicals called oxalates, which normally bind to calcium in the digestive tract, will instead bind with calcium in the urine and trigger the formation of stones.

Your salad obsession

You eat all the right things, only to end up in a urologist’s office. What gives? Oxalates, again. These substances are found in leafy greens like spinach, rhubarb, and beets. Ideally, those oxalates will bind with calcium in your intestine and be shuttled out of your body via your urinary tract, says Roger L. Sur, MD, director of the University of California San Diego’s Comprehensive Kidney Stone Center. But when the amount of oxalates is too high, these chemicals can concentrate in the urine and lead to a stone formation. That’s not to say you should give up veggies, of course. Talk to your doctor about possible food swaps for lower-oxalate foods—for example, kale instead of spinach or cauliflower in place of amaranth.

A salty diet

Out of all the potential problems caused by too much salt, kidney stones are probably last on the list. But when your sodium intake rises, that can also trigger an increase in the amount of calcium your kidneys excrete. Translation: A build-up of calcium in the urine, which increases the risk of kidney stone formation, says Brian Stork, MD, a urologist and spokesperson for the American Urological Association. Experts recommend that most people limit their sodium consumption to 2,300 milligrams per day, but other people, like those with high blood pressure, should lower that to less than 1,500 milligrams per day.

Not enough citrus fruits

If you can’t remember the last time you had a lemon or grapefruit, consider this a reason to up your intake: Citrus fruits contain a compound called citrate, which is thought to help lower the risk of some kidney stones, says Dr. Gupta. Plus, one study in the journal Nature found that when people who normally avoided produce added fruits and vegetables into their diet for one month, they decreased the amount of kidney-stone-causing chemicals that were present in their urine. Try adding a lemon or lime wedge to your water daily, says Dr. Gupta.

Too much meat

On the other hand, eating too much poultry and red meat can also put you at risk for stones: One 2014 study in the journal Nutritional Epidemiology found that vegetarians and fish-eaters were 30 to 50% less likely to have kidney stones than people who ate about 100 grams of meat per day (think: a steak and a half). People who load up on meat might be crowding out fruits and vegetables from their diets—a mistake, since produce contains magnesium, which can also prevent stones from forming.

Living in the South

The Southeastern United States might be known as the Bible Belt, but urologists have another name for it: the kidney stone belt. One oft-cited study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 1996 found that people living in this area had nearly double the risk of stones as people living in cooler regions of the United States. Blame the hot, arid climate: “Because the temperatures are higher, people in the South can lose more fluid through sweat and become dehydrated,” says Dr. Gupta. When you aren’t drinking enough water, there will be a higher percentage of minerals in a lower amount of urine, increasing the likelihood that those minerals will bind together to form a stone.

Too much iced tea

Another strike against the sweet-tea-loving South. A 2015 report in the New England Journal of Medicine about a 56-year-old man who was rushed to the hospital for kidney failure after drinking too much iced tea shocked the Internet. And as it turned out, black tea (one of the most popular kinds in the U.S.) is also a major source of oxalate, which can cluster in the urine to form kidney stones. This man was drinking about 16 8-ounce glasses of black tea daily, which is at least double the average person’s daily intake. If you’ve had a kidney stone before, ask your doctor about limiting your consumption to one 8-ounce serving a day, says Dr. Gupta, who also notes that people with super high levels may have to cut it out of their diet completely.

A can of soda

Normally, staying hydrated is one of the smartest ways to avoid kidney stones because it dilutes kidney-stone forming substances: (That’s why experts say that drinking about eight glasses of water a day is one way to prevent them from forming in the first place.) But not all beverages are created equal: One 2013 study found that downing even one sugary-sweet soda a day can increase your odds of developing kidney stones by 23%. Researchers think that the fructose (a sugar) in sweetened drinks causes an increase in kidney stone-causing chemicals. Stick to water, minus the sugar.

Your parents

Here’s something else to thank mom and dad for: If either parent has had a kidney stone, your risk increases as well. Sure, families have similar diets, but there’s a biological reason as well. “Like obesity or diabetes, there are multiple genes involved, and oftentimes, people inherit the inability to efficiently absorb oxalate from their parents,” says Dr. Gupta.

Having IBD

People with inflammatory bowel diseases tend to have a higher risk for stones than those without these serious conditions, and one 2013 study in the International Journal of Nephrology and Renovascular Disease found that those with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis were especially at risk. One reason: These conditions are accompanied by diarrhea, which can increase a person’s risk of dehydration—and, in turn, up the percentage of kidney stone-causing chemicals in lower amounts of urine, says Dr. Stork.

Recurring urinary tract infections

In this case, frequent UTIs are a possible sign of a kidney stone. Some background: Not all stones cause pain—in fact, some can pass through your body unnoticed. But other times, kidney stones stay in your urinary tract and block the flow of urine, which could lead to a UTI. This infection is one possible sign that you may have a kidney stone that you don’t know about, explains Dr. Sur. “In some people, the only way we would have found their kidney stones is because they had recurrent urinary tract infections,” he says.

Using too many laxatives

Laxatives have existed for over 2,000 years, and people have been abusing or misusing them that entire time, according to a 2010 study published in the journal Drugs. Older people dealing with constipation who believe they need to have a bowel movement daily for good health comprise a significant number of laxative abusers, but the largest group, by far, is made up of people suffering from anorexia or bulimia. Laxative overuse may interfere with your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and medications, and may also bring on an electrolyte imbalance—and it’s been linked to kidney stones, says Dr. Sur. Using too much of these meds may cause people to become dehydrated, which could trigger a stone.

A migraine medication

People who take topiramate (found in the prescription med called Topamax) can be more likely to have kidney stones than those who don’t take this drug, says Dr. Sur. One 2006 study in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases found that topiramate can increase the pH levels in the urinary tract, which may lead to an increased risk of kidney stone formation. (Talk to your doctor before making any changes to your medication regimen.)

Your weight

Obese women may be about 35% more likely to develop kidney stones than their leaner counterparts, according to a 2011 study in The Journal of Urology. Researchers aren’t quite sure why, but they suspect that the extra poundage changes the environment in your urinary tract, making it easier for kidney stones to form. “People who are obese have altered urinary pH levels, which can cause a buildup of uric acid-forming kidney stones,” says Dr. Sur.

Weight loss surgery

While it’s true that obesity increases your risk of stones, so can bariatric surgery, according to one 2009 study in The Journal of Urology. “It’s thought that after the procedure, people might not absorb as much calcium from their diets,” says Dr. Stork. “When that happens, the build-up of oxalate in the urinary tract could lead to a kidney stone.” If you’ve recently had surgery, talk to your doctor about how you can cut your risk, either by drinking more water, limiting meat and sodium, or consuming enough calcium.

This article originally appeared on Health.com

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6 Things Every Woman Should Know About Yeast Infections

So-called 'preventative' products may cause more harm than good

Sorry to be a downer, but if you haven’t had a yeast infection yet, you’ll probably get one eventually. Three out of four women will experience one sometime in her life—and half will have two or more. “These are so common because yeast normally lives on your skin and around your vagina,” says Melissa Goist, MD, an ob-gyn at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. When something disrupts the vagina’s natural balance of healthy bacteria, yeast (aka the fungus Candida) can grow out of control. And then comes the telltale down-there itching and burning sensation that can drive you up a wall.

Whether you’ve been visited by a yeast problem once, a bunch of times, or not yet, you may be surprised by the truth about these frustrating infections. Here are the facts every woman should know.

The symptoms can mimic other problems

One study found that as few as 11% of women who have never had a yeast infection could identify the symptoms, while other research has found that only one-third of women who thought they had a yeast infection actually did. Why the confusion?

The signs are similar to other down-there problems. If you have a yeast infection, you might notice burning, itching, pain during sex, and a thick white odorless discharge.

But if it smells fishy, it may instead be bacterial vaginosis (BV), and if you have only burning and pain during urination, that suggests a urinary tract infection. Bottom line: It can be difficult to figure out.

First-timer? Go to the doctor if you think you have one

Now you know the signs, but remember: Just because you can buy over-the-counter treatment for a yeast infection doesn’t mean you always should. The first time you experience symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor (or hit up an urgent care center if you can’t score an appointment) because if it turns out you don’t have a yeast infection, at-home treatments can make inflammation worse or not provide any relief at all, Dr. Goist says.

A doctor will be able to correctly pinpoint the problem (yeast infection or something else) then give you personalized treatment, like an Rx for the oral antifungal fluconazole as well as a topical skin cream to reduce inflammation.

After that, you’ll know exactly what to watch out for, and your doc may give you the all clear to self-treat your next one with an over-the-counter antifungal, like Monistat or generic clotrimazole.

You don’t need products to prevent them

Gynecologists like to call the vagina a “self-cleaning oven.” That’s because it doesn’t need any help with douches, scented gels, perfumes, and other “feminine” products to stay clean. In fact, rather than helping prevent a yeast infection, these can cause an imbalance of the healthy bacteria in your vagina that makes you more susceptible to a yeast infection, explains Dr. Goist.

What to do if it happens after sex

A yeast infection is not technically a sexually transmitted infection (STI), but sex can throw off the bacterial balance in your vagina, upping your risk for a yeast overgrowth. That said, if you get what you think is a yeast infection after sex with a new partner, it’s a good idea to see your doctor, so you can rule out any potential new STIs, as well.

The truth about wet bathing suits

You’ve probably heard hanging out in wet clothes is a recipe for disaster. Doctors often say it’s a good idea to change out of a wet suit or sweaty exercise clothes because yeast thrives in warm, wet environments. And that’s true. But it’s mostly important for women who suffer from recurrent episodes rather than the general population. “Unless you know you’re prone to yeast infections, you won’t necessarily get one by hanging out in a wet suit,” Dr. Goist says. Make changing a priority if you get them frequently, otherwise, you’re probably fine.

Switching birth control pills may make you more susceptible

Anything that alters your hormone levels—like changing to a new hormonal birth control pill (that increases your estrogen levels) or too much stress (high cortisol) is a risk factor. Other things to watch out for: taking antibiotics, which kill healthy bacteria in the vagina, allowing yeast to thrive; or having uncontrolled blood sugar levels if you have type 2 diabetes (high blood sugar can feed yeast). If any of these sound like you and you get yeast infections, come up with a plan with your doc about how to control them.

This article originally appeared on Health.com

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This No-Gym Workout Gets the Job Done in 10 Minutes

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High-intensity interval training (HIIT) gets results in less time

Can’t get to the gym? No problem!

There’s a notion out there that you need to belong to a gym in order to maintain a fitness routine, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with leaving your house to get your sweat on, it’s also completely possible to get a great workout in the comfort of your own living room.

This HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout is the perfect fat-burning addition to any exercise program you’re currently doing. The best part? It will only take you 10 minutes, you can do it in front of the TV, and the only equipment you need is a stopwatch (or the timer on your phone).

Perform each move below for 20 seconds, trying to get as many reps in as you can, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Do two full sets (meaning 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest, then repeat once) of each exercise before moving on to the next. Let’s HIIT it!

Squat jumps

Stand tall with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Squat down, keeping the weight in your heels, until you have reached the bottom of a squat. From here, jump straight up into the air as high as you can. Land softly on your toes and repeat.

Push-ups

Get into a standard plank position, with your arms slightly wider than your shoulders and your feet just a few inches apart. Slowly lower yourself down, getting as close to the ground as possible. From here, push back up through your chest and arms to starting position. Keep your core tight throughout the entire movement and fight the urge to allow your mid-section to either arch up or sag.

Jumping lunges

Start in a lunge position with your right foot in front and left foot behind you with your left knee about an inch from the floor. From here, explode straight up out of the lunge, switching your legs mid-air and landing softly on your toes. You will now have your left leg in front and right leg behind you. Remember to keep your front knee at a 90 degree angle and try not to let it go past your toes.

Sit-ups

Lie on your back with your knees bent and hands behind your head. While keeping your chin angled towards the sky, use your core to sit up until your elbows touch your knees. Lower back down to the ground and repeat.

Burpees

Stand with your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Squat down to the floor and place your hands on the ground in front of you. From here, jump back into a pushup position. Jump your feet forward until you are at the bottom of a squat again, then jump straight into the air.

Want more moves like this? Check out 6 Moves That Burn More Fat in Less Time

This article originally appeared on Health.com

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How Having Oily Skin Might Help Prevent Wrinkles

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And why wrinkles tend to be more noticeable around your eyes than on your forehead

Have you ever heard the old wives’ tale that people with oilier skin get fewer wrinkles? There may be some small grain of truth in that after all, according to a new study published in the journal Clinical Anatomy.

For the study, Japanese researchers analyzed the skin on the foreheads and around the eyes in cadavers aged 20 to 90 years old, looking at the wrinkles, the number of sebaceous glands (which are what secrete the skin’s oil), as well as the skin’s elasticity and density. In the end they found that the depth and length of wrinkles correlated to the amount of sebaceous glands in these areas, with areas with more glands tending to have wrinkles that weren’t as deep or long.

This may explain why wrinkles tend to be more noticeable around your eyes (hello, crow’s feet) than on your forehead, since there are more oil-secreting glands in the forehead than around your eyes.

While the authors say it’s possible that oilier skin (thanks to having more glands) prevents dry and deeper wrinkles from forming, the presence of the oil isn’t the only thing that seems to help keep skin smooth. It could also be that the skin on the areas with more glands tended to be thicker and have more elasticity. As the researchers put it: “Such properties will suppress the deformation of the skin.”

Another interesting finding: the density of oil glands was lower in women, than it was for the men, though they didn’t see a big difference in wrinkle depth between the sexes.

Ultimately, what matters more for your skin is the total picture: protecting yourself from the sun’s rays, exercise, eating a healthy diet with lots of foods that are good for your skin, and getting enough sleep.

But hey, if this makes you feel a little bit better about your oily skin, we won’t blame you.

This article originally appeared on Health.com

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5 Research-Backed Habits of People Who Never Skip a Workout

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Here's all the motivation you'll need to move

The first few weeks of a new fitness routine, you couldn’t be more stoked. You practically pop out of bed to hit the gym—rain or shine, snow or sleet. And then life happens. A colleague calls an early-morning meeting. A nasty cold strikes. You start to feel deflated, and your willpower fades.

Sound familiar? It’s a “vicious cycle of failure,” according to Michelle Segar, PhD, director of the Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy Center at the University of Michigan. For 20 years, she’s been studying motivation to figure out why so many of us struggle to keep it—especially when it comes to healthy habits.

Her new book, No Sweat ($17, amazon.com), reveals how to make one of those key habits, exercise, a part of your life—for good. (Hint: It involves banishing “should” thoughts.) Here, Segar, who also coaches clients, shares five simple tips that make perfect sense:

Count everything—and add it up

Physical activity doesn’t have to be time-consuming or intense to count as exercise. “Many of the things you’re already doing qualify as healthy movement,” says Segar. So give yourself credit for crossing the parking lot (2 minutes), walking the dog (10 minutes), playing tag with your kids (15 minutes), gardening (20 minutes), even pushing a cart around the grocery store (25 minutes). “Virtually all of my clients have told me that the notion that ‘everything counts’ has been transformative for them,” Segar adds. “It makes them feel successful every time they move, which leads to higher energy levels all day long.”

Focus on the now

Once you start counting all the physical activity in your day, you realize it’s possible to squeeze in a little more (without changing into workout clothes). “Rather than thinking, I don’t have time, you start thinking, I can fit this in!” Segar explains. Whenever you have a small pocket of time—even if its just five minutes—ask yourself, What can I do right now? You might end up jogging the stairs 10 times, or knocking out a series of ab moves on the floor.

Do what feels good

“Our brains are hardwired to respond to immediate gratification, and to do what makes us feel good,” says Segar. This is one of the reasons we tend to give up on chore-like workouts. Segar’s advice: Choose a type of movement that feels good to you, and you will want to choose it again and again—whether it’s as simple as hiking or as trendy as Buti yoga (think power yoga fused with tribal dance and plyometrics). Research backs up this advice: A Portuguese study from 2011 found that enjoying exercise was among the strongest predictors of whether a person continued exercising and maintained weight loss for the next three years.

Take ownership of your fitness

There are a lot of voices proclaiming that you “should” exercise—from your friends and family to your doctor and the media. But the most important voice is your own, says Segar: “Research suggests that a behavior change is more likely to ensue when you’ve identified what you really want from it.” You may be seeking better moods or stress relief, or maybe you just want to catch up with your workout buddy—it doesn’t matter, as long as you know what you’re after. (Not sure? Segar’s book can help you identify goals that will really work for you.)

Make one change at a time

Many of us feel so excited about “getting healthy” that we try to do multiple things at once, Segar says. “We decide to simultaneously work out more, learn to meditate, and start a new diet—and that’s a recipe for burnout.” Try focusing on just exercise first, Segar says. And above all else, remember to keep it fun, because that is the true secret to lasting motivation. As Segar puts it, “Do the physical movement you want to do, when you want to do it, for the amount of time your life allows.” That’s the best way to keep from lapsing altogether.

This article originally appeared on Health.com

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TIME Diet/Nutrition

3 Easy Peach Recipes That Will Make You Look Like a Gourmet Chef

Celebrate the nutrient-packed summer fruit with these recipes

Summer is the perfect time for peaches—a classic farmers’ market staple that is not only juicy and refreshing, but also packed with essential nutrients, like vitamins C and E, calcium, and iron.

Here are three creative recipes from Peaches ($14, shortstackededitions.com), a new cookbook from Health‘s food director, Beth Lipton, to help you make the most of this healthy and versatile seasonal treat.

  • Peach upside-down cake

    peaches-upside-down-cake
    Courtesy of Short Stack Editions

    “Take a tarte Tatin, mate it with a buttery cake, and the resulting love child is this fancy-looking but simple dessert,” Lipton writes. “The strong butter flavor and a little hint of ginger are a delicious setting for the slightly boozy, very brown sugary sauteed peaches.”

    Serves: 8

    Ingredients

    12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided, plus more for the pan
    1¼ cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    ½ teaspoon baking powder
    ¼ teaspoon baking soda
    ¼ teaspoon plus a pinch salt
    ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
    3 tablespoons bourbon
    2 to 3 medium-ripe peaches (8 to 12 ounces)—peeled, pitted, and sliced
    ¾ cup granulated sugar
    2 large eggs, at room temperature
    ½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
    Ice cream or whipped cream, for serving

    Instructions

    Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°. Butter a 9-inch-round cake pan. In a bowl, combine the flour, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; whisk until well mixed and set aside.

    Cut 4 tablespoons of butter into slices and place in a large skillet. Add the brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, bourbon, and a pinch of salt and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter has melted and the mixture is well combined. Add the peach slices and cook, gently stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften and their liquid thickens, 7 to 9 minutes.

    Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the peach slices and arrange them in circles in the bottom of the cake pan, beginning on the outside and moving into the middle of the pan, overlapping if necessary (you may not use all of the slices; save any extras for snacking or another use). Pour the remaining juices from the skillet over the peaches, taking care not to move them.

    In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter with the granulated sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the side of the bowl. Using a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula, stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the buttermilk and remaining teaspoon of vanilla, then the remaining flour mixture, stirring until just combined.

    Using an offset spatula, gently spread the batter over the peaches, taking care not to move them too much. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the cake is golden and bounces back when lightly pressed in the center. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Run a knife along the outer edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a serving dish. If any peach slices are stuck in the baking pan, carefully place them on top of the cake. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream or whipped cream.

  • Halibut & shrimp ceviche

    Halibut-shrimp-ceviche
    Courtesy of Beth Lipton

    Best thing about ceviche in the summer: You don’t have to go near a stove, Lipton writes. “Peaches set this ceviche apart from others I’ve tried; the fruit’s sweetness balances the salty fish and spicy jalapeño and makes the whole thing just scream ‘summer.’ Plus, the peaches add a burst of color that plays well with the pink in the shrimp and the green of the chile.” You can also try serving it in small paper cups at a party.

    Serves: 4

    Ingredients

    ½ small red onion, halved and very thinly sliced
    1 large peach (or 2 small ones)—peeled, pitted and sliced or cut into ½-inch chunks
    1 small jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced
    8 ounces halibut, cut into small chunks
    8 ounces medium peeled and deveined shrimp, cut into 4 or 5 pieces each
    ⅓ cup fresh lime juice
    ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
    Zest of 1 lime, for garnish, optional

    Instructions

    Place the onion, peach, jalapeño, halibut, and shrimp in a nonreactive bowl. Stir in the lime and lemon juices and a large pinch of salt. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so.

    Drain the fish mixture and return to the bowl. Stir in the oil. Taste and season generously with salt and pepper. Gently stir in the cilantro. Spoon the ceviche into glasses, garnish with the lime zest, if desired, and serve.

  • Peach preserves

    peaches-preservative
    Courtesy of Beth Lipton

    As Lipton explains in Peaches, this recipe adopts the techniques of French jam maker Christine Ferber, who macerates the fruit overnight, cooks the resulting syrup first, and then returns the fruit to the cooked syrup. The result: jam that just screams fruit. This is especially important with peach preserves. Using this method, the fruit itself isn’t cooked as much, so it retains its essential peachiness.

    Makes: 1 ½ cups

    Ingredients

    1½ pounds ripe peaches (about 5 medium)—peeled, pitted and chopped
    ¾ cup sugar
    Juice of ½ lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
    Generous pinch of kosher salt

    Instructions

    Combine the peaches, sugar, lemon juice, and salt in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

    Place a fine-mesh sieve over a large saucepan. Pour the peach mixture into the sieve and let the fruit’s juices collect in the pan. Reserve the solids, place the pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Boil, stirring often, until the liquid is syrupy and reduced by half, about 8 minutes.

    Add the peach mixture to the pan and bring back to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the peaches are very soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Crush the peaches with the back of a wooden spoon as they cook (for a smoother preserve, use an immersion blender). Transfer the preserves to a large bowl to cool.

    Spoon the peach preserves into a pint-size jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate. The preserves will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 weeks. Or seal the preserves in sterilized jars using the boiling water method and store at room temperature.

    For more cool summer recipes celebrating all things peach, be sure to check out the rest of Lipton’s cookbook!

    peaches_center-fold-copy
    Courtesy of Short Stack Editions

    This article originally appeared on Health.com

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TIME medicine

What You Should Know About Leaky Gut Syndrome

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What’s a leaky gut, and how do I know if I have one?

“Leaky gut syndrome,” on its own, is a diagnosis that’s not recognized across the board by conventional medicine. The theory is that having a poor diet or ingesting too many antibiotics or painkillers can damage the mucosal barrier, the layer of cells lining your intestine. Normally, this barrier lets nutrients through but blocks larger molecules and germs from getting into your bloodstream. It’s thought that a porous, or “leaky,” intestinal lining can allow food particles or germs to pass into the blood, causing inflammation throughout your body.

Symptoms of a leaky gut are said to include everything from bloating, gas and abdominal pain to recurrent vaginal infections, asthma and mood swings. Some experts even claim that leaky gut can put you at risk of serious conditions such as migraines, rheumatoid arthritis and food allergies.

Is it for real? There is evidence that having high “intestinal permeability” is involved in the development of certain autoimmune diseases, like Crohn’s and type 1 diabetes, in people who are already predisposed to these conditions. But it remains unclear whether intestinal permeability causes issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, food allergies or asthma—or if it’s just a symptom of them. In my experience, having a “leaky gut” is mostly a symptom of a disease, not a disease on its own.

There are tests your doctor can perform to measure how well your intestines are absorbing nutrients and blocking the bad stuff. The most common one involves drinking a mixture of mannitol (a small sugar molecule) and lactulose (a large one) and then testing your urine for each over six hours. But these tests are time-consuming and expensive, and they don’t reveal anything that your doctor can use to recommend treatment. So, honestly, there is no point in getting them.

Some alternative medicine practitioners recommend supplements or home tests (which they conveniently sell on their websites), but ignore these. The best advice for keeping your gut and its lining healthy is to eat plenty of fiber and fermented foods like kefir, or take a probiotic supplement, and stay hydrated.

This article originally appeared on Health.com

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TIME Research

5 Weird Ways Ovulation Can Affect Your Body

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Your senses might seem heightened

Once a month, women of reproductive age go through ovulation—the process in which an egg is released from an ovary into the fallopian tubes, which can then be fertilized by sperm. At the same time, our hormones begin to fluctuate and our brain chemistry shifts, which may be an attempt to help the baby-making along. These changes are thought to increase chances of conception, with research in recent years revealing that ovulation may affect your brain, body, and behavior in surprising ways.

“Hormones affect the entire body, not just the reproductive organs, so it makes sense that our thinking, our behavior, even our appearance can change throughout our cycles,” says Carol Gnatuk, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Here are some of the more surprising, even mysterious, symptoms you may notice during your most fertile time of the month.

Your face may get (ever so slightly) redder

First, a new study published in the journal PLoS One found that women’s faces become slightly more flushed in the days leading up to and during ovulation. This makes sense, Dr. Gnatuk says, since hormones affect blood flow throughout the body. “Higher estrogen levels during ovulation can cause blood vessels to dilate, and when vessels dilate close to the skin you get more of a glow,” she says.

The study authors had assumed this affect might be noticeable to men, and might begin to solve the mystery of how and why men seem to find women who are ovulating more sexually attractive. But the slight increase in redness was only detectable via very sensitive cameras—not to the naked eye, which means the jury’s still out.

You might feel more frisky (and express it in interesting ways)

Evolutionarily, it makes sense that a woman’s libido goes up during the time of the month she’s most fertile. But ovulating women don’t just consciously think more about sex; it’s on their mind in sneakier ways as well. According to a 2010 study in the Journal of Consumer Research, during ovulation women may be more likely to unconsciously buy and wear sexier clothing.

Research has also suggested that women dream more about sex in the first half of the menstrual cycle, when the body is gearing up for ovulation, compared to the second half, when your body prepares for your period. One small study found women may even have more erotic interpretations of abstract artwork (think Georgia O’Keeffe flower paintings) when they’re ovulating versus later in their menstrual cycles.

“Libido isn’t totally driven by hormones—if it were, sex would only be about when and not where or with who,” Dr. Gnatuk says. “But certainly, estrogen and testosterone, both of which are higher during ovulation, can increase a woman’s desire.”

You may be more attracted to a certain type of guy

Not only might you feel more “in the mood” during ovulation, but you may also be more interested in some guys over others. Studies have shown that women tend to prefer men with sterotypically masculine traits and pay more attention to traditionally attractive guys during fertile times of the month, especially if their current partners lack manly facial features, like a square jaw.

“When we’re in reproductive mode, we look for traits that we associate with good health,” Dr. Gnatuk explains—and that includes healthy testosterone levels, she says, which suggest that a man is well able to produce and protect offspring.

Another 2011 study from the journal Psychological Science suggests women are better at judging men’s sexual orientation when they are ovulating, perhaps since, from an evolutionary perspective, there’s no sense in going after a guy who isn’t interested.

Your senses might seem heightened

Ovulating women seem to be better able to detect musky odors and male pheromones than those taking oral contraceptives (which prevent ovulation), according to a small 2013 study in the journal Hormones and Behavior; another study that same year found that women may have a heightened sense of smell in general during ovulation than during other times of the month.

You may even be better at detecting potential threats to yourself and your future offspring: A preliminary 2012 study by Kyoto University researchers found that women in the luteal phase of their cycles (which begins with ovulation) were better at finding snakes hidden in photographs of flowers.

You could avoid male relatives

And finally, here’s perhaps one of the most bizarre side effects of ovulation found in the research: According to a 2010 UCLA study, women avoid talking to their fathers on the phone during their most fertile times of the month. (Those who were ovulating or about to ovulate were half as likely to chat with Dad, on average.)

The researchers speculated that historically, it was in a woman’s (and her offspring’s) best interest to avoid male relatives—and potentially incestuous couplings—while they were fertile. Dr. Gnatuk has an alternate interpretation: “You might also argue that you don’t want to talk to Dad right now because he always told you you couldn’t go out with guys, and now’s the time you want to do that.”

This article originally appeared on Health.com

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