TIME Exercise/Fitness

10 Habits of People Who Love to Work Out

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Experts say you can teach yourself to love exercise

You know these people: they bound out of bed in the morning ready to tackle their sunrise bike rides. They leave the office during lunch to sneak in a quick run. Or they head out of work, gym bag in hand—and they’re going to use it (not just bring it back home). They’re the ones who look like they’re actually enjoying themselves as they pedal furiously at Spin. Can you be more like these fitness fanatics? Experts say yes, you can teach yourself to love exercise. Get into the workout groove by mimicking their habits.

They only do workouts they enjoy

People who love to exercise don’t waste time with activities they despise. “Too often I see people who sign up to do something like running, even though they know they hate running,” says Shavise Glascoe, exercise physiologist at the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center. Start with an activity that you’re interested in or already enjoy—it doesn’t have to be what your neighbor said helped her lose weight or what the group-class trend of the moment is. What matters is that you like it. If you don’t want to do it, you will make an excuse to skip it tonight (and tomorrow, and the next day).

Read more: 4 Fat-Blasting Jumping Exercises

They look for feedback

Fitness fanatics often thrive on instant feedback, says Jimmy Minardi, a former professional cyclist and personal trainer in New York City and Santa Barbara, Calif. He suggests trying out a fitness tracker that measures heart rate or calories burned. That real-time feedback will help you push yourself further—you’ll always feel motivated to match or exceed your personal best—and take your workouts to the next level. Plus, Minardi says, you’ll be more connected to your training.

They exercise with a friend

Exercise addicts get by with a little help from their friends, says Glascoe. They’re sure not to ditch their yoga buddy for an om-session even when they’d rather beeline straight home, and are excited to get out of bed for a morning run because they’ll have the chance to chit-chat with their pals. Case in point: in a University of Southern California study, people said they had more fun and enjoyed working out more when they did it with a friend. Don’t assume that none of your friends want to work out—you may find one who wants to get in shape alongside you. But you could also find a workout buddy by joining a local running or biking club, or signing up for a recreational sports league.

Read more: 11 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Belly Fat

They get back to nature

When the weather outside is nasty, it’s natural to want to take exercise inside. But if it’s nice and bright out, bike along that lakefront path, run through your neighborhood early in the morning, or find an outdoor yoga class. “Nature makes you feel alive—and when you feel great, you are more likely to want to do the workout again,” says Minardi. Besides, in one 2011 study in Environmental Science & Technology, sweating outdoors was associated with a boost of energy, more engagement in the activity, and better mental wellbeing. Go ahead—sweat, and say ahhh.

They let setbacks slide

Sometimes life gets in the way of exercise, and that’s okay, says Glascoe: “Studies show that people who have wiggle room in their mindset are more likely to maintain a regular exercise routine,” she says. “Prepare yourself for potential barriers and come up with a backup plan.” Glascoe has her clients plan the maximum and minimum number of days they want to exercise in a week. That way, if they miss one, there’s no “I’ve blown it” mentality. If you have to work late and can’t hit Spin, tell yourself that tomorrow you’ll get back on track.

Read more: 5 Ways to Work Your Abs Without Crunches

They don’t think about how much weight they’re losing

“We seem to be more powerfully motivated when we look at the short-term, immediate benefits of exercise,” says Gregory Chertok, a sport psychology consultant. Rather than focusing on the 20 pounds you want to lose (which, turns out, doesn’t help us get off our butts and get moving, he says), think about the almost instantaneous extra energy you’ll get with your kids, at work, or in the bedroom. And anyway, when you stop thinking about how your workouts are affecting your weight, you may actually start seeing the pounds melt away: Cornell University research suggests that framing your exercise as something other than calorie burning (like a break or “me time”) can help you eat less after.

They don’t care if it’s ‘traditional’

Exercise is exercise—doesn’t matter if it’s at the gym or not. All types of activity count, so try baking your playtime into your workout time by becoming a member of the company kickball team, joining a beach volleyball league, or trying something you’re curious about, like martial arts. “You’re creating a lasting relationship with the activity, rather than simply showing up for classes,” Minardi says. Other activities that count? Gardening, running in the backyard with your kids, and dancing (even if it’s a dance party for one in your living room), adds Chertok.

Read more: 10 Fun Ways to Get Fit Without a Gym

They crank up the tunes

There’s a reason why you see so many people wearing earbuds at the gym: Music is a huge motivator, reveals research in the International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology. “Use music to improve your results. People exercise longer and more vigorously to music, and it distracts them from fatigue,” says Chertok. He recommends compiling a playlist of your favorite music. When you need motivation to get out the door, put your headphones on and get inspired to sweat.

They reward themselves

Your goal is to make exercise an automatic habit that you don’t have to agonize over. (Do I really have to go to the gym after work today? Am I actually going to get up early for that run?) A way to reinforce the routine is to reward yourself for a job well done, says Chertok. One of his clients set up a checking account that he uses to deposit a set amount of money each week he successfully sticks to his fitness goals. And every time he misses them? He withdraws money. At the end of the month, he takes the money he saved and does something fun, like signing up for a cooking class or buying tickets for a show. You can also plan mini rewards, like stopping by your favorite coffee shop or juice bar post-workout. (Just don’t go overboard on treats.) It’s something to get you up and moving when you’d rather not.

They dress the part

Truth: you don’t need expensive workout gear to have a great workout. But, buying new athletic apparel may be a good motivator. “We feel better about ourselves doing something athletic when we perceive ourselves as looking more athletic,” says Chertok. So switch out your old, rundown pair of shoes in favor of new kicks, pick up a new sporty headband to accessorize, or spring for a pair of running shorts if you’re starting to train for your first 10K.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

17 Ways to Lose Weight When You Have No Time

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Trust us, you're not too busy for these easy tips

If packing your lunch, cooking dinner every night, and getting to the gym regularly sound like things you’ll be able to do half past never, you may think that real weight loss just isn’t in the cards for you right now. It’s true: healthy weight loss can be a time commitment, especially if you’re overweight thanks to a job that keeps you sedentary for much of the day or a schedule that lends itself to fast food and unhealthy snacking.

Don’t throw in the towel just yet. You don’t need extra minutes in your day to eat less or to move more, the two basic pillars of weight loss. Here’s how to reevaluate the time you do have, and smart strategies to make dropping pounds easier, no matter how swamped you are.

Ditch the all-or-nothing mentality

Every small step you take toward a healthier lifestyle matters, says Jeff Katula, PhD, associate professor of health and exercise science at Wake Forest University. “People often think they have to spend an hour at the gym or eat a diet full of hummus and superfoods, and when they can’t attain that level they just give up and don’t even try,” he says. Instead of looking at your whole day as a success or failure, says Katula, consider every decision you make a chance to do something healthy. Just because you skipped the gym doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch your calorie intake for the rest of the day, for example. (In fact, it means the exact opposite!)

Eat smaller portions

“You don’t need to cook your own food or even eat different food to lose weight,” says Katula. “You just need to eat less, and eating less doesn’t take more time or cost more money.” Most people need to consume between 1,200 and 1,500 calories a day if they want to drop pounds in a healthy and sustainable way—and for a lot of people, eating appropriate portion sizes, skipping dessert, or not going back for seconds is one of the easiest ways to reduce their total calorie intake.

Watch: 5 Easy Ways to Measure Portion Sizes

Don’t skip meals

This may seem counterintuitive after advice to eat less overall, but busy people especially may need to space out their calories more throughout the day, says Jessica Bartfield, MD, clinical assistant professor at Loyola University’s Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care. That’s because going more than four or five hours without refueling can slow metabolism, affect hormones and insulin levels, and contribute to unhealthy food choices when you do finally sit down to eat. “A lot of our overweight patients aren’t necessarily overeating, but their eating patterns have become so erratic—they have a cup of coffee in the morning and then no real food until late afternoon,” she says. “They key is to avoid that and keep a consistent schedule, whether that’s three meals a day and a couple of snacks, or five mini meals.”

Squeeze in more movement

Setting aside time for a 30- or 60-minute workout is ideal, “but you can burn a lot of calories in not-so-ideal workout situations, too,” says Katula. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with breaking up your 150 recommended minutes of weekly moderate exercise into short bursts throughout your day. “If you can fit in 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes at lunch, and 10 minutes at night, and you can do that five days a week, you’re there,” he says.

Katula tells his patients to think of burning calories they way they think of saving money. “We do so many little things—clip coupons, buy store brands—to save a dime here or a quarter there, because we know it adds up,” he says. “Exercise is the same way: A few push-ups here and a few extra steps there can add up, too, if you do it regularly.”

Practice simple food swaps

Just like Katula tells his patients to think of exercise like they do clipping coupons, he tells them to think of their food choices the same way. “Whether it’s leaving the cheese off a hamburger or switching from mayo to honey mustard, there are so many little things you can do and so many little swaps you can make over the course of a day that can add up and save you calories without costing you any extra time.” Think about your daily beverages too, not just your solid foods. Switching from soda to seltzer water with lemon (or even to diet soda), or using less sugar in your coffee, for example, can save you several pounds a year.

Read more: 24 Food Swaps That Slash Calories

Don’t sit when you can stand

You’ve heard it before: Too much sedentary behavior is bad for your heart, your brain, and yes, your waistline. Turning some of that sitting time into standing time (or, better yet, fidgeting, walking, or working-out time) will help you burn more calories. “It may not add up to much weight loss on its own, but it certainly comes into play if you’re looking to maintain any weight you’re already losing,” says Dr. Bartfield.

Standing while you work may not be an option, especially if you use a computer and your office doesn’t offer a standing-desk setup. Instead, consider other times during your day you might be able to get up off your butt: your morning train ride, staff meetings, an evening phone call with your sister, or while you unwind after dinner in front of the TV.

Make sure you’re sleeping enough

When it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day, it may be tempting to stay up late or wake up super early just to get everything done—especially if you’re trying to squeeze in regular exercise in addition to everything else you have to do. That strategy can backfire if you’re not getting enough quality shuteye for your body to function properly, says Katula. “If you’re trying to change your behavior and lose weight by eating less and moving more, you will be more likely to achieve that if you are getting the proper amount of sleep,” he says. Sell yourself short and you may lack the energy needed to complete your workouts; even worse, you’ll crave sugary and fatty foods that will help you stay awake, but will wreak havoc on your waistline.

Use your weekends wisely

Even if your job requires long and grueling hours, hopefully you have at least a couple of days off every week to regroup—and plan ahead. “Even though we’re pressed for time, most of us have pretty predictable schedules,” says Dr. Bartfield. “So it can help to spend some time on Saturday and Sunday shopping for healthy food, preparing some lunch and dinner items for the week, and deciding which days you’re going to eat what.”

You can also use your day or days off to get in longer workouts than you’d have time for during the week, says Katula. “If you can get in 120 minutes of exercise over the weekend, you really only need to dedicate small amounts of time throughout the week to reach your 150-minute goal.”

Read more: Skinny Up Your Weekend

Be active with friends and family

You may argue that weekends are for family time, or that you’d rather spend your precious free time with friends. Why not turn that social time into fitness time? “You don’t need to go to the gym for it to count as exercise,” says Katula. “You can play with your kids for a few hours and still get your heart rate up and see beneficial results.”

Join a pick-up sports league or a running group with friends, or swap your typical happy-hour date for a Spin class together. Or, start a weekly walking or hiking tradition with your family. Either way, being active with others can help you stick with it. “Social support is a key ingredient to any sort of behavior change,” says Katula.

Switch to a high-intensity workout

The best workout for fat loss doesn’t require hours upon hours in the gym. In fact, multiple studies show that a 20-minute high-intensity interval workout (HIIT) may burn more calories than 45 minutes chugging away on the elliptical. Try this workout, which you can do running, walking, biking, or with any type of cardio equipment: Warm up at a moderate pace for 5 to 10 minutes. Go all-out for 30 seconds, then switch to an easier pace for 45 seconds. Repeat the 30- and 45-second intervals five more times. Then cool off at an easy pace for 5 to 10 minutes.

Use healthy-meal shortcuts

We’re often told to steer clear of packaged foods for better health, but some frozen and pre-made goods can truly help you whip up a healthy meal in minutes, says Bartfield. “There are tons of good options in the freezer aisle, either for individuals or even family-size meals, that can be prepared quickly,” she says. “Or you could buy a rotisserie chicken—take the skin off and slice it on top of a salad, or buy frozen vegetables to serve with it.” (Keep in mind that rotisserie chickens can be high in sodium, so cut back your intake from other sources.) On nights when even that’s not an option, you still have choices about where you eat out or what prepared foods you bring home; the key is knowing ahead of time which restaurant you’ll choose and which items are healthiest, so you’re not stuck making a last-minute (bad) decision.

Set up a home gym

If you can’t devote time to driving to the gym or you’re stuck at home with kids, working out in your own home may be your best option for fitting in quick calorie-burning session. You don’t necessarily need to invest in a cardio machine—you can still get a great workout using nothing but your own body weight, or with a few simple tools (like hand weights and resistance bands) that take up next to no room in your home. Just roll out your yoga mat, set up a mirror, and you’re ready to go.

Watch: How to Set Up a Home Gym for Less Than $50

Use high-tech solutions

Few of us have the time (or patience) to keep track of all the numbers involved in weight loss—calories eaten, calories burned, steps taken, and so on. That’s why fitness trackers were invented. “These apps and devices can save an extraordinary amount of time and make it much easier to follow a specific plan or reach daily step goals or calorie goals,” says Katula. The type of tracker you wear on your wrist—think Fitbit, Jawbone, and Garmin Vivofit—typically log steps taken and calories burned, and pricier models may track your heart rate in real time. Plus, seeing the tracker on your wrist may serve as a constant reminder to get moving. You can also log your meals with an app like MyFitnessPal, which automatically calculates calorie totals and nutrition content for you.

Use social media

Put all that time you waste scrolling through Facebook or Twitter to good use. A 2014 Imperial College London study found that social networks can be affordable and practical alternatives to real-life weight-loss support groups like Weight Watchers. Talking about your weight loss journey with your virtual social circle can help you feel like part of a community. So join an Instagram fitness challenge, Tweet about your Pilates class, or start a Facebook group—all on your own time.

Read more: 30-Day Weight Loss Challenge

Eat more fiber

Here’s one weight-loss trick that requires zero extra time: Eat at least 30 grams of fiber a day (from food, not supplements). People who did that for a year lost almost as much weight as those who followed a complicated diet plan with 13 components in a recent University of Massachusetts study. “For people who find it difficult to follow complex dietary recommendations, a simple-to-follow diet with just one message—increase your fiber intake—may be the way to go,” said study author Yunsheng Ma, MD. The logic is simple: eating foods rich in fiber, like whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables, makes you feel full, so you have less room less room high-calorie junk food.

Get a handle on stress

The way you deal with that stress can mean a lot to your waistline. “I tell my patients the three areas affecting their weight they have the greatest control over is what they eat, how they move, and how they handle stress,” says Bartfield. “Stress has a big influence on appetite, food intake, and how the body processes calories, and I think people underestimate that.” And no, confronting your anxiety won’t add a ton of extra time to your day. Unwind with 13 ways to beat stress in 15 minutes or less.

Reflect on your priorities

Take a long, hard look at what’s eating up your time. “When my patients tell me they don’t have time to lose weight, I ask them to really think about what they do have time for,” says Katula. You may be able to pinpoint time sucks you weren’t conscious of before, or decide that certain commitments aren’t as important to you as they once were. (You may also want to talk with your boss or your partner about ways you might make your schedule more flexible.)

“Most people still find time to go to the doctor when they’re sick or get their hair done when they need a cut, but they’re not able to find a few minutes to exercise or eat well, because it just doesn’t seem as urgent,” Katula continues. But it should be just as important, he says, in order to ward off health problems in the future. The bottom line? If you truly can’t find time to take care of yourself, it’s probably time for a change.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

Read next: 7 Reasons Why You’re Working Out and Still Not Losing Weight

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TIME Exercise/Fitness

How Men Can Protect Against Cancer

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Being fit is linked to a 68% lower risk of cardiovascular disease death

It’s no surprise that being physically fit helps protect against heart disease, but a person’s level of fitness might also have a profound effect on cancer outcomes long before a diagnosis. According to a new study in JAMA Oncology, men who were very fit in middle age were 32% less likely to die from cancer after being diagnosed after age 65 than men who weren’t fit in midlife.

“It’s pretty remarkable that a fitness estimate 10-15 years before your actual cancer diagnosis can predict how long you’re going to live after you develop cancer,” says Dr. Susan Lakoski, one of the study’s authors and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Vermont, Burlington.

In the study, which was part of the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study based out of the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas, Lakoski and her colleagues looked at fitness data, measured by a treadmill test, and cancer data—specifically prostate, lung and colorectal cancer—from about 14,000 men for 6.5 years. Men who were very fit at age 50 had a 55% lower risk of lung cancer and a 44% reduced risk of colorectal cancer compared to men who weren’t fit at 50.

MORE: You Asked: Is Running On A Treadmill As Good As Running Outside?

(The researchers did not see this association with prostate cancer. Though more research is need to figure out why, they hypothesize that it’s because men who are very physically fit tend to have better health behaviors like going to the doctor, which makes them more likely to be diagnosed than someone who doesn’t get screened as frequently as something like prostate cancer, which is common but often does not require treatment.)

The protective benefits of exercise didn’t stop there. Of the men who eventually were diagnosed with lung, prostate and colorectal cancer by age 65 or older, being very fit in midlife was associated with a 32% reduced risk of cancer-related death and a 68% lower risk of cardiovascular death compared to men who had low fitness in midlife.

Here’s the best part: it doesn’t take a lot of exercise to have a big health impact, Lakoski found. “Just a small improvement in fitness made a difference in survival of those that developed cancer,” she says. Compared to men who could run 12-minute miles on the treadmill at age 50, men who ran slightly faster 11.5-minute miles had an additional 10% decrease in cancer death and an extra 25% decrease in cardiovascular death among those who developed cancer in the study.

Lakoski hopes that clinicians will start using fitness measurements in their practices to help make preventive exercise plans for their patients. “We talk about personalized medicine a lot now in medicine when we think about genetics, but we don’t think about it in terms of healthy behaviors,” she says. Objective fitness measures are great ways to develop personalized exercise training regimens, she says, with real implications for lifespan. “It is a very robust marker of survival,” she says, “and we’re not using it enough in practice.”

TIME Exercise/Fitness

10 Reasons Your Belly Fat Isn’t Going Away

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The choices you make every day can supercharge your ability to burn belly fat

A little bit of belly fat is actually good for you: it protects your stomach, intestines, and other delicate organs. But too much fat is anything but healthy. Extra fat cells deep in your abdomen (aka visceral fat) generate adipose hormones and adipokines—chemical troublemakers that travel to your blood vessels and organs, where they cause inflammation that can contribute to problems like heart disease and diabetes. The good news? Every pound you shed can help reduce your girth. “Once women start losing weight, they typically lose 30% more abdominal fat compared with total fat,” says Rasa Kazlauskaite, MD, an endocrinologist at the Rush University Prevention Center in Chicago. Even better, the choices you make every day can supercharge your ability to burn belly fat. Here are 10 common pitfalls—and ways to undo each one.

Read more: 20 Best Superfoods for Weight Loss

You’re on a low-fat diet

To shed belly fat, it’s good to eat fat—specifically monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). When researchers in one study asked women to switch to a 1,600-calorie, high-MUFA diet, they lost a third of their belly fat in a month. “MUFAs are satiating, so they help you eat fewer poor-quality foods,” says David Katz, MD, director of the Yale Prevention Research Center.

Belly blaster: Have a serving of MUFAs—like a handful of nuts, a tablespoon of olive oil, or a quarter of an avocado—with every meal and snack.

Read more: 9 Low-Fat foods You Should Never Eat

You’ve been feeling blue for a while

Women with depressive symptoms were far more likely to have extra belly fat, found a recent Rush University Medical Center study. That may be because depression is linked to reduced physical activity and poor eating habits.

Belly blaster: Exercise! “It improves levels of brain chemicals that regulate metabolism of fat, as well as your mood,” Dr. Kazlauskaite says. This enhances your motivation to do other things that help ward off depression, like seeing friends. But if you’re so bummed out that you don’t want to do things you used to enjoy, it’s time to seek the help of a therapist.

Your food comes from a box

Simple carbs (like chips) and added sugar (in items like sweetened drinks) cause your blood sugar to spike, which triggers a flood of insulin—a hormone that encourages your liver to store fat in your middle.

Belly blaster: Instead of focusing on cutting out junk, center your efforts on adding in healthy fare (think extra servings of vegetables at each meal). As Dr. Katz says, “Filling your tank with high-quality fuel thwarts hunger.”

You’re skimping on the miracle mineral

Magnesium regulates more than 300 functions in the body. No surprise, then, that a 2013 study found that people who consumed more of it had lower blood sugar and insulin levels.

Belly blaster: At least twice a day, reach for magnesium-rich foods such as dark leafy greens, bananas, and soybeans.

You’re hooked on diet soda

A study in Obesity found that diet soda drinkers were more likely to have a high percentage of fat in their bellies. The researchers think that diet drinkers may overestimate the calories they’re “saving,” and then overeat.

Belly blaster: If you’re not ready to kick your habit, the researchers suggest reducing the number of food calories in your diet.

Read more: 10 Reasons to Give Up Diet Soda

You love burgers

When Swedish researchers gave one group of adults 750 extra daily calories, mainly from saturated fat, and another group the same amount of calories but mostly from polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) for seven weeks, the saturated fat group accumulated two times as much visceral fat.

Belly blaster: Dine on fatty fish like salmon or trout once a week to get a good dose of PUFAs. The rest of the time, reduce your intake of red meat and opt instead for protein low in saturated fat, such as legumes and chicken.

You think girls don’t get beer guts

According to a 2013 Danish study, beer may indeed be linked with abdominal obesity. And though beer appears to have the greatest impact, wine won’t save you from a spare tire: One study found that the amount of alcohol of any type that women drank contributed to weight gain.

Belly blaster: Stick with seven or fewer alcoholic beverages a week. Light to moderate drinkers are the least likely to carry excess weight anywhere, shows a recent Archives of Internal Medicine study.

You can’t recall when you last said “om”

Menopause-related hormonal changes (which typically begin in your 40s) make it harder to shed stomach pudge—but vigorous yoga can help offset the effects. A 2012 study found that postmenopausal women who did an hour-long yoga session three times a week for 16 weeks lost more than 1/2 inch around their waists.

Belly blaster: Not a fan of Sun Salutations? “Take an hour to do something nice for yourself,” which could help control your stress hormones, advises Sheila Dugan, MD, a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist in Chicago.

Read more: Try This Flat-Belly Yoga Pose

Your meals are beige

Brightly colored fruits and veggies are loaded with vitamin C, which reduces cortisol. What’s more, a recent study in The Journal of Nutrition showed that people who ate more of the nutrients in red, orange, and yellow produce had smaller waists as a result.

Belly blaster: Add color to your plate by topping fish with a mango salsa, or throw diced red pepper into your turkey meatballs.

Your sweat sessions don’t involve sweat

Research has shown that high-intensity interval training, or HIIT—bursts of vigorous activity followed by short periods of gentle activity or rest—boasts belly-shrinking benefits. “High-intensity exercise seems to be more effective at reducing insulin, triglycerides, and cortisol, and it burns more calories in less time, too,” notes Shawn Talbot, PhD, a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Belly blaster: If you enjoy biking or running, for example, accelerate to a pace that makes it hard to talk for two minutes; then slow down for a minute, and repeat until you’re done. Like resistance training? Try a series of moves like squats or push-ups for two minutes each with a 60-second break between them.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

Read next: What Diet Soda Does to Belly Fat

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TIME Exercise/Fitness

6 Exercise Tweaks That Make a Big Difference

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For an optimum workout, give your body the variety it needs

We always hear that it’s necessary to keep “switching it up” when it comes to our workouts. While it’s true that constantly sending a shock to the body is essential in terms of becoming stronger and seeing results, these shocks don’t have to come in the form of changing your workout completely.

Making tiny tweaks to the same exercises you’re used to doing can create needed variety in your body without forcing you to give up the moves you already know and love.

Here are 6 tiny tweaks you can try adding in to your workout routine to achieve lasting results.

Challenge your balance

Adding an unstable surface to your move of choice is one of the most challenging variations you can do to an exercise. Plus, it recruits all those smaller muscles in addition to the larger ones so your body is working double time.

The exercise: BOSU burpee

Squat down and place your hands on the edges of a BOSU balance trainer and jump your feet back so that you land in a pushup position. Lower your chest to the ground, press back up to complete a push-up, and then jump your feet back toward your hands. Pick up the BOSU and press it overhead as you explosively jump up in the air, then squat back down and place it on the ground. That’s one rep. Try to do 3 sets of 15 reps.

Read more: 3 Ways to Do a Burpee

Change the position

When it seems like standard body weight exercises just aren’t cutting it anymore or you want to send a shock to the system, try changing the position of an exercise. Change your hand position or place your body on an incline or decline. Performing the same move in a different way can make it feel brand new again.

The exercise: Decline push-up

Find an elevated surface, like a park bench or plyometric box and place your feet on top. Kneel down and get into a plank position with your hands on the ground directly underneath your wrists and your feet elevated above your heart. Start to bend your elbows wide until your collarbone almost touch the ground, and then straighten your arms. Do 15 reps.

Read more: How to Do the Perfect Push-Up

Try one side at a time

The great thing about body weight exercises is that they’re easy to tweak and adjust in so many ways to make them harder. In this case, removing a leg or arm from the exercise is a surefire way to activate muscles in a new and fun way.

The exercise: Single-leg pelvic lift (shown here on a BOSU trainer)

Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place arms at your sides, palms face down. Extend one leg up toward the ceiling with foot flexed. Engage your glutes and lift the hips up as high as you can while keeping the upper back on the floor. Hold for 2 counts and then lower hips down. Complete 10 times, then switch legs and repeat.

Read more: Butt-Lifting Move: Hip Bridge

Add a pulse

Adding a pulse at the end of an exercise is the best way to activate the fast-twitch muscle fibers of the body. If you hadn’t already been feeling the burn, you’ll be feeling it now.

The exercise: Walking lunge with pulse

Step your left leg forward and lower your body into a lunge until both knees are bent at 90 degrees. Slowly pulse up and down by about an inch 10 times. Then, push through your left heel to return to standing; that’s one rep. Repeat with the right leg, and then do 3 more sets of 10 pulses on each leg.

Read more: Triceps Extension + Rhomboid Pulse

Hold the position

Most people are so quick to rush through each exercise because they want to get it over with or they’re trying to hit a certain amount of repetitions before they tire out. But instead of focusing on reps, how about focusing on length of time held in a position? One of the main benefits of isometric training is that the body is able to activate nearly all the available motor units—something that’s usually very difficult to do. This simple tweak can seem easy but become really challenging in a matter of seconds.

The exercise: Squat hold (or wall sit)

Although isometric moves can be done with equipment as well, here we are using body weight. The squat hold can be done as a wall sit or as a free-standing squat and hold. Place your feet hip-width apart. Sink down until your thighs are parallel to the ground, knees directly over your ankles. Make sure to sit back on your heels when you squat and don’t sink below 90 degrees with this move as this actually makes it easier. When your muscles start to burn or shake, try to hold for another minute (or as long as you can) before coming up.

Read more: 18 Moves to Tone Your Butt, Thighs, and Legs

Add a weight

It should come as no surprise that adding weight can make any exercise more difficult. But even a small 2- to 5-pound dumbbell can make a big difference when you’re switching it up from the norm.

The exercise: Side plank with weight

Lie on your right side with your forearm directly under your shoulder, hand perpendicular to your body, and legs stacked. Engage your abs and the right side of your waist, lifting your hips so your body forms a straight line from head to heels. Grab a small weight with your left hand and extend your arm toward the sky, staying engaged through your core. Then scoop your left arm under your torso, twisting only from the waist up. 

Come back up; repeat 8 times, then lower body to the ground. Repeat on the opposite side.

Read more: 20 Ways to Do a Plank

For more workout ideas, check out 5 Fitness Trends That Are Having A Moment.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

Read next: 4 Apps That Can Help You Relax, Focus and Sweat

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5 Fitness Trends That Are Having a Moment

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These workout options won't bore you

These days, fitness trends seem to be popping up faster than you can say Fitbit. Working out has never been more scientific or sophisticated thanks to innovative class-style studios. Paying hundreds of dollars a month for luxury gyms where you typically pay extra for all the amenities you don’t use is a thing of the past.

Group classes keep your wallet fiscally fit, keep you accountable to yourself and your peers, and ensure enough variety within each workout that you never get bored repeating the same workout over and over again. Whether you’re into a large or small class, cardio or weight training, here are 5 trends that are having a moment right now.

The competitive class

If you’re a former athlete or just someone with a competitive drive, a little friendly competition could be exactly what you need to achieve your best workout. Nothing gets people motivated like knowing they’re being monitored in some way, shape, or form. People are not only encouraged by their trainers or peers during a workout, but now there are classes that offer a more detailed look at your progress in real time. Flywheel is a cycling studio that keeps you accountable with a Torqboard, a scoreboard at the front of the class that the instructor will occasionally light up during the ride allowing you to see your own metrics as well as compete with others in the class.

Orangetheory Fitness has a similar vibe in the form of treadmill/indoor rowing machines and weight training rolled into one class, where you’re hooked up to a heart-rate monitor and you can track how high or low your heart rate is on a screen at the front of the room. And, yes, trainers will call you out by name if you’re slacking. Whether you’re competing with a friend or just your own previous score, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how fast the time goes when you’re focused on getting the most out of yourself.

Read more: 24 Fat-Burning Ab Exercises (No Crunches!)

The hybrid workout

The hybrid workout is quickly becoming one of the more beloved types of sweat sessions. Most people know that the combination of weight training and cardio in the same workout can produce considerably more benefits than using either training type on its own. But what about when you throw in a lengthening or toning element like Pilates or yoga? In workouts like Pilates Plus, you get the strengthening benefits of weight training, the non-stop movement of cardio, and the muscle lengthening and postural aspect of Pilates all in a one-hour class.

Buti Yoga is a similar hybrid that fuses power yoga, tribal dance, and plyometric moves for a deep abdominal toning that works your body from the inside out. This workout will accomplish everything you need, from yoga and toning to cardio and fun dance moves. With these hybrid classes, you never get bored because you never take the same class twice. In addition to a heart pumping sweat session, they give a keen sense of community that make all women feel at home, which is something essential to accomplishing a great workout. Classes are offered in 32 states and 15 countries, from top yoga studios to internationally recognized gym chains including Hard Candy and Anytime Fitness. They also have online classes on their website.

Read more: 25 Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

The boutique class

If large class environments with people flinging sweat two inches away from you isn’t your thing, and you’re indifferent to the competition aspect, a smaller boutique class could be more your style. Unlike the mega workout conglomerate chains, these classes may take a little more research on your part. But finding that class or instructor you love will keep you coming back for more as well as give you that in-the-know feeling that makes you think your workout is the best kept secret. Most of these boutique classes are held in smaller studios and offer a more relaxed environment (without skimping on the body benefits!) Many of them incorporate props into the class. Trampoline classes are trending right now, where class goers have individual trampolines to work on. This form of exercise offers a lower impact cardio alternative to running or even cycling.

Surfset is another boutique class that takes inspiration from the real movements of surfing to create a workout that builds balance, core strength, and aerobic conditioning. They literally created a machine out of a surfboard that delivers a 45-minute, surf-inspired workout that has the same benefits of working with a BOSU trainer at the gym. No matter what sport or pastime you’re into, there’s bound to be a corresponding workout for you; you just have to look.

Read more: 3 Ways to Do a Burpee

Aerial fitness

Aerial yoga and fitness classes seem to be popping up everywhere. They are classes practiced using a set of supported fabric slings that are hung from the ceiling, wall, or other foundational apparatus. People are drawn to this form of physical conditioning because it allows them to feel like they can ‘hang’ with the Cirque du Soleil performers. Some people refer to it as the ‘accidental workout,’ because it allows people to have a fun experience while simultaneously using their entire body to keep them suspended in the air for a long period of time. It also takes a lot of mental prowess; if you don’t pay attention to the choreography of each move you might not know how to get down properly.

Read more: 3 Fat-Burning Strength Exercises

Technology

This one may not be a particular style of classes, but if fitness and technology got together, their offspring would be the thousands of fitness apps, trackers, and other online subscriptions and fitness DVDs that have grown in popularity in the last few years. The latest technological fitness trend: ClassPass. ClassPass is an online monthly membership that allows its members to take unlimited classes at the best fitness studios all over their city for $99 a month. What’s the catch? Well, you can only visit any given studio three times per month. But, this gives you the opportunity to try out numerous different studios and keep your body from hitting a plateau because you will never get bored with all the options!

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

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You Asked: Should I Do The Insanity Workout?

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Expect results—though maybe not the ones you’d hoped for.

The name alone is a challenge—a dare. You’d have to be insane to attempt this workout. Of course, that’s a big part of the appeal. If the exercise is “extreme” or “crazy,” you assume the body benefits will be dramatic. And they may be—just not in the ways you’d expect from checking out the workout’s promotional materials, which emphasize weight loss.

While it’s continually changing, the latest iteration of “INSANITY” is a 60-day program composed of 30-minute bouts of very high-intensity aerobic and resistance exercise, to be completed six days a week. While research has linked physical fitness gains to Insanity-style interval workouts, the evidence that these programs lead to weight loss is anything but rock solid.

“We’ve shown that when it comes to cardiovascular fitness and function, greater intensity leads to greater adaptations,” says Todd Astorino, PhD, associate professor in the department of kinesiology at California State University, San Marcos.

Astorino has studied the health and fitness effects of very rigorous bouts of interval training, often referred to as high-intensity interval training (HIIT). He says there’s little doubt your athletic condition—the ability of your heart and lungs to handle physical activity—would improve if you completed something along the lines of an Insanity workout. He also says your blood sugar levels would likely drop, a change that could help protect you from metabolic diseases like type-2 diabetes. Throw in the body-resistance component of Insanity workouts, and you’ll certainly grow stronger too.

What about weight loss? “The research is very mixed, especially in the long term,” Astorino says. “I think it would help you avoid weight gain. But that’s not the same as losing weight.”

Hundreds of studies have looked into the effect of regular exercise on body weight. While physical activity is unquestionably good for your health, exercise alone doesn’t have a huge impact on the number you see on your bathroom scale, concludes one recent study appearing in the journal Obesity Reviews.

MORE You Asked: Why Are People Addicted To CrossFit?

Another study, this one from Stephen Boutcher, PhD, associate professor at Australia’s University of New South Wales, specifically examined the effect of Insanity-style HIIT training on body fat. Boutcher’s research found “significant” fat reduction—or a little more than 4 pounds of lost body fat after three months of training. That’s significant in science terms, but probably not what you’re expecting when starting a workout program that highlights happy customers who have lost 40, 50, or even 90 pounds.

Boutcher says there’s some evidence HIIT training may help suppress appetite in ways traditional aerobic exercise doesn’t. But to shed lots of weight—the kind of “total-body” transformation you see in product testimonials—you also have to eat a healthy diet, the research suggests. (Read the fine print on the INSANITY website, and you’ll find analogous disclaimers stating a “proper diet” is necessary to achieve and maintain weight loss.)

But for some people, even regular exercise and an improved diet won’t dramatically change the way their bodies look. “Many people are just naturally bigger,” Astorino says. “For them, trying to look physically lean would probably require some very dramatic diet restrictions.”

Of course, none of this touches on the psychological perks of challenging yourself with a butt-whipping exercise regimen. Talk to someone who has run a marathon or finished an Insanity program, and you can hear the sense of accomplishment and pride they feel when they talk about their achievement.

“If you can get through something like this, you’ll have confidence and a good understanding of what your body can tolerate,” Astorino says. Those benefits, along with improved endurance and metabolic health, are nothing to scoff at. But if you’re expecting to transform your body and drop several sizes with INSANITY, the results might not be as crazy as you’d hoped.

Read next: A Workout You Can Do Anywhere

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20 Things You Shouldn’t Do Before Bed

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Having trouble sleeping? These insomnia-inducing habits could be to blame

Getting a good night’s sleep is important for your mood, your energy levels, and your overall health. It’s also dependent on what you do during the day—how much physical activity you get, what you eat and drink, and how mentally stimulated you are—especially in the hours before you crawl into bed.

“When people suffer from insomnia or other sleep issues, it’s often because of something they’re doing, probably unintentionally, when they should be preparing for rest,” says Michael Grandner, PhD, a psychiatry instructor and member of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the University of Pennsylvania. Here are 20 things you might want to avoid at night, especially if you’re suffering from a lack of shuteye.

Use an e-reader or smartphone

Several studies have suggested that using electronic devices like e-readers and smartphones, or even watching television in or before bed can disrupt sleep. Robert Rosenberg, DO, author of Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day, recommends avoiding any light-emitting technology for at least one hour before bedtime.

“The blue light given off by computers, smartphones, tablets, and TV prevents the production of melatonin which helps the body become sleepy,” he says. If you don’t want to give up reading your Kindle Fire or using your iPad in bed, follow this advice from a 2013 Mayo Clinic study: Keep the device at least 14 inches from your face and turn down your screen’s brightness to reduce your risk of light-related sleep problems.

Take certain medications

If you take medicines or supplements on a daily basis and you’re also experiencing sleep problems, ask your doctor whether the time of day you take your dosage may be keeping you awake. “The effects may be subtle, but some medicines can make you alert for several hours after taking them,” says Grandner. For example, antidepressants can have strong effects on sleep in either direction, and some pain medications may upset your stomach and make sleep more difficult. (On the other hand, some other medicines—such as some types of blood pressure pills—have been shown to work best when taken at night; talk to your do about when to take yours.)

A sleeping pill isn’t always the answer, either: They’re generally only recommended for short-term use—over-the-counter meds, especially—so if you find yourself taking them regularly, talk to your doctor about other options. A prescription drug will be safer and more effective to use for more than a few weeks at a time, but a longer-term solution that doesn’t rely on medication is your best bet.

Read more: 27 Mistakes Healthy People Make

Text a friend

You may think a text is less disturbing late at night than a phone call, but think twice before you message a friend or family member, or get involved in a group text conversation, shortly before bed. If you sleep with your phone in or near your bed, you could be disturbed by replies after you’ve already retired or fallen asleep.

In fact, a 2011 National Sleep Foundation poll found that about 10% of kids 13 to 18 are awakened after they go to bed every night or almost every night by a phone call, text message or email, and about one in five 13- to 29-year-olds say this happens at least a few nights a week. If you are worried about getting messages late at night, put your phone in another room or mute it.

Drink coffee (maybe even decaf)

A cup of coffee contains anywhere from 80 to 120 milligrams of caffeine per cup, and you probably already know you should avoid it right before bed. But some still like the idea of a hot drink after dinner, says Grandner, and may not realize that although they’re still several hours away from turning in, their habit could disturb sleep. Truth is, caffeine can stay in the body for up to 12 hours. “Even caffeine at lunch can be too close to bedtime for some people,” says Grandner.

Perhaps even more surprising: decaf coffee may not even be a safe bet. A 2007 Consumer Reports report found that some “decaf” samples” contained up to 20 milligrams of caffeine. But there’s good news for people who love a hot cup of joe in the evenings: The new (truly) decaf Counting Sheep Coffee ($12,amazon.com) contains valerian, an herb that promotes sleep.

Drink tea

Even if you do avoid coffee, you may not be as careful about another major source of caffeine: tea. Drinks labeled as “herbal tea“—such as peppermint or chamomile varieties—are probably caffeine-free, says Grandner, but varieties that contain black, green, or white tea leaves do indeed contain the stimulant.

There may still be able to enjoy your favorite caffeinated tea at night. Dunk your teabag quickly into a cup of hot water, then dump it out and make a second cup using that same tea bag. Most of tea’s caffeine is released early on in the steeping process, explains Grandner, so this may help you enjoy the flavor and warmth without so much of the stimulant.

Read more: A Sleep Meditation for a Restful Night

Eat chocolate

Another sneaky source of caffeine is chocolate, especially dark chocolate with high cocoa contents. “People might not think about ice cream that contains chocolate or coffee as something that might potentially keep them awake, but if they’re sensitive to caffeine that could definitely do the trick,” says Grandner.

Milk chocolate bars usually have less than 10 milligrams of caffeine per serving, but a Hershey’s Special Dark Bar, for instance, contains 31—the amount in almost a whole can of Coke. Chocolate also contains the stimulant theobromine, which has been shown to increase heart rate and sleeplessness.

Skip your wind-down time

When people say they can’t shut their mind off in bed, it’s often because they haven’t given themselves adequate time to relax in the hour or so beforehand, says Grandner. “When you’re going from one distracting activity to another and not giving yourself time to sit back and reflect on your thoughts, it’s no wonder that your mind is racing when you finally climb into bed,” he says. He recommends taking at least 30 minutes before you head into your bedroom to put away anything that’s too stimulating, thought-provoking, or absorbing—anything from action-packed TV shows to work that you’ve brought home with you. Instead, focus on activities that relax you and bring closure to your evening, like making a to-do list and packing a bag for the next day.

Check your work email

Aside from the fact that a blue-light emitting device can mess with your body’s natural sleep rhythms, there are other potential problems with checking your email too close to bedtime. “Unless you’re waiting for a specific email that’s going to put you at ease and help you sleep better, I would advise against it,” says Grandner. Checking in with the office too late at night is more likely to make you nervous or agitated, or fill your mind with things you’ll need to do in the morning. In a 2014 Michigan State study, people who used their smartphones for work purposes after 9 p.m. reported being more tired and unfocused the next day.

Eat spicy or fatty foods

Having a large meal too close to bedtime can make falling asleep uncomfortable if you’re bloated or painfully full. Spicy or fatty foods may be particularly risky because they’re associated with acid reflux, which often rears its head when a person lies down at night. Ideally, you should have dinner at least two hours before going to sleep says Grandner, to give your body enough time to begin digesting it. If you’re used to eating something right before bed, stick with sleep-promoting foods like simple carbs or a glass of milk. (And ask yourself if you really need it: If you’re not careful, late-night snacking can lead to weight gain.)

Drink booze

“Alcohol tricks you into thinking you will sleep better, because it often makes you drowsy and makes it easier to fall asleep,” says Dr. Rosenberg. “But as your body begins to metabolize the alcohol, REM sleep, the period where our sleep is most restorative, is reduced.” Impaired REM sleep often leads to waking up tired and unable to concentrate, he adds. Plus, a 2014 University of Missouri study points out that alcohol is a diuretic and may make you have to go to the bathroom through the night. Dr. Rosenberg’s advice: For most people, it’s okay to have a drink or two with dinner—but skip the nightcap or the glass of wine on the couch right before bed.

Read more: The Best Pillow for Your Sleep Style

Smoke

We could go on and on about all the ways smoking is terrible for you, including disturbing your sleep. Many people smoke to relax, says Grandner, but nicotine is a stimulant and can make insomnia worse, especially if you light up close to your bedtime. Nicotine withdrawal can also cause smokers to wake up earlier than they normally would in the morning.

“If you’re a smoker and you’re having trouble sleeping, that may be another reason you should talk to your doctor about quitting,” Grandner says. It’s not just traditional cigarettes you should avoid at night; e-cigarettes, smoking cessation patches, pipes, cigars, and chewing tobacco can all keep you up.

Chug lots of water

Staying hydrated is important, but it may not be the best strategy to drink a huge glass of water before bed or sleep with one water by your bed,” says Grandner, “unless your goal is to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. Instead, he suggests, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day—and always be sure to use the bathroom before you head to bed, even if you don’t feel like you have to.

Work out too intensely

You may have heard that exercise before bed might keep you awake at night. This belief has been largely disproven, says Grandner: “The amount of physical activity that’s required to have an affect on your sleep is pretty intense, and the vast majority of people don’t get enough exercise as it is—we don’t want people to not work out just because they think it’s too late.” In fact, getting regular exercise has been shown to actually help treat insomnia and promote good sleeping habits.

There is some evidence, though, that prolonged or very high-intensity exercise late at night may make it hard for some people to fall asleep. If you’re staying up extra late to squeeze in time at the gym, or suspect that your 9 p.m. kickboxing classes may be keeping you up, see if you sleep better after an earlier workout.

Play video games

The science on television’s effects on sleep is somewhat inconclusive; some studies show that watching TV before bed can disrupt sleep (due to its melatonin-impairing blue light, its mental stimulation, or both), while others show it has little effect. One thing that most experts do agree on, however, is that electronic media that requires a lot of interaction—like video games—can definitely wreak havoc on your slumber.

“Browsing the web or flipping through TV channels before bed may not be so bad if you’re not super sensitive to light,” says Grandner, “but anything that’s highly engaging will almost certainly keep you awake.” Dr. Rosenberg agrees: “Stimulation from these devices can activate and excite the brain, which presents a challenge when it comes to trying to fall asleep.”

Turn up the heat

Everyone’s preferences are different, but most tend to sleep best between 60 and 70 degrees. “People sleep better when it’s cooler—sometimes a little cooler than they think,” says Grandner. That’s because the body’s temperature drops during the night, and also because a lower temperature allows for people to cover up with blankets without getting too hot.

Of course, if it’s freezing in your house and you can’t fall asleep without shivering, there’s nothing wrong with bumping the heat up a degree. But know that you’ll probably sleep better at a slightly cooler temperature than your house is set at during the day.

Read more: 10 Sleep Compatibility Problems, Solved

Let your pet into bed

“Everyone with a pet knows that inviting that pet into your bed is inviting a whole lost more awakenings during the night,” says Grandner. In fact, in a recent University of Kansas study, 63% of people who shared a bed with a furry friend experienced poor sleep. “If you’re cool with that, go right ahead—but it’s definitely something to consider if it starts to affect your sleep quality,” Grandner says.

And those sleep disturbances can come from more than just your dog or cat’s movements through the night. Pet hair and dander in your bed could also contribute to allergies and breathing difficulties, which can also affect your slumber.

Take a shower

If you shower after working out at night or you are simply in the habit of bathing before bed, there’s certainly nothing wrong with it; a hot bath may even help relax you and prime your body for sleep. But if you normally rinse off in the morning and you only switch it up occasionally, bathing at night could send the wrong message to your brain.

“Showers often wake people up, so it might not be the best thing to do before bed,” says Grandner. People with long hair should be careful not to go to bed with wet hair, either; not only can it be uncomfortable and cause knots and tangles, but it can also make sheets and pillows damp, which could cause mold to grow.

Pick a fight

There’s a good reason couples are told to never go to bed angry. “Stress is a major cause of insomnia,” says Dr. Rosenberg. “If a conversation is stressful, it will elevate cortisol and other stress hormones impending your ability to fall asleep.” Plus, he adds, angry people tend to ruminate, or play over thoughts again and again in their minds, which can also make falling asleep difficult.

Going to bed with unresolved issues may not be your best bet either, but Dr. Rosenberg suggests trying to hash out any problems earlier in the night, and saving important decision-making or serious conversations for days when you have more time to reflect and relax afterward. “A serious conversation before bed is not a good idea,” he adds.

Alter your routine

Doing the same thing every night before bed is one of the tenets of good sleep hygiene. Brushing your teeth, washing your face, and setting out your clothes for the morning, for example, can all send a signal to your brain that it’s time for bed—especially if you do them in the same order, at the same time every night.

But switching up that routine, by doing things out of order or earlier in the night than usual, can disrupt that mental process. “Without a consistent bedtime routine, your brain doesn’t go into sleep mode until you crawl into bed and turn out the light,” says Grandner. “You’ll fall asleep much faster if you can start that process a little bit earlier, as you’re getting ready.”

Anything that’s too exciting

Reading in bed can be a great pre-slumber activity, and if it helps you wind down and makes you tired, says Grandner, then go for it. The same goes for any routine habit that helps you get to sleep—chatting on the phone with your best friend, organizing a photo album, or knitting, for example.

But if that book or that knitting project or whatever else you’re doing draws you in too much, you may have a hard time putting it down and turning out the lights. “When I read at night, I get too absorbed in the story and the next thing I know it’s 3 a.m.,” says Grandner. If this happens to you, be careful about the activities you choose before bed, and set strict time limits for whatever you do decide to take on.

Read more: 10 Products That May Help You Sleep

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

Read next: 10 Ways To Sleep Better With Your Partner

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6 Ways a TV Binge Affects Your Body

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And how to fight each one

When a major show releases an entire season at once—we’re looking at you, House of Cards—it’s hard to resist devouring it all over a single weekend. And you probably won’t be alone: According to a 2014 poll by research firm Miner & Co Studio, 70% of U.S. television watchers self-identified as binge-viewers.

But before you settle in, let’s talk about what a TV binge can do to your body. You know that a habit of sitting for prolonged periods has been linked to everything from obesity to early death, but you may wonder: What harm can one or two lazy days really do?

Well, let’s just say there are some good reasons to try to split up your TV or movie binge.

“Even one long television session can certainly cause some immediate side effects,” says John P. Higgins, MD, associate professor of cardiology at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and a certified personal trainer. “And the more you do it, the more you’ll be at risk for longer-term problems.”

Here are all the ways your body is affected while you binge-watch, plus how to fight each one.

Your appetite

Watching television often goes hand in hand with mindless overeating and unhealthy snacking, Dr. Higgins says, and watching episode after episode can make that worse. “You probably don’t want to stop for an hour to cook yourself a healthy meal, so you order pizza or fast food, or you snack on junk food the whole time.” And if you think that one bad-for-you dinner can’t hurt, think again: A 2012 study from the University of Montreal found that a single meal high in saturated fat can can damage arteries and restrict blood flow in the body. Furthermore, watching high-paced, action-oriented programs also triggers more distracted eating than less stimulating news or talk shows, according to a 2014 study by Cornell University.

Simply seeing characters eat on TV may make you consume more calories, Dr. Higgins adds, just as watching them drink alcohol may trigger you to crave a cocktail, or seeing them smoke (ahem, Frank and Claire) may tempt smokers to light up.

Fight it: Prep healthy food in advance
Make a healthy meal before you indulge in one (or more) episodes, and have pre-portioned healthy snacks (think popcorn or almonds) at the ready.

Read more: 20 Snacks That Burn Fat

Your muscles

It’s unlikely that you’ll gain five pounds or sabotage your fitness goals in one sitting, but spending all day on your butt can have more immediate consequences, including stiffness, back pain, and muscle cramps.

Fight it: Watch on the go
Download the Netflix app, so you can watch from your phone or tablet on the treadmill, stationary bike, or—Frank’s personal favorite—the rowing machine. At the very least, you should take a stand and stretch break between each episode.

Read more: 15-Minute Workout: Get Total-Body Toned

Your mood

A recent study by University of Texas at Austin researchers found that binge-watching is linked with feelings of depression and loneliness. People often try to lose themselves in TV to distract themselves from their negative feelings, the authors say, but often they’re unable to stop—even when they know they are neglecting work and relationships. Spending a whole weekend watching TV may also cause feelings regret and guilt, says psychiatrist Grant Brenner, MD, adjunct assistant clinical professor at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, but those are usually temporary.

For viewers with pre-existing mental health conditions, however, a binge session may have bigger consequences. “Perhaps they’re in a vulnerable state and the material triggers a negative reaction—such as activating trauma or amplifying irrational beliefs of some sort,” Dr. Brenner says.

Speaking of trauma, House of Cards has some dark subject matter. “Being exposed to any sufficiently intense or resonant emotionally-laden experience can potentially affect a person’s disposition and outlook,” Dr. Brenner adds, at least for a few days.

Fight it: Watch with friends
You need to talk to someone about Frank and Claire, and why that thing that was so crazy was just. So. Crazy!

Read more: 12 Worst Habits For Your Mental Health

Your sleep

And not just the sleep you lose by watching straight through the night (you probably already know you shouldn’t do that); it’s possible that your shut-eye schedule in the days after your binge session could be affected as well, Dr. Higgins says. “If you watch in a dark room with a lack of sunlight it can screw up your circadian rhythm and disrupt sleep-wake cycles.” On top of that, research suggests that the blue light emitted from televisions, computers, and smartphones can impair the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps promote sleep. (Not to mention, it can cause headaches and eye strain.)

Fight it: Avoid a binge that’s too close to bedtime
You need at least an hour away from the blue light to appropriately wind down. Also: watching on a screen that’s close to your face may have the biggest impact, so be sure you really “sit back” and relax.

Read more: 10 Sleep Compatibility Problems, Solved

Your circulation

Staying in one position for too long can contribute to deep vein thrombosis and the formation of potentially fatal blood clots, even in otherwise active individuals. “I’ve seen young healthy people who have been lying around all day surfing the web or watching movies get blood clots,” Dr. Higgins says. “When you’re watching TV, you may be moving your hands a bit but usually your feet are just lying there.”

Fight it: Get up at least every 30 minutes
“It’s another important reason to get up every 30 minutes or so, even if it’s just to stand and pump the calves and keep the blood flowing,” Dr. Higgins says.

Read more: How to Prevent a Blood Clot

Your metabolism

Studies show that spending long periods of time in a chair or on a couch do slow metabolism and cause the body to store more fat, which can lead to a slow, steady weight gain. Plus, you’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating: prolonged sitting has been linked to certain cancers, diabetes, disability, and heart disease—and the more time people spend watching TV, the more likely they are to die prematurely. In many cases, these associations hold true even if you’re getting the recommended amount of exercise during the day.

Fight it: Don’t make it a habit
Thankfully, it’s not every week that Netflix releases an addicting show.

Read more: 6 Ways to Sit Less Every Day

The bottom line

There are ways to make the occasional marathon TV session healthier. “If you decide you’re going to watch five episodes in one day rather than one episodes every night of the week—and you use that hour each night to work out when wouldn’t otherwise—you can treat a weekend binge as a reward,” Dr. Higgins says.

Brenner agrees. “For a lot of folks, binge-watching might be a form of relaxing ‘stay-cation,’ especially if it is viewed as a valuable recreational experience and not as an excessive indulgence,” he says. “As with most things, moderation is the key to avoiding problems.”

Read more: 5 Ways To Make Your Netflix Binge A Little Healthier

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

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