TIME Exercise/Fitness

5 Stretches for People Who Are Stuck at a Desk All Day

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Time to take a screen break

In our quest to make life easier and more automated through the influence of technology, we sometimes forget how the gadgets we love so much can negatively affect our lives as well, specifically when it comes to our bodies. Studies show that we spend an average of 3-4 hours per day staring down at our cell phones or tablets. This isn’t only straining to the eyes, but it also causes our bodies to be hunched over for prolonged periods of time. Between that and sitting at a desk all day, our bodies are no doubt screaming for relief!

We know we should take time away from the office or computer daily to get outside, go for a run, or hit the gym. However, for busy professionals who are just lucky enough to have a moment to step away from their desk to scarf down lunch in between meetings and deadlines, sometimes those things just aren’t a realistic possibility.

Sitting in these static positions all day can leave your neck, shoulders, back, and hips feeling tight and most likely out of their proper alignment. In light of that fact, here are 5 stretches you can do every day (and anywhere) to combat these stubborn aches and pains.

Chest Opener

You need this one if you spend a lot of time hunched over a keyboard. Rest your chin onto your neck and reach your arms behind you until your hands meet. Interlace your fingers and lift your arms up until you feel a stretch in your chest and front shoulders. Hold for 10 seconds, release, and repeat.

Hip Release

Tight hip flexors are a common problem for people who sit in a chair all day. Kneel on the floor and step your left leg out in front of you at a 90-degree angle, placing your left foot flat on the floor. Press your hips forward until you start feeling a stretch. For an added stretch, raise your right hand above your head. Hold for 10-15 seconds and then switch sides.

Trunk Rotation

Lie on your back with your arms and legs open and relaxed. Bring your knees to your chest, and then let them both slowly fall to one side of your body, while keeping your upper torso neutral and your arms on the floor. Hold for 10-15 seconds and then move to the other side. Repeat 2-3 times.

Shoulder Rolls

Practice rolling your shoulders forward and backward several times to loosen up your upper body. Do 10 reps each way, rest and repeat 2-3 times.

Head-to-Toe Stretch

Stand up and reach your arms high over your head until you feel a stretch. Hold for about 8-10 seconds and then reach your hands down to your toes. Hold for 8-10 seconds and repeat.

For more soothing stretches, check out 5 Stretches To Help Improve Your Posture.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

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MONEY Tech

Fitbit Shows Healthy Profits in IPO Bid

The fitness tracker company has filed for an initial public stock offering, but competition is heating up.

TIME technology

Fitbit Files for $100 Million IPO

Fitbit Fitbit Charge HR

Maker of fitness tracking devices reports big profits

Fitbit, a maker of fitness tracking devices that is being challenged by Apple’snew watch product, has filed for a $100 million IPO.

The San Francisco-based wearables company plans to trade on the NYSE under ticker symbol FIT, with Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and BofA Merrill Lynch serving as lead bankers. Expect that the $100 million figure is a placeholder, rather than the amount Fitbit ultimately plans to raise.

Fitbit reports nearly $132 million in net income on $745 million in revenue for 2014. This is a massive flip from 2013, when the company had a $52 million net loss on $271 million in revenue. For 2012, it was a $4 million net loss on $76 million in revenue.

Quarterly revenue has climbed around 3x between Q1 2014 and Q1 2015, while earnings are up more than 5x over that period (note: around half of Fitbit’s sales come in Q4, due to the holidays). One big explanation for the jump is an increase international sales, while 2013 (and Q1 2014) were harmed by a product recall.

The company also reported selling 10.9 million devices last year, which means that it accounted for more than half of last year’s fitness band market.

From the IPO filing:

fitbit

 

 

 

Fitbit has raised over $80 million in VC funding since its 2007 founding, from firms like Foundry Group (28.9% pre-IPO stake), True Ventures (22.4%) and SoftBank Capital (5.6%), Sapphire Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures and Felicis Ventures.

Co-founders James Park (CEO) and Eric Friedman (CTO) each received around $222,000 in base salary last year, and the equivalent of $7.8 million in total compensation.

Fitbit reports having around $238 million of cash on the books, and $160 million in debt.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.

TIME

If You’re Overweight, Can You Blame Your Job?

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Your weight gain might not be your fault

Here are the weighty facts: Almost 70% of Americans weigh more than they should. More than a third are obese and another 6% are classified as having “extreme obesity.” There’s no single reason behind these depressing statistics, but a new survey uncovers evidence that our jobs may contribute more to this situation than previously believed.

CareerBuilder.com polled more than 3,000 workers and found that, for a lot of us, work is making us fat. Almost 60% of respondents said they felt overweight (the government data above counts people who aren’t in the workforce as well, which could be behind the discrepancy, or there could be a fair number of us who don’t realize we’re carrying around some extra poundage).

More than four in 10 respondents say they’ve gained weight at their current jobs, up from less than 40% last year, and more than 20% say they’ve gained 10 pounds or more. CareerBuilder calls today’s workplace “an enabler of Americans’ ever-expanding waistlines.” Workers in professional and business services and IT are most likely to be losing the battle of the bulge at work. (Retail workers are the least likely to gain weight.)

According to workers’ responses, there are a few culprits here. (Respondents could choose more than one reason.) More than half say they gained weight because they just sit at their desks most of the day, and 43% say they’re too exhausted from work to exercise. People who have gained weight at their current job are more likely to eat lunch at their desks and snack more, and less likely to exercise three or more times a week or take advantage of fitness benefits (like gym membership) their employer offers. In fact, although 27% of workers have access to fitness benefits of some kind, nearly two thirds of those who have them don’t use them — potentially ignoring a tool that could help them ditch that spare tire.

Another 37% of workers blame stress eating for their weight gain. There’s a pretty strong link between stress and being overweight: While fewer than half of respondents in low-stress jobs are overweight, 70% of those in high-stress occupations weigh more than they should, CareerBuilder finds. Another recent study, though, says the key to lowering workplace stress isn’t hitting the vending machine: It’s taking a walk. Australian researchers found that lunchtime walks made workers less anxious and more enthusiastic about their jobs.

This is something employers should be paying attention to, because it’s starting early: Almost 40% of workers under the age of 35 are already gaining weight at their jobs, and obesity leads to a lot of healthcare expenses down the line. Workers, if you’re watching that scale creep up on days you check your weight before starting your morning commute, see if your company offers fitness perks. If they do, use them. If not, see if you can start a walking group at your job, or at least ditch that desktop lunch and go take a stroll.

TIME Exercise/Fitness

5 Ways to Get Toned With a Medicine Ball

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Try a new total-body workout routine

Bored of those dumbbells? Try swapping out your free weights for a medicine ball instead. Medicine ball training is one of the oldest and most effective forms of strength conditioning ever since the Greeks discovered the physical fitness benefits of exercising with weighted balls. It is one workout trend that has lasted the test of time.

So, if you’re looking to breathe new life into your workout routine, grab a 10-15 pound medicine ball and try these five exercises for a seriously sculpting total-body workout.

Rolling Push-Up

Adding a medicine ball to this already challenging move can morph this mostly upper-body exercise into a full body blaster. Get into a high plank position and place the medicine ball under one hand. Lower the chest toward the floor to perform a push-up; press back up then transfer the ball to the other hand. Do 5-10 push ups on each side. To modify, drop to your knees.

Lunge With Twist

Adding the medicine ball (and a twist) to your lunge helps engage the abdominals and obliques in addition to the legs, making it a more full body move. Holding a medicine ball out in front of you, step forward into a lunge with the right leg. When you hit the lowest point in your lunge, start to twist the ball to the right, rotating the torso. Bring the ball back to center and then step back up to a standing position. Do the twist in place or moving forward as walking lunges. Do 10 with each leg.

Weighted Superman

Get ready to lift off with this all over back of the body move. Lie face down on the mat with arms stretched out in front holding the medicine ball. Slowly raise the arms and legs up as high as possible, engaging your back. Be sure to keep your core engaged to protect the lower part of your spine. Hold the position at the top for a few counts and then slowly lower the body down to the mat. Repeat 10-15 times.

Ball Fly

This one might take a few times to master, but once you find your balance you’re sure to look like a pro. Lie face up on a Swiss ball with the neck and shoulder blades resting on the ball’s center, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keeping the hips raised and core engaged, hold the medicine ball up to the ceiling with both hands. Slowly shift the ball to one hand and lower the arm down so it’s parallel with the floor. (Be sure to maintain a soft bend in the elbow). Bring the ball back to center and shift the ball to the other hand to repeat on the other side. That’s one rep. Do 5-10 reps.

V-Up With Ball Pass

Get the core fired up with this ab-tastic V-Up. Lying flat on your back, extend your legs straight out in front of you and bring the ball overhead with both hands. Engage the core to lift the hands and feet simultaneously up so that the body forms a ‘V’ shape. Once there, pass the ball from the hands to the feet and, squeezing the ball between your feet, lower your arms and legs back down to the floor. Return to the ‘V’ and pass the ball back to the hands before lowering down. That’s one rep. Try for 10 reps. If you can get to 15, we applaud you.

For more workouts using the bosu ball, check out 4 Key Ab Muscles And How To Target Them.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

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TIME Exercise/Fitness

The Pros and Cons of Running on the Treadmill

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Running on a treadmill is easier on your joints

Is it better to run on a treadmill or outside on the pavement? It’s an age-old question and the truth is there are pros and cons to both. There are definitely some types of workouts you can do better or more efficiently on a treadmill. However, running on a ‘mill can create that aimless, never-ending ‘hamster wheel’ feeling for some. It depends on your goals, injury history, and preference, too.

Here are 6 pros and cons to running on a treadmill versus running outside on the pavement or trail.

Pro: The difficulty level is the same

The question of difficulty level always arises when it comes to running indoors versus out. People assume that running outside is empirically harder than logging miles inside on a treadmill. However, research has proven that setting the treadmill to a 1% incline accurately reflects the same energy costs of running outdoors. So, it’s just as effective as long as you add a little incline.

Read more: 15 Running Tips You Need to Know

Pro: It’s easier on your joints

The smooth, cushioned belt is more forgiving than hard pavement or cement. Running on a treadmill can help reduce some of the impact on the joints and the body as a whole. This can be especially helpful when rehabbing or coming back from an injury. Make sure you ease your way back to the road following an injury by alternating treadmill and outdoor runs a few times a week, instead of going cold turkey.

Read more: 7 Running Injuries and How to Avoid Them

Pro: You can simulate race environments

Many of the more advanced treadmills allow you to create your own unique course profile, which you can use to simulate the exact course you’re training for. Even if you’re not training for a race, you can switch up your workout by choosing a certain trail or terrain from around the world, depending on the options, to make you feel as though you’re half a world away. You also have no worries of weather, temperature, or terrain issues while running on a treadmill, which can mean everything if you live in a very cold or wet part of the country.

Read more: 7 Ways to Make Your Treadmill Runs More Effective

Con: You could lose your agility

Although the treadmill might provide your joints with more cushion, you don’t get the added benefit of running on uneven terrain or pavement. Even if the ground outside might feel flat to you, it never truly is. Therefore, your foot and leg muscles are constantly making small adjustments to adapt to the changing surfaces. These adjustments are great for coordination and balance and will help improve your ability to do everyday things. While treadmill running can help improve your overall fitness, it won’t mimic the real-life situations that are simulated through running outdoors.

Read more: Here’s How Much Running Is Healthiest for You, According to One Study

Con: You don’t work as many muscles

Because there is a machine powering the belt, the muscle mechanics differ when you run on the treadmill. Outside, you typically rely on your hamstrings to finish the stride cycle and lift your legs behind you, almost kicking your butt. But on a treadmill, the propulsion of the belt does much of that work for you. You use your quads to push off, but your hamstrings aren’t firing as much as they would if you were running outdoors. If you’re only running on the treadmill, be sure that you’re also doing cross training to work the muscles on the back of your legs, including your hamstrings and glutes.

Read more: 10 Exercise Cheats That Blow Your Calorie Burn

Con: It’s boring

There are no two ways about it: Running inside is boring. Even if you have the best playlist or you’re watching TV, it’s just too easy to look at that clock directly in front of you—and see that only 30 seconds have passed since the last time you checked it. (You can try covering the display with a towel to keep that clock out of sight). When running outside, the time naturally seems to move faster because you are literally covering more ground. Plus, you set a literal finish line for your run and see it getting closer and closer as you approach it. This provides you with a more natural sense of distance and will give you that extra push to finish strong when you feel like giving up.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME apps

7 Exercise Apps For People Who Hate Working Out

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Whether you're motivated by money, competition or a simple push notification, there's an app to help you get moving

Looking to get in shape for summer? Fitness may be its own reward, but these seven apps can sweeten the deal by prodding, encouraging and even paying users to roll off of that couch and unleash their inner gym bunnies — or just move a bit more. No pressure.

Human

Human can track a whole range of movements, in and out of doors, whether the user is pounding the pavement or dancing alone in front of the mirror. Any activity short of shifting about in a chair counts toward a daily goal of 30 minutes in motion (busybodies can revise their goal upwards to 60 or 90 minutes). On those occasional inert days, the app automatically prods the user to get moving. It’s a great starter app for anyone who wants to get active, but doesn’t want to commit to a single, repetitive fitness routine.

Gympact

It pays to workout with Gympact, literally. A community of users bet $5 to $10 that they’ll stick to their weekly exercise routine. Those who break their pact automatically lose money, which is disbursed to those who uphold their end of the bargain. The app tracks progress toward your weekly goals using the phone’s motion sensor for movement and GPS for gym visits. With payouts ranging from $0.30 to $5, the carrot doesn’t quite match the stick. Then again, it’s one of the only workout apps to brandish a carrot and a stick in the first place.

Fitocracy

Fitocracy adds a competitive twist to the workout routine, awarding points for each recorded workout, badges for significant milestones and bragging rights on a social network of more than one million users (including Arnold Schwarzenegger). If points, public glory and a loose affiliation with the Terminator aren’t motivation enough, users can also hire a personal trainer for coaching and nutritional advice at $1 a day.

Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K may sound like an ambitious goal for anyone on the couch-end of the spectrum, but this app’s training regimen starts easy and gradually ratchets up the run time from one training session to the next. Audio cues from a personal trainer prompt the user to push just a little bit longer than the previous session. Stick to the program, and novice runners can complete a 5 kilometer (3.1 mile) circuit within nine weeks.

RockMyRun

RockMyRun arranges music mixes by tempo, so that the beat falls roughly in line with your running pace, whether its an easy jog (120 beats per minute) or a hard run (150 beats per minute). Android users can manually change the tempo, but iPhone users can take advantage of the latest feature: tempos that automatically sync up to footfalls or heartbeats.

Johnson & Johnson 7 Minute Workout

Ever since a groundbreaking fitness study found that 7 minutes of exercise could yield impressive results, there has been a veritable explosion of 7-minute workout apps. Johnson & Johnson whipped up the cleanest looking interface. Reading the instructions is the easy part — actually following through on the high-intensity workout, not so much. On the upside, the end is always seven minutes in sight.

Type n Walk

The absolute last refuge for texting addicts, Type n Walk uses the smartphone camera to display the pavement immediately in front of you in real-time. Compose texts or emails against this moving backdrop. “This combined with your peripheral vision is just enough visual information to help you avoid obstacles,” the app makers say. Test their claim at your own risk.

Read next: The 10 Essential Rules of Gym Etiquette

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TIME Exercise/Fitness

Fitness Guru Jillian Michaels Files $10 Million Lawsuit

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The trainer says she has not been compensated for videos used by Lionsgate

Fitness star and trainer Jillian Michaels has filed a $10 million lawsuit against Lionsgate over YouTube videos posted to its channel.

Michaels—a former The Biggest Loser host—claims Lionsgate has not compensated her for her workout videos that are used on the Lionsgate BeFit YouTube channel, Variety reports. Michaels says she was not consulted about Lionsgate’s use of her brand and image and that the amount of videos used by the studio has exceeded their contract so she should receive royalties.

Michaels says her videos make up nearly half of the 350 million views gained by the channel.

Michaels and Lionsgate did not respond to requests for comment at publication.

TIME Exercise/Fitness

Strenuous Exercise May Not Be That Bad for You After All

A researcher is changing his tune about his findings

A health researcher is walking back his claim that strenuous exercise places runners at equal risk of death as people who don’t exercise at all, after the study received widespread media attention.

The researchers should have presented the result as a possibility rather than a concrete finding, study lead author Peter Schnohr told the BBC. “We should have said we suspect that it is so, but we can’t say for sure. Everybody makes some mistakes in papers,” he said.

The study concluded that “strenuous joggers have a mortality rate not statistically different from that of the sedentary group.”

Schnohr’s research, which received attention across many media outlets, including TIME, looked at data on the health of thousands of runners and non-runners over a 12-year period. But its conclusions on strenuous exercise were drawn from a sample of only 36 people. The study reported the small sample size, something that Schnohr said sophisticated readers should have noticed.

“It shouldn’t have been misunderstood,” he told the BBC. “If you normally read papers you could say ‘Ah!'”

Strenuous exercise was defined as running at a speed of more than 7 mph for at least four hours per week.

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These Teenagers Are Israel’s Future Soldiers

They learn how to assemble an AK-47 assault rifle and how to react in an urban, house-to-house fighting situation

In a country where military service is mandatory (three years for men and two for women) groups of young Israeli teenagers are increasingly joining advance-training programs to prepare – physically and mentally – for duty.

“In Israel, once you join the army, you become a grown-up,” says Oded Balilty, an Associated Press photographer based in Tel Aviv. “One day, you’re a teenager, the next you’re a soldier with a gun. And so, some of them want to prepare themselves and feel more comfortable with the idea of being a soldier.”

For Israelis, conflict has become a fact of life — Israeli reservists can be called into active duty during times of crisis. “Yet, most kids will often only hear about it in the news; they don’t really live it,” says Balilty. “Of course, during wartime, they go down to shelters if necessary, but they mostly hear about it from their parents and friends around the dining table. Teenagers care about different stuff. They care about dating girls; they care about parties; they care about their iPhones and their iPads.”

For most of them, war only becomes a reality when they start their military service, and end up on the front lines.

Balilty spent six days following 400 students taking part in military combat fitness-training programs organized by Excellent Training, an independent company founded by Nir Cohen, a former Israeli paratrooper. Students meet three times a week, over a year, and are put through grueling exercises designed to strengthen them ahead of their military service. “For example, those who train to join the Navy are sent in the water when it’s cold weather,” says Balilty. “They go in and out, and at the same time the instructors are asking them questions about the history of Israel to see if they’re focused and if they are mentally stable. It’s very intense. [The instructors] want to simulate the tension and stress that soldiers are under in the military.”

The students also learn how to assemble an AK-47 assault rifle, and how to react in an urban, house-to-house fighting situation.

Excellent Training is just one of the many companies, founded by former members of the Israeli military, that have been offering these training programs in the last decade. “There are many others in each large city [in Israel],” says Balilty, who has followed several of these groups in recent months.

In the end, says Balilty, “these teenagers are definitely more ready than most of the teenagers that go straight into the army. I’ve seen 16 and 17-year-old kids that were really mature. Other kids tend to be more scared about joining the army. They can break mentally. So I think this [sort of training] is really helping them.”

Oded Balilty is an Associated Press photographer based in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Mikko Takkunen, who edited this photo essay, is an Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent

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