Headstand PoseBy Hagar Scher
For centuries, yoga gurus have said this ancient mind-body practice can do more than just keep you fit and flexible. In fact, they believe that regularly twisting your body like a pretzel on a sticky mat will yield incredible health benefits -- staving off insomnia, extra pounds, even heart disease. Skeptical? We were too, at first, so we did some digging to see if we could track down legitimate research to back up these bold claims. Here's what we found:
Yoga increases the range of motion in your hips, which can reduce lower-back pain, says Loren M. Fishman, MD, coauthor of Relief is in the Stretch: End Low Back Pain Through Yoga (W.W. Norton & Company, 2005). In fact, a small study of older women (ages 44 to 62), presented at the American College of Sports Medicine's annual meeting last year, suggests that yoga increases lower-back flexibility and diminishes pain. A word of caution: People suffering from persistent lower-back pain need a professional
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Headstand PoseBy Hagar ScherRead More »from Yoga's Surprising Health Benefits
- FITNESS Magazine | Healthy Living – Fri, Apr 27, 2012 4:56 PM EDT
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.comBy Kati Mora, MS, RDRead More »from The Best and Worst Foods to Eat on Your Wedding Day
The last thing you probably want to think about on your wedding day is the food you can and cannot eat. But you might be interested in knowing that what you munch on can make a big difference in how you feel on the big day. Here, the best and worst foods to nosh on before and after saying "I do."
Related: 10 Sanity Savers to Be a Better Bridesmaid
The Secret Superfood: Asparagus
It might not be the first food that comes to mind when planning your menu, but according to Lauren O'Connor, MS, RD, munching on some stalks throughout the day has some big perks. O'Connor says asparagus has diuretic-like properties that can help fight bloating, along with keeping you fuller longer due to the high fiber content. And when you're trying to look good in a custom-fit wedding dress, these two things are kind of a big deal.
For On-the-Go Grazing: Homemade Trail Mix
Your wedding day will be the happiest day of your life and also the longest. It's important to have a stash of
Peter Ardito/Fitness MagazineShould you take Vitamin E? What's the best source of Vitamin C? What are flavonoids anyway? We've got the answers.Read More »from The Scoop on Antioxidants
Related: The Top 10 Antioxidant-Packed Foods
Research showing that vitamin C can damage cells' DNA has received a lot of attention, but these studies were done in test tubes, not people. Most experts say vitamin C is safe in moderate doses. And many people appear to be skimping on C. Experts say 20 to 30 percent of Americans may have low levels in their blood and up to 16 percent may be deficient. In a British study done last year, men and women with high blood levels of C had about half the risk of dying from heart disease, cancer and other ailments than those with low levels. In addition, C protects against cataracts. In a 14-year study of 478 women, Tufts University researchers found that those who took vitamin C supplements reduced their risk of developing cataracts by a third.
Whether vitamin E can prevent heart disease is still an open
By Lindsey EmeryRead More »from The 21-Minute Ab Makeover
This super-effective workout routine designed by Susan Moran-Perich, vice president of Power Pilates in New York City, combines cardio and pilates to beat belly flab.
The routine: Do all of the core exercises, followed by two minutes of cardio. Repeat the sequence three times; it'll take about 21 minutes.
What you'll need: An exercise mat and a jump rope (optional).
Single Leg Stretch1. Single-Leg Stretch
Strengthens abdominals, stretches, hip flexors
• Lie faceup, knees into chest, abs engaged.
• Lift head, place left hand on right knee, right hand at right ankle, and extend left leg 45 degrees.
• Pull right knee into chest while reaching left leg out and up.
• Switch legs and hands.
• Do 20 reps total, continuing to alternate legs.
Related: Flat Abs Fast: Core-Strengthening Workout
Double-Leg Lower/Lift2. Double-Leg Lower/Lift
• Lie faceup, abs engaged.
• Place hands under the bottom of your spine.
• Lift head and extend legs over
Sara Forrest/Fitness MagazineBy Leah McLaughlin, Sharon Boone, and Amy FishbeinRead More »from Do Self-Help Books Really Work?
Walk into any bookstore and the titles calling out to help you can seem overwhelming: Change Your Life in 30 Days, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Managing Your Time. Many have been on the bestseller list for years. Take The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People: It's stayed there for more than five years. But are these books really, well, helpful? Some experts say yes. "Self-help materials can be almost as effective as professional treatment," says John Norcross, PhD, a clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. "That is, if they give specific actionable steps and you have realistic expectations -- lasting changes are made gradually." To test his statement, we conducted our own (slightly unscientific) study: three former staffers each tried a book that addressed a personal challenge. Here's how we fared.
Related: 5 Secrets of Happy People
Achieving Breakthrough Goals
Laura Doss/Fitness MagazineBy Carey RossiRead More »from 5 Ways to Recharge Your Exercise Motivation
Don't let the mental hurdles standing between you and the body you want block your weight-loss progress. To steer around any slim-down speed bumps and excuses, follow these simple secrets for rebooting your mood and workout.
Related: 25 Cardio Routines to Never Get Bored
You Think: "The scale is stuck. Why bother?"
Rethink: "This pudge will budge."
Stick with the scale: Love it and you'll probably lose pounds. In a study at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, of 3,026 adults who were watching their waistlines, those who weighed themselves more frequently lost more weight over two years or regained fewer pounds. This research backs up the benefits of daily weigh-ins, but weekly may do the trick: Three-quarters of the successful long-term slimmers listed in the National Weight Control Registry step on the scale at least once a week. "Plateaus are part of the process," says Kim H. Miller, PhD, associate professor of health promotion at the University of Kentucky in
Jack Miskell/Fitness MagazineBy Tram Kim NguyenRead More »from The Truth About Where Germs Lurk
Can you really catch a nasty bug from sitting on a public toilet seat or walking barefoot in a gym locker room? Unfortunately, yes, but there is a lot you can do to protect yourself. "Eighty percent of infectious illnesses like colds and flu are transmitted by contact. Good habits like washing your hands frequently can dramatically reduce the number of pathogenic, or illness-causing, germs you're exposed to," says Philip M. Tierno Jr., Ph.D., director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University Medical Center in New York City and author of The Secret Life of Germs (Pocket Books, 2001). We asked the experts for their tips on ways to stay healthy in the five most germ-ridden places.
Related: QUIZ: Can You Spot the Germs?
Wear flip-flops in the locker room and shower. This warm, damp environment is a breeding ground for fungi and viruses that cause conditions like athlete's foot and plantar warts.
Put a towel on the locker-room bench before you
Plank PressRoutine by trainer Becky Tinney, the creator of the Balance MethodLose the sleeves and the jiggle with this superfast sculpting workout.
What you'll need: a pair of 3- to 5-pound dumbbells, a yoga mat
Targets shoulders, back, triceps, and abs
• Place dumbbells at top of mat, then get into full push-up position with arms shoulder-width apart and hands directly under shoulders; step feet out slightly wider than shoulder-width.
• Keeping hips level, lift right hand and pick up one dumbbell; drive right elbow backward at shoulder level, keeping arm close to side and palm facing down.
• Extend right arm forward.
• Return right elbow to bent position and repeat.
• Do 10 reps, switch sides and repeat. Do 2 sets.
Related: Deft Gravity: 9 Exercises for a Better Butt
Monkey ArmsMonkey Arms
Targets shoulders, triceps, and biceps
• Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, arms by sides.
• Raise dumbbells up along sides of rib cage to armpits, elbows pointingRead More »from 5 Moves to Get Stronger Arms Fast
Jeffrey Westbrook/Fitness MagazineBy Lindsey EmeryRead More »from The FITNESS 2012 Sneaker Guide for Every Sport
Be ready for any kind of action with these superstar sneakers, which got a standing -- and striding, cycling, shuffling, stomping -- ovation from our 132 sweat testers.
Related: Runner-Up Sneaks for Every Sport
The Best Walking Shoe
For casual strollers to serious power walkers
Winner: New Balance 895
Bye-bye, staid walking shoes. This bold "superlight" pair is "incredibly flexible, while being supportive and cushiony," testers say. The unique egg-crate-inspired design of the outsole "puts an extra spring in your step." That, combined with a stable-but-not-stiff foam midsole, makes them "well built for both casual and speed walking." ($85, shopnewbalance.com)
Jeffrey Westbrook/Fitness MagazineThe Best Hiking Shoe
For off-road walkers or day hikers
Winner: Vasque Talus WP
These "great" lightweight hiking boots had one tester raving that the waterproof Nubuck leather "keeps your feet dry and warm, even when they're fully submerged in water." The Vibram outsole offers "excellent grip" and "a
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.comBy Lauren TumasYou said yes! (To being a bridesmaid, that is). It might be the happiest day of someone else's life, but that doesn't mean you can't have a good time in the process. Here, your guide to fulfilling your duties while keeping your sanity -- and friendship -- intact.
Related: Are Your Friends Making You Fat?
Ask the Important Questions
Money and time can be the biggest stress factors surrounding weddings. "A bridesmaid should be up front and clear from the beginning about what she can contribute and shouldn't assume anything," says Anna Post, the great-great-granddaughter of etiquette expert Emily Post and author of Emily Post's Etiquette, 18th edition. Post suggests asking the bride how much you are expected to spend (including dress, shoes, and jewelry) and know if you are expected to travel for the wedding or bachelorette party. Make sure you mention how excited you are to be a part of this step for her so she doesn't think you'll be counting pennies the entireRead More »from 5 Sanity Savers to Be a Better Bridesmaid