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Archive for May, 2016

4 Simple Tricks to Improve Your Concentration

4 Simple Tricks to Improve Your Concentration

Do you find yourself powering through work one minute and watching cat videos the next? That sounds about right: A study last year by Microsoft discovered that the average attention span is eight seconds. (Curse smartphones!) Refocus with these four adjustments.

1. Take a break

Give yourself two short breathers over the course of an hour. While that may sound counterintuitive, research shows that periodic diversions make it easier to zero in on one thing for a longer amount of time. Why? The brain gradually gets habituated to whatever the stimulus is (say, doing your taxes), so you need to stop and “reactivate” your goal from time to time to maintain your concentration.

RELATED: The 5 Steps to Quitting Anything Gracefully

2. Turn off your cell phone

It’s not just making a phone call or sending a text message that distracts you from what you’re doing: A study out of Florida State University revealed that people who merely received text or call notifications committed more mistakes on a computer task they were working on than those who did it free of phone interruptions. On deadline? Put the iPhone on silent and stash it away.

3. Reel in your multitasking

Eating dinner, watching TV, and also skimming a report? Stick to two activities (or one!): Your brain can’t handle more than two big tasks simultaneously, suggests a 2010 study in Science. Why? A part of the brain called the medial prefrontal cortex helps divide the work so that half the region attends to one task while the other focuses on the second one, leaving no room to juggle a third.

RELATED: How to Fall Asleep Fast, According to 6 Health Editors

4. Practice mindfulness

During breaks at home or on the job, take some steady, deep breaths and simply concentrate on your inhalations and exhalations. The Buddhist technique has been shown to improve mental performance by helping ground your mind in the present, instead of letting it wander throughout the day.

Source: 4 Simple Tricks to Improve Your Concentration

May 31, 20160 commentsRead More
5 Things To Know Before Buying A New Pair Of Sneakers

5 Things To Know Before Buying A New Pair Of Sneakers

Image courtesy of Guido Mieth, Getty Images

The perfect running shoe can make you feel invincible when you’re running that morning mile (or even a half-marathon). But wearing shoes that don’t fit can seriously mess with your stride. Conveniently, they’re pretty much the only thing you need to worry about up-front: “One of the wonderful things about running is its simplicity—no need to reserve fields, find a team, or buy equipment,” says Kate Reese, manager of the specialty running store Brooklyn Running Co., and assistant coach of the women’s cross country and track and field teams at Haverford College. “But the repetitive foot-strike and impact of running can take a toll on the body, especially for those of us that are confined to concrete and asphalt for the majority of our mileage.”

Running is a pretty intuitive and simple form of exercise, but “finding a shoe that will work with your individual biomechanics is a critical component of both injury prevention and overall comfort,” says Reese. She recommends heading to a specialty running store, where an associate can analyze your gait (the way you run) to find the best shoe. Whether you’re an experienced runner or just getting into jogging, there are five things you should know before you invest in a new pair of sneaks.

1. Try on a half-size larger than you normally would to give your toes some space.

Even if your casual sneaks fit just right, when it comes to technical running shoes, they should probably be at a half size larger than casual footwear, explains Reese. Wiggle room is a must! You want to have about a thumb’s width between the tip of your big toe and the front of the shoe to avoid blisters and broken toenails, explains Reese. “Pressure on the toe is never okay,” says Reese. “If the fit is so constrictive that the toes can’t move, you will most likely develop a blister during the course of the run. Any friction will certainly result in a blister that even the most technical sock can’t combat.”

2. Make sure the rest of the shoe isn’t too tight, too.

“The collar [opening] of the shoe should fit snugly around the heel without gripping too tightly,” says Reese. You shouldn’t feel pressure under your foot or constriction along the top of your foot, and “the arch of the shoe should align comfortably with the arch of the foot,” she adds.

 3. Consider the support you need.

Speaking of arches, yours will definitely determine the type of shoe that’s best for your foot. “Runners with high, rigid arches typically need a more neutral shoe, with uniform cushion front to back, while those with flatter feet tend to need additional support under the arch,” says Reese. “Most footwear falls within one of these two broad categories, but different models have different amounts and placement of correction. A shoe with too little support can result in excess arch drop, while unnecessary support can push the foot laterally. Over the course of many miles, these slight shifts can contribute to injury.” The best way to make sure your arches are correctly supported is to—you guessed it—ask a store associate to help you out. Here’s a quick primer on how to determine what foot type you have.

Related: Four Workouts That Will Make You A Faster Runner

4. And know that a lightweight shoe isn’t always better.

Even if those sleek, lightweight bad boys in the window had caught your eye, sometimes less isn’t more. “We need to be realistic about the surfaces on which we run,” says Reese. “Many of our customers love the weightlessness of minimal footwear, but find that these shoes simply don’t provide the support and shock absorption needed for urban running.” Minimal footwear typically means the shoe has less cushioning, a more flexible arch, and a heel that’s lower to the ground than a traditional running shoe, she explains. And while it all depends on the person, Reese recommends transitioning to this type of gradually to give your body time to adjust, if running long-distance in a minimal shoe is your goal.

5. Most importantly, consider comfort first. 

At the end of the day, comfort should always come first. “Find a shoe that feels natural, almost like an extension of the foot,” says Reese. Make sure the shoes you choose are comfortable enough that you could run out of the store in them (just don’t forget your bag). If you’re looking for some sneaker inspiration, get started with these SELF favorites.

The post 5 Things To Know Before Buying A New Pair Of Sneakers appeared first on SELF.

Source: 5 Things To Know Before Buying A New Pair Of Sneakers

A 4-Minute Cardio Workout That Will Leave Your Abs Crying

A 4-Minute Cardio Workout That Will Leave Your Abs Crying

YekoPhotoStudio / Getty Images

This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of SELF.

Commonly referred to as jump training, plyo (think box jumps, jumping lunges, hurdle hops) involves explosive action in short spurts. At New York City’s Fhitting Room, a boutique fitness studio specializing in high-intensity interval training, coaches include plyometrics in 90 percent of their weekly programming. Each 30-second burst leaves clients breathless and quivery—but psyched about their results. “The exercises increase your muscles’ efficiency by training them to contract and relax more quickly,” says Fhitting Room instructor Julia Avery. “This translates into better performance in other movements—you can jump higher or lift more weight.”

For Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas plyo training gives her an Olympic-caliber edge—helping her run faster to the vault, flawlessly execute twists and flips, and stick those landings. She’ll do all of that in Rio, and she’ll also be having a great time. In 2012, “I was the underdog,” she says. “Now it’s different. Still, I’m going to have fun and bring my A game.”

Douglas isn’t just catching air with the plyo routine below—she’s also improving her explosive power and coordination. Her trainer, Christian Gallardo, recommends doing this circuit without rest between moves. (It will take you about four minutes to complete.) Add it to the end of your regular workout up to four days per week.

1. High Knees
Stand with feet hip-width apart. Run in place, pumping arms and bringing knees as close to chest as possible, for 30 seconds.

2. Tuck Jump
Stand with feet together, knees soft, arms reaching overhead. Lean forward slightly and lift heels off floor. Jump as high as possible, bringing knees to chest and landing softly on balls of feet. Continue for 30 seconds.

3. V-Up
Lie on back, arms and legs extended. Contract abs, then reach arms and legs to ceiling, forming a V shape. Lower slowly for 1 rep. Do 10 reps.

4. Squat Jump
Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Jump, fully extending arms, then land in a squat, keeping chest up, as you tap the ground with hands. Continue for 30 seconds.

5. Windshield Wiper
Lie on back with legs straight, feet pointed to ceiling, arms out to sides. Slowly lower feet to left, keeping a 90-degree bend at waist. Lift feet back to ceiling and repeat on opposite side for 1 rep. Do 10 reps.

Sports bra, $23, shorts, $25, and shoes, $150;

Styled by Michaela Dosamantes Hair, Dana Boyer for Oribe Hair Care; makeup, Laura Stiassni for Dior Addict.

For more, pick up the June issue of SELF on newsstands, subscribe, or download the digital edition.

Be sure to tune in: the Olympics begin August 5th on NBC. To learn more about all Olympic hopefuls, visit

You may also like: Try this 10-minute plyo workout you can do at home:

The post A 4-Minute Cardio Workout That Will Leave Your Abs Crying appeared first on SELF.

Source: A 4-Minute Cardio Workout That Will Leave Your Abs Crying

May 30, 20160 commentsRead More
11 Little Ways To Exercise Without Actually Working Out

11 Little Ways To Exercise Without Actually Working Out


Edward Berthelot / Getty

When it comes to finding time to work out, the struggle is very real. Because after an extremely long day at work, getting your booty to the gym is damn-near impossible. It’s not that you don’t want to exercise, it’s just that you’re super pooped and you need some time to decompress.

We hear that. These simple tricks will turn your day into a sort of workout, without actually requiring you to work out. While trainers have some pretty great advice about what to do when you’re at the gym, they also have some genius tips for adding more calorie-burning, muscle-strengthening minutes of exercise throughout your non-gym, spandex-free hours. Get ready to fire up those muscles.

1. Work while you prepare for your day.

Brushing your teeth or your hair? Putting makeup on? It’s so easy to turn these daily rituals into low-key workouts. Becky Hempel, head trainer at DavidBartonGym, suggests simply standing on one leg while you do them. If you’re feeling adventurous (and awake), maybe even try some squats. Because two minutes of teeth brushing + two minutes of squats = 11 calories burned*. 

*Note: All of the calorie calculations apply to a woman who weighs 135 pounds. If you’re looking for something more specific to your body type, you can adjust those calculations here.

2. Power walk to and from everywhere.

Businesswoman talking on cell phone in city

Paul Bradbury / Getty

Simply picking up the pace while walking can do a lot. Five minutes at a slow pace will burn about 13 calories, while the same amount of time at a brisk pace will burn 20 calories. So speed it up wherever you go, even if it’s just to the bathroom. Bonus: It’ll make you look super important.

3. Get off the bus or train a stop early.

Danielle Devine-Baum, Flywheel master instructor and creative director, loves this trick. If your morning commute relies heavily on public transportation, this is a great way to amp things up early in your day. Obviously, you’ll want to give yourself a little extra time to get to and from places (no matter how quickly you walk, it won’t be as fast as a bus or train). Even if it’s just a 10-minute walk at a brisk pace that’s 41 more calories than you would have been burning—and it’s good for your overall health, too.

Related: 12 Easy Ways To Burn More Calories In A Day

The post 11 Little Ways To Exercise Without Actually Working Out appeared first on SELF.

Source: 11 Little Ways To Exercise Without Actually Working Out

May 29, 20160 commentsRead More
Do This Workout 3 Days Per Week To See Results

Do This Workout 3 Days Per Week To See Results


Hero Images, Getty Images; Graphic by Jocelyn Runice

Whether you’re just starting a fitness regimen or trying to keep up with one, finding the time to work out is half the battle. In a perfect world, we’d all be able to hit the gym five days a week so we could split up our sessions between strength training and cardio (and have more time to spend on both). But life happens, and sometimes, fitting a five-day plan into your schedule just isn’t going to happen. 

The good news? You can still make great progress by working out three days per week, if you’re smart about each training session. Full-body workouts with a combination of both cardio and strength training make sense for this approach, says Noam Tamir, C.S.C.S., founder of TS Fitness.

And don’t forget about the time you don’t spend working out. “Results have a lot to do with what you’re doing outside of your workout as far as your nutrition and your rest, but we’ve seen some really great results from our clients who do three-days-a-week programs,” he says.

Your Three-Day Game Plan

Ideally, you should have one day of rest in between these workouts, according to Tamir (although two days in a row is fine if you must, he adds—just don’t string all three together). Rest is a crucial part of the plan, too. “When you’re working out, you’re damaging the muscle tissue, so that rest and recovery helps them repair,” says Tamir. In other words, your rest days are where the magic happens.

If you want to sub in a fitness class, like kickboxing or indoor cycling, feel free, says Tamir. But try to swap out your middle day—while muscles need rest, they should ideally be stimulated every 48 hours, he says. To keep up your progress, try not to take more than a few days of rest.

If you can at least fit in a few 45- to 60-minute gym sessions, you’re golden. “If you’re going to do three workouts per week, use a full-body and well-balanced combination of mobility, plyometric exercises, strength training, and interval training,” says Tamir. This combination is optimal for both improving your overall fitness performance and changing your body composition, he explains.

Tamir came up with the ultimate workout plan to do three days a week for SELF—and, hey, any other workouts your schedule can manage are a bonus. Here’s how each of your workouts should work:

Start warming up for five minutes.

Start with a solid warm-up, which Tamir says should be a part of every fitness routine. This is when you prep your body for a tough workout—a good warm-up will help prevent injury and increase your range of motion and mobility so you can get the most out of every move. Mobility exercises (like neck nods and shoulder circles) help “move around the joints to create more space so that it can move freely without restriction,” he adds.

You can also foam roll, if you want—Tamir says it also assists in mobility and helps you mentally prepare for your workout. Plus, it feels good, and there’s nothing wrong with starting a workout that way.

Here’s how to do it:

Then it’s time to do some plyo moves and core exercises.

Now it’s time for the real work. Before he gets into true strength training, Tamir likes to have clients alternate between an explosive plyometric exercise, like a jump squat, and a core exercise, like a plank variation. “[This routine has] good muscle recruitment, and it’s going to get your heart rate up,” says Tamir. “When you’re doing those plyometric exercises, you’re using a lot of power.”

Here’s how to do it:

  • Do 15 seconds of jump squats.
  • Hold a tight forearm plank for 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Repeat those two moves back-to-back a total of three to four times.
  • Bonus: if you want an active recovery between each set, add a third exercise that focuses on mobility such as reverse lunges. Do six to eight reps for side, about 30 to 45 seconds total.

You can also mix up the exercises you feature in this section to keep it spicy. Try one of these 10 fat-burning plyometric exercises and one of these six core exercises. This section should take you about eight to ten minutes, says Tamir.

The post Do This Workout 3 Days Per Week To See Results appeared first on SELF.

Source: Do This Workout 3 Days Per Week To See Results

May 27, 20160 commentsRead More
Cell Phone-Cancer Link Seen in Rat Study

Cell Phone-Cancer Link Seen in Rat Study

An important new study that has linked cell phone radiation to cancers in the brain and heart.

The new research was conducted on rats by the U.S. National Toxicology Program, which exposed rats to radiofrequency radiation that comes from cell phones for about nine hours a day for seven days a week. They found that the exposed rats were more likely to develop cancers, specifically malignant gliomas—a tumor of glial cells in the brain—and tumors in the heart.

The study was reviewed by experts at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the authors say more research on the link will emerge in the next couple years. There are some important caveats to the new report. A study in rats is never directly translational to humans. It does, however, give researchers evidence that can lead to further research on the impact cell-phone radiation has on people. The findings were also most statistically significant for male rats.

Other research has seen a link between cell phones and cancer, though research overall remains limited. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified cell phone use and other radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as a possible carcinogen in 2011. “This study in mice and rats is under review by additional experts,” the NIH said in a statement about the findings. “It is important to note that previous human, observational data collected in earlier, large-scale population-based studies have found limited evidence of an increased risk for developing cancer from cell phone use.”

Other studies have produced conflicting results. One cohort study in Denmark looked at billing information from 358,000 cell phone users and then compared it to brain-tumor data from a national cancer registry. That study did not find a link between the two. Another recent study published in May looked at incidence of brain cancer in Australia from 1982 to 2013 and did not find an uptick in cancer cases with the introduction of cells phones. Still, other government-funded studies have made connections between cell phones’ electromagnetic fields and changes in brain activity. And a June 2014 study found that radiation from cell phones can lower men’s sperm mobility by 8% and sperm viability by 9%.

The NIH says part of the reason research so far has been inconsistent is that there are various factors that can influence the results of a study. For instance, brain cancers are notoriously difficult to study due to their high mortality rates, and studies are also subject to issues like inaccurate reporting. There are also changes over time in the type of cell phones available as well as how much people use them.

The researchers say this new report is unlikely to be the final word on the possible risks of cell phone radiation, and more data from their research is anticipated to be released in fall 2017.

This article originally appeared on

Source: Cell Phone-Cancer Link Seen in Rat Study

9 Hysterical But Cringe-Worthy Gym Mistakes Top Trainers Have Made

9 Hysterical But Cringe-Worthy Gym Mistakes Top Trainers Have Made

Graphic by Jocelyn Runice

While gyms and other fitness spaces are great places to challenge your body, they’re also prime places for mistakes to happen. Endless equipment plus unfamiliar movements can be a formula for success and hilariously epic fails. And even trainers aren’t immune: They may be gym pros, but they’ve definitely experienced some America’s Funniest Home Videos-worthy moments themselves. 

In fact, since they do spend so much time training clients, teaching classes, and working out, they have even more opportunities for miscalculations—it’s just statistics, y’know? Plus, they’re testing out new moves, pushing their own boundaries, and getting a feel for what works and what doesn’t. As they’ve learned, you win some, you lose some.

I can relate: One time in high school, I decided to see if I could keep up my running pace on the rec center treadmill with my eyes closed. Spoiler alert: I cannot. One second you think you’re keeping up your stride like a champ, and the next, your back is against the wall. (I have never seen anyone laugh harder than the guy on the treadmill next to me. Mortifying, but other than that, I was fine.) Don’t try this at home, people.

Trainers totally get it (and hey, you might have a story or two in mind, too). These mistakes are relatable, ridiculous, and sometimes painful, but one thing’s for sure: We can definitely learn a thing or two from their experiences. Here are nine trainer’s biggest workout blunders—and how to avoid them yourself.

Related: 5 Things Insanely Productive And Healthy People Do Before 8 A.M.

The post 9 Hysterical But Cringe-Worthy Gym Mistakes Top Trainers Have Made appeared first on SELF.

Source: 9 Hysterical But Cringe-Worthy Gym Mistakes Top Trainers Have Made

How Bad Is It to Have a Drink While on Antibiotics?

How Bad Is It to Have a Drink While on Antibiotics?

Q: Is it so terrible to have a glass of wine while on antibiotics?

With a few antibiotics in particular, it is a pretty big deal. Metronidazole, tinidazole, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole should never be mixed with any amount of alcohol because the combo can cause an unpleasant reaction, which may include headache, flushing, a rapid heartbeat, nausea, and vomiting. (FYI: Some cold medicines have alcohol in them, so read labels carefully.)

As for other antibiotics, sipping a small amount of alcohol generally won’t hamper their effectiveness, though some folks may find that the drugs’ usual side effects (upset stomach, dizziness, drowsiness) are enhanced by alcohol.

But there are legitimate reasons why many doctors often warn against mixing the two. If that one drinks turns into several, the excess alcohol can depress your immune system and leave you tired and dehydrated. So if you’re sick enough to need antibiotics, you’re not helping your chances of getting better quickly by downing a glass of wine. Sorry to be a buzzkill!

Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.

Source: How Bad Is It to Have a Drink While on Antibiotics?

What to Do If You Spot Blood in Your Poop

What to Do If You Spot Blood in Your Poop

Q: I’ve been noticing blood in my poop. Should I be concerned?

I don’t want to alarm you, but you should have this checked out ASAP. How much blood have you been noticing, and what color? And is it mixed in with the stool or on top? These are details that will help your doctor pinpoint where the bleeding is coming from. If you spot bright red or maroon blood on the surface, you may have an anal fissure (a tiny tear), which can happen from passing large or hard stools. While they can be painful, the cuts are typically nothing to worry about and heal on their own within a few weeks. Anal fissures that don’t get better within six weeks may require medicine or surgery—but that’s pretty rare.

RELATED: Can’t Poop? Here’s Everything You Should Know About Constipation

Blood on your poop, or bleeding during or between bathroom runs, could also be a sign of hemorrhoids, which are swollen veins in your anus or rectum. You can develop them from a variety of causes, including straining when you go, constipation, or pregnancy, when there’s extra pressure on the veins. Often hemorrhoids can be made less troublesome with dietary tweaks, like drinking plenty of water and adding fiber to help soften stools. In the meantime, your doc may suggest using an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to help with the swelling and itchiness.

However, red or darker blood in the toilet or mixed in with the poop might indicate something more serious, such as colon cancer or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The most common types of IBD are Crohn’s disease, which involves inflammation anywhere in your digestive tract, and ulcerative colitis (UC), in which the inflammation specifically affects the lining of the colon and rectum. IBD can also cause abdominal pain, fever, and weight loss when it flares up. Mild IBD symptoms can often be controlled by medication, combined with avoiding certain foods (including fatty and high-fiber kinds, as well as dairy), eating smaller and more frequent meals, drinking plenty of water, and exercising. In extreme cases, surgery or additional medications may be required.

RELATED: 15 Healthy-Eating Tips for Crohn’s Disease

Those with Crohn’s disease and UC are also at higher risk of developing colon cancer, which is why it’s important to bring up any blood in your number two with your doctor to figure out the reason behind it and start treating it as quickly as possible.

Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.

Source: What to Do If You Spot Blood in Your Poop

May 26, 20160 commentsRead More
3 Ways Your BFFs Can Improve Your Health

3 Ways Your BFFs Can Improve Your Health

We give ourselves credit for plenty of things: nailing a project at work, making killer overnight oats, shaving our legs regularly (well, at least in warm weather). But there’s one thing women ought to take pride in more often, and that’s how much we rock at friendship. Whether single or married, 22 or 78, we know just how to cultivate, appreciate, and enjoy connections with our girls.

While the sexes may equally value friendship, we experience the bond on different levels. “Women tend to have more intimate friendships than men do,” says Irene S. Levine, PhD, clinical professor of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine and author of Best Friends Forever. A 2015 study of social media profile photos published in Plos One confirmed what many of us have noticed: Guys gravitate toward larger, looser groups of casual buddies, while women prefer fewer besties, forming deeper and more time-consuming friendships. The researchers noted that this pattern is also evident in chimpanzees, suggesting that our pal style “may long predate the evolution of our species.”

But make no mistake—nurture plays a role, says Shasta Nelson, CEO of the friendship-matching site and author of Frientimacy. Girls are taught to be masters of positivity (think giving pep talks), consistency (making plans), and vulnerability (sharing emotions). “We live in a society that expects these skills of women,” points out Nelson, “so we’re more practiced at them.”

Not only are we amazing at friendship, but according to science, it’s good for us—both now and as we age. So next time you ditch your family for girls’ night out, tell them it’s medicinal. (Even though, sadly, insurance won’t reimburse you for the round of margaritas.)

RELATED: 21 Reasons You’ll Live Longer Than Your Friends

1. Friends are preventive medicine

It’s more than just your pal bringing over soup when you’re sick: Having good friends can help protect your body from stress. In a series of studies conducted at the University of Virginia, people were faced with the threat of getting an electric shock either while solo or while holding a friend’s hand. MRI scans revealed that in those clinging to a pal, the brain regions that sense danger were significantly less active.

Our besties may even provide a buffer against cancer. In an assessment of 2,835 women with breast cancer in the Nurses’ Health Study, those with no close friends were four times as likely to die from the disease as the women with 10 or more close friends. Other research has shown that the more socially connected people are, the lower their blood pressure when they get older.

That well-being boost may translate to the ultimate payoff: a longer life. A meta-analysis of studies from Brigham Young University found that people with strong social relationships had a 50 percent greater chance of living longer than those with weaker ties. The researchers concluded that a lack of social interaction can pose as much of an early-death risk as smoking and alcoholism, and a higher risk than obesity and physical inactivity. There you go: yet more motivation to quit playing text tag and schedule that catch-up dinner.

RELATED: 10 Things to Say (and 10 Not to Say) to Someone With Depression

2. They protect your mood

Pals not only provide support, they can have Prozac-like powers, too. An English study revealed that people with depression doubled their chances of bouncing back if they had enough friends with “healthy mood.” Data from 4,739 people followed for 20 years in the renowned Framingham Heart Study demonstrated that those with positive peers were likely to become happy in the future. It pays to get out and have fun with a bunch of them, according to a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health: Women who have 10 or more friends to socialize with experience better psychological well-being in midlife than those who have fewer. There’s a reason Nelson refers to close friendships as “gyms for our souls.”

RELATED: Is There a Nice Way to Break Up With a Self-Involved Friend?

3. The right mates make you strong 

Not feeling your workout lately? Rope in a friend, ideally a really fit one. Doing physical activity with a companion who’s in top shape makes you go at it harder than if you exercised with a less in-shape one, per a study from Santa Clara University’s department of psychology. (Although your super-buff pal won’t reap added fitness benefits by working out with you, she will be racking up some serious karma points.)

It’s no wonder, then, that buddies are one another’s best weight watchers. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that when overweight people were grouped with friends or family as part of a weight-loss program, they lost 6 1⁄2 more pounds and shaved an extra 1 1⁄4 inches off their waists than those who just received info on diet and exercise. Why’s that? The study authors quote an African proverb: “If you wish to go fast, go alone. But if you wish to go far, go together.”

Source: 3 Ways Your BFFs Can Improve Your Health