How Walking Benefits Your Health and Longevity

Story at-a-glance

  • Inactivity is the fourth biggest killer of adults worldwide, responsible for 9 percent of premature deaths. Walking more, ideally daily, can go a long way toward reducing this risk
  • Walking for 20 to 25 minutes per day has been found to add anywhere from three to seven years to your life span. Smokers may also increase their life span by nearly four years by walking regularly
  • Walking can be tremendously beneficial for those struggling with chronic diseases such as obstructive pulmonary disease and cardiovascular disease
  • Walking has also been shown to lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes, depression, dementia, hormonal imbalances, arthritis, PMS, thyroid disorders, fatigue, varicose veins and constipation
  • British research suggests that when it comes to weight management, regular walking can be just as beneficial, or more, than working out in a gym

By Dr. Mercola

While a regimented fitness routine is certainly part of a healthy lifestyle, what you do outside the gym is equally important. Most adults spend 10 hours or more each day sitting, and research1,2 shows this level of inactivity cannot be counteracted with a workout at the end of the day. To maintain health, you really need mild but near-continuous movement throughout your waking hours.

One strategy that has been shown to have a positive impact is simply to stand up more. Increasing your daily walking is another key strategy that pays significant dividends, both short term and long term. According to the World Health Organization, inactivity is the fourth biggest killer of adults worldwide, responsible for 9 percent of premature deaths,3 and walking more could go a long way toward reducing this risk.

Walking Produces Beneficial Biochemical Changes in Your Body

The short video above reviews what happens in your body while walking. For starters, when you take your first few steps, your body releases chemicals that give your body a quick boost of energy. Once you get going, your heart rate will increase, from about 70 to about 100 beats per minute. This boost in blood flow will warm up your muscles. As you move, your body will also increase production of fluid in your joints, thereby reducing stiffness.

Walking for six to 10 minutes can raise your heartbeat to about 140 beats per minute and trigger your body to start burning up to six calories per minute. While your blood pressure will rise from the exertion, this increase is counteracted by chemicals that help expand your blood vessels, such as nitric oxide. This expansion in turn allows greater amounts of oxygen-rich blood to reach your muscles and organs, including your heart and brain. Over time, taking regular walks will help lower your blood pressure if it tends to be high.

Walking for 11 to 20 minutes results in an increase in body temperature and sweating as blood vessels closer to the surface of your skin expand to release heat. At this point, you start burning about seven calories per minute. The increase in heart rate also causes you to breathe deeper. Epinephrine (adrenaline) and glucagon also begin to rise at this point to boost muscle activity. Epinephrine helps relieve asthma and allergies, which helps explain why walking and other exercises tend to have a beneficial impact on these ailments.

At 21 to 45 minutes, you’ll start burning more fat, courtesy of a drop in insulin. This is also when you’ll start experiencing greater physical and mental relaxation as your brain starts to release “feel good” endorphins. Walking has also been shown to boost memory and creative problem-solving,4 so taking a walk when you’re puzzling over a problem may allow you to come up with better solutions. One Stanford University study found walking increased creative output by an average of 60 percent, compared to sitting still.5

After 30 to 45 minutes, you’re really oxygenating your whole body, burning more fat, strengthening your heart and cardiovascular system, and boosting your immune function. Provided you’re walking outdoors and the weather complies, an hour of sunshine will also help boost your mood and provide a number of beneficial health effects associated with vitamin D production.

Those struggling with depression would do well to get out of the concrete jungle and into nature, as nature walks have been found to be particularly beneficial for your mood by decreasing rumination — the obsessive mulling over negative experiences.

Walking Boosts Health and Longevity

Several studies have confirmed that walking boosts health and longevity. For example:

In one, walking for 20 to 25 minutes per day (140 to 175 minutes per week) was found to add anywhere from three to seven years to a person’s life span.6

Research7 published last year found that as little as two hours (120 minutes) of walking per week may reduce mortality risk in older adults, compared to inactivity. Meeting or exceeding the activity guidelines of 2.5 hours (150 minutes) of moderate activity per week in the form of walking lowered all-cause mortality by 20 percent.

Research published in 2012 found brisk walking improved life expectancy even in those who are overweight.8

Smokers may also increase their life span by nearly four years by engaging in physical activity9 such as walking. Former smokers who kept up their physical activity increased their life expectancy by 5.6 years on average, reducing their all-cause mortality risk by 43 percent.

Smokers who were physically active were also 55 percent more likely to quit smoking than those who remained inactive, and 43 percent less likely to relapse once they quit. A Norwegian study10 also showed that regular exercise is as important as quitting smoking if you want to reduce your mortality risk.

About 5,700 older men were followed for about 12 years in this study, and those who got 30 minutes of exercise — even if all they did was light walking — six days a week, reduced their risk of death by about 40 percent. Getting less than one hour of light activity per week had no effect on mortality in this study, highlighting the importance of getting the “dosage” right if you want to live longer.

Walking Is Good for Whatever Ails You

Other studies have shown walking can be tremendously beneficial for people struggling with chronic diseases such as obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cardiovascular disease. In one, COPD patients who walked 2 miles a day or more cut their chances of hospitalization from a severe episode by about half.11,12

Another study13 found that daily walking reduced the risk of stroke in men over the age of 60. Walking for an hour or two each day cut a man’s stroke risk by as much as one-third, and it didn’t matter how fast or slow the pace was. Taking a three-hour long walk each day slashed the risk by two-thirds. Walking has also been shown to lower your risk of:14,15

Type 2 diabetes Depression and anxiety
Dementia and Alzheimer’s Arthritis
Hormonal imbalances PMS symptoms
Thyroid disorders Fatigue
Varicose veins Constipation

So, while walking might not seem like it would be “enough” to make a significant difference in your health, science disagrees. It makes sense that walking would be an important health aspect considering humans are designed for walking. And, in our historical past, before conveniences such as automobiles and even the horse and buggy, humans walked a lot. Every day.

Walkers Generally Weigh Less Than Other Exercisers

Research16 from the London School of Economics and Political Science suggests that when it comes to weight management, regular walking can be just as beneficial, or more, than working out in a gym. To reach this conclusion, the researchers assessed the effects of a number of different workouts, comparing health markers in more than 50,000 adults who were followed for 13 years. Activities were divided into:

  • Brisk walking
  • Moderate-intensity sports (examples: swimming, cycling, gym workouts, dancing, running, football, rugby, badminton, tennis and squash)
  • Heavy housework and/or walking with heavy shopping bags
  • Heavy manual work (examples: digging, felling trees, chopping wood, moving heavy loads)

The big surprise? People who regularly walked briskly for more than 30 minutes generally weighed less than those who hit the gym on a regular basis and/or exclusively did high-intensity workouts. According to the press release, these results were “particularly pronounced in women, people over 50 and those on low incomes.”17 According to the authors:

“Given the obesity epidemic and the fact that a large proportion of people … are inactive, recommending that people walk briskly more often is a cheap and easy policy option. Additionally, there is no monetary cost to walking so it is very likely that the benefits will outweigh the costs.

It has also been shown by the same authors that walking is associated with better physical and mental health. So, a simple policy that ‘every step counts’ may be a step toward curbing the upward trend in obesity rates and beneficial for other health conditions.”

Indeed, walking has been a longstanding recommendation to meet fitness guidelines, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association have all recommended getting 30 minutes of brisk walking several days a week for general health and disease prevention.18,19

Walking Can Also Be a High-Intensity Exercise

While taking daily walks forms a great foundation upon which to build your health, research also shows that to really maximize health and longevity, higher intensity exercise is called for. Based on two large-scale studies20,21 the ideal amount of exercise to promote longevity is between 150 and 450 minutes of moderate exercise per week. During the 14-year follow up period, those who exercised for 150 minutes per week reduced their risk of death by 31 percent, compared to non-exercisers.

Those who exercised for 450 minutes lowered their risk of premature death by 39 percent. Above that, the benefit actually began to diminish. In terms of intensity, those who added bouts of strenuous activity each week also gained an extra boost in longevity. Those who spent 30 percent of their exercise time doing more strenuous activities gained an extra 13 percent reduction in early mortality, compared to those who exercised moderately all the time.

Besides doing high-intensity exercises on an elliptical, bike or treadmill, super-slow strength training is another excellent high-intensity exercise worth considering. That said, if you’re out of shape and/or overweight, the idea of high intensity interval training can seem too daunting to even attempt. The elderly may also shy away from high intensity exercises for fear of injury. My recommendation? Don’t allow such concerns to overwhelm you and prevent you from getting started.

Once you’re walking on a regular basis, you can easily turn this activity into a high-intensity exercise simply by intermittently picking up the pace. Japanese researchers, who developed a walking program designed specifically for the elderly, have shown that a combination of gentle strolling and fast walking provide greater fitness benefits than walking at a steady pace.22,23

The program they developed consists of repeated intervals of three minutes of fast walking followed by three minutes of slow strolling. Completing five sets of these intervals, totaling 30 minutes of walking, at least three times a week, led to significant improvements in aerobic fitness, leg strength and blood pressure.

Everyone Can Benefit From Walking More Each Day

As mentioned, walking can be an excellent entry into higher intensity training, regardless of your age and fitness level. Personally, I typically take an hourlong walk on the beach every day that I’m home. As you’ve probably heard by now, chronic sitting is the new smoking — it actually has a mortality rate similar to this toxic habit.24 It even raises your risk of lung cancer by over 50 percent. What’s worse, it raises your risk of disease and early death independently of your fitness and other healthy lifestyle habits.

According to Dr. James Levine, codirector of Obesity Solutions at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix and Arizona State University, you need at least 10 minutes of movement for every hour you sit down. I recommend limiting your sitting to less than three hours a day, and to make it a point to walk more every day. I suggest aiming for about 10,000 steps per day, over and above any other fitness routine you may have.

A fitness tracker can be a very helpful tool to monitor your progress and ensure you’re hitting your mark. Just be sure that you are using one that does not have Bluetooth enabled (the Oura ring and Apple Watch are the two that I know of that allow you to turn off the Bluetooth). Tracking your steps can also show you how simple and seemingly minor changes to the way you move around at work can add up. For example, you can:

  • Walk across the hall to talk to a co-worker instead of sending an email
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Park your car further away from the entrance
  • Take a longer, roundabout way to your desk
  • Take a walk during your lunch hour (importantly, this habit has been shown to reduce work-related stress25).

Watch the video. URL:


8 Ways to Get More From Fitness Trackers

These days, chances are good that you’ll spot someone sporting a fitness band or watch on their wrist wherever you go. Maybe you even have one of these activity trackers yourself.

So have you thought about getting them for your kids? Though they’ll have different goals than you or your adult friends, your children might be motivated to move more when they wear a tracker. (Just 15% of kids get the 60 minutes of daily exercise that they need.)

Try these tips to help your kids get the most from these gadgets.

1. Get a wearable when they’re ready. Just because they’re walking or heading off to preschool doesn’t mean your little ones are ready to record their every movement. Kindergarten or first grade is a good starting point for using a tracker. Earlier than that, and they’ll probably be too young to get the point.

2. Choose the right device. Although they might envy the colorful wristband or fancy screen on your device, your kids might be better off with a tracker specifically made for them. Wearables made for children display stats more simply (they’ll light up when kids have been moving for a certain number of minutes, for instance). That makes them easier for young kids to use and understand. Bonus: They’re also generally less expensive than trackers for adults.

3. Don’t focus on steps too early. In kindergarten and first grade, kids aren’t old enough to really comprehend big numbers — so a goal of 10,000 steps a day, which is the general recommendation for grown-ups, can be overwhelming. Instead, have them aim to be up and moving for 60 minutes a day. Then remind them of all the ways they can get to that goal — running around the backyard, playing basketball in the driveway, or having a dance party in the den.

4. Save steps for middle school. Tracking steps can also be a question of anatomy: Little kids generally take more steps a day because their legs are shorter. So the 10,000-steps-a-day goal doesn’t make sense for them. Don’t focus on that target until they’re around 13 or 14 and have longer legs.


5. Make it fun! Once your kid has gotten the hang of his device, you may need to keep him interested in racking up steps or minutes of activity. Create a family challenge where everyone sets a goal and tries to beat it. You can track everyone’s progress through a smartphone app or a chart on the fridge. Or how many minutes or steps would it take to walk across your town, to the next state, or to Disney World? Help your kids figure it out, and see how far they can go.

6. Set separate goals. Give each of your kids their own challenge to make competition fair and more fun. If your 10-year-old is competing with your 6-year-old, they’ll probably hit very different numbers throughout the day — and you don’t want your little one feeling down because she can’t keep up.

7. Go over their numbers nightly. Set aside some time every evening to talk about the activity your kids got throughout the day and what they might do differently tomorrow. If they only exercised for 30 minutes, for instance, you can suggest that they take a 20-minute bike ride after school and a 10-minute study break to shoot hoops or do stretches. Ask for their ideas about what they’d like to do to up their activity — if their goals involve stuff they like, they’ll be more inclined to go for it and get moving more.

8. Track together. If you want your kids to track more moves, get yourself off the couch, too! Plan time every day to move together as a family, whether it’s taking a walk together or kicking around a soccer ball after dinner. You’ll rack up more activity on your devices and teach them that moving is a fun part of everyday life.


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Being a better leader doesn’t have to be that hard

Being a better leader has so many benefits it helps drive better results, helps increase employee retention, and it reduces stress levels.  The more you lead, the less you will have to manage, and it’s management that raises the stress levels, not only for your team but also for yourself.  Management is hard, some days it can feel like trying to push an elephant up a steep incline, and if you get it wrong, that elephant will roll right over you and end up back at the bottom of the hill and then you have to start all over again.

Here are five simple habits that you can look to adopt that will help you become a better leader

Be Engaged

Around 70% of employees are either disengaged or actively disengaged, and this put a big strain on the leadership which has to motivate and cajole them to try and achieves the desired results.
Interestingly according to similar studies on management, the levels of engagement of leaders is at or around the exact same levels.

Coincidence? I don’t think so.

It’s impossible to engage people when you’re not engaged yourself, and if you’re not engaged then why should they be.

Engagement is infectious if you start to show more interest, and more involvement this will have a positive knock-on effect on your teams. Engaged teams are much easier to motive, require less management and achieve higher productivity levels.

Be Nice

It’s nice to be important, but it’s important to be nice. That might be a bit of a cliche, but it doesn’t stop it from being true. People like to do business with people who they know like and trust, and being nice to people helps increase your likability rating.

I know we are all under strict time pressures, but you will get better results from being courteous than you will from being curt.
People remember how you treat them

Take An Interest

Showing an interest in your staff shows that you respect and value them. Too many bosses take no interest or even worse show a disdain for their staff, but this just increases their disengagement.

When you ask questions, either personal or business related, it helps build the connections between you and your team, and it will increase their respect for you.  I suggested this to one boss I worked with, and he said he would like to but didn’t know what to say or ask.

Just start with “How is it going?” or “What do you think?” and then just listen.

Be Yourself

People can spot a phony from a mile away, and it just creates a feeling of distrust and a lack of trust kills your ability to lead.  I’m a big fan of authentic leadership, but when we use labels like that, it makes it sounds more difficult to do than it should be.

Just be true to yourself, don’t try to put on airs and graces or pretend to be something your not.

Admit your mistakes

If you make a mistake then just admit it, apologize if necessary and then move on. Admitting your mistakes shows humility, and a willingness to be vulnerable and your teams will appreciate that.
It shows that you accountability for your mistakes and that will encourage them to do the same.

When you become a better leader, it will have positive benefits for both your company, your teams and also for you and by adopting these simple habits you will start to see improvements in your leadership immediately.


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11 Times The Experts Say You Should Skip Your Regular Workout

That whole “no excuses” thing isn’t always entirely true.

Confession: I ask myself should I really go work out? at least once a week. And 90 percent of the time, I end up telling myself to suck it up, buttercup—and am almost always grateful I pushed through my own inertia. Because sure enough, almost 100 percent of the time I do that I feel more clear-headed and confident after my workout. But that doesn’t mean there’s never a real reason to ditch regularly scheduled workout plans: While exercise can improve your mood and boost your energy, sometimes the benefits actually don’t outweigh the reason to skip it.

If you’ve ever found yourself Googling “should I work out if [insert dilemma here],” this list is for you. We asked the experts for simple guidelines on when you should forego that boot camp class or strength-training session (or at least take it a little easier, instead of going for a hardcore sweat).

Of course, you should always follow your doctor’s advice first and foremost, but here are six times it’s actually smart to play gym hooky and five times you should opt for a lower-intensity workout.

Skip your workout if…

1. You’re sleep deprived. Even though exercise can give you a boost when you’re feeling low on energy, getting your zzz’s is an extremely important part of a fitness routine. “Exercise is a physical stress applied to the body, and muscles get stronger in the period after the workout when the body is repairing the damage,” explains exercise physiologist Pete McCall, host of the All About Fitness podcast.

Working out when you’re super tired not only means you probably won’t have the energy to go as hard, but you also have a bigger chance of hurting yourself. “Too much fatigue can reduce motor skills and increase the risk of injury, especially in a movement-based class like Zumba, kickboxing, or CrossFit,” says McCall (as opposed to a more stationary workout, like indoor cycling).

Ultimately, the answer to the sleep-versus-workout dilemma comes down to the individual, but as a rule of thumb, McCall recommends choosing a nap instead if you’ve gotten three to five nights of minimal sleep or you’re running on five hours or less. “Less than five hours of sleep can affect reaction times and cognitive function, both of which are critical for optimal performance during exercise,” he explains.

2. You might be injured. If you’re sore the day after a tough workout, exercise can actually help you recover by increasing circulation, which speeds healing, according to McCall. Injury’s an entirely different story, though. “Pain is a physical sign that something is wrong. Doctors use a one to 10 scale of pain, where one is no pain and 10 is excruciating. If a muscle is sore, around a three to five on the scale, then light movement is good. But if a muscle is in pain, think a six or above, then too much movement can place a lot of stress on the tissue and keep it from properly healing.” (Here are some other ways to tell the difference between soreness and injury.)

Not only do you risk further injury, but you could also injure other muscles or joints as your body tries to compensate. “A muscle that’s injured will be inflamed. This will keep it from working properly and can change the way the attached joints function,” says McCall. “Trying to work through muscle pain could cause other parts of the body to become injured, so it’s just not worth it. Let it heal, and if it hurts after more than a few days of rest then see a doctor.”

3. You’re sick. “Fever is an indication that your body is working hard to defeat a foreign invader,” says McCall. If you’re dealing with a full-blown illness, you want your body to be putting its energy toward getting better, not dealing with the stress of exercise. Plus, you don’t want to spread your germs at the gym (or pick up any more for your body to handle). “Feeling sick is an indication that something is wrong, so listen to your body and respect it. It’s better to take two to four days off and fully recover than to have a lingering illness for an extended period of time,” says McCall.

4. You just had a treatment at the dermatologist. “I ask my patients to wait 24 hours before exercising after any injectable treatment such as fillers or Botox, and also after many laser, microneedling, or other treatments that may damage the skin surface temporarily,” says dermatologist Jessica Krant, M.D., founder of Art of Dermatology in NYC. “We want the injected materials to stay in place for a couple of days to be set in, or absorbed, and we want any tiny needle punctures to heal to minimize the risk of increased bruising,” she explains.

5. You’re insanely sunburnt. Chances are, you know that getting scorched by the sun is pretty unsafe in the long term, but your body needs some TLC in the short-term too—and this means skipping your workout if you’re really red. “With extreme sunburn, there is a risk of heatstroke, sunstroke, imbalance of electrolytes and body fluid management, and overheating,” warns Krant. “It should be handled with rest, hydration, and soothing creams until everything settles. I would say wait about 48 hours before judging if the skin has calmed down and you feel well enough to exercise.”

6. You just got a spray tan. OK, so maybe this isn’t a health reason to skip your workout, but if you’ve spent the cash on a spray tan you’re probably not looking for a streaky, messy look. “A traditional self tan requires eight hours to fully develop, so you should not go to the gym or shower while the tan is developing,” says Sophie Evans, St. Tropez skin finishing expert. Unless you’re using an express formula that some salons offer, wait eight hours, then rinse off so the color stays even, and then you’re safe to sweat it out.

Skip your intense workout and try light activity if…

7. You’re just feeling a little under the weather. Like McCall says, you should still skip your workout if you’re full-on sick, but keeping up with your routine with some light exercise when you’re just feeling a little ‘ick’ should be fine (and might make you feel a little more like yourself again). “Lower intensity is better—you can burn some energy, but too much intensity can downgrade your immune system. So a long, fast paced walk=good, but high-intensity cycling=not good,” says McCall.

8. You just got a bikini wax. Be strategic about your workouts post-wax—after all, you’ve been through enough pain already. “I would definitely recommend holding off on indoor cycling class for a few days, since the excessive friction and pressure from the bike seat and tight clothing could cause irritation,” Krant says. (That doesn’t sound good.) “Running is a tough one, too. Any lighter exercise with looser clothing is a better [option] for post-wax days,” she adds. Of course, do what feels right for you and your specific needs and goals.

9. You have a brand new tattoo. While sweat itself won’t get in the way of the healing process, you do have to be careful about making sure you don’t damage it while it’s fresh, says Krant. Plus, you don’t want to risk infection, and gyms tend to be germ central. What you can do depends on where the tattoo is and how big it is, says Krant. It’s also important to avoid friction so you don’t damage or irritate your tattoo. “I recommend low activity to prevent any accidental scratches or injuries to the newly tattooed area until it heals after 10 days or so,” suggests Krant.

10. You’ve done two days of high-intensity workouts in a row. While McCall says you can work out pretty much every day, the key is alternating the intensity of your workouts—as a rule of thumb, after one to two high-intensity days, you should mix in a low to moderate session. “Muscle tissue needs time to repair,” he explains. “High-intensity exercise places physical stress on the tissue, and too much stress with minimal repair time could lead to a long term injury,” he says. If you’re not giving your body the recovery time it needs, you could be overtraining—here are six signs to watch for.

11. You’re hungover AF. We’ve all been there. And while getting some movement increases circulation (which might make you feel better), says McCall, it’s best to keep it gentle. “Too intense could hurt the head, plus motor skills will be affected, so doing hard exercises when you’re hungover could increase the risk of injury,” he says. “A long walk or a light jog is good the day after a good night out, but not a hard indoor cycling class or a challenging WOD.”

Don’t have to tell me twice.

These 5 habits will make your life 10 times better (according to science)

What are the best habits for a healthy mind and body?

I see this question asked ALL the time.

Here’s the thing…With pretty much any “habit” someone is promoting, it doesn’t mean it will benefit you as well. We’re not all the same. What works for some people might not work for you.

So, how can you work out the “healthy habits” that give you the best chance of helping you?

Scientific research, and lots of it!

Research is designed to eliminate factors you can’t control, and also be statistically significant for the majority of participants. And the more positive research there is, the higher chance it will actually benefit you.

So, in this post, I’m going to go over 5 natural habits that science says will probably work. Enjoy!

1) Running

Humans are built to run. We evolved to run great distances hunting prey and gathering food.

So it’s no surprise that research suggests running could be one of the most effective habits for your health, physically and mentally.

A 2014 study that appeared in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that “running, even 5-10 minutes a day, at slow speeds, even slower than 6 miles per hour [10:00 minute pace], is associated with markedly reduced risks of death from all causes and cardiovascular disease.”

A 2017 study found that, in general, runners have a 25%-40% reduced risk of premature mortality and live approximately 3 years longer than non-runners.

It’s not just your physical health, either. Running, and other forms of exercise, can reduce anxiety symptoms and help you relax, according to studies cited by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. In some studies, running may work as well as medication to relieve anxiety.

Running has also been found to help people with depression. Science has found that depression is related to low levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine, both of which are stimulated by exercise.

So, what’s the “perfect” amount of running per week? According to Carl. J. Lavie, MD, “Running for 20 to 30 minutes, or about a mile-and-a-half to three miles, twice per week would appear to be perfect.”

2) Intermittent Fasting

If you were to do intermittent fasting, you would not eat from say, 7 PM until 11 am (16 hours) and during 11 am to 7 PM, you would eat as much as you want.

There are other ways to practice it. You could not eat for 24 hours, once or twice a week.

Of course, it doesn’t mean you can just eat junk food and you will experience the benefits. It’s still important to eat healthy food.

There’s starting to be a lot more research on intermittent fasting.

First, intermittent fasting has been found to boost metabolic rate (increase calories out) and reduce the amount of food you eat (reduces calories in).

According to a 2014 review, intermittent fasting can cause weight loss of 3-8% over 3-24 weeks. The people also lost 4-7% of their waist circumference, which indicates that they lost lots of belly fat, which is harmful in the abdominal cavity that causes disease.

Studies also show that intermittent fasting can reduce oxidative damage and inflammation in the body. This should have benefits against aging and development of numerous diseases.

Also, intermittent fasting has been shown to improve several risk factors for heart disease, such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglycerides and inflammatory markers.

3) Lift weights

Weightlifting is not something that readily comes up when it comes to health. But it can actually be very beneficial for your body and mood.

Research suggests that lifting weights can add years to your life. A 2014 UCLA study suggested that the more muscle mass we have, the less likely we are to die prematurely.

The lead researcher said in a statement, “the greater your muscle mass, the lower your risk of death….Thus, rather than worrying about weight or body mass index, we should be trying to maximize and maintain muscle mass.”

Your sleep also improves when you do resistance training. In a small 2012 study in older men, researchers found that resistance training reduce the number of times the study participants woke up during the night.

4) Stop using Facebook

You may not like this one, as you’re probably reading this article from Facebook.

But research is starting to show that staying off Facebook will probably make you happier.

Researchers in Denmark asked people to stop using Facebook for one week to see if it made them happier. Compared to the control group who continued to use Facebook, they appeared more satisfied with their life once the experiment was complete.

The lead researcher of the study attributed the results to people’s tendencies to compare themselves to others on social media. The researcher stated:

“Facebook distorts our perception of reality and of what other people’s lives really look like. We take into account how we’re doing in life through comparisons to everyone else, and since most people only post positive things on Facebook, that gives us a very biased perception of reality…If we are constantly exposed to great news, we risk evaluating our own lives as less good.”

There have also been plenty of studies that have found correlations between heavier Facebook use and depression, feelings of envy and isolation and lower self-esteem.

There’s no doubt that Facebook is great for keeping in touch with people, but there’s no shortage of messaging apps. So instead of mindlessly scrolling Facebook, your time might be better spent using constructive apps that help you learn and gain knowledge.

5) Get outside in nature

We’re spending a lot more time indoors, thanks to urbanization and technology controlling our lives.

Unfortunately, this means we’re not getting enough time out in nature. However, there’s plenty of research to suggest that getting out in nature, whether it’s forests, mountains or the sea, can reduce stress and make you happier.

A study in Japan found that participants who were assigned to walk in a forest (compared to an urban center) were found to have significantly lower heart rates and increased relaxation and less stress.

Another study in Finland found that urban dwellers who strolled for as little as 20 minutes through an urban park or woodland reported significantly more stress relief than those who strolled in the city center.

The reasons are unclear, but scientists believe that we evolved to be more relaxed in natural spaces.

Looking to reduce stress and live a calmer, more focused life? Mindfulness is the easy way to gently let go of stress and be in the moment. It has fast become the slow way to manage the modern world – without chanting mantras or finding hours of special time to meditate.

In Hack Spirit’s new eBook, The Art of Mindfulness, we explain how you can use mindfulness practically to help you clear your mind, let go of your worries and live peacefully in the present moment.

By devoting full attention on what we are doing in the moment, we can alleviate suffering, fear and anxiety.

With the power of mindfulness at our fingertips and the beauty of looking deeply, we can find insights to transform and heal any situation.

A 90-Second Breathwork Tool to Reduce Stress

Ashley Neese, a holistic practitioner out of California, describes breathwork as a deeper kind of self-care, one that can “help you move through blocks you can’t see.” Slow, intentioned, mindful breathing is a tool that can be used “any time, any place,” she says. For Neese’s clients, it helps ground the nervous system, lower stress and anxiety—and ultimately they report feeling a stronger connection to their bodies.

Neese became curious about breathwork during her early years as a yoga instructor. “I found in those segments, I was most interested in teaching the breath, which is the foundation of yoga and so many mindfulness practices.” With expanding research backing her practice, Neese’s work today takes the form of breathwork sessions in various settings, from individual coaching to corporate offices (she recently came to goop HQ and left several of us rapt at how quickly we were transformed to a calm, grounded state without rolling out the mat). “It’s the accessibility of breathwork that I find most intriguing.” Here, Neese explains more about breathwork–and offers a 90-second session that anyone can practice anywhere.

A Q&A with Ashley Neese


What is breathwork all about?


Breathwork is a general term for a range of methods that–when practiced with awareness–have a host of potential emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual benefits. In essence, it’s breathing practiced with mindfulness. Like yoga or meditation, there are many forms of breathwork and they all have their own approaches for using the breath as a catalyst for change.

The breath is the foundation of every mindfulness practice. It’s a tool that’s always with us; we can access it any time for calm, balance, and presence of mind. Developing a relationship with the breath is all about learning to inhabit your body, establish new pathways in your brain, and cultivate emotional and relational intelligence.


Who is it for, and what does a typical session look like?


Anybody—regardless of age, ability, location—can utilize breathwork. The practices are effective tools for navigating the ups and downs of everyday life. Breathwork is also for anyone with a desire to integrate their body and mind, attain deeper self-awareness, elevate their innate capacity to heal, or increase their overall health and spiritual well-being.

My typical session includes a signature blend of breathwork, somatic counseling, and energetic medicine. I begin each one with a brief check-in with the client: For new clients, this involves asking about their intentions and hopes for the session; for recurring clients, I’ll recap our work from the last session and ask if anything specific has happened or changed since. Then we move into the work.

During sessions, clients feel their nervous system slowing down and gain a tangible sense of dropping into their bodies (often in the first moments). They learn to distinguish the somatic markers of when their nervous system is activated and when it is regulated. They also learn to discharge energy in a safe way, experience awakenings in their intuition, and clarity on their next steps. I serve as a guide, holding witness space for their process and transformation. At the end of the session I give individualized practice recommendations based on what we explored during our time together.


What are the benefits of breathwork?


There are a multitude of benefits that can be experienced quickly and over longer periods of time with consistent practice. From getting a better night’s sleep, to reducing anxiety, to recovering from loss, to upgrading emotional intelligence, people report that breathwork supports them in a range of wellness goals, depending on which techniques they practice. The breathwork practices that I teach are effective for everyday situations, such as grounding your energy at work and lowering anxiety, as well as more long-term practices that focus on healing past trauma, cultivating resilience, or strengthening intimacy.


For some people, focusing on breathing can have the opposite effect, and actually create anxiety—is there a workaround?


If bringing awareness to the breath creates anxiety, it’s often connected to a dysregulated nervous system, which, in turn, has a major impact on the breath. When I work with clients who have this experience, we begin by exploring their nervous system and creating the container for it to come into a more regulated state. To do this, I’ll start with the outer edges of the body, such as bringing awareness to the feet, and slowly work inward to allow for an easier way for clients to ground themselves. As regulation takes shape, their breath tends to naturally, and without effort, becomes less anxious. In this more relaxed state, it is then safe to move into targeted breathwork practices.

I suggest breathwork that isn’t as activating to your nervous system if you experience anxiety practicing at home or in classes. If you become more anxious with certain breathwork practices, it’s a great opportunity to slow down and investigate what’s coming up for you. It’s also important for you to assess if that breathwork practice is serving you in that moment, and not push your body past its limit.


How can anyone DIY breathwork?


There are many breathwork practices that can be done in the comfort of your home or out in the world. It’s so versatile. If you’re new to breathwork, I suggest keeping it simple and beginning with five minutes each day. It’s beneficial if you can practice around the same time each day to get your body into a rhythm, If that feels challenging, just practice when you can. Consistency is key and with regular practice, you can increase the benefits and grow your capacity to self-regulate, be present, and feel integrated.

One of the most accessible and effective breathwork practices used for grounding energy, reducing anxiety, and improving sleep is an extended exhale practice. Extending the exhale is a quick way to switch on the parasympathetic nervous system, which is our rest and digest mode. This is an efficient way to slow down, reduce scattered thinking, and align with the present moment.


You’ve mentioned that you have clients working through trauma—how might breathwork help?


The experience of being overwhelmed by thoughts and emotions is often a marker of trauma. Trauma is anything that we experience as a threat to our survival or overall well-being. These threats register in our nervous system, and if the natural restoration process is interrupted, coping mechanisms are put in to place to survive the experiences. If left unprocessed, those coping mechanisms may lead to belief and behavioral changes that create patterns that are difficult to heal without addressing the body, the nervous system, and the breath.

Breathwork is incredibly powerful because, with proper pacing and guidance, it can be an entry point into the nervous system which has the potential, along with body-focused counseling, to help restore the nervous system’s natural rhythm. When this system is re-established, the client is no longer in a trauma response cycle and the root of the trauma can be healed.

When I started teaching breathwork, I often taught very activating practices in big groups. As the size of my classes increased, I began noticing there was always a handful of students who got flooded with memories and stored emotions they couldn’t cope with because their nervous system didn’t have the capacity to handle their experiences. I started working with those students privately and learned that the activating breathwork practices opened them up too fast, which is why their systems went into overload. These clients needed a different approach to working with their breath.

Knowing that the breath can be a key component in trauma healing, I set out to deepen my personal practice and studies; I researched cutting edge psychology, somatic therapies, and neuroscience, which shifted my approach to the breath as it relates to developmental and relational trauma. While working with clients privately and in groups, I developed my own set of practices and methodology that continues to support my clients, allowing them to shift the root of their trauma.

8 Mistakes You’re Making When You Fill in Your Eyebrows

These pro tips will have your brows at their best.

I have a beauty confession to make—I take entirely too much time to fill in my eyebrows. When I say too much time, I’m talking roughly 15 minutes of my 45-minute commute to work on the train each morning (trust me, I’ve timed it out). The funny part is that whole time I’m trying to achieve that effortless, natural look. Oh, what we do for beauty!

I have no problem with my seven-plus-minute-per-side routine because by the time I step off that train, my brows are on point. But let me tell you, it took a long time for me to hone my current technique. Let’s just say, a lot of mistakes were made. To help you avoid the disastrous trial and error I went through, we’ve tapped a few experts to find out their tried-and-true methods to achieve a natural-looking brow—and their top tips on what not to do. (To be honest, I’m still guilty of some of these, like #7.)

Whether you’re a seasoned brow enthusiast or someone learning how to define your brows for the first time, you should know that brow makeup is an art, not a science. It can take a while to nail the look you want, so be patient, and be open to changing it up to see what works.

1. You’re using the wrong type of product to fill in your brows.

Looking in the brow section of the beauty aisle, there are many different options for filling in: powders, pomades, pencils, waxes, gels. You have to find the product that fits your look and skill level best.

Giselle Soto of Giselle Soto Brows in Los Angeles typically recommends that her clients use a powder if they have sparse areas, or are new to filling in their brows. “Powder helps give brows a softer, more natural look as opposed to pencils or pomades, which can sometimes look too heavy or leave harsher lines,” she tells SELF.

Pencil is great for filling in a few hairs that might be missing. Pomades are good if you’re looking to create a bold brow look or darken brows. Waxes and gels are best for women with full brows because they have a light tint and are more for keeping unruly brow hairs in place.

2. Your brow product isn’t the right shade.

Our experts suggest using brow products that are a shade lighter than your hair color. Using a tone that’s too dark may cause your makeup to look harsh or obvious, instead of natural and effortless. “Lighter tones look more natural and are more forgiving,” celebrity makeup artist Kimara Ahnert tells SELF.

“If you have dark brown hair, choose a light or medium brown powder—I feel that brows should complement the face, not overpower your features,” says Soto. For blondes and redheads, Soto uses a taupe or dark blonde color.

3. You’re applying too much highlighter under your brows.

Adding a highlight under the arch of the brow is an easy way to add lift to the eye area, but using the wrong color or formula can take attention away from your eyebrows. “If you’re going to highlight underneath the brow, it needs to be a gentle highlight,” Mally Roncal, celebrity makeup artist and founder of Mally Beauty, tells SELF. “If you are doing a highlight with concealer, it can’t be too white. My general rule is that the concealer should be one shade lighter than your skin tone. Especially if you’re doing a strong highlight on the cheekbone, you don’t want that to compete with the brow bone.”

To achieve a seamless brow highlight, Soto advises using a flat brush to blend highlight powder in a windshield wiper motion directly underneath the brow, following its natural shape. Right now, her favorite product to use on her clients is the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder Duo ($23,

4. You’re using too much product on your brush.

“One of the most common mistakes that people make is using way too much product when they don’t need to. I always like to say that less is more, and a little bit goes a long way with any product that you use,” says Soto. Even if you’re dealing with minimal eyebrow hair, you probably don’t need to use as much product to get flawless eyebrows as you think you do. Instead of covering the entire brow in product, concentrate your strokes on sparse areas only. To make sure your work doesn’t look too heavy-handed, Ahnert suggests brushing through the brow with a toothbrush, brow brush, or spoolie to soften any obvious brush strokes.

5. You’re filling in your brows before they’re properly groomed.

“Sometimes people try to fill in their brows when they’re grown out which is really hard, even for me, because you don’t have that guideline,” says Soto. If it’s been months since you got your brows groomed, getting them waxed or threaded can make the entire filling in process so much easier—and faster—because the shape will be obvious. The exception: If there are just a few stray hairs, it’s actually easier to see which ones to pluck once product is already on the brow. That way you can don’t accidentally pluck a hair that helps the overall shape of the brow.

6. You’re creating a new brow shape instead of just following your own.

Many of us are guilty of filling in our eyebrows in shapes that aren’t exactly natural— aka the boxy brow. “Some of us have a more boxy brow, but none of us really have rectangle brows. You want to be able to see space between the hairs, you want to be able to see skin between the hairs,” celebrity makeup artist, Tatiana Ward tells SELF. “Some girls really do have such dense brows, but with even some of the most dense eyebrows you can still see skin in between. By trying to fill in every little space, you’ll most likely get the look of an overwhelming brow.”

Ward recommends revisiting how your eyebrows looked in baby pictures (pre-plucking/waxing/threading, etc.) to figure out what they’re really supposed to look like, and staying within those unique parameters. In other words, work with what you already have!

7. You’re trying to make your brows look too perfect.

Your brows don’t have to be perfect all the time. “I like brows when they’re a little unruly,” says Roncal. “They don’t have to be perfect—while I love makeup and I love the art of it, I think there’s something really great to be said about natural brows as well.” For quick, natural brows on the go, Roncal suggests brushing eyebrows upward with a light coat of gel to get as full of a brow as possible.

8. You expect your brows to turn out right every time.

Filling in eyebrows is not necessarily a skill that is learned in a day. It took me a few YouTube tutorials and some trial and error to finally achieve a brow look that I felt comfortable wearing on a regular basis. Sometimes I still have days when I think, “That did not turn out like I planned.” But the more you use the beauty tools you’ve acquired, the easier it will be to master your own unique brow look. “Definitely practice makes perfect,” Roncal agrees. “The more you do it, the better you’ll get.”

The Busier You Are, the More You Need Quiet Time

According to Ta-Nehisi Coates, who is an author and a journalist, writers and thinkers should stay off twitter. This is what she had to say in an interview with Vox’s Ezra Klein

It wasn’t something to release on a social media forum. However, it was a call to reach out for peace.

The Importance of Silence

Coates brings to light the importance of silence in this age of constant rush and noise. He says that to generate the best of ideas and to work in your maximum potential, one needs silence more than anything else.

Famous authors, psychiatrist, and journalist use the medium silence to bring their best works into existence. They have done this after managing information flow and cultivating deep thoughts in silence. Even a government official like Jerry Brown, who is the governor of California, has stated the importance of silence.

It is however funny how you can only appreciate and understand the importance of silence when you’re amidst a crowd begging to hear your own voice.

Silence is good for restoring nervous system and also helps in sustaining energy. It provides your mind with the amount of peace and serenity to get back to equilibrium which often gets disrupted in this modern “always-on-the-go” generation. Since objects starting holding great value in our lives, we do not appreciate silence

Silence relax you

“Silence is associated with the development of new cells in the hippocampus,” says Imke Kirste of Duke Medical School. She says that silence affects the region which is responsible for storing knowledge, learning, and memory. It was also found by physician L.Bernardi that even the little moments of silence between two musical pieces seem to provide more calmness to the mind, stabilization to cardiovascular and respiratory systems than music that comes under the ‘relaxation’ section of youtube or any other music forum.

However, silence isn’t only about switching off your TV or turning your fan to a lower speed to reduce noise around you. It also means shutting your mind out from everything once in a wild.

Silence itself can be very daunting if you don’t quiet your mind in the first place. To get proper benefits of silence one needs to shut down all the thoughts racing through their minds first.

“Learn To Get In Touch With Your Silence Within Yourself And Know That Everything In Life Has A Purpose”

This 15-Minute Yoga Flow Will Reduce Anxiety, Boost Energy & Improve Sleep

Keeping your blood sugar balanced is ridiculously important: Unbalanced blood sugar contributes to energy slumps, hanger, irritability, low libido, or fat storage. One lifestyle practice that can improve your body’s response to insulin (the hormone responsible for blood sugar management) is—you guessed it—yoga.

As a diabetic health coach and yoga instructor, I try to integrate yoga into my schedule daily. I used to be the “all-or-nothing” type: I was either dedicating 60 minutes to my practice or, if I didn’t have time, not practicing at all. In recent months though, as a midday reset from being behind the screen of the computer and my phone, I give myself the space to practice right in my apartment, even if I only have time for 15 minutes.

These yoga poses have helped balance my blood sugar by helping to reduce stress, strengthen muscles, stimulate hormonal secretion of the pancreas, build up the immune system, promote better sleep, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve energy levels.

1. Sun salutations.

Sun salutations are a sequence of eight moves strung together. It begins with standing mountain pose at the top of your mat and moving through upward salute, forward bend, half-standing forward bend, plank pose, chaturanga, upward-facing dog, and downward-facing dog. Sun salutes involve movement of the whole body, which strengthens and lengthens the muscles, ultimately helping to increase insulin sensitivity in the body. Try going through the cycle 5 times, connecting your inhale and exhale with each movement.

2. Seated twist.

Begin in a seated posture with both legs straight out in front of you. Bend your right knee and place your foot on the outside of your left thigh. You can keep your left leg long or bend it toward your right glute. Inhale your left arm straight up as you turn your torso toward your right. Either hug the right knee into your chest as you twist or hook the back of your left triceps on the outside of your right knee. Lengthen the crown of your head toward the ceiling and gaze over your right shoulder. Make sure to do both sides.

3. Low lunge twist.

Plant your right foot at the top of the mat and step the left leg back, releasing the back knee to the ground. Plant your left palm on the ground, in line with your shoulder, and lift your right arm to the ceiling. If your body is open enough, you can go deeper into the pose by lifting the back knee and possibly hooking your left elbow on the outside of your right knee, bringing hands to prayer. Turn the top ribs up and away from the floor. Inhale to lengthen; exhale to twist deeper. Make sure to do both sides.

4. Tree pose.

Standing up tall with both feet on the ground, begin to distribute your weight to your left leg as the right leg comes off the ground. Place the bottom of your right foot on your left calf, or higher up on the inside of the thigh. Stand up tall and square your hips to the front of the room. Bring hands to heart center or expand to ceiling. Make sure to do both sides.

5. Bow pose.

Start lying on your belly with palms facing up. Exhale and bend both knees, bringing your heels toward your glutes. Reach back with your hands and grab your ankles. Inhale and lift the chest and thighs up off the floor, pushing hands into ankles and ankles into hands to keep lifting heart center up. Draw shoulders away from ears and gaze a few inches beyond the tip of your nose.

6. Plow pose.

Begin lying flat on your back. On the inhale, use your core to lift your legs and send them over your head, keeping both palms on your lower back for support. If your toes touch the floor, you can release the palms from your back and clasp them underneath you. Align your hips over your shoulders and keep a space between your chin and chest. To release, support your back with your hands and slowly roll legs down one vertebrae at a time.

7. Seated meditation.

Find a comfortable position, either seated with or without wall support or lying on the ground, and close your eyes. You can set a timer or try the Calm app to guide you. Feel the sensation of the breath on the inhale and exhale. Option to focus on a mantra such as, “I am at ease.”

Does Travel Throw You Out Of Whack? Bring This On Your Next Trip To Keep Your Digestion & Skin In Check

Let’s be honest, travel doesn’t always live up to our romantic expectations. Long days, unfamiliar food, too much sun, and time changes can leave our body dehydrated, our digestion totally out of whack, and our skin as dry as a desert.

So what can we do if we love to travel but also want to prioritize our health? It’s all about planning ahead and taking proactive steps to fight off those unpleasant symptoms that threaten to sabotage our globe-trotting. Here are four ways to up your self-care and protect your body for your next trip:

1. Stay hydrated.

Dehydration is SUPER common when we’re traveling by air, land, or sea. And many people don’t know that the air on planes is actually super dry (only 5 to 12 percent humidity). As tempting as it might be, this is NOT the time to turn to sugary drinks or juices. Luckily, there’s one thing you can add to your wellness regimen that will kick your hydration into gear: Liquid I.V. is a new breakthrough hydration powder that utilizes the science of Cellular Transport Technology (CTT) to deliver water and other key nutrients directly to your bloodstream for optimal hydration.

2. Sooth dry skin.

Travel can do a number on your skin. You’re likely to be spending more time in the sun, but a lot of the damage to your skin has to do with dehydration, which can lead to premature aging, wrinkles, and flaking (No, thank you!). And while you can stock up on all the topical creams and oils you want, the best way to hydrate the skin is from the inside out. Mixing one Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier packet into a glass of water provides the same hydration to your body as drinking two to three bottles of plain water! This will help protect your precious skin cells so you come back from your vacation feeling younger than when you left.

3. Be proactive about digestion issues.

It’s super common for things to get a little sluggish when you’re not in your normal environment, exposed to the many stressors that come with travel and left with little to no time to keep up with your normal exercise routine. Staying hydrated will keep things moving and regular and give the body the hydration it needs to adapt to long days or hours on a plane.

4. Fight fatigue.

Above all else, travel can make us REALLY tired and jet lagged. Liquid I.V. has five essential vitamins—like B and C vitamins, potassium, and mineral salt—that will give your body and immune system a little extra boost. The best part? They come in convenient travel-size packets that you can throw in your suitcase or purse without another thought. Now the only question left is: What country are we exploring next?

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