From dieting

Carrie Underwood Has Learned to 'Cut Myself Slack' When It Comes to Working Out: 'I Fit It in When I Can'

This article originally appeared on People.com. 

Before having her son 2-year-old son Isaiah, Carrie Underwood would work out six or seven days a week, but she doesn’t put pressure on herself to maintain such an intense workout schedule anymore.

“It just happens if and when it happens,” Underwood, 34, told PEOPLE of her new approach to working out at the CALIA by Carrie Underwood Summer Kick-Off event in Malibu on Friday. “I’ve gotten a lot better at doing what I can when I can, but also cutting myself a little slack. You have to!”

That means squeezing in a workout when it’s doable.

RELATED: Carrie Underwood’s Trainer Erin Oprea Shares the 4 Best Moves to Tone Your Arms

“Now it’s like, ‘Okay, I have 20 minutes. What can I do in 20 minutes?’” she says. “I can go run for a little while, I can go do some tabata rounds, I can do something. Sometimes I’m like, my workout today is going be running around after my kid. If we’re going to go to the park, why not run there and push him in the stroller? Then I get a good cardio session to and from, and then he gets to play, so everybody wins.”

If she does have a little more free time, she’ll do a full tabata workout.

“I ‘play cards’ a lot — I assign different exercises to each suit, and I sit down at breakfast and plan out what each suit’s going to be,” she says.

Her other go-to activities are running and group exercise classes, like Barry’s Bootcamp.

“I love just putting headphones in and going for a run,” says Underwood. “I feel so good when I get home, especially when it’s hot. I’m one of those weirdos that likes to run when it’s super hot outside! Or classes. I find myself competing with other people in the room. I’m like, ‘Oh she’s good, I want to be like her!’ I try to ‘beat’ someone in the class. They have no idea we’re competing!”

RELATED: Carrie Underwood Works Out With New Gym Buddy: Her Son!

The singer says finding time for herself is possible thanks to family support.

“It helps having a supportive husband and a great unit around me,” she says. “You have to sit down and talk to those around you because I feel like I’m a better mom, a better wife, a better friend when I feel good about myself. It’s endorphins and all that stuff that’s being released, too. No bad things can come out of taking care of yourself!”

And having her own fashion line of workout gear is extra motivation to hit the gym.

“I used to go to the gym in ratty old sweats, but if you already feel good going into your workout, it just kind of gives you that little extra lift,” she says.

Underwood says her drive to work out comes from herself, and not from external pressures to look a certain way.

“It’s all about realizing why you do it,” she says. “I want to be a great mom and I want to be around for him for as long as I possibly can. I want to feel good about myself, I want to set that example for my child and make that a priority, because he’s watching. He’s a busy guy, so I need to keep my energy levels up to be able to play with him and chase him around. So it’s for me and my family and for feeling good about myself. Sometimes you have to remind yourself, but it helps to just say, ‘It’s not for everybody else, it’s for me.’ “

This 20-Minute Yoga Flow Can Help Relieve Back Pain

Anyone who struggles with back pain knows how distressing it can be. Whether it’s soreness that impedes your sleep or aches that hurt your productivity while you sit at your desk at work, back pain is hard to ignore no matter what position you’re in. 

The good news? Yoga can be a surprisingly helpful remedy. In this video, yoga expert and Retox author Lauren Imparato takes you through a 20-minute yoga flow designed to soothe and prevent back pain. Yes, please!

“How you sit, how you sleep, something you ate, how you moved,” can all contribute to upper or lower back issues, Imparato explains. And while treatment options do exist—such as massage and acupuncture—studies have shown that yoga may actually be more effective than these and other alternatives. Research from the Annals of Internal Medicine found that people with chronic lower back pain saw more improvement of their symptoms after a 12-week yoga class compared to those who only received medicine or physical therapy to treat their pain. 

RELATED: 4 Surprising Cures for Back Pain

Want to experience the same relief? In this video, Imparato will first help you release tightness and tension in your back by guiding you through classic stretches like cat and cow. Next, she’ll show you how to do a quick, equipment-free flow that works to stabilize the spine and strengthen the muscles in your core that support it. (Hi, toned abs!) Watch the clip above for a yoga routine that not only reduces back pain but crafts long, lean muscle at the same time. 

A 20-Minute Fat-Burning Kettlebell Workout

If you want to fast-track your muscle-building goals, the classic kettlebell is the tool you need. This weight is super versatile, and you can easily incorporate it into your usual routine while sculpting more muscle

Looking to melt fat as well? Go for a fast-paced circuit workout that uses a kettlebell—like the one in this video. It’s a custom routine that Frank Baptiste, fitness coach and founder of FranklyFitness, created for Health. It consists of two circuits that are repeated twice. Each circuit is only three minutes long, but don’t be fooled, you’re going to break a sweat.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Get Total-Body Toned With This Kettlebell Workout From Emily Skye

When picking a kettlebell for this workout, Frank recommends sticking with one that you can press over your head 10 times while maintaining proper form. That means the weight should be lighter than one you’d choose for, say, a squat workout, since you’ll be using it for a variety of quick movements. 

The workout itself includes both bilateral and unilateral movements, as well as a combo of pushing and pulling motions to strengthen the upper body. There’s balance training here too—in other words, your entire body will be worked to the max. Grab a kettlebell and give this awesome, fat-burning workout a try!

No time to watch? Here’s a rundown of the moves:

Warmup: Dynamic Mobility (5-10 minutes)

-Clap jacks

-Regular jumping jacks

-Inchworm into a push-up

Circuit 1: Power and Strength

-Swing to a thruster (8 reps)

-Bent over row (15 reps)

-Swings (20 reps)

20 second break. Repeat first circuit.

Circuit 2: Balance and Stability

-Windmill (8 reps)

-Romanian deadlift with bent over row (8 reps)

20 second break. Repeat second circuit.

The Inspiring Reason Jen Widerstrom Shared This ‘Embarrassing’ Old Photo

Leave it to Jen Widerstrom to remind us that positivity is the only way forward. The Biggest Loser trainer posted an old photo of herself to Instagram yesterday to show her followers that we all start somewhere. 

“THIS IS ME,” Widerstrom wrote in the caption to the snapshot that was taken years ago, when the fitness star was at a higher weight. “I’ve never posted this photo, embarrassed by what you may think of me today.”

This isn’t the first time the trainer has shared an unflattering photo to make a point. Just last fall she provided visual proof that even fitness stars have stomach rolls (preach). 

In her latest motivational post, Widerstrom goes on to encourage her 246,000 followers to embrace their past, even if it’s painful. “We all have a story,” she wrote. “We all have a place we started and don’t want to go back to.”

She admits her own insecurities occasionally get to her: “Sometimes I’m scared if I’ll be able to keep up my healthy lifestyle and revert back to where I was…then I slow myself down and remember that every day I get to make a choice on whether fear will control my life or not.”

Widerstrom, who published her book Diet Right for Your Personality Type in February, cautions us not to let fear dictate our lives: “WE ALL get stuck, as you can see so do I, but what are you waiting for? Be bigger than your pain.”

And she wants you to do it now. “Tomorrow may be too late,” Widerstrom wrote. “I NEED YOU TO START TODAY.”

A 10-Minute Calming Yoga Flow to Help Banish Your Stress

Feeling stressed? On any given day, you’re likely bombarded with many different stress-inducing situations. Perhaps it’s a challenging project at work, a fight with your partner, or just someone who unapologetically bumped into you on the street.

Life is filled with challenges and frustrations like these. But the good news is there are plenty of smart strategies that can help you refocus your energy so you feel calm and peaceful instead of frazzled. Take meditation and mindfulness, for example—both practices are all about checking in with yourself and filtering stress out of the mind. And if meditation isn’t your thing, exercise is also a great way to help release your daily frustrations and send a healthy dose of feel-good endorphins to your brain. 

WATCH THE VIDEO: A 5-Minute Meditation to Help You Find Your Calm Now

Better yet, combine two of these mindful practices: meditation and exercise. Yoga is perfect for this, especially if it’s a calming flow that can quiet your mind while simultaneously strengthening your muscles. By forcing you to pay close attention to your breath, yoga helps stop your racing thoughts. 

Watch this video for a calming 10-minute yoga flow from Kirby Koo of Yoga With Kirby. It focuses on the importance of your breath, so you can calm your mind and banish stress.

6 Moves You Can Do At Your Desk for Better Mobility

It’s no secret that sitting at a desk all day isn’t good for you. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to weight gain, which may then lead to a host of other issues. Research has shown that sitting too much throughout the day can lead to a number of different health problems, including obesity, heart problems, and diabetes.

However, there are things you can do to offset the health risks of sitting at your desk, such as getting up to take frequent walks. But even if you can’t leave your chair, there are even plenty of movement exercises you can do right from your desk, such as chair yoga. You could also take advantage of the time to work on some mobility training—a form of exercise that focuses on improving your stability, range of motion, and loosening your muscles so you can perform better during any workout. 

Frank Baptise, founder of Frankly Fitness, is a big fan of mobility training as an effective way to help promote healthy joints, balance, and flexibility in your body. Here, he demonstrates six simple yet effective moves to try at your desk. All you need is a stress ball and a desk chair!

Don’t have time to watch? Here’s a quick rundown of Baptiste’s go-to mobility moves:

Glute and piriformis: self-myofascial release

Roll and apply pressure. Hold for 5-10 deep breaths.

Peck roll

Roll and apply pressure. Hold 5-10 deep breaths.

Plantar fascia roll

Roll and apply pressure. Hold for 5-10 deep breaths.

Modified chair downdog

Hold for 3 breaths. 3-5 reps.

Modified lunge with rotation

Hold for 3 breaths. 3-5 reps each side.

Figure four squat

Hold for 3 breaths. 3-5 reps each side

Tracy Anderson’s Top Arm-Sculpting Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

When the weather starts getting warmer, most of us immediately ramp up our ab and glute exercises. But what about your arms? Here, Health’s contributing fitness editor Tracy Anderson demonstrates a challenging arm workout you can do anywhere—no equipment necessary. 

WATCH THE VIDEO: 5-Minute Hotel Room Workout for Arms, Shoulders, and Back

Tracy notes that the key to strong arms is all about working different parts, not just isolated areas. These bodyweight exercises offer incredibly challenging resistance to get your shoulders, biceps, and triceps in shape for summer. Watch this video to see six of Tracy’s favorite arm-sculpting moves.

No time to watch? Here’s a breakdown of the workout:  

Move 1: Start by lying on the ground. Push up into a plank position, then twist your body, creating an award pushup position. Press back up into a full plank and extend your top leg. Lower your body down and extend your leg up again. Do this 30 times. You’re going to start to feel your back arm really working, because you’re twisting your body weight to the back arm, while the front one is just stabilizing. Be sure to do both sides.

Move 2: Get into a full plank position, then straighten one leg to the back. Lift one leg and dangle your knee. Tuck it in towards your chest, then cross it over your other leg, and extend  your leg into the air behind you.

Move 3: Get into a plank position. Alternate bringing your knees underneath your body, crossing diagonally, and tapping your knee with the opposite hand. Use your arms to stabilize yourself during this move.

Move 4: Get into a tabletop position. Reach one arm into the sky while pushing your hips up. Twist your body down into a high plank, then press your outside leg up into the air.

Move 5: Get into a plank position. Bend your knee and rest your outer leg on the ground in a twisted position. From here, lift your knee up and extend it out behind you. Keep twisting, lowering, and lifting for 30 reps.

Move 6: Get into a wide leg plank. Lower down to one forearm, then switch to the other. Next, energetically push your body back up using just one arm.

America Ferrera on How Triathlons Changed Her Sense of Self : 'Working Out Has Always Been an Emotional Experience'

This article originally appeared on People.com. 

For years, America Ferrera used to focus on the limitations of what her body could do, and how it looked. But becoming a triathlete helped Ferrera rethink her strength.

“This relationship of being disappointed in our bodies is a relationship that I started at a very young age, whether that’s because of the culture around me or the points of views that I was exposed to,” Ferrera, 33, tells Triathlete magazine for their July cover. “I didn’t see a lot of examples — or nobody taught me to appreciate and love my body for what it’s capable of. It was always about what it wasn’t and couldn’t do, and what it could be.”

RELATED: Olympic Triathlete Gwen Jorgensen Runs Up to 100 Miles Per Week — While 7 Months Pregnant

So the Superstore star set out to challenge herself, and signed up for the Olympic-distance Nautica Malibu Triathlon with Team in Training to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, in honor of a friend who had just lost her mom.

“I think recently in the past few years of my life I’ve started noticing a pattern of when something scares me, that’s an indication that I should do it,” Ferrera says. “There were absolutely times where I doubted whether I could do it. When we started, I was not a swimmer at all and I remember one night at swim practice where I was just literally weeping in the pool. I just started crying because I had to swim 600 meters in a row, and for someone who started like, ‘I don’t even know if I can do a 50! How am I gonna do this?’ ”

But she persevered; finishing the race with her husband, Ryan Piers Williams, the day before the 2016 Emmys, and even wore her number to a pre-Emmys party. The accomplishment completely changed her mindset.

“Why I think triathlons have changed my relationship to myself is because the whole sport is about going further than you think you can go, living at the threshold and pushing yourself to the place where you feel like, ‘I never thought I could be here and I certainly thought I couldn’t go further,’ ” Ferrera says. “It’s at that threshold that you have the opportunity to choose something new which could just be to be nice to yourself in that moment, to acknowledge yourself in that moment.”

RELATED: The Hidden Risk of Running a Marathon

Ferrera — who finished her second triathlon in April — says the sport and its challenges gave her a greater appreciation for her body.

“Our little bodies — the small little space that we inhabit for the entirety of our lives — everything we feel, everything we experience, everything we do is contained inside of our bodies. And to be challenged physically is to have to meet all of your experiences,” she says. “That’s why, personally, working out has always been an emotional experience for me.”

It also showed her that everyone — including the 79-year-old and the man with cane that she spotted during the Lavaman Triathlon — can take on the challenge.

“What I love so much about triathlon is that anybody can do it.”

Kourtney Kardashian Shares Her Favorite Booty-Toning Moves

This article originally appeared on People.com. 

Kourtney Kardashian is breaking down her favorite moves to sculpt her butt (and based on photos she shared from her recent bikini-clad birthday celebrations, her advice is definitely worth taking).

“Ahead of bikini season, I have a handful of exercises I swear by to keep my glutes toned,” the mom-of-three, 38, posted on her app and website. “The best part? If you have a few key pieces of gear, you can do all of these moves at home.”

Grab a resistance band and a kettlebell or sandbag to try these Kardashian-approved exercises:

The Move: “Leg lifts and kick backs are very straightforward, can be done anywhere and are really effective in toning your glutes and quads. Using a resistance band around your thighs with slightly bent knees, keep one foot stationary and kick the other foot straight out to the side of your body, then come back to center. Next, kick your foot directly behind while lifting off the ground, then come back to center. To modify this move and make it slightly easier, you can touch your toe to the ground, instead of lifting.”

What You Need: “A resistance band that fits around your thighs. Most bands are sold in sets with a selection of different strengths so you can start with the easiest and upgrade as you build muscle.”

How Many Reps: 30 seconds per leg, 5 sets

The Move: “If I’m really making an effort to get toned, I’ll kick things up a notch by doing weighted squat cleans with a kettlebell or sandbag. Lean forward with the weight and slowly lift up. As soon as you pass the knee, accelerate into a squat. You have to be very careful not to let your knees go over your toes when you squat down, so I do this move really slow and controlled.”

What You Need: 15 to 20-lb. kettlebell or sandbag

How Many Reps: 10 squats, 4 reps

5 Times Cher Was the Ultimate #FitnessGoals

Did you catch Cher’s performance at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday night? Not only did she hit the stage in a sheer, bedazzled body suit looking incredible, she dropped a little humble-brag about how she stays in such great shape. “I can do a 5-minute plank, okay?” she told the audience.

Yep, 71-year-old Cher can plank longer than most people who are decades younger. This wasn’t the only time the pop icon showed off her devotion to working out and living a healthy, active life. For further proof that Cher is a super-strong badass, check out her top five #fitnessgoals moments throughout her career.

RELATED: 20 Ways to Do a Plank

When she showed us how to be forever fit

Cher came out with a book in 1991 called Forever Fit: The Lifetime Plan for Health, Fitness, and Beauty. The epic cover photo shows her in a knotted gray t-shirt with her black boot placed on a barbell. Besides workout advice, the book featured exercise and weight loss programs, nutrition tips, and her favorite skin-care products. If her current healthy glow is any indication, she knew what she was talking about.

When she wore Spandex for her step aerobics videos

In the early 1990s, Cher released a series of fitness videos called (what else?) CherFitness. The videos featured step routines, ab workouts, and dance cardio sessions, all accessorized with black leotards and Spandex. The beginning of this step routine clip offers some major motivation and truth bombs from Cher. Our favorite: “You don’t have to start off perfect, you just have to start.” Preach!

When she killed it while keeping up with Tina Turner

Okay, so this glittery 1970s dance duet isn’t exactly what we think of as a workout today. But it takes damn hard training and effort to do these moves as perfectly as Cher and Tina do—and in heels to boot. Watch and learn, legends at work!

When she was candid about working out 5 times a week

When Cher was 67, she gave HELLO! magazine a summary of how she stays in shape. “I exercise about five times a week because it’s something I’ve always done and I just enjoy it,” she said. “I don’t like meat and so most of things that I like are healthy for you, apart from desserts. I don’t do drugs and don’t drink very often. I try to play the age card with my trainer but she just doesn’t go for it. My farewell tour was one of the longest tours ever, and I think it would be a tour that would kill a 25-year-old girl now.” Props for not pretending she doesn’t work hard at it.

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When she learned to surf in her 60s

During at interview with E! Online in 2010, Cher spoke about how staying in shape is more difficult now that she’s older, but she’s passionate about trying new activities to keep things fresh and exciting. “You have to work twice as hard. You have to be in the gym all the time. But I like it. When I was young I was a tomboy. I played sports . . . and I’m learning to surf right now. I like that kind of stuff, thank God.”

Got 30 Minutes? The Ultimate HIIT Jump Rope Workout

Photo: Courtesy of Justin Patterson

This is a partial workout. Read the rest on Life by Daily Burn.

When was the last time you jump roped? If it was as a kid during class recess, now’s a good time to get back into the rhythm of things. The jump rope is not only a fun workout to turn up the sweat, it’s also a key conditioning tool for athletes and boxers, like Laila Ali, to build endurance, coordination and agility.

And now, it’s the basis for the new interval-based total-body workout, The Rope, from celeb trainer Amanda Kloots. “The jump rope is one of the most underrated pieces of fitness equipment. When you’re jump roping, you’re engaging all the muscles in your body, including your heart,” Kloots says. “Each jump involves tightening your core, toning your arms and powering your legs.”

RELATED: 3 Cardio Workouts Under 20 Minutes — No Treadmill Required

Whether you’re crunched for time or traveling (it packs light, too), just a few minutes of jump roping can leave you breathless. Kloots’s signature jump rope workout is divided into four sections: warm-up, coordination, stamina and sprints. But before you jump in, it’s important to have the right length rope. Check by standing on top of the jump rope hip-distance apart with both hands holding each end. Bring the jump rope handles toward your shoulders. If the rope goes beyond your shoulders, it’s too long, Kloots says. Now grab your rope and hop to it!

The 30-Minute HIIT Jump Rope Workout to Build Endurance

THE WARM-UP

First, it’s time to re-familiarize yourself with the basic jump. According to Kloots, proper jump rope technique starts with the feet together, shoulders pulled back and arms down by your sides with your hands the same distance away from your body. You’ll want to jump and land on the balls or midsoles of your feet (heels not touching the ground), catching at least one inch of hang time on each jump. Be sure to use your wrists to power the rope and not your elbows or shoulders. If you get tired, “Keep your shoulders over your hips, hips over your knees, and knees over your toes,” Kloots says.

The 30-Minute HIIT Jump Rope Workout to Build Endurance

GIFs: Tiffany Ayuda / Life by Daily Burn

1A. Jump Rope (60 sec)

1B. Plank (60 sec)

Repeat for 3 rounds.

RELATED: How to Master CrossFit Double Unders

COORDINATION

Next, we layer on some footwork. The goal: improving agility and drawing a stronger connection between your body and brain. To keep you from getting tripped up, “I like to remind people of different ways to think of jumps to take the pressure off the fancy footwork. For instance, when you take your legs in and out of the jump rope, I’ll say outer thighs and inner thighs. It helps people focus on the muscle groups,” Kloots says. Cue up a three-minute song and you’ll hit approximately 360 jumps — with a whole bunch of strength and core work mixed in (sequence below). Do eight reps on each side and repeat for three rounds.

RELATED: The Ab Moves You Aren’t Doing (But Should) 

 Oblique Crunches Exercise

1. Oblique Crunch

How to: Stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart. Fold the jump rope in half twice so it’s shoulder-distance apart when you hold each end and lift it up overhead. Pull each end of the rope to create resistance in your arms (a). Engaging your core, crunch to your left side, while dynamically pressing the rope up overhead (b).

 Single-Leg Forward Hinge Exercise

2. Single-Leg Forward Hinge

How to: Stand with your feet together. Lift your left leg up so your left knee is bent. Fold your jump rope in half and hold each end of the rope with your hands, pulling it tightly (a). Balancing your weight on your right leg, hinge your torso forward and bring the jump rope over your left knee to touch your shin (b). Bring the jump rope back overhead (c).

RELATED: 10 Resistance Band Exercises to Build Total-Body Strength

 In and Out Jumps Exercise

3. In and Out Jumps

 How to: Stand over the jump rope with your feet a little wider than hip-distance apart (a). When you take your next jump, land with your feet together (b). Take another jump and bring your feet back out so they’re a little wider than hip distance (c). This is one rep. Repeat for seven more reps (d).

Gabby Reece: How I Stay Motivated to Work Out

This article originally appeared on Motto. 

One of the biggest factors in achieving your health goals is finding the motivation to work out and keep your fitness top of mind. When life gets busy, it’s easy to let fitness fall by the wayside and not make it a priority. But once you find ways to keep yourself motivated and develop healthy habits, it can become a lifestyle that will enable you to see results and improve your overall well-being. Still, even as a former professional beach volleyball player, and now a Fitbit ambassador, carving out time to exercise hasn’t always been easy. That’s why I’ve depended on these five tips to keep me motivated throughout the years.

1. Develop a workout structure

Scheduling out your workout helps you stick to it and leaves little room for opting out at the last minute. A flexible routine that gives too much choice will be the thing that you cut out of your schedule first. I personally like to write it down. If you treat your workout like an appointment, it will help you stay committed and develop habits over time, which will make it easier to continue building exercise into your routine. When you might feel tired or you’re not seeing dramatic results, a structure will help keep you going.

2. Figure out your favorite activities

Staying motivated is infinitely easier when you find something you love to do. Some people enjoy working out at a gym and lifting weights, while others might find more joy from running outside or practicing yoga. While it’s important to try and incorporate both strength training and cardio into your workouts, it’s equally important to determine which forms of exercise you love most, so staying active becomes less of a chore and more of a source of happiness.

3. Sport the right gear

It may seem like a minor factor, but having the right clothing and gear can work wonders when it comes to motivation. I love using a heart rate monitor — keeping an eye on my heart rate zones is a great way to maintain intensity and make real-time adjustments to ensure I’m hitting my goals. I also enjoy finding some cute tights or sneakers to help boost my mood. I think when you look good, you feel good, and will find that much more reason to get moving.

RELATED: Do This 30-Minute Beach Workout to Turn Up Your Calorie Burn

4. Find a workout buddy

Finding a partner in crime to work out with is another great way of staying accountable. Making plans with someone else adds more of an obligation and makes it harder to consider taking the day off. That’s why my husband Laird and I make it a point to exercise together.

5. Make rest and recovery a priority

To stay motivated and get your best workout, you have to give your muscles and body a chance to recover. So don’t overdo it and be sure to get enough sleep, which is just as important for your health as exercise.

Gabrielle Reece is a world-renowned athlete, New York Times bestselling author, wife and mother. She’s a former professional beach volleyball player and was Nike’s first female spokesperson. She has a passion for healthy living and fitness, which has shaped her career and makes her a popular leader in the world of health and wellness.

This Beginner Swimming Workout Burns Major Calories in Just 30 Minutes

Swimming in a pool, lake, or ocean is an excellent way to exercise without feeling like you’re melting in the heat. Plus, it’s a full-body workout that is gentle on the joints. Ironman and USA Triathlon coach Heather Casey shares two quick beginner workouts, one for the pool and one for open water. Before you get started, here are a few helpful tips from Casey:

• Keep water bottles nearby. Just because you don’t feel sweaty doesn’t mean you aren’t losing fluids. 
• Invest in some dark-lens or reflective goggles to help block the sun and the glare from the water.
• Swimming in open water? Stay safe by bringing a partner. Warm up on dry land. Remain close to the shoreline, and even if you’re an experienced swimmer, breathe every other stroke. It’s easier to become breathless in open water. If you do, head back to shore at an easy pace.

These workouts burn approximately 367 calories (a 30-minute swim for a 150-pound person).

30-minute pool workout

Interval targets are set by a rate of perceived exertion (RPE) scale of 1 to 10; 10 is the hardest. 

The warm up: Go for a 100-yard swim at RPE of 4 to 5, then a 50-yard swim with kickboard at RPE of 5 to 6.

The workout:

• 25-yard swim at RPE of 4; 25-yard swim at RPE of 6 
• 25-yard swim at RPE of 6; 25-yard swim at RPE of 4 
• 50-yard swim at RPE of 4 
• 50-yard swim at RPE of 6 
• Repeat these four intervals 
• 100-yard swim at RPE of 4 (cooldown)

RELATED: 10-Minute Lower-Body Water Workout

30-minute open-water workout 

Dry land warm-up: Arm circles and shoulder shrugs on shore.

Swim warm-up: 8 minutes of 1-minute out-and-back intervals from the shore at RPE of 4.

The workout:

• 4-minute swim at RPE of 4 
• 30 seconds treading water 
• 2-minute swim at RPE of 6 
• 2-minute swim at RPE of 4 
• 30 seconds treading water 
• 2-minute swim at RPE of 4 
• 2-minute swim at RPE of 6 
• 30 seconds treading water 
• 4-minute swim at RPE of 6 
• 30 seconds treading water 
• 2 sets of 3-minute swims at RPE of 4, treading for 1 minute in between (cooldown)

14 People Share Their Most Embarrassing (Yet Very Relatable) Gym Stories

Ever had a less-than-poised moment on a weight machine, or in a boot camp class? Hey, you’re certainly not the only one. In a recent Reddit thread titled “Stupidest thing you’ve ever done in the gym?” in the XXFitness subreddit, users revealed their most cringeworthy (and often painful) workout moments—from tripping on the treadmill to gym flirting gone wrong. Here are some of the comments that had us giggling. (We recommend you stop reading now if you’re currently on a cardio machine!)

Uneven bar

User Sambeano made the mistake of unloading a heavy barbell on one side, but not the other: “It was resting on the safety bars at the time, at about knee height, with about 30 kgs loaded on the other side. The bar flipped in the air and crashed into a glass door frame … The crash was so loud everyone turned around to look.” Whoops.

Bike dominos

“I thought this bench near some cardio equipment was fixed to the ground for some reason and grabbed onto it to stretch my shoulders out. I flew backwards into a row of eight stationary bikes, knocking them all over like dominoes,” wrote Mpaellen.

Bottom out

Themortalvalkyrie got off a rowing machine with a bruised bum: “My butt fell off the rower. I was [trying to] do sprints and got a little too excited, and at one point I think my butt must have come up a little and the seat flew back and i came down on the bar. But it was funny.” (Another Redditer jumped in, “I wish that thing had a seatbelt!”)

RELATED: 27 Fat-Burning Ab Exercises (No Crunches!)

Nothing to sneeze at

From jazzehcakes: “Once I was running on the treadmill and closed my eyes to sneeze, which caused me to trip, land face first, and fly off the treadmill.”

When exercise balls attack

“I threw an exercise ball on the mini trampoline and it flung back hit my fingers, which then hit my face,” shared another Redditer. “I managed to grab the ball before it caused further chaos. Everyone around me either didn’t notice or pretended not to. I probably looked like an idiot laughing to myself.”

Is this thing on?

Reddutchess15 was new to the exercise scene when she tried out her university’s fancy gym. Feeling a bit intimidated, she decided to “start off easy on the elliptical,” she wrote. “Well, I get to the elliptical, try to push the start button, and nothing. I keep pushing the start button and nothing happens. So, I thought it was broken. Worse, I worried that I would be blamed. So I just left without doing any workout at all. It wasn’t until my friend starting making fun of this other girl for the same reason days later that I realized i was supposed to get on it first.” (Trust us, we’ve been there!)

RELATED: 18 Moves to Tone Your Butt, Thighs, and Legs

Itsy bitsy spider

“Tried to kill a spider while running on the treadmill,” user little—dolly posted. “I lost my balance, fell down, got my shirt caught up and ended up with two scraped knees and treadmill road rash down one side of my face. Oh, and I didn’t get the spider.”

Pee problem

“I peed myself while squatting in a busy gym,” wrote Souponastick. “That wasn’t the worst part. For whatever reason my brain decided I needed to announce it, so as I was coming up from the bottom of the squat I screamed, ‘I’M F****** PISSING MYSELF!’ Everyone looked and watched me clean up my puddle.”

RELATED: 22 Exercises for Toned Arms and Shoulders

Right in the eye

“Saw a cute guy in the gym,” posted Tokyo1964. “I went to take a swig of water just as our eyes met, but accidentally squeezed the bottle slightly and sprayed it into my eye instead.”

Ripped pants

From Blaserea: “Ripped the crotch out of my shorts squatting, even heard it through the headphones.”

Fast and furious

Ever cranked up your speed on a cardio machine to clock a specific number of miles before your time runs out? Phoenixinda attempted this strategy, without success: “Last year I decided to go extra fast on the cross trainer for the last two minutes so that I could get a full 3-mile distance at the end of the 30 minutes. Foot slipped, fell between the pedals, and my foot fractured in three places. I was out for three months … I have been back at the gym, but I just can’t bring myself to even touch the cross trainer.”

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Mistaken identity

Vkm5028 learned the hard way to make sure you actually know the person you’re waving at before you say hi. “Thought I saw a friend of a friend out of the corner of my eye. I was in a goofy mood, and decided to make a goofy face and wave at him. Turns out, it wasn’t the guy who I thought it was, he was on the phone whenever I made the face at him, and I found out he’s a player for the local minor league baseball team and probably thought I was fan-girling at the sight of him.”

Sweat stain

Worn pale blue leggings,” one user commented. “It looked like I’d [peed] myself half way through my gym session.”

Stuck on you

Wearing athleisure fresh out of the laundry? Make sure there’s no other laundry stuck to it before you leave the house. “I once had a thong static-cling itself to my leggings,” MyShoulderHatesMe posted. “I was at least 20 minutes into my workout before I noticed.”

5 Healthy Ways This Fitness Star Is Prepping for Her Wedding

Scroll through Hannah Bronfman’s Instagram feed and you’ll get a nice picture of what healthy living looks like: The 29-year-old DJ and fitness influencer regularly shares snapshots of her killer workouts and stellar skincare regimen with her 364,000 followers. (FYI: She’s obsessed with microcurrent facials.)

But these days, Bronfman’s current motivation to keep up her clean lifestyle is her wedding. She’s tying the knot with fellow DJ and social media star Brendan Fallis this weekend in Morocco.

Bronfman’s idea of wedding prep has nothing to do with detoxing, however. “There’s all this stupid pressure about losing weight for your wedding,” the HBFIT founder told The New York Times earlier this month. “I’m really not into it.”  

The soon-to-be bride’s goal is to feel her best on the big day. Here are five ways she has made wellness a top priority during her wedding week.

RELATED: 6 Exercises for Perfect Wedding-Day Posture

Bronfman says she always tries to avoid dairy, but in the last few days, she’s been following a macrobiotic diet while staying at the Sha Wellness Clinic in Spain. She wrote on Instagram that this new way of eating has made her “rethink her diet completely.”

hannah-bronfman-wedding

In an Instagram story, Bronfman shared this snap of her and the almost-groom getting cozy on the tennis court. Talk about a perfect match.

After slipping into some killer Adidas gear (Bronfman’s a global ambassador for the brand), she got her “om” on. Not a bad idea to get centered before the wedding craziness begins: “will try to channel the zen to calm my inner hype beast!!” she wrote.

RELATED: 22 Exercises for Toned Arms and Shoulders

hannah-bronfman-masks

Because no skincare enthusiast would be wedding-ready without her go-to products, Bronfman tagged two of her beauty must-haves in this snapshot she posted to her Instagram story yesterday: The Bright Eye Firming mask from Joanna Vargas ($60 for 5 masks; joannavargas.com) and KNC Beauty’s All-Natural, Collagen-Infused lip mask ($25 for 5 masks; birchbox.com). 

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Does sipping bubbly in a bathrobe count as self-care? We vote yes.

What a Stress Fracture Really Feels Like, and How to Keep It From Happening to You

In October of my junior year of high school, I was at the top of my cross-country game. I was running five to six days a week, knocking more and more time off my mile split, and gearing up for a big race that would finally prove I had what it took to hit varsity status. So when opportunities arose to run a few extra miles and push myself harder, I took them without a second thought.

Then came the day of the race. I’d been noticing some pain and throbbing in my shins for a few days, but assumed I just had shin splints—something I’d dealt with many times in the past. So before my event, I popped a couple of Ibuprofen and visualized myself totally dominating the race. Spoiler: That’s not what happened.

When the race started, I took off and headed to the front of the pack. I kept up my pace as I wove through the trail, adrenaline surging through my body. That is, until about mile 1, when my runner’s high was interrupted by an excruciating pain in my left shin.

I tried to ignore it, unwilling to give up just yet. But the pain only got worse, and soon I was limping. Girls passed me left and right, but I kept hobbling my way across the grassy path until I reached the finish line and collapsed.

Fast forward through two doctor’s visits, an X-ray, and a bone scan. The verdict was that I had seven small stress fractures in my left shin.

My case is certainly nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, ABPM-certified podiatrist Melissa Lockwood, DPM, says nearly one in five runners she sees is for a stress fracture. But why do young, healthy people end up with this injury? Here, she explains what causes stress fractures, and shares tips for preventing and treating them.

RELATED: 7 Running Injuries and How to Avoid Them

What is a stress fracture?

Stress fractures are characterized as “overuse injuries.” They occur when a bone experiences repeated, unusual force, says Dr. Lockwood, who’s based in Bloomington, Illinois: “For example, when runners increase their distance and speed—basically anything that changes the amount of pressure they’re putting on the body.” 

Dr. Lockwood typically sees these injuries happen in the metatarsals, which are the small bones right behind your toes, and the lower leg (as in my case). According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, more than 50% occur in the lower leg.

While stress fractures are associated with running, “they can also be caused by regular force, if the bones are weakened by other problems, such as osteoporosis or another systematic problem like an eating disorder,” adds Dr. Lockwood. Research suggests women are more susceptible, possibly because they’re more prone to the above-mentioned conditions.

But really, stress fractures can affect anyone. Dr. Lockwood got one in her foot after walking around Disney World all day. (See her X-rays below.)

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What are the symptoms of a stress fracture?

“The biggest thing is to watch for increased pain with increased activity,” says Dr. Lockwood. “Meaning it doesn’t hurt so badly first thing in the morning, but then the more you’re on it throughout the day, or after you go for a run, the pain gets worse, even excruciating.”

Unlike a strain or pull, the ache associated with stress fractures doesn’t tend to resolve itself after a couple of days, or go away with rest. So if you still feel a throbbing pain after sitting down, that’s also pretty good indicator.

But diagnosing a stress fracture can get a bit tricky: “Typically you can’t see a stress fracture on an X-ray until two weeks after the initial injury.” For that reason doctors often order other tests, like an MRI or bone scan, to identify the injury.

If a patient describes stress fracture symptoms, Dr. Lockwood always treats it as one, she says, unless she figures out an alternative explanation.

RELATED: 4 Ways to Ward Off Shin Splints

How can you prevent a stress fracture?

Once you’ve had one stress fracture, it puts you at greater risk for another, says Dr. Lockwood. [Insert un-amused emoji here] But luckily, there are a number of smart strategies you can use to keep your bones healthy.

For starters, invest in solid sneakers. If you’re a runner, head to a running store and find a pair that works optimally for your stride and foot type.

It’s also crucial to retire your shoes after a certain amount of use, Dr. Lockwood warns. Either toss them based on time (no more than 6 months) or miles (no more than 300).

And whether you’re an athlete or not, if you’ve suffered a stress fracture in the past, you may want to consider getting custom orthotics to make sure you’re moving with the right biomechanics, says Dr. Lockwood.

At the time of my own injury, I was stupidly wearing a pair of sneakers that were past their expiration date. So please, don’t make the same mistake, and actually pay attention to your shoes!

Don’t get discouraged

After my injury, I felt really down. I worried that my body wasn’t cut out for running, and that this was a sign I needed to throw in the towel.

But as Dr. Lockwood puts it, “having stress fractures does not mean your running career is over.” It may mean you need to change how you’re training, whether that’s adjusting the distance or frequency of your runs, or running on softer surfaces (think grass vs. concrete). 

For me, getting back into running entailed everything Dr. Lockwood mentioned: scaling back my runs, paying better attention to my form, and regularly swapping out my shoes. Today running is still a huge part of my lifestyle. I even run-commute to work sometimes. But I’m much better about listening to my body now, and taking notice when it needs a break.

If you sense that something is off with your body, “don’t sit and wait to get it checked,” says Dr. Lockwood. “Or rather, don’t run and wait.”

Get Off Your Spin Bike and Try This Outdoor Cycling Workout Instead

Sure, spin class feels killer, but outdoor cycling may require you to work even harder, according to a study in Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Plus, “there’s something really nice about covering distance and being in the fresh air and sunshine,” says Jim Rutberg, a cycling expert for Carmichael Training Systems and Strava in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He created the 30-minute interval workout below. If you’re a beginner, try doing the workout in a loop first so you can log the distance without getting too far from home. Once you feel comfortable, turn it into an out-and-back ride and explore some new terrain. 

RELATED: The 50 Best Bike Rides in America, State by State

The warm-up:

• 3 minutes easy riding
• 1 minute fast pedaling (high cadence, low resistance)
• 1 minute easy riding
• 1 minute fast pedaling (high cadence, low resistance) 
• 2 minutes easy riding 

The workout:

• Six 30-second speed intervals separated by 30 seconds of easy recovery. Rev your cadence and power as you accelerate for 30 seconds, then pedal very lightly as you slow down for 30 seconds before starting the next effort. These aren’t really sprints so much as hard, seated accelerations. 

• 3 1⁄2 minutes easy recovery 

• 8-minute tempo interval. Effort should be a 6 on a rate of perceived exertion scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being as hard as you can go. Your breathing should be deep and controlled, nowhere near panting. 

• Cool down with an easy pace for 5 minutes. 

This workout burns approximately 285 calories (for a 30-minute ride at 12 to 14 mph for a 150-pound person).

RELATED: 7 Bike Shorts That Will Save Your Crotch

Not sure how to tell if you’re biking at “easy” or “fast”? There are a lot of ways to gauge your intensity level, but you won’t always have a heart rate monitor handy. Instead, you can use a “talk test” to track your efforts.

• Talking casually: recovery pace/easy 
• 1 to 2 sentences at a time: endurance pace/moderate 
• 2 to 3 words at a time: labored breathing/hard 

For timed intervals, look at a watch, or you can time the distance between landmarks, like phone poles, and use those as your markers. 

A Guided Meditation to Help Quiet Self-Doubt and Boost Confidence

Meditation continues to become more and more popular, and for good reason. Research shows it can help with everything from getting a good night’s sleep to reducing stress to even easing pain.

However, many people are under the impression that in order to meditate properly, you need to be sitting still for an extended period of time in a perfectly zen setting. But that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, you can meditate anywhere, says wellness expert and founder of BexLife, Rebekah Borucki. That could mean while you’re commuting, during your lunch break, right before bed, or in any other setting that works with your schedule and lifestyle. 

However, if you can, it does help to find a place you where you feel comfortable, she says. This way, you can enter a state of mediation without feeling distracted by the position of your body.

RELATED: How to Meditate Even If You Think You Can’t

There are also plenty of options for what to focus on during your meditation—positive affirmations, a peaceful visualization, or simply quieting all the commotion in your mind. In this video, Borucki guides us through a meditation for self-acceptance, which is meant to quiet your inner critic and ease self-doubt. To try out this meditation for yourself, play the video and get ready to focus on yourself for ten minutes. From here, all that’s left to do is to close your eyes, connect with yourself, check in with your body, tune in to your breathing, and do your best to keep all distractions at bay. Then, just pay attention to her calming words—you’ll be working towards a more kind, loving relationship with yourself in no time.

Beating Cancer Twice Inspired Me to Become a Fitness Instructor

The first sign was itchy skin. My thighs itched. My belly itched. Everything itched. I couldn’t see any rashes or dry skin, but after two months, the sensation got so bad that it distracted me at work.

I finally went to a dermatologist in December 2007. We considered potential explanations. Could it be eczema? Probably not; I showed none of the classic markers of the disorder. At the end of the appointment, I mentioned that I had a lump above my collarbone. It might be getting bigger, I told her, but I wasn’t sure.

She examined the bump and told me it was an enlarged lymph node, a gland that helps the body fight off infections. She advised me to see a general practitioner for a full checkup. She even called me a few times the following week to remind me. 

RELATED: 6 Things Your Dermatologist Wants You to Know About Skin Cancer

So I went to a general physician to have blood work done and take a chest x-ray. Then came additional tests, including a tissue biopsy of the lump. That biopsy confirmed the last thing I expected: I had stage 2A Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a blood cancer that often strikes adults in their 20s and 30s. Itchy skin, it turns out, can be a symptom.

I collapsed into my mom’s arms when I got the diagnosis. “I just don’t want to die,” I told her. I was 23, and I had so much more life to live.

The battle begins

I started chemotherapy two weeks later in my doctor’s office, enduring 12 treatments over six months. I’d get the drugs every other Thursday and take off work the following Monday, when the steroids that were supposed to ease side effects like nausea and pain wore off. Apart from that—and the wig I wore to conceal my bald head—I kept my life normal. I went my job as a fundraising event planner and met friends for dinner.

By summer, I was in remission. Yet I wasn’t feeling like my old self, and I knew I wanted to get strong again. When two friends told me they were running the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco in my honor (fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society), I was moved and motivated. With my doctor’s okay, I started to train for the Disney Half Marathon in Orlando in January 2009.

RELATED: 11 Training Tips for Running Your First Half-Marathon

I admit it was a little crazy. I’d been a runner pre-cancer, but I had never attempted a race longer than 10K. Still, I did it—I ran the half in two hours and eight minutes. Victory, right? Not quite. The weekend of my half-marathon, I felt a familiar feeling near my collarbone. Could the lump be coming back? 

Returning to normal life in remission

I should mention that coincidentally, I’d recently started working in the fundraising department at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), a top cancer hospital that my doctor was affiliated with. I wore my wig when I interviewed at Memorial in September 2008, but I didn’t mention that I had been diagnosed with cancer less than a year earlier. I wanted to be hired because I had the skills they were looking for, not my health history. Luckily, I got the job. But right after I ran my half in January, my doctor confirmed that my Hodgkin’s lymphoma was back. 

Lauren vs. cancer: round two

My doctors told me that treatment would be more aggressive the second time around, and I had to be admitted into the hospital for most of it: two weeks of radiation followed by four days of high-dose chemo. “Uncomfortable” doesn’t  begin to describe the high fevers I struggled with and such severe throat pain that it hurt to eat. 

RELATED: 14 Ways to Soothe a Sore Throat 

I also underwent a stem cell transplant: a catheter transfers my own cells, collected by medical staffers weeks earlier, back into my body. The hope was that the newly transferred cells will prompt my system to produce healthy new blood cells. It’s a milestone; people in the medical world call the date of your stem cell transplant your second birthday. I celebrated my 25th birthday in the hospital on April 17. A week later, I had my ‘second birthday’ when I got my transplant.

A life dedicated to fitness 

I left the hospital in May and focused my life on recovery and getting strong again. I’ve always loved trying new classes and getting better at old ones. After all I’d been through, working out felt even more rewarding. Nearly every Saturday for the next five years, I’d be at Core Fusion Barre class at Exhale or sweating it out at SoulCycle. 

My teachers inspired me to develop a level of strength I didn’t know I had, and the thrill I felt when I realized I was getting better motivated me. With time, I made the decision to devote my life to inspiring others through fitness. In fall 2014, I signed up for barre teacher training with Exhale. Two hundred hours later, I was certified.

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In January 2015, I left the security of a full-time job and founded ChiChiLife. This is my way of pursuing fitness while keeping up my love for fundraising, event planning, and cancer advocacy. I teach barre at Exhale and Pilates and TRX classes at Flex Studios in New York City while also working with clients to plan philanthropic events. 

For me, fitness is all about community and connection. I’ve run several half marathons since my cancer’s been in remission, raising more than $75,000 for causes I’m passionate about. I even ran the New York City Marathon, which took me past the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center building. I wish there were words to capture what it felt like to run past the place that saved my life—and helped me discover my life’s mission.

What It Really Feels Like to Get Bit by a Rattlesnake

Janette Sherman, 38, a recent transplant to Colorado, recalls how a casual walk with her dog last month turned into a frantic trip to the ER—and the mistakes she made along the way.

On one of the first warm days of April here in Denver, I set off on my lunch break for a hike in nearby Bear Creek Lake Park. I work for a cycling company where most people ride for an hour in the afternoons, but I had my dog with me that day and he needed a good walk.

I moved to Colorado last year from California, and my boss had warned me about rattlesnakes on the trail—especially in the spring, when the ground starts to warm up and the cold-blooded critters look for places to soak up some sun. Still, I’ve encountered snakes before and wasn’t overly concerned: I was wearing shorts (instead of pants and snake gaiters, like some experts recommend), and certainly wasn’t watching the ground every step of the way.

Almost a mile into my hike, I felt a sharp, sudden pain on my ankle, like I’d been stung by a wasp. I looked up, expecting to see a bug flying away. Then I looked down and saw the obvious puncture wounds.

I glanced behind me and saw the snake, coiled up, ready to strike again. It wasn’t particularly large—its coil was maybe 6 inches across—and it hadn’t rattled, the warning sign that often alerts people to back away. I wasn’t sure what kind of a snake it was, but I knew I should call 911 just to be safe.

The dispatcher asked me if my bite looked like a horseshoe; I learned later that horseshoe-shaped wounds come from nonvenomous snakes with tiny teeth all the way around their mouths. When I told her no, there were three distinct holes (which indicates the fangs of a venomous snake), she calmly told me I should get to a hospital.

But at that point I still felt OK, and was embarrassed to make a big deal about things. Even though the dispatcher wanted to send an ambulance, I told her I’d walk back to my car—the long way, since I refused to backtrack past where the snake had been—and drive myself to a fire station down the road.

RELATED: 50 Day Hikes You Must Add to Your Bucket List

As I walked, my foot began to swell and hurt badly. A driver on the road saw me limping and gave me a ride to my car, and I managed to get myself to the fire station. I was sweating a lot more than normal, and my lips and face had started to go numb. Now I know that overexertion can speed up a person’s reaction to snake venom and make symptoms worse. Looking back, I should have waited for help to arrive.

At the fire station, the EMTs took my shoe off and used a Sharpie to mark how far the swelling had spread—up my leg and across my foot—in the 30 minutes since my bite. This would help the doctors determine how serious my case was, they explained. (They also told me that commercial “snake bite” kits are worthless, but that hiking with a permanent marker is a good idea for this very reason.)

I asked if I could go to an urgent care center, but the EMTs told me that only major hospitals would have antivenin, the technical name for what’s also known as anti-venom. About two out of five rattlesnake bites are what’s known as a “dry bite”—not venomous—but with my swelling and facial numbness, that didn’t seem to be the case.

An ambulance took me to Saint Anthony’s Hospital in Denver, where the paramedics’ suspicions were confirmed. But the antivenin had to be mixed in the pharmacy—it’s not always stored in a ready-to-use formula—which would take a while. I was seriously starting to regret not agreeing to an ambulance right away.

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In the meantime, the doctors performed an EKG to check my heart rhythm, and gave me anti-nausea medication to keep me from throwing up (a common symptom of snake bites). Then, about two hours from when I was bitten, I started seeing double and my vision began fading to black. In the nick of time, the antivenin was ready, and the doctors administered six vials.

Over the next few hours, I received six more vials as the hospital staff monitored my vital signs, making sure I didn’t have a bad reaction to the drug. Snake venom can interfere with blood cells’ ability to clot, so my doctors also had to take frequent blood draws and pay close attention to that, as well.

The pain from the swelling in my leg was excruciating, and I had to be monitored closely to make sure I didn’t develop compartment syndrome, when pressure builds up and causes tissue and blood vessel damage. But I got really lucky: Because I’d been treated quickly enough, I didn’t have any permanent injury.

RELATED: How to Treat 8 Common Injuries at Home

I spent about three days in the hospital, and was discharged with crutches and some strong pain meds. I was cleared for exercise, and went back to the office, a week after the bite happened. I’d tried to answer work emails while recovering at home, but I felt really out of it those first few days—like my brain wasn’t working at full speed.

Then came several follow-up appointments, with an orthopedist and my primary care doctor, to make sure there were no lasting complications. My liver enzymes tested a little high, so I was told not to drink alcohol or take acetaminophen for a month.

It’s now been about three weeks since I was bitten, and I still have tenderness and swelling in my leg—especially if I spend a lot of time on my feet. But the bruising has faded and you can barely see the puncture marks. Also thankfully, I have health insurance: I haven’t gotten a bill yet, but I’ve read that antivenin can cost $2,500 a vial, and that it’s not unusual for snake-bite treatment to total $100,000 or more.The most lasting effect of all this, honestly, is that it’s made me a little freaked out to go back out on the trail. I finally went for a bike ride at Bear Creek Lake this past weekend, and I screamed a few times when things brushed my leg. Luckily, I was able to calm myself down with some deep breaths and logical thinking.

RELATED: How to Stock a Smart First Aid Kit

I did learn a lot from my experience— that rattlesnakes don’t always rattle, how to recognize a venomous bite, how important it is to get to a hospital ASAP, and what not to do: Experts agree that you shouldn’t apply ice, cut into the wound, raise the affected limb above your heart, or apply a tourniquet.

I do plan to buy some snake gaiters, especially for when I’m exploring on foot, and I’m sure I will be more cautious from now on when I do get back out there. I know I’ll get my confidence back soon, though, because hiking and biking is what keeps me happy and healthy—rattlesnakes and all.

As told to Amanda MacMillan

How Katherine Waterston Got in Shape to Kick Some Serious Butt in ‘Alien: Covenant’

In the latest installment of the Alien franchise, set 10 years after 2012’s Prometheus, a new heroine has been charged with kicking some major alien butt: Katherine Waterston plays Daniels, a chief teraformist on a colonizing mission to a new planet. And after an advanced screening of Alien: Covenant, which hits theaters Friday, I can assure you that Waterston embodies the strong female lead that’s been a staple of the Alien movies since Sigourney Weaver’s portrayal of Ellen Ripley, the original badass known for beating down extraterrestrials.

As you might imagine, sparring with (or running from!) blood thirsty—and let’s face it, pretty freaking scary—creatures isn’t an easy task. Translation: Waterston needed to be in great shape.

“I was so nervous that [director] Ridley [Scott] wasn’t going to let me do the stunts,” she said during a pre-screening talkback with cast members. “There was a sort of fit test at the beginning that nearly killed me, but I didn’t want to seem like I couldn’t handle it, because I thought they might take the fun moves away from me.”

But the 37-year-old actress explained that she didn’t arrive on set in the best shape of her life on purpose: “I didn’t want to seem like some kind of warrior at the beginning of the film, because I feel like that journey happens within it, so I didn’t want to come in too ripped,” she said.

Waterston’s plan worked: She got progressively fitter just by playing her role, she said. “A lot of the training happened on set because we were carrying heavy packs and carrying really heavy guns—for me it was heavy.”

Still, Waterston knew she needed to build muscle before filming began to avoid getting hurt on the job. “I didn’t want to rip my shoulder out my socket or something,” she said.

RELATED: 11 Best Exercises to Get Strong, Toned Arms

One of her strengtheners of choice: “curls, really heavy bicep curls.” Which totally makes since considering you’ll see her wielding gigantic guns, and swinging and climbing around a space shuttle for two-plus hours.

Channel your inner warrior and try a few: Stand tall with feet hip-width distance apart and arms at sides, a dumbbell in each hand; palms face forward. Without moving upper arms, bend elbows and curl weight toward shoulders. Slowly lower back to start, and then repeat.

Prefer to do curls with a cable machine? Check out the video below to see the proper form.

Clearly Waterston nailed her training approach for the sci-fi horror flick because actor Michael Fassbender (who plays the androids David and Walter in the film) had this to say about his costar: “She was fearless.”

Do This 30-Minute Beach Workout to Turn Up Your Calorie Burn

Exercising on sand offers not only amazing views but also a huge calorie blast. A study in The Journal of Experimental Biology found that running on sand requires 1.15 times more energy than running on a hard surface. (So for a 150-pound person, a half-hour, three-mile run on the beach would burn around 403 calories, compared with 350 on a typical surface.) Plus, it’s good for your joints—as long as the surface isn’t too slanted (instability can be tough on your hips and cause muscle imbalances). 

Try this 30-minute interval workout, courtesy of Zack Daley, trainer and training manager at Tone House, an athletic-based fitness studio in New York City. It features running as well as bodyweight exercises to improve total-body strength and is perfect for beginners and experienced runners. 

RELATED: The Best Low-Impact Workouts for Weight Loss

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30-Minute Beach Workout

First, take 25 to 30 large steps from your starting point and make a mark in the sand. This will be your point of reference for the “down-and-back” portions of the workout. 

The warm-up:

• Light jog/run down and back two times 
• High knees down and back one time 
• Butt kicks down and back one time 
• Run down and back at about 60 percent of your top speed two times 
• 10 burpees 
• Lateral shuffle down and back two times, facing away from the water 
• Lateral shuffle down and back two times, facing the water 
• Skip down and back one time 
• Run down and back at about 80 percent of your top speed one time

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The workout:

• 15 to 25 push-ups
• 10 to 20 plank walks (alternate from high plank to elbow plank and back) 
• Rest for 30 to 45 seconds and repeat previous two moves
• Walking lunges down and back
• 20 to 30 jump squats 
• Rest for 30 to 45 seconds and repeat previous two moves 
• Bear crawl down and back 
• Rest for 30 to 45 seconds and repeat previous move 
• 15 to 25 toe touches 
• Plank knee to elbow (in high plank, bring your left knee to your left elbow, then right knee to right elbow; do 15 reps per side)
• Bicycle-crunch burnout (keep going until you can’t do any more)
• Rest for 30 to 45 seconds and repeat previous three moves 
• Sprint down and back twice, aiming to reach your fastest speed

 

Pin the full workout:

beach-workout-1

Your calorie burn: Approximately 285 (30 minutes of calisthenics for a 150-pound person).

Why Barre Class Is So Good for Your Body

This article originally appeared on Time.com. 

In ballet training, the barre is the horizontal handrail dancers grip while perfecting their technique. Barre-style workouts take those classic ballet warm-up exercises and reimagine them for a much wider audience.

While it may seem like a recent phenomenon, barre strength and flexibility training have been in vogue since the times of Louis XVI, says Ginny Wilmerding, a research professor at the University of New Mexico. The modern-day version is primarily a leg-and-butt workout; from your ankles and calves up through your knees, hips and glutes, barre movements are all about improving range of motion, strength and flexibility in your lower half by forcing one of your legs to perform graceful and precise movements while the other supports and stabilizes you, she says.

The sales pitch for all of that excruciating precision is that if you want a dancer’s body, you should train like a dancer. “I mean, who doesn’t want to look like a prima ballerina?” says Michele Olson, a professor of exercise physiology at Auburn University, Montgomery. “You’re talking about nice, lean muscle tone and perfect posture.”

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But just as going to football practice won’t make you look like a linebacker, barre training is more likely to help you achieve a ballerina’s muscle endurance and balance than her body shape.

Those are valuable assets that do not come with every workout. Unlike muscle strength, endurance determines your muscle’s ability to work for long periods of time. (Strength may allow you to lift a weight, but muscle endurance dictates how many times you can lift it.) Barre is also effective at targeting the “support and steady” muscles that run close to your bones and tie into your core and spine—the ones most of us neglect when we spend a lot of time sitting or engaged in forward and backward activities like running, says Olson. “Real 360-degree balance involves a lot of those side-to-side muscles a lot of us don’t use much, and so they become weak,” she says.

Barre is also low impact and has a built-in handhold, making it a relatively safe form of exercise. Especially for older people at risk for falls, barre may be a good way to improve stability and avoid accidents.

But the workout is not without risks, especially for the back and knees. One example: “Ballerinas are taught to tuck the pelvis so that the low back that normally curves inward loses its curve and looks straight,” Olson says. While dancers do that for their art, tucking the pelvis can lead to back pain and injuries for the average exerciser.

Most barre classes have abandoned that sort of strict pelvis-tucking, but Olson says some classes still include extreme plié knee bends that can increase a person’s risk for knee injury. Especially if you decide to go for a run right after your barre class, the “excessive” amount of pressure that some barre moves place on your knees could lead to sprains or strains.

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“There are some things dancers do that others have no need for,” says Wilmerding, who advises to take the training slowly and to focus on form, rather than trying to get an intense muscle or cardio workout from the practice. Like tai chi, “you’re working on stability and flexibility and strength, but you have this higher goal of control and aesthetics.”

Another point to keep in mind is that even though barre class brings a good core workout, you may be torching fewer calories than you think. One of the few published studies that has looked at barre’s cardiovascular and metabolic demands found that the activity—at least in its traditional form—doesn’t burn many calories and more closely resembles walking than running in terms of its intensity.

“Like any form of exercise, I think you need some variety,” Olson says. “Do it three to five days a week if you want to get the most out of it, but do something different with a cardiovascular component on the other days.”

Exercise Makes You Younger at the Cellular Level

This article originally appeared on Time.com. 

The more exercise people get, the less their cells appear to age. In a new study in Preventive Medicine, people who exercised the most had biological aging markers that appeared nine years younger than those who were sedentary.

Researchers looked at the telomeres from nearly 6,000 adults enrolled in a multi-year survey run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People were asked what physical activities they had done in the past month and how vigorously they did them. They also provided DNA samples, from which the researchers measured telomere length. Telomeres, the protein caps on the ends of human chromosomes, are markers of aging and overall health. Every time a cell replicates, a tiny bit of telomere is lost, so they get shorter with age. But they shrink faster in some people than in others, explains study author Larry Tucker, professor of exercise science at Brigham Young University.

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“We know that, in general, people with shorter telomeres die sooner and are more likely to develop many of our chronic diseases,” says Tucker. “It’s not perfect, but it’s a very good index of biological aging.”

After adjusting for smoking, obesity, alcohol use, gender, race and other factors, Tucker found in his study that people who exercised the most had significantly longer telomeres than those who were sedentary. The most sedentary people had 140 fewer base pairs of DNA at the ends of their telomeres, compared to the most active: a difference of about nine years of cellular aging, he says.

To qualify as top-tier exercisers, people had to do the equivalent of at least 30-40 minutes of jogging a day five days a week. Doing less was also linked to aging benefits, but they were not as powerful. People who did vigorous exercise had telomeres that signaled about seven fewer years of biological aging, compared to people who did moderate levels of activity.

Tucker says he was surprised to see so big of a difference between moderate and high levels of exercise. “Moderate exercise was still valuable and it had some benefit, but it was really those high levels of physical activity that made the real difference,” says Tucker. The top exercisers were vigorously working out 150 to 200 minutes a week, or engaging in light- to moderate-intensity activity for longer periods. Research continues to suggest that more exercise means deeper reductions in risk for chronic disease, to a certain point.

The current study relied on self-reports about physical activity and was only able to show an association—not a cause-and-effect relationship—between exercise amount and telomere length. It wasn’t able to account for factors like depression, stress, sleep disturbances and dietary practices that could affect exercise habits, genetic changes, or both.

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But a link between physical activity and cellular aging makes sense, says Tucker. Experts believe that telomere length may be linked to inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which exercise has been shown to ease over time.

While there’s no guarantee that people with longer telomeres will live longer, healthier lives, the odds may be in their favor, says Tucker. “We all know people who seem younger than their actual age,” he says. “We know exercise can help with that, and now we know that part of that may be because of its effect on our telomeres.”