How to Do the Perfect Plank

By

Nicole McDermott
re-posted from greatist

Planking, (no, not that bizarre Internet craze) is a simple but effective total-body exercise. Holding the body (light as a feather) stiff as a board develops strength primarily in the core — the muscles that connect the upper and lower body — as well as the shoulders, arms, and glutes.
This static exercise — meaning the body stays in one position for the entirety of the move — is especially awesome because it requires no equipment and can be performed just about anywhere (well, use your judgment). Find out how to perfect your plank with this guide. We also included fixes to some of the most common plank mistakes.

THE BASICS

Photo by Kim Venti

1. Plant the hands directly under the shoulders (slightly wider than shoulder width apart) like you’re about to do a push-up.
2. Ground the toes into the floor and squeeze the glutes to stabilize the bottom half of the body. The legs should be working in the move too, careful not to lock the knees to hyperextension.
3. Neutralize the neck and spine by looking at the floor about a foot in front of the hands. The head should be in line with the back.
4. Hold the position for 20 seconds to start out. As you get more comfortable with the move, hold your plank for as long as possible without compromising form or breath.

Variations

Forearm Plank

Photo by Kim Venti

This variation, also one of the most common ways to plank, is slightly easier than holding the body up with just the hands. Place the forearms on the ground with the elbows aligned below the shoulders and arms parallel to the body at about shoulder-width distance. If flat palms bother the wrists, close the hands into fists or hold them in a prayer position. (Note: Any of the following plank variations can be performed with straight arms or in a forearm position.)
Knee Plank

Photo by Kim Venti

This plank is noticeably easier to hold than the traditional straight-arm plank, but it’s great for beginners to concentrate on form. By resting the knees on the ground, there’s less stress on the lower back. If knees feel uncomfortable, roll up a sticky mat to rest them on.
Side Plank

Photo by Kim Venti

This variation better engages the obliques, or the side muscles of the core, than a standard plank. Lie on one side with the legs stacked on top of one another then prop the body up on the hand or elbow with feet stacked. Modify the position by raising the opposing arm or leg (or both!) in the air to make the plank more difficult, or make the move easier by crossing the upper leg in front of the body for additional support.
Single Leg Plank

Photo by Kim Venti

By removing one point of contact from the ground (your foot), this variation increases the demand on the core. Position the body into a basic plank, then lift one leg toward the ceiling (as far as feels comfortable, without compromising the back). Keep the hips parallel to the floor, then alternate legs.
Swiss Ball Plank

Photo by Kim Venti

Up the intensity with a swiss ball! Stabilizing the body on an unstable ball adds a balancing component to the move, increasing the demand on the core. Follow the same steps for a normal plank but instead place the hands or the forearms on the ball, directly under the shoulders.

The Most Common Mistakes and How to Fix Them

The Mistake: Collapsing the lower back.
The Fix: Instead of compromising the lower back by dipping the bum, engage the core by imagining your belly button drawing in toward the spine. This will help keep the torso flat, and in turn, the spine safe. If you want to get super technical, have a friend gently place a broomstick or yardstick on your back — the top of the stick should make contact with the head, and the bottom of the stick should rest between the buttocks. The stick should also make contact right between the shoulder blades for proper alignment.
The Mistake: Reaching the butt to the sky.
The Fix: Planks aren’t supposed to look like a downward dog. To really get the core working the way it should in he plank position, keep the back flat enough so the abs feel engaged from top (right below the sternum) to bottom (directly below the belt). But of course, don’t dip the tush too far toward the ground.
The Mistake: Letting the Head Drop
The Fix: While the focus may be on keeping the hips, butt, and back in the proper position, form isn’t all about the core and the lower body in this move. It’s important to think of the head and neck as an extension of the back. Keep eyes on the floor about a foot in front of the hands to neutralize the neck.
The Mistake: Forgetting to breathe.
The Fix: It’s human nature to hold your breath when in a strenuous position for a period of time. But breathing is especially important because holding it for too long can bring on dizziness or nausea, which is especially dangerous for those with blood pressure issues.
The Mistake: Focusing too much on the stopwatch.
The Fix: Quality trumps a ticking stopwatch when it comes to the plank. When your form begins to suffer, it’s time to call it quits. If the back begins to bow or the shoulders start to sink in, take a break.

5 Things You Need to Know About Gluten May 19, 2014 | By Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD

Unless you’ve been on a media-free diet, you probably saw Jimmy Kimmel Live’s hilarious ‘What is Gluten?’ video, in which none of the gluten avoiders interviewed could explain exactly what gluten is. The truth is, most of my gluten-free clients don’t really know what it is either (check out my previous post Your 5 Worst Gluten-Free Mistakes), but they do know that they feel better when they avoid it.
But there’s a problem: I noticed that some of the things people said in Kimmel’s video, like where they think gluten is found, were just plain incorrect. The video has more than 2 million views, so I thought it would be helpful to provide a primer. Here are five things you should know before starting agluten-free diet, in order to reap the benefits and avoid the pitfalls.

Gluten is a protein

Yup, gluten is a type of protein naturally found in wheat (including spelt, kamut, farro, and bulgur) and other grains, like barley and rye. But gluten also lurks in many products, like salad dressings, seasoning mixes, vitamins, and even lip balm, so eliminating it completely is a big commitment. I’ve met many people who say they are gluten-free, but in reality they’ve just eliminated wheat-based foods like bread, pasta, and bagels, because they think wheat is the only source. If you truly need to banish gluten altogether, you need to become a gluten sleuth.

Gluten isn’t in every type of grain

I’ve heard many people say that gluten is found in grains period, but that’s not the case. There are several grains that are naturally gluten-free, including rice, corn and popcorn, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, sorghum, teff, and oats (as long as they haven’t been contaminated with wheat during processing). In other words, gluten-free and grain-free aren’t synonymous, and I don’t recommend the latter. Gluten-free whole grains are chock full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, and as long as you don’t overdo it portion-wise, including them in your diet can help you lose weight, and protect your health. Unfortunately the gluten-free craze has given all grains a bit of a black eye, but refined white pasta and quinoa aren’t even close to being in the same category from a nutrition perspective.

Gluten-free foods can be processed, too

Some people are under the assumption that all processed foods contain gluten and no gluten-free foods are refined or processed, but that’s not accurate. Because gluten-free has exploded in popularity, there are more gluten-free products than ever, and many are highly processed, or made with refined versions of gluten-free grains, such as white rice. For the best nutritional bang for your buck, look beyond the words “gluten-free” on a package and read the ingredient list—it should read like a recipe you could recreate in your own kitchen. And if grains are included (some gluten-free products are made with other starches, like potatoes or beans), they should be whole, which means they haven’t been stripped of their fiber and nutrients.

Avoiding gluten may help you feel better, even if you don’t have Celiac disease

People who have Celiac disease must completely eliminate gluten, because consuming even small amounts triggers symptoms, including belly pain and bloating. This happens because in people with Celiac, gluten causes the immune system to damage or destroy villi, the tiny, finger-like outgrowths that line the small intestine like a microscopic plush carpet. Healthy villi absorb nutrients through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream, so when they become damaged, chronic malnutrition occurs, which is typically accompanied by weight loss and exhaustion. In people with this diagnosis, avoiding gluten is the only way to reverse the damage.
However, people who test negative for Celiac may also benefit from going gluten-free if they’re experiencing a condition called gluten intolerance, or gluten sensitivity. While it’s not the same as Celiac disease, consuming gluten can cause bothersome side effects in many people, including flu-like feelings, bloating and other gastrointestinal problems, mental fogginess, and fatigue. Unfortunately at this time, there is no widely accepted test for gluten sensitivity, and the symptoms may be related to other issues, including stress, so it’s not black and white. If you think you may have a gluten sensitivity, avoid gluten and monitor how you feel.

What you eat when going gluten-free is as important as what you don’t

A lot of people who go gluten-free focus on getting rid of foods, but to balance your diet and ensure that you’re taking in a broad spectrum of nutrients, it’s also important to emphasize what you do eat. As I noted, there are several nutrient-packed whole grains that are naturally gluten-free. So if your old standby side dish was pasta, replace it with something like whole grain rice (brown, red, black, or wild), quinoa, or roasted organic corn.
Fresh veggies and fruits, beans, lentils, and nuts are also gluten-free, so if you used to nibble on crackers, pretzels, or cookies, trade them for wholesome snacks, like veggies with hummus, berries with nuts, or roasted chickpeas. One of the key benefits of adopting a gluten-free diet is that it’s an opportunity to reinvent the way you eat. Take it on it by seeking out superfoods, so in addition to getting rid of gluten, you’ll also be embracing a wide variety of nutrients that will help you look and feel your best.

Mass-Marketed Energy Drinks Full Of … Calories and Sugars

Posted on January 28, 2014 by admin
Reposted from Explore Supplements.Com

In a world where everything is moving so rapidly, most people are always on the lookout for something to give them a boost. Many have turned to the fast-growing energy drink/energy shot market.
According to market statistics, energy drinks and shots are expected to become a $21.5 billion business by the end of the decade. The promises of instant energy in a convenient form is alluring to many – from teens and college students looking for an extra pick-me-up, to professionals trying to power through their hectic days, and even older adults looking to keep up with the younger generations.
Energy Drinks Sugar Calories

h/t: TechCrunch.com
Problem is, most of those energy drinks on the market are offering consumers more than they bargain for; namely, a ton of empty calories and sugars. These products have come into question over the last few months, as health professionals and media outlets have questioned the legitimacy of these mass marketed products.
The Caffeine Issue
No one questions caffeine, in moderation, can have a natural energy-boosting effect. According to a recent study from Johns Hopkins University, caffeine can help the brain retain information during a period of up to 24 hours subsequent to consuming it.
In that study, participants were asked to study images presented to them and five minutes later received either a placebo or 200 milligrams of caffeine, which is the average daily intake of caffeine in various forms for 80 percent of adult Americans (many health professionals and agencies, including the FDA, state that 400 milligrams of caffeine a day is a safe amount for adults).
The caffeinated group was more capable of telling which images were similar to the ones they had viewed, instead of mistaking them as being the same – an ability known as “pattern separation”: being able to recognize difference between similar items, a marker of memory retention. So if the amount of caffeine isn’t the issue, what is?
The arguments in this debate center on consumption by teens who are naturally drawn to energy products through mass marketing efforts and endorsement deals with athletes and celebrities. A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics reports that more teens are downing energy drinks; in 2003, 16% regularly consumed the drinks, while in 2008, that percentage jumped to 35%.
And it’s not just the consumption of such drinks; it’s the quantities they are consuming. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, adolescents should not consume more than 100 mg of caffeine a day. Just one energy drink nearly doubles that intake, and the addition of sodas and other caffeinated products adds up to an unhealthy amount.
Sugar, Sugar, Sugar
You may not know it, but much of the rush you receive from mass-marketed energy products comes from the sugar contained in them. Some top-selling energy products on the market contain as much as 20 grams of sugar – as much as you would find in a regular sized candy bar.
While all that sugar makes these energy products taste better, they come with one major pitfall: Sugar and fructose, both found in energy drinks, spike your insulin level for a brief amount of time, which translates into an infusion of energy. But it is short lived. When the sugar is used up, your insulin level will plummet and you will experience fatigue.
According to the Pediatrics journal study, individuals who consume multiple energy drinks daily “could be taking in 120 mg to 180 mg of sugar,” or up to six times the maximum recommended daily intake. According to Men’s Health magazine, one leading energy drink contains nearly as much sugar as six glazed doughnuts. The study’s authors also noted that adolescents who consume energy drinks could be at risk for obesity and dental problems.
Unwanted Calories Pile Up
Many mass-marketed energy products have another secret: a lot of calories. According to nutritional facts, the most widely-consumed energy drinks on the market today have anywhere between 100 and 220 calories per serving.
Even these companies’ low-calorie or low-sugar options have upwards of 20 calories per serving. Someone who consumes these types of drinks regularly – twice or even three times a day – could be adding nearly 700 calories to their diets, or nearly 35 percent of the USDA’s recommended caloric intake. And that’s without eating.

By Dr. Mercola
One of the primary reasons why exercise is such a potent medicine for chronic disease is because it optimizes your insulin and leptin receptor sensitivity. Normalizing your glucose, insulin, and leptin levels will have a beneficial effect on virtually every disease state you could ever acquire.
But exercise also promotes the release of mood-boosting brain chemicals that help combat depression, and more superficially, it can go a long way toward improving your complexion; clearing up acne and warding off signs of premature aging.
How is it that physical movement can achieve such effects? It’s easy to forget that your body is actually designed for more or less constant movement. When you do, all of your biological systems can work properly and efficiently, creating all-around beauty, health, and well-being.
It’s just not natural to remain seated for hours on end like we do today, courtesy of computers, cars, and other gadgets that remove our need to get up, stretch, reach, bend, and move from one area to another. In fact, we’re now starting to realize just how bad it is to sit for long periods of time.
I’ve previously written about this, and the importance of what I call “intermittent movement” throughout the day. That said, more vigorous exercise is equally important for optimal health, beauty, and happiness, and here’s why.

What Happens in Your Body When You Exercise?

As previously reported by the Huffington Post,1 a number of beneficial biological effects take place when you exercise. It quite literally affects your body from head to toe. This includes changes in your:
  • Muscles, which use glucose and ATP for contraction and movement. To create more ATP, your body needs extra oxygen, so breathing increases and your heart starts pumping more blood to your muscles. Without sufficient oxygen, lactic acid will form instead. Tiny tears in your muscles make them grow bigger and stronger as they heal.
  • Lungs. As your muscles call for more oxygen (as much as 15 times more oxygen than when you’re at rest), your breathing rate increases. Once the muscles surrounding your lungs cannot move any faster, you’ve reached what’s called your VO2 max—your maximum capacity of oxygen use. The higher your VO2 max, the fitter you are.
  • Heart. As mentioned, your heart rate increases with physical activity to supply more oxygenated blood to your muscles. The fitter you are, the more efficiently your heart can do this, allowing you to work out longer and harder. As a side effect, this increased efficiency will also reduce yourresting heart rate. Your blood pressure will also decrease as a result of new blood vessels forming.
  • Brain. The increased blood flow also benefits your brain, allowing it to almost immediately function better. As a result, you tend to feel more focused after a workout. Furthermore, exercising regularly will promote the growth of new brain cells. In your hippocampus, these new brain cells help boost memory and learning. As stated in the featured article:
  • “When you work out regularly, your brain gets used to this frequent surge of blood and adapts by turning certain genes on or off. Many of these changes boost brain cell function and protect from diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or even stroke, and ward off age-related decline.”
    A number of neurotransmitters are also triggered, such as endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, and GABA. Some of these are well-known for their role in mood control. Exercise, in fact, is one of the most effective prevention and treatment strategies for depression.
  • Joints and bones, as exercise can place as much as five or six times more than your body weight on them. Peak bone mass is achieved in adulthood and then begins a slow decline, but exercise can help you to maintain healthy bone mass as you get older.
  • Weight-bearing exercise is actually one of the most effective remedies against osteoporosis, as your bones are very porous and soft, and as you get older your bones can easily become less dense and hence, more brittle — especially if you are inactive.

How Exercise Can Improve Your Complexion

Exercise can also go a long way toward “cleaning up” and toning your complexion. Makeup artist Michelle Phan has blogged about the beauty benefits of exercise.2 And, according to Dalton Wong, a celebrity trainer featured in a previous Telegraph article,3 engaging in the correct exercises will help you tone your skin in much the same way you tone your muscles. Katy Young writes:
“‘The key in training to tone your skin is to focus on increasing lean muscle mass,’ explains Wong. As we age, our skin naturally loses its plumping, youthful layer of fat. But if you exercise the right way, you can build up muscle which gives that same volatizing effect. As Wong explains; ‘it’s the lean muscle mass that sits just under the surface which can create a lifted, taught looking, skin.'”
According to Wong, to improve your skin, you’ll want to focus on resistance training, where you’re using your own bodyweight to challenge your muscles. Lunges, pushups, and planking are examples of resistance exercises. To tone both muscles and skin, and help eliminate cellulite, he recommends implementing a circuit routine consisting of three to four sets of weight bearing exercises with two to four minutes of cardio in between, repeated four times.
Excessive cardio training is not recommended if skin toning is your goal. It’s also one of the least effective ways to improve your fitness, as discussed in previous articles, as your body is designed for great exertion in short bursts, which is how our hunter-gatherer ancestors used to move. Conventional cardio or long-distance running can actually do more harm than good, and this extends to your skin as well.
Wong warns that excessive cardio can actually cause your skin to lose its youthful elasticity, especially if you’re over- or underweight. One of the reasons for this is because the stress placed on your body when you’re running long distances produces excessive amounts of cortisol, a stress hormone responsible for inflammation. This can take a heavy toll on your skin, as cortisol tends to break down collagen, resulting in wrinkling and sagging.

Stay Well Hydrated When Exercising

It should come as no great surprise that sweating and improving blood flow is good for your skin. Your skin is the largest organ for detoxification, and sweating not only helps regulate body temperature; it also helps eliminate toxins. Improved blood flow, in turn, helps shuttle oxygen and nutrients to your skin, which is key for beautiful complexion. Water is another key ingredient. As stated in the featured article:4
“One of the things Wong tells his celebrity clients – who include Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence – is to stay well hydrated. ‘It’s not just that it helps you train better – no one can work out if they’re not properly hydrated – it makes your skin look better, too. Conversely, if you’re training without drinking enough water, you’ll damage your skin pretty quickly,’ he warns. How to tell if you’re drinking enough? Try the hydration test by pinching the skin on the back of your hand; if it doesn’t spring back fast, you’re dehydrated.”
In addition to hydrating your skin from the inside out, increasing your water intake will also help flush out trapped toxins, oils, and debris that can contribute to acne. The combination of being well-hydrated and boosting blood flow can also benefit your hair, as it will naturally stimulate your hair follicles and promote hair growth.

Exercise Can Help You Feel Better from the Inside Out

Regular exercise is also one of the “secret weapons” to overcoming depression. Indeed, it is a recipe for both looking and feeling better. A recent article in The Atlantic5 tells the story of Joel Ginsberg who, as a college sophomore, struggled with feelings of “an all-consuming hopelessness” and immobilizing self-doubt. For Ginsberg, as for so many others who decide to try it, exercise turned out to be a key ingredient for recovering his joie-de-vivre.  
“He thought getting some exercise might help, but it was hard to motivate himself to go to the campus gym,” Olga Khazan writes.6 “So what I did is break it down into mini-steps,” he said. “I would think about just getting to the gym, rather than going for 30 minutes. Once I was at the gym, I would say, ‘I’m just going to get on the treadmill for five minutes.'”
Eventually, he found himself reading novels for long stretches at a time while pedaling away on a stationary bike. Soon, his gym visits became daily. If he skipped one day, his mood would plummet the next. ‘It was kind of like a boost,’ he said, recalling how exercise helped him break out of his inertia. ‘It was a shift in mindset that kind of got me over the hump.’
There is plenty of research validating the value of exercise for the treatment of depression. As noted in the featured article, a 1999 study7 found that aerobic exercise was as effective as Zoloft. More recently, a 2011 study8 concluded that exercise led to a 30 percent remission in patients who had failed to get any relief from antidepressant medications.

Guidelines for Using Exercise as an Antidepressant

In 2006, a meta-analysis9 of 11 studies concluded that doctors would be well advised to recommend exercise to patients suffering from depression, anxiety, and eating disorders, as the evidence showed “substantial benefit.” Yet according to a 2009 paper,10 a mere 40 percent of depressed patients reported that their doctors suggested exercise. As noted in the featured Atlantic article:11
“Instead, Americans are awash in pills. The use of antidepressants has increased 400 percent between 1988 and 2008. They’re now one of the three most-prescribed categories of drugs, coming in right after painkillers and cholesterol medications.
After 15 years of research on the depression-relieving effects of exercise, why are there still so many people on pills? The answer speaks volumes about our mental-health infrastructure and physician reimbursement system, as well as about how difficult it remains to decipher the nature of depression and what patients want from their doctors.”
This is clearly a shortfall of modern medicine and psychiatry. Despite the evidence, many doctors still are not savvy enough to broach the subject of exercise and other lifestyle factors with their patients. And, of course, there’s the lack of financial incentive… It may be worth noting that doctors who do not accept insurance tend to be more likely to prescribe non-drug treatments for their depressed patients. The other side of the coin is that many patients are looking for a quick fix, and resist taking physical action to improve their own situation…
If you were to view exercise as a drug, how much would you need in order to reap clinical results? According to research12 by Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, depressed patients would do well to exercise for 45-60 minutes, three to five times per week. He also recommends raising your heart rate to at least 50-85 percent of your maximum, in order to reap results.  
Keep in mind that major depression is typically associated with thoughts of suicide, and feelings of deep hopelessness or helplessness, making it critical to recognize and address such symptoms. (To assess your or a loved one’s risk factors, please review this previous article.) If you are feeling desperate or have any thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline,13 a toll-free number 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or call 911, or simply go to your nearest Hospital Emergency Department.

How Does Exercise Alleviate Depression?

A number of cascading changes occur when you exercise that contribute to improved mood and mental health. For starters, it helps normalize your insulin and leptin levels, as mentioned earlier. It also boosts the production of mood-boosting hormones in your brain. According to Dr. James S. Gordon, MD, a world-renowned expert in using mind-body medicine to heal depression:
“What we’re finding in the research on physical exercise is that exercise is at least as good as antidepressants for helping people who are depressed… physical exercise changes the level of serotonin in your brain. And it increases your endorphin levels, your ‘feel good hormones.’  
Also—and these are amazing studies—exercise can increase the number of cells in your brain, in the region of the brain called the hippocampus… they’re very important because sometimes in depression, there are fewer of those cells in the hippocampus. But you can actually change your brain with exercise. So it’s got to be part of everybody’s treatment, everybody’s plan.”
Aside from serotonin and endorphins (which are responsible for that feeling of euphoria you get with regular exercise), other chemical messengers also play a significant role.14 When you exercise, your brain recognizes the exertion as a fight-or-flight stress situation. To protect itself from stress-related harm, your brain releases a protective protein called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF).
This protein helps repair neurons, and acts as a “reset switch,” which may explain why solutions tend to come into clearer focus after a bout of exercise. BDNF also activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons, and triggers numerous other chemicals that promote neural health. Recent research1516 has actually made it quite clear that exercise and brain health are inextricably intertwined. The evidence shows that physical exercise helps you build a brain that not only resists shrinkage, but increases overall cognitive abilities—and feelings of happiness.17

Aim for a Well-Rounded Fitness Program

Whether you simply want to look better, or actually feel better—physically and mentally, I strongly suggest carving out the necessary time to exercise. Ideally, you’ll want to strive for a varied and well-rounded fitness program that incorporates a variety of exercises. I recommend incorporating the following types of exercise into your program in order to truly optimize your results:
  1. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): This is when you alternate short bursts of high-intensity exercise with gentle recovery periods. For more information, please see this previous article.
  2. Core Exercises: Your body has 29 core muscles located mostly in your back, abdomen, and pelvis. This group of muscles provides the foundation for movement throughout your entire body, and strengthening them can help protect and support your back, make your spine and body less prone to injury, and help you gain greater balance and stability.
  3. Foundation Training, created by Dr. Eric Goodman, is an integral first step of a larger program he calls “Modern Moveology,” which consists of a catalog of exercises. Postural exercises such as those taught in Foundation Training are critical not just for properly supporting your frame during daily activities, they also retrain your body so you can safely perform high-intensity exercises without risking injury. Exercise programs like Pilates and yoga are also great for strengthening your core muscles, as are specific exercises you can learn from a personal trainer.
  4. Stretching: My favorite type of stretching is active isolated stretches developed by Aaron Mattes. With Active Isolated Stretching, you hold each stretch for only two seconds, which works with your body’s natural physiological makeup to improve circulation and increase the elasticity of muscle joints. This technique also allows your body to repair itself and prepare for daily activity. You can also use devices like the Power Plate to help you stretch.
  5. Strength Training: Rounding out your exercise program with a 1-set strength training routine will ensure that you’re really optimizing the possible health benefits of a regular exercise program. You can also “up” the intensity by slowing it down. For more information about using super slow weight training as a form of high intensity interval exercise, please see my interview with Dr. Doug McGuff.
  6. Avoid Sitting for More Than 15 Minutes. Last but not least, while it may not have a direct effect on your mood or beauty regimen, there’s a lot to be said for avoiding prolonged sitting. Chronic sitting has actually been shown to take years off your life even if you exercise regularly.  
  7. To counteract the ill effects of sitting, I recommend setting a timer to go off every 15 minutes while you’re sitting. When it goes off, simply stand up. I usually recommend going a step further; personally, I stand up and do one legged squats, jump squats or lunges when the timer goes off. The key is that you need to be moving all day long, even in non-exercise, or as I now like to call them, intermittent movement activities.