Category Archives: Fitness

Spirit Airlines Slams Student Who Claims She Was Forced to Flush Emotional Support Hamster Down Toilet

“It is incredibly disheartening to hear this Guest reportedly decided to end her own pet’s life”

A college student from Florida claims she was forced to flush her emotional support hamster down the toilet after a Spirit Airlines employee allegedly suggested it was one of the only ways she would be allowed to board a flight home.

Spirit Airlines hit back hard against Belen Aldecosea’s claim that she had no choice but to kill her “emotional support animal” Pebbles in order to get home to her family in Florida. In a statement the airline said, “we can say confidently that at no point did any of our agents suggest this Guest (or any other for that matter) should flush or otherwise injure an animal. It is incredibly disheartening to hear this Guest reportedly decided to end her own pet’s life.”

Aldecosea’s lawyer, Adam Goodman, tells TIME that Aldecosea called Spirit Airlines to confirm she could bring her dwarf hamster Pebbles with her on her flight. After arriving at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on Nov. 21, everything seemed to be going as planned until a Spirit Airlines employee approached her saying the animal was not allowed, Goodman says.

The employee allegedly suggested Aldecosea, who was studying at Wilson College 100 miles away, set the hamster free outside or flush it down the toilet, according to the Florida-based attorney.

Aldecosea eventually flushed Pebbles down the toilet after she was unable to find someone to take the hamster or rent a car to drive instead of flying, the attorney says.

Spirit admits an employee initially incorrectly told her the hamster would be allowed to fly with her. However, the airline says it arranged for Aldecosea to board a flight nine hours later so that she could find accommodation for Pebbles.

Spirit’s support animal guidelines say that the airline does not accept rodents.

Goodman tells TIME that he and Aldecosea are planning to sit down and “discuss the legal remedies available,” including a possible lawsuit. Aldecosea reportedly got the support hamster after she developed benign, but painful golf-ball size growth in her neck, according to the Miami Herald.

The news follows airlines like Delta and United cracking down on support animal and a customer who was denied entry onto a flight because of their support peacock. Goodman maintains his client’s situation is different because the hamster is much smaller and less likely to cause problems.

Why Swearing Might Actually Be Good for You

Emma Byrne, PhD, thinks it’s a damn shame cursing gets such a bad rap. “We’ve been socialized to believe that swearing is universally really bad, but it isn’t always about being aggressive, or overwhelmingly negative towards people,” says the computer scientist and author of the new book Swearing Is Good For You ($26, amazon.com). In fact, research suggests dropping the f-bomb comes with some legit mind-body benefits. Here, Byrne highlights four surprising ways curse words can boost your well-being.

Unleashing expletives might actually raise your pain threshold

For a 2009 study done at Keele University in the UK, researchers asked college students to plunge a hand in ice-cold water. They found that when the participants repeated a swear word out loud during the chilly experience, they were able to keep their digits submerged for longer, and reported feeling less pain than when they repeated a neutral word. “Their subjective experience of how bad [their hand] hurt was incredibly different when they were swearing,” says Byrne. “When they were swearing, it didn’t feel as bad.”

One theory is that cursing helps trigger your “fight or flight” response, which raises your heart rate and pumps more adrenaline through your body—two physiological responses that make us more tolerant of pain. So the next time you stub your toe, go ahead and curse out your couch.

RELATED: 3 Stress-Busting Yoga Moves

Well-timed curses can help relieve stress

Struggling to get through a tough task? Go ahead and say how you really feel about it. “Studies show that when you put people in stressful situations and tell them they cannot swear, their performance goes down and their experience of stress is much greater,” explains Byrne. She points to research done in airplane cockpits and operating rooms: Pilots and surgeons who are allowed to swear on the job are better able to recover from stressful events (think: tricky takeoffs, or close calls in surgery) compared to pilots and surgeons who aren’t permitted to curse. The takeaway: a string of expletives can be a useful way to blow off some f*cking steam and get the job done.

RELATED: 6 Times Celebs Got Angry in Public (and How They Handled It)

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Using swear words can help you cope with health issues

“For people recovering from cancer, or who have a long-term chronic illness, swearing is really helpful in terms of processing their emotions,” Byrne says. “With respect to cancer patients, the work particularly on male patients—specifically testicular cancer survivors—shows that [swearing] is a way to talk about sadness and loss without losing face as “masculine,” by crying or admitting to fear, for example.”

Swearing while you sweat may make you physically stronger

You know those grips you can squeeze to build finger, hand, and forearm strength? Well, they work much better if you curse while you squeeze, according to researchers. “We’ve seen that you can exercise much more force on those objects and also do it for longer if you’re swearing while you hold them,” explains Byrne. “It increases your resilience and strength temporarily.”

Give it a try! As you bang out reps at the gym, repeat a few choice words and see what that does for you. And if you ever find yourself in a situation in which you need to summon extreme strength—say, to lift a heavy object off someone trapped beneath it—swear with all your might, says Byrne.

7 Best White Noise Machines for a Good Night’s Sleep

($100; amazon.com)

The priciest of our picks, the Sound + Sleep offers a good deal of versatility. It can actually detect other noises in your environment (say, the neighbor’s howling dog, or a snorer down the hall) and adjust to mask them. The gadget also has a unique “richness” feature, which allows you to add more detail to each of the 10 soundscapes (which include various nature settings, as well as options like “fireplace,” “trains,” and “city”). So for example, if you choose “ocean,” you’ll hear breaking waves. Touch the richness button to add in birds and seals. Touch it again and you’ll hear bells and foghorns. Other nifty extras: A headphone jack (in case your bedmate prefers to snooze in silence) and four auto-off timer choices (30, 60, 90, and 120 minutes).

RELATED: 11 Surprising Health Benefits of Sleep

11 Letter Board Quotes That Will Inspire You

Introducing our latest obsession: letter boards

From motivational mantras to relatable phrases, these letter board quotes add a classic, subtle piece of inspiration to our day. With help from Instagram bloggers, Health rounded up 11 of the best letter boards that we’ve seen all over the past few months. Whether you need a reminder, a good laugh, or the perfect Pinterest Pin, these options have you covered.

Food for thought

Can’t bear the thought of setting down your phone? Tend to check who’s viewed your Instagram story a few too many times? This quote from Debrosse will remind you to look away from the screen in your palm. 

Be (slightly) wild and free

In bed by 9:30? That’s an idea we can get behind. This adorable bit of wisdom from Girls’ Night In will encourage you to think more about enjoying the moment, while also making sure you get enough Zzz’s. 

Take action

Everyone has (at least) one thing on their bucket list. This post from Popflex is motivating us to choose “day one” over “one day.” 

Feel grateful

The holidays aren’t the only time to give thanks. This motivational (not to mention gorgeous) letter board from Bethany Grace promotes the idea of appreciating everything you have. 

Seize the day

Whether it’s January 1 or the middle of the summer, you can always start fresh. Thanks to this post by Erin Falacho, we’re confident all we need is a cup of tea and a gentle push to take more chances. 

A friendly reminder

Never forget your worth. This board from Jenessa Wait is the perfect addition to your office, Pinterest board, or anywhere else you need to remind yourself of your potential. 

Bundle up

When the weather outside is frightful…it’s time for a night in. This cozy board from ElskaBody tells us it’s okay to embrace our hygge habits and do a little self care. 

Don’t worry…

Be happy! Slippers, blush tones, hot cocoa, and marshmallows are just a few of many reasons My Secret Fashion Diary (and we) should make feeling good a priority. 

Find your people

Simple and minimalist, this board from Kaylyn Van Driesum is as beautiful as its message: to surround yourself with your good friends and family. 

Be patient (or at least try)

This hilarious board from DefywithDena is perfect for the ultimate avocado lover. Just like a well-though-out board, good things take time. 

It’s never too late

We love this message from the now-viral letter board made by Words & Co. January isn’t the only month to renew. Starting February 1 (or 2 or 28…) is just fine. 

Pin these fun, inspirational, and motivational letter board ideas when you go to your own Pinterest board this weekend, and tag us on Instagram to let us know when they’re up.

7 Tips to Shovel Snow Safely and Efficiently (and Even Turn It Into a Workout)

Clearing the driveway after a snowstorm isn’t only a pain in the butt, it can actually be dangerous if you don’t do it carefully. Moving a heavy shovel full of snow repeatedly without proper form can put you at risk of injury.

“Most people don’t use long levers, like shovels, to lift and throw weight,” says Michelle Lovitt, an exercise physiologist in Los Angeles (who grew up shoveling snow in the Midwest). “Shoveling snow increases a person’s risk for low-back and shoulder injuries because of the weight and imbalance of snow and generally poor posture when shoveling.”

RELATED: Stop a Cold in Its Tracks

The physical exertion required to haul weighty, wet snow also isn’t for the faint of art: Research has found that risk of heart attack is higher in the few days after heavy snowfalls.

Why is the winter chore so tough on the body? “The intense aerobic work is a tremendous stress on the heart, and the cold is an additional stressor,” says Christine Lawless, MD, a sports cardiologist in Chicago. “Your blood vessels constrict because your body is trying to conserve heat, and now the heart has to work even harder to try and pump blood through those constricted blood vessels.”

Another big mistake people make: throwing a jacket over thin pajamas and heading outdoors immediately. “It’s absolutely a horrible idea to jump out of bed and start shoveling snow,” Lovitt warns. “Your body needs time to increase blood flow before beginning activity,” she explains. “This will allow you to move and bend more easily, reducing risk of injury.”

RELATED: Steal Karlie Kloss’s Snow-Day Lower Body Strengthener

Adds Dr. Lawless: “You also get some people who are not necessarily in shape or used to doing aerobic exercise, and suddenly they go out in the snow and they perform at their maximum level, which is incredibly dangerous.”

With these scary snow situations in mind, apply the following advice next time you head out to shovel.

Do a proper warm-up

If you just woke up, wait 45 minutes to an hour before shoveling. But before you shovel at any point in the day, move through a quick dynamic warm-up to “wake up” all the right muscles, says Lovitt. “A great warm-up people can do is knee grabs—standing and pulling each knee to your chest alternating—for 12 to 15 reps on each side and large arm circles forward and back for a few reps,” she says.

Dr. Lawless also suggests getting your heart pumping by walking at 2.5 miles per hour on the treadmill for one mile before you head outside.

RELATED: 9 Things Every Woman Should Know About Her Heart

Fire up the right muscles

“When you think about the biomechanics of shoveling snow, the biggest challenge of the movement is taken on by the muscles and joints of the back of the body,” explains Cris Dobrosielski, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise. The neck, shoulders, and low back in particular get pulled forward as you drive the shovel into the snow, and they have to work together to stabilize your body. “It’s really a form of resistance training,” Dobrosielski says.

Just before you lift a shovel full of snow, think about two main things: keeping your knees slightly bent at all times, which  takes some of the tension off of the low back, and hinging at the hips. “Draw in the navel slightly, keep your back straight and abdominals engaged, and shift your hips back slightly, which will help turn on the glutes and hamstrings, where most of the power should come from,” Dobrosielski explains. “Then brace your body from this position while you drive the shovel into the snow and lift and throw.”

While you’re in this position, you want to remind yourself to constantly keep your core engaged, Lovitt adds. “Brace your midsection as if you were going to take a punch to the stomach.”

RELATED: 4 Reasons It’s Harder to Lose Weight in Winter—and What You Need to Do Differently

Hold the shovel correctly

Keep a wide grip on the shovel handle—with one hand near the top of the handle and the other close to the actual shovel full of snow—so that you have better control of the heavy load. Also, keep the shovel as close to your body as possible as you carry it.

“You have a mechanical advantage when you keep the lever arm of the shovel and the weight of the load close to your body,” Dobrosielski says. “The closer the load is to your center of gravity, the less strain and discomfort you are putting on every muscle and joint involved in that movement.”

Don’t twist and throw

What does bad form look like? To start, you shouldn’t be rounding your shoulders and dropping your back to lift the snow without engaging your legs and glutes—or using your lower back to lift the snow in the shovel (but you know that now). But another huge mistake is twisting or hyperextending your back to propel and throw the snow off the shovel.

RELATED: Best and Worst Exercises to Do When You Have a Cold

“You may need to twist your torso a little bit to maneuver the snow, but you should really be thinking about turning your entire body with the shovel in the direction that you want to drop the snow and gently tip the shovel for the snow to drop off,” Dobrosielski explains. “You shouldn’t have to twist a lot, and you should never be throwing snow from the shovel up by your shoulders. The shovel can stay at or below your waist.”

And when you can, don’t even lift the snow; just plow it to the side.

Take breaks

“When fatigue sets in, this is when injuries tend to happen,” Lovitt cautions. So keep your snow-shoveling intervals short and sweet, taking breaks whenever you need to.

“I wouldn’t suggest going outside for more than 40 minutes at a time,” Dobrosielski says. “And I would break that up until two 20-minute periods for fit people, and even four 10-minute intervals for more sedentary people.”

Another tip: Keep the scoops small. “You may think it makes more sense to scoop these huge heavy piles to move more snow more quickly, but this will tire most people out faster than just doing more reps with little piles,” he adds.

RELATED: How to Keep Seasonal Affective Disorder From Harming Your Relationship

Strength train regularly

If you want to shovel more efficiently and protect yourself each time you do it, it makes sense to build up your total body strength in general. “If you break the snow-shoveling movement into different parts, you’ll actually probably recognize a lot of traditional functional movement exercises,” Dobrosielski points out.

The foundation of the shoveling movement is a squat, he notes. “So adding squats and lunges to your workout routine is excellent for building up your lower body strength for shoveling, and for any lifestyle activity that involves heavy lifting,” he continues (such as lifting a suitcase into the overhead on a plane, or carrying a heavy laundry basket up the stairs).

While you shovel, you also experience slight torso rotation as you move around carrying the shovel. “So doing a standing torso rotation with a dumbbell or using a cable machine is another exercise that can help you build strength and stability for shoveling,” Dobrosielski says.

Other strength moves to add to your routine that will help make you the best snow shoveler in your neighborhood: deadlifts, standing bent-over rows, lateral dumbbell raises, and standing hay-balers with a medicine ball.

Do three to five sets of eight to 12 reps of each move when you add them to your routine, Dobrosielski recommends. “But even doing a single set of 15 reps of any of these moves once per week would have value,” he says.

RELATED: 7 Reasons You’re Not Building Muscle Even Though You’re Lifting Weights

Make shoveling snow a workout 

If you’re shoveling snow properly, you’ll work your glutes, hamstrings, quads, abs, low back, upper back, and shoulders. “It’s the absolute best workout,” Lovitt says. Once you get into the swing of things and nail your form, you can really start to make it a double-duty chore and up the fitness factor.

“Do lunges or squats into each shovel of snow,” Lovitt says. You can also carry the piles of snow farther down the driveway to get extra steps in if you’re feeling ambitious.

One caveat: If you’re recovering from a heart attack or have known risk factors for cardiovascular disease, do not shovel snow without clearance from your doctor.

Get a Better Booty in 20 Minutes With This No-Equipment Workout

Feel the burn with this routine from ModelFIT trainer Javi Perez.

Boutique fitness studio ModelFIT is famous for sculpting the toned, taut physiques of women who grace the world’s catwalks (think Miranda Kerr and Karlie Kloss!).

The studio has only two locations, in LA and NYC. So to feel the ModelFIT burn, you had to be in either of those two cities … until now. With the launch of the new ModelFIT app, you can do as many workouts as you dare in your very own living room, for $20 bucks a month.

Curious what a ModelFIT sweat sesh is really like? We got a sneak peek with this 20-minute butt-lifting sequence led by head trainer Javi Perez.

The workout is so effective because it’s “mindful, precise, and targeted,” Perez says. The trick to getting results, he points out, is not necessarily working harder, but working smarter. In this routine, “we laser focus on the target muscles, and we fatigue those muscles through non-stop consecutive movements.”

Ready for a tighter tush? Grab a hand towel and follow along with the video above.

And if you’re hungry for more, check out ModelFIT Online. You can give the app a trial run with a free 3-day pass. The workouts are 30 minutes or less, with new videos coming every Tuesday and Thursday. And for the time-crunched (all of us), some of the routines are just five (hard-core) minutes. 

Introducing Plogging: The Environmentally Friendly Way to Exercise

This is the buzziest Swedish word since “lagom.”

Plogging is the new fitness fad you need to know. A combination of “plucking” and “jogging,” this multitasking activity combines burning calories with keeping your environment trash-free.

“It is all about doing something about our environment and health before it is too late,” a Sweden-based group called Plogga shared on its Facebook page. “We have found a solution to the problem that makes it no longer taboo to pick up trash and clean up.”

The brainchild of environmentalist Erik Ahlström, plogging encourages you to do more with your workout. Late last month, Plogga hosted the first-ever plogging event in Denver.

As plogging makes its way around the globe, runners are turning their jogs into plogs. All you have to do is hold onto a small bag (and maybe a pair of gloves), and you’re ready to torch calories and tidy up the planet. Many ploggers have been surprised to see just how much trash is on the ground in parks and along running trails.

(I WHISH THIS WAS A JOKE)Out #plogging (picking rubbish when jogging, so “rubbishing” in english..hehe) BUT this is a CHALLENGE!😃🚮⬇️ Let’s save the oceans, our earth- 1 bag at a time! 💪 Bin Bag Challenge – #binbagchallenge We all remember the famous and viral “Ice Bucket Challenge” to raise awareness for the neurodegenerative disease ALS. Please help by collecting at least 1 single bag full of rubbish from the closest beach, coastline or even under water OR If you are not near the sea, you can also collect some rubbish in the nearby park. Like I did – go for a run and bring a plastic bag! 🤙#easypeasy Take a picture and post it and nominate at least 3 friends to follow your example and collect at least 1 bag of trash. #plogga #binbagchallenge Let’s make this viral and spread the message – 1 bag at a time… 💪🌍🌎🌏#BINBAGCHALLENGE I NOMINATE @paulasimonsphotography 🏖📷 @stcosta55 🌊@superruta ⛰ @naomistudnitz 🏖 @cafedelmarpanama🍝 🏝 @sannawestin4 ✈ @felcaz5 🌮 @vergarariera 🌃☕ @titofrez ✂️💇‍♀️💃@fredrikdexter🏃‍♂️🚵‍♂️ @daphneblosom 🏄‍♀️ @carolaarma🏃‍♀️ Www.rateyourdive.com created this fantastic idea, cooperatipn with Www.bansdiving.de to take on that idea and start the “Bin Bag Challenge” to raise awareness about environmental pollution on our planet and especially in our #oceans – so to say a worldwide degenerative disease of our planet and therefore affecting EVERYONE ! #savetheplanet #dykkingithailand #bansdiving #kohtao #earth #cleanup #running #scubadiving #planetearth #trash #jogging #löpning #ja #vegan @plogga

A post shared by Anna Antonia Selander (@manzanaanna) on Nov 3, 2017 at 10:26am PDT

This plogger mom in Austin, Texas snapped an image of the refuse she encountered during a run.

Some ploggers share their findings mid-plog, while also encouraging others to join the eco-conscious exercise craze.

A single 2 mile run #hoboken #rubbishrun #plogging 🏃🏻‍♀️

A post shared by Bleep Bloop (@ms_conduct) on Feb 5, 2018 at 7:37am PST

The goals of plogging align with another buzzy Swedish word: lagom. Pronounced LAH-gum, it translates into “not too little, not too much” or “just right.” Lagom has caught on globally as a lifestyle trend, and one of the six ways you can practice it is by performing random acts of kindness. Quick cleanup along the beach or trail, anyone?

Stuck in a Fitness Rut? Try These New Takes on Classic Workouts

Endorphin high: Try Rise Nation—a high-intensity sesh that uses VersaClimbers, machines that simulate rock climbing—or Barry’s Bootcamp, where half the class is spent on the treadmill and the other is strength based. Or break out a pair of in-line skates.

Tracking stats: Try Flywheel, an indoor cycling class that shows your rank on a leader board, or Orangetheory Fitness, which includes treadmill work, weights, and rowing machines, plus heart rate monitors that track your energy output on screens.

Goal oriented: Try Epic Hybrid Training, which offers HIIT classes with fun challenges (think monkey bar traverses and rope climbs). Getting ready for an obstacle course race? This class can help.

The Secret to J.Lo’s Incredible Abs, According to Her Trainer

Want abs like Jennifer Lopez? This simple at-home move can help you get them.

Jenny from the block has her abs on lock. And there isn’t a crop top or cutout dress that doesn’t know it.

One key to the 48-year-old entertainer’s chiseled middle: side-plank oblique crunches, says her trainer David Kirsch. “It’s perfect for when you need to focus on shaping and toning not only the obliques but the entire core,” he says.

december_hotmoves-jennifer-lopez-abs

How to Do Side-Plank Oblique Crunches

Start in side plank, with legs extended and feet and hips stacked; rest left forearm on floor under shoulder. Place right hand lightly behind head (A). Rotating torso, bring right elbow in toward belly (B); return to start. Do 15 reps per side 3 times a week to start seeing toned abs in 2 weeks.

This Yoga Flow Will Instantly Boost Your Mood

A good yoga session can soothe your mind just as much as your body. 

Sure, yoga is a great way to tone your body, but it can do wonders for your mind too. A regular yoga practice can help you feel more grounded, boost your mood, and ease symptoms of anxiety and depression too.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Try This 15-Minute Yoga Flow for Stress Relief

If you’re in need of some good vibes, you’ve come to the right place. This 38-minute flow from yoga instructor Noemi Henriquez will leave you feeling whole lot better than you did before (that’s a promise!).

The sequence is great for both novice and intermediate yogis, since it starts with the basics and works up to a few more advanced poses toward the end. You’ll begin by lying on your stomach and lifting your chest to open it up. Lift your chin too and gaze at the sky. Next, you’ll get into a tabletop position and do cat-cow pose to stretch your back and core muscles.

RELATED: 3 Yoga Poses to Do When Your Back Is in Knots

Moves like forward folds, downward dog, and tree pose test your balance and flexibility. You’ll also do some planks to build abdominal strength.

Henriquez designed this routine to focus on stretching and lengthening your whole body, to help you feel more in tune with yourself. The next time you need a quick pick-me-up, find a quiet room, grab your mat, and give it a try.

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