To head off late-life depression, check your hearing

A new study found that elderly Hispanics with age-related hearing loss had more symptoms of depression; the greater the hearing loss, the greater the risk. The findings suggest that treatment of age-related hearing loss, which is underrecognized and undertreated among all elderly, could be one way to head off late-life depression.

The study was published online in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

“Most people over age 70 have at least mild hearing loss, yet relatively few are diagnosed, much less treated, for this condition,” says lead author Justin S. Golub, MD, MS, assistant professor of otolaryngology-head & neck surgery at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. “Hearing loss is easy to diagnose and treat, and treatment may be even more important if it can help ease or prevent depression.”

Age-related hearing loss is the third-most common chronic condition in older adults. The condition is known to raise the risk of other conditions, such as cognitive impairment and dementia. But there are few large studies asking whether hearing loss may lead to depression in the elderly — particularly in Hispanics, a group in which depression may be underdiagnosed because of language and cultural barriers.

The researchers analyzed health data from 5,239 individuals over age 50 who were enrolled in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos. Each participant had an audiometric hearing test — an objective way to assess hearing loss — and was screened for depression.

The researchers found that individuals with mild hearing loss were almost twice as likely to have clinically significant symptoms of depression than those with normal hearing. Individuals with severe hearing loss had over four times the odds of having depressive symptoms.

The study looked for an association at a single point in time, so it can’t prove that hearing loss causes depressive symptoms. “That would have to be demonstrated in a prospective, randomized trial,” says Golub. “But it’s understandable how hearing loss could contribute to depressive symptoms. People with hearing loss have trouble communicating and tend to become more socially isolated, and social isolation can lead to depression.”

Although the study focused on Hispanics, the results could be applied to anyone with age-related hearing loss, according to the researchers. “In general, older individuals should get their hearing tested and consider treatment, if warranted,” says Golub.

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Materials provided by Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

NBA teams that come from behind don’t garner more overtime wins

Teams that come from behind do not have a greater chance of winning in overtime, according to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers in a study published in the Journal of Economic Psychology, debunking theories of how psychological momentum in sports and in life lead to success.

“People talk about momentum as an indicator for success in business, sports and politics,” says Dr. Elia Morgulev from the BGU Department of Management, Guilford Glazer Faculty of Business and Management. “However, after studying close to 900 tied games with fourth quarter comebacks over 11 National Basketball Association seasons, we found that regardless of momentum, teams with the home advantage and more season wins were more likely to succeed in the five-minute overtime.”

Dr. Morgulev, along with Profs. Ofer H. Azar and Michael Bar-Eli of BGU’s Department of Business Administration, Guilford Glazer Faculty of Business and Management, are the first to analyze the effect of fourth quarter comebacks on overtime performance to address the larger question of whether or not recent success creates enough psychological momentum to make a positive impact on subsequent team and individual performance.

Contrary to common beliefs, the researchers found momentum did not carry over after the end of a tied fourth quarter to help teams win in overtime, regardless of the size of the previous score gap. What did make a difference in improving a team’s likelihood of winning was both home advantage and the balance of power between the teams — measured by the difference in teams’ season wins.

“These findings raise questions for future research,” says Prof. Bar-Eli. “Why don’t we observe momentum in situations where success should lead to psychological and physiological gains?”

Bar-Eli raises the following questions:

  • Could the momentum of a comeback team be offset by a more aggressive, focused and motivated team that feels it was robbed of its win and must now go into overtime?
  • Could the comeback team be so exhausted that they lose momentum?
  • Could releasing tension during even a brief break before overtime cause a team to relax because they feel they’ve achieved their target of not losing and then lose any potential momentum?

Dr. Morgulev, who is also the head of physical education studies in the nearby Kaye Academic College of Education says, “these findings are also relevant in the education field as current pedagogy is obsessed with promoting the experience of success. They often neglect the importance of obstacles and failures in building of a character and in fostering inner motivation to overcome and prevail.”

Ultimately, the researchers ask: Why do people tend to associate NBA comebacks with psychological momentum, even though data does not support it? “It seems intuitive to expect a comeback team to benefit from momentum,” says Prof. Azar. “So perhaps when a team that closed a gap in the fourth quarter does win in overtime, it stands out more in people’s memories and reinforces a common belief over time.”

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Materials provided by American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Our social judgments reveal a tension between morals and statistics

People make statistically-informed judgments about who is more likely to hold particular professions even though they criticize others for the same behavior, according to findings published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

“People don’t like it when someone uses group averages to make judgments about individuals from different social groups who are otherwise identical. They perceive that person as not only lacking in goodness, but also lacking in intelligence,” says psychology researcher Jack Cao of Harvard University. “But when it comes to making judgments themselves, these people make the same type of judgment that they had so harshly criticized in others.”

“This is important because it suggests that the distance between our values and the people we are is greater than we might think,” Cao adds. “Otherwise, people would not have made judgments in a way that they found to be morally bankrupt and incompetent in others.”

Say, for example, you hear about a man and a woman who both performed surgery — only one of them is a doctor, but which one? From a statistical standpoint, you would consider the fact that there are more men who are doctors than there are women who are doctors; you might also think about the fact that not all people who perform surgery are doctors. From a moral standpoint, you may believe that men and women are equally capable of being doctors. How would you answer?

Cao and coauthors Mahzarin Banaji of Harvard University and Max Kleiman-Weiner of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology hypothesized that people would experience a tension between the statistical approach and the moral approach. The researchers conducted a series of online experiments to test this hypothesis.

In one study, 199 participants learned that a man and a woman had performed surgery. They indicated whether the man was less, equally, or more likely to be a doctor than the woman was. They then learned about another person, Person X, who determined that the man was more likely to be a doctor. Using 7-point rating scales, they indicated how fair, just, accurate, and intelligent they thought Person X was.

The vast majority of participants, 93%, reported that the man and woman were equally likely to be doctors. And they tended to view Person X as not only unfair and unjust, but also inaccurate and unintelligent for stating that the man was more likely to be a doctor.

The results were similar in another online study, in which participants learned about a man and a woman who worked in a hospital, one of whom was a doctor and the other a nurse. Again, the majority of participants (91%) reported that the chance that the man was the doctor was equal to the chance that the woman was. When X made the statistically-based judgement that there was a higher chance of the man being the doctor, they viewed X as unfair, inaccurate, and unintelligent; in this situation, they also shared less money with X when given the opportunity to do so.

However, participants tended to make the statistically-based judgment themselves when they actually estimated the likelihood that a given person who performed surgery was a doctor versus a nurse. That is, they estimated likelihood of the person being a doctor was higher when the person in question was a man as opposed to when the person was a woman.

Despite this, they still criticized Person X for making the same statistically-informed judgment they had made.

Additional findings suggest that participants showed a similar pattern of decision making when the target individual was a pilot. Intriguingly, participants did not endorse the egalitarian judgment or criticize Person X for making a statistical judgment when the target individual was a butcher, firefighter, or construction worker

Cao and colleagues note that all of these experiments were conducted with online participants; however, research suggests that online samples produce data similar to those collected from lab-based samples.

Ultimately, the research reveals a discrepancy between how we perceive own social judgments versus the judgments that others make. The findings may have particular implications in domains such as law, business, education, and healthcare, where “a disparity between values and actions has significant consequences,” Cao explains.

Work-family conflict hits home

Researchers have long known that sick children can affect a company’s bottom line, as employees are distracted or have to take time off to care for their children. Far less is known about the impact a parent’s work life has on their children’s health.

In a paper published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, researchers report that children’s health is less likely to be negatively affected when their parents feel a sense of control over their work lives.

“If you can decide how you are going to do your job, rather than having that imposed on you, it is better for children,” said co-author Christiane Spitzmueller, professor of industrial organizational psychology at the University of Houston.

The good news, she said, is that there are things organizations can do to provide employees with that sense of control.

In addition to Spitzmueller, who also is managing director of the Center for ADVANCING UH Faculty Success, authors include first author Eugene Agboifo Ohu of the Lagos Business School in Lagos, Nigeria; Jing Zhang of California State University-San Bernadino; Candice L. Thomas of St. Louis University; Anne Osezua of the Institute for Work and Family Integration; and Jia Yu of the University of Houston.

The researchers collected data from both parents and children in Lagos, Nigeria, targeting one group of low-income families and a second group of more affluent families. Teenage children from both groups were surveyed at their schools and asked to assess their own health.

Spitzmueller said the researchers expect their findings to be applicable in the United States, as the more affluent families had education levels, incomes and expectations of family life that are similar to those in western nations.

While the low-income group included people living in dire poverty, she noted that their responses did not differ markedly from those of the wealthier group. “Economic resources were not as much of a buffer as we would have thought,” she said.

Instead, feelings of autonomy in the workplace accounted for the difference between families where the parents’ work-family conflicts played out in health problems for the children and those whose children fared better.

The researchers look at so-called “self-regulatory resources,” or the amount of self-control parents bring to parenting, including the ability to act in a more reflective manner.

“If a parent has too many stressors, it reduces your self-control,” Spitzmueller said. Parental self-control was linked to better health outcomes for children. In other words, how we parent when we experience high levels of stress is probably fundamentally different from how we parent when we are coping well.

“At lower levels of job autonomy,” the researchers wrote, “employees likely have to rely more on self-regulatory resources to compensate for the impact of limited control over one’s job on one’s personal life. At higher levels of job autonomy, freedom and more decision-making opportunities are likely to motivate the person to engage; however, self-regulatory resources would be less needed.”

The impact was most pronounced when job demands are high and job autonomy is low, and Spitzmueller said that allows for potential interventions and policies to address the issue.

Some are relatively simple, including teaching parents to take a few minutes to recharge before plunging from the workplace into parenthood. Practicing mindfulness, Spitzmueller said, can allow parents to “replenish their resources.”

Businesses and organizations can play a role, as well. Although the researchers say their findings are just the start of understanding how parental stressors affect children’s well-being, they also encourage workplace interventions aimed at promoting job autonomy.

Managers and supervisors can be trained to more effectively deal with their employees and to encourage a greater sense of autonomy, Spitzmueller said.

How to Make a Smoothie Without a Recipe

When I want a smoothie, it’s rare that I look up a recipe to make one. Instead, I follow a basic formula that’s worked for me time and time again. As long as I make sure to include ingredients that will make my morning beverage satisfying enough to keep me from getting hungry before lunch, I know I can use just about anything I like.

According to Lindsey Pine, M.S., R.D., owner of Tasty Balance Nutrition, I’m onto something. She says, “a well balanced smoothie contains fiber rich fruit, veggies, protein, and healthy fats.” And there are a ton of great ingredients that fit into all those categories. “The protein and healthy fats can come from a variety of ingredients,” she explains, “such as Greek yogurt, milk, nut butters, chia seeds, and hemp seeds.” Fiber-rich fruits like berries and apples are also great options to include, as are leafy greens and vegetables that are easy to camouflage, like cauliflower and cucumbers.

Whipping up a smoothie from scratch is also way faster than using a recipe, because you don’t have to go looking for one whenever you have a smoothie craving. You can simply pop all the ingredients you want to use into a blender, give it a whirl, and dig in. If this sounds like the way you want to start making smoothies, here’s exactly how to do it.

There is a specific ratio you should try to follow to guarantee that your smoothie is satisfying.

Pine says that for a basic 16-ounce smoothie you’ll want to use 1 cup of fruit, 3/4 cup liquid, 1/2 cup of a protein source, 1 cup of leafy vegetables (or 1/2 cup of non-leafy vegetables), and 1 to 2 tablespoons of a healthy fat source. You can add spices like turmeric or herbs like mint in whatever amount you like. The only thing she says you might want to minimize or avoid are ingredients with a lot of added sugar, which is the case for some brands of yogurt, nut butter, and protein powder (just be sure to take another look at the ingredients list before you check out). And she says to use sweeteners like honey and agave in moderation, because there’s already a lot of sugar in your fruit, and your final product may otherwise turn into a total sugar bomb. If that’s what you want, go for it, but if you want a smoothie that will keep you full an energized until lunch, it’s a good tip to keep in mind.

And these are all the ways I put the ratio into action.

For this story, I went ahead and used the formula to make four smoothies with completely different ingredients—two vegetarian, two vegan. They all turned out pretty delicious and I didn’t have to look at a single recipe to come up with them. I followed my tastes and here’s what I ended up with.

The first was a tropical vegan number.

Audrey Bruno

Using 1 cup frozen mango, 2 tablespoons frozen avocado, 1/2 cup of silken tofu, 3/4 cup of orange juice, and 1/2 cup cauliflower, I was able to make a tasty nourishing treat. If you’ve never used silken tofu before, now’s the time to try it out in a smoothie. It’s super soft, and it doesn’t really have a flavor, so it blends in well with its supporting ingredients, and it gives the smoothie a light, pudding-like texture. I also tried to use frozen fruits and veggies whenever possible, because I didn’t have to add any ice to ensure my final product was chilled. The cauliflower worked perfectly in the smoothie because its mild flavor was easily overpowered by the mango and the orange juice.

Audrey Bruno

The second tasted like cherry pie, and was packed with protein.

Audrey Bruno

This one was definitely not vegan but it was oh-so delicious. I used 1 cup of cherries, 2 tablespoons of almond butter, 1/2 cup of cottage cheese, 3/4 cup of milk, and 1 cup of spinach. I opted for fresh spinach over frozen, because I find that when it comes to leafy greens, they are better incorporated into the smoothie when they’re fresh. Here, the green spinach makes for a green smoothie, because the red colors overpowered the green, but I’ll show you how to make one in a bit.

Audrey Bruno

The third was another vegan option, this time using chickpeas as the protein source.

Audrey Bruno

Amy Gorin, M.S., R.D.N., owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City-area, tells SELF that legumes are one of her new favorite things to add to smoothies, because they’re relatively flavorless, but they add a bunch of protein and fiber. I took her tip and used it to make a peanut butter and jelly smoothie with 1/2 cup of blueberries, 1/2 cup of strawberries, 1 tablespoon of oats, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, 1/2 cup of chickpeas, 3/4 cup of almond milk, and 1 cup of spinach. You couldn’t taste the chickpeas, but the PB and J flavor really came through.

Audrey Bruno

The final smoothie was green and refreshing.

Audrey Bruno

To make a smoothie that is actually green in color, you need to make sure that none of the other ingredients you’re using will overpower the green ingredients. So for this, I stuck with fruits that have white flesh, like apples and bananas. I used 1/2 cup apple, 1/2 cup banana, 1 tablespoon almond butter, 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds, 1/2 cup kale, 1/2 cup cucumber, 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, and 3/4 cup orange juice. The result was bright green and super tasty—in fact, it was my favorite of the bunch.

Audrey Bruno

As long as you keep that basic ratio in mind, you can make the smoothie of your dreams a reality in no time.

21 High-Protein Smoothies With No Protein Powder

Breakfast smoothies are a terrific idea for so many reasons. They’re easy, fast, and perfect for on-the-go. They’re a great way to sneak tons of fruits, vegetables, and other good-for-you ingredients into your first meal of the day, because pretty much anything can be a smoothie if your blender is strong enough. If you’re not hungry for something super filling, it’s easy to make a smoothie that’ll keep you sated for at least a couple of hours. And, maybe best of all, smoothies are easy to prep ahead of time, in bulk (the holy grail of weekday breakfasts, amirite?).

All that said, fruit smoothies are often high in sugar and low in protein, which makes them…less of a good idea if you want to stay full and satisfied for longer. “Many people fall short on protein at breakfast,” says Alissa Rumsey, M.S., R.D. “Protein helps with satiety so you stay full for longer, and research shows that it is better to spread your protein intake evenly throughout the day, rather than having protein be the focus of just one large meal.” Just because you eat lots of protein at lunch and dinner, doesn’t mean you can get away with skimping on protein for breakfast. Rumsey recommends getting at least 15-20 grams of protein at breakfast.

Most protein powders pack at least 15 grams of protein per serving. But, many are filled with sugar, which you’re already getting enough of from the fruit in your smoothie, or artificial sweeteners. Also, lots of people just…don’t like protein powder. (I am among them.) Which is totally fine, because there are plenty of other options. “It’s simple to add protein to a smoothie without using protein powder,” says Rumsey. “Try a 6- or 7-ounce container of plain Greek yogurt (15 to 20 grams of protein) or a half-cup of cottage cheese (12 to 13 grams of protein). Silken tofu is a great smoothie add-in that gives the drink a creamy consistency. You can also add a few tablespoons of nuts and seeds. Using cow’s milk or soy milk for a liquid source adds an additional eight grams of protein per cup.” Here are a few quick and easy ways to get your blend on, powder-free.

What is Pilates? 8 Things to Know Before You Take Pilates Classes

The first time you take any new fitness class can be a little intimidating. But for some reason, Pilates classes have an extra air of “avoid this if you don’t know what you’re doing.” Maybe it’s the reformer, with its straps and springs. Maybe it’s the exercise names that you’ve never heard before. (What’s this “Pilates Hundred” thing?)

If you’ve wanted to try Pilates classes but something has been holding you back, now’s your time to sign up for your first one. Pilates offers plenty of benefits to your body, no matter your fitness background. You’ll improve your posture, focus on bodily alignment, and get one heck of a core workout.

Whether you’re on the mat or machine, you can snag the same benefits. A 2016 study found that eight weeks of Pilates classes improved abdominal endurance, flexibility, and balance. Plus, Pilates has seen a resurgence in popularity, with franchises such as Club Pilates popping up around the country.

Want to know what the hype is all about? Here’s everything a Pilates newbie needs to know to enjoy their first class.

What is Pilates, anyway?

Pilates is a form of low-impact exercise that aims to strengthen muscles while improving postural alignment and flexibility. Pilates moves tend to target the core, although the exercises work other areas of your body as well. You can do Pilates with or without equipment (more on that below), but no matter what, expect the moves to involve slow, precise movements and breath control. “Pilates is a full-body exercise method that will help you do everything better,” Sonja Herbert, a Pilates instructor and founder of Black Girl Pilates, tells SELF. “It strengthens and stabilizes your core body, which is your foundation, so that you can move efficiently while improving your posture, flexibility, and mobility.” A typical Pilates workout is 45 minutes to an hour long.

1. There are two different kinds of Pilates classes: mat classes and reformer classes.

You’ll be tackling a class that’s based on either a mat, which is a tad thicker than your standard yoga mat, to cushion pressure points, or a machine called a reformer, which is a sliding platform complete with stationary foot bar, springs, and pulleys that provide resistance. Know which one you’re getting into before you commit to your workout.

Both options focus on the concept of control rather than cranking out endless reps or muscle exhaustion. In Pilates, your muscles are working to lift against gravity and (in the case of the reformer) the resistance of the springs or bands, with the ultimate goal of strengthening and isolating the right muscles. Your goal should be to take your time with the exercises, focus on the task at hand, and connect to your breath.

“The reformer experience is maybe the most fun you’ll have in a Pilates class,” says Heather Andersen, founder of New York Pilates. “The machine gives you added resistance and a sliding surface that challenges your workout. It often feels like you’re flying or gliding.”

There are also many Pilates-inspired workouts, like SLT, Brooklyn Bodyburn, and Studio MDR, that aren’t considered “classic” Pilates but offer many of the same benefits. These studios use a next-level reformer called a Megaformer, which is larger than a traditional reformer.

Regardless of what class you choose, make sure to let your instructor know you’re a beginner. This way, they’ll be able to keep an eye on you throughout the class and offer modifications or form adjustments.

2. There are a few other pieces of equipment to know, but they probably won’t show up in most beginner Pilates mat classes.

Many Pilates mat classes don’t require any equipment other than, yes, a mat, which is usually provided. But other classes can use different equipment in addition to the reformer. The most common pieces of equipment are the Wunda, a low chair with padding and springs, the Cadillac (which looks a little like a bed with a canopy frame and is used in various ways for advanced students), the spine corrector, the high chair, and the Magic Circle, a ring you often use between your legs to create resistance. “In most class settings, you will typically use the reformer, the chair, Magic Circle, spine corrector, and a smaller version of the Cadillac called the tower unit,” says Herbert, who advises beginners to take a few private lessons, if possible, to safely learn how to use the equipment before signing up for a group class.

3. You’ll feel your muscles burn during class, and you’ll probably be sore the next day.

While you may not be crushing high-intensity exercises like squat jumps or lifting heavy dumbbells, the mostly bodyweight routines that Pilates classes offer can be pretty intense. Take the signature Pilates Hundred, for example. A core-focused move that involves less than two inches of constant movement will make your abs burn. A good instructor should give you modifications so that you can perform each movement with good form (another reason to introduce yourself as a beginner before class starts).

Dedicating your entire focus to even the smallest movements means that you’ll work the muscles that each exercise intends. And that means you can be dealing with muscle soreness after your workout. Don’t fret: While next-day soreness may be at a whole new level after your first week, your body will get more used to the movements with time. Being sore the next day just means you’re challenging your muscles in new ways or working muscle groups that don’t usually get much attention.

4. Pilates works several muscle groups.

“Pilates is not restricted to specific body parts,” Herbert says. Yes, Pilates moves focus on your core and trunk, but that doesn’t just mean your abs. “Although Pilates is specifically defined as exercise for the core or abdominal muscles, it is important that clients know that the core includes the entire trunk, which is the abdominals, the hips, the inner and outer thighs, and the back,” Herbert explains. So expect a workout that works your entire body.

5. Many beginner classes will feature the same group of exercises in each class.

There are an established set of Pilates moves that are common in beginner classes, Herbert says. They include:

  • The Hundred (a breathing exercise that also targets core strength and stability)
  • The roll up (a slow, precise move that stretches the spine and the back of the body and strengthens the abdominals)
  • Leg circles (which strengthen the hips and core stabilizers)
  • Rolling like a ball (which massages the spine and opens up the back)
  • Series of 5 (a group of moves that strengthen the abdominals and back muscles)

6. Wear formfitting clothes—and don’t forget your socks!

Even if you typically prefer loose-fitting workout wear, you’re going to want to wear body-hugging options for Pilates classes. “This way, the instructor can see your movements better and your clothes don’t get caught in springs or other equipment,” says Carrie Samper, national Pilates training manager at Equinox.

“And leave the shorts at home too,” Samper adds. “There are many exercises in Pilates where you are lying down and your legs are moving above you…so you don’t want the shorts to ride up.” Instead, wear capris or leggings with a tank top or fitted long-sleeved shirt.

As for footwear, you can either be barefoot or wear socks for your session. Most studios have their own suggested protocol. Find it on the studio’s website, or ask the front desk when you check in for your class.

If you’re going to go for socks, find yourself a pair with rubber detailing on the soles so you don’t slip on the mat or machine. A barefoot or socks-only approach will also help you navigate in and out of the straps on a standard reformer with ease.

7. Every studio has different lingo they use in class. Look to regulars for form help when you’re not up with the terms.

Every workout from barre to CrossFit has its own set of terminology, Pilates included. For Pilates, know that your “powerhouse” refers to the the center of your body, where all of your power comes from to execute movement. “Peel through your spine” means slow movement from vertebra to vertebra. Don’t fret: You’ll get used to it with time.

In the meantime, look to regulars who catch on to the instructions quickly. The best way to do this? Put yourself in the middle of the room. Whether it’s on a reformer or a mat, planting yourself in the center allows you an optimal view of all of the action. “In the middle, the instructor is easily visible,” says Samper. “The other participants can help visually guide you through transitions while the instructor migrates to offer adjustments.”

8. Pilates should be a part of a well-rounded fitness plan.

Even if a studio offers unlimited classes for the first week, don’t plan on hopping into a class every day. Your body needs a day or two to recover from fatiguing resistance exercise such as Pilates.

“Pilates stretches, strengthens, and aligns your body all at the same time,” says Samper. “With that said, it also complements every other fitness endeavor because it prepares your body to move better in every way. Adding it into your routine will help you lift heavier weights, run faster, swim with better form, or even achieve that elusive arm balance in yoga.”

20 Resistance Band Exercises to Strengthen Your Entire Body

Anyone, at any fitness level, can benefit from using resistance bands. They add an extra challenge to bodyweight exercises but don’t put the same sort of pressure on your joints that external weights, like dumbbells and kettlebells, do. They’re also great for targeting smaller stabilizing muscles that you may not typically work. This is why trainers love using them to work the small muscles in the hips, particularly the gluteus medius, which plays the important role of stabilizing your quads when you walk and run. (Lots of runners do resistance band butt exercises during their warm-ups for this reason.)

Not to mention, resistance bands are small and lightweight, making them easy to travel with and to stash in a small space. Whether you’re just starting your fitness routine and are looking for ways to progress your exercises before adding weights, or are just on the hunt for a great exercise tool that’s versatile and instantly adds resistance on the go, it’s worth investing in some bands. You can find packs of looped bands, as well as sets of longer non-looped bands (with and without handles) on Amazon for a pretty decent price.

We worked with Melody Scharff, a certified personal trainer at Fhitting Room in New York City, to put together a list of some great resistance band exercises worth trying. Pick four or five of the below, do 12 to 15 reps of each, and repeat three times, to create your own resistance band workout. Or, add a couple of these moves to your regular routine to further target the muscles you’re trying to work.

Modeling the moves is Rosimer Suarez, a special education teacher from New York City who lives in Oklahoma City and loves to do strength training and HIIT workouts to feel strong and in control of her thyroid condition.

Things You Need To Know About Using Laxatives For Weight Loss

Of all the health myths in the world, the idea that there is a silver bullet for weight loss may be among the most persistent and pernicious. From detox teas to trendy diets, we’ve seen countless products and practices that people claim are quick, easy, and harmless ways to lose weight. Using laxatives for weight loss is another one of those practices, but it’s hardly harmless. Unfortunately, this might be one of the longest running and most popular misguided methods for weight loss, especially among young women.

One study looking at 13,000 people published in the journal Pediatrics in July 2016, found that 10.5 percent of women aged 23 to 25 have used laxatives to try to lose weight. Misusing laxatives is an all-around bad idea. Here’s what you need to know about laxatives, including why you don’t ever want to use them for weight loss.

1. First things first: What are laxatives?

Laxatives are a type of medication used to treat constipation by loosening stool or encouraging bowel movements, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Nearly everyone experiences constipation at one point or another. There are approximately a zillion causes, including dietary issues (too little fiber, too much dairy), certain medications (antidepressants), lifestyle changes (not pooping when you have to go, traveling), medical conditions (hypothyroidism, IBS), and even stress. Not only does constipation feel miserable—it can cause complications like hemorrhoids or anal fissures if you strain too hard to poop.

Lifestyle modifications like eating more fiber-rich foods, exercising regularly, and drinking enough water should be your first move, as SELF previously reported. But sometimes, you might need a little extra push. This is where laxatives come in. For the occasional treatment of constipation, they can do the trick and are generally pretty harmless.

2. There are several types of laxatives.

There are actually five main types, and they all get things moving in different ways, , Marc Leavey, M.D., an internist at Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center, tells SELF. And some of them are available in both an oral form and a rectal suppository. Here is how they work, as explained by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Stimulants (Dulcolax, Senokot): This class of laxatives triggers contractions of intestinal wall muscles in order to move stool along the GI tract, resulting in elimination. These are available in oral forms and as a rectal suppository.
  • Osmotics (Milk of Magnesia, Miralax): They work by drawing water from nearby body tissue into the colon in order to soften the stool and spur bowel action.
  • Bulking agents (Metamucil, Benefiber, Citrucel):
    These fiber supplements absorb liquid in the intestines and swell up to form a large, soft, bulky stool, the presence of which prompts a normal bowel movement.
  • Lubricants (Fleet): These use oil, like mineral oil, to coat both the bowel and the stool, keeping the stool moist and soft and helping it pass through the GI tract more easily. These also come in rectal suppository form.
  • Stool softeners (Colace, Surfak): These help reduce straining by helping moisture mix into dry, hard stools.

3. Laxatives will not help you actually lose fat.

If you try to use laxatives for weight loss, you may well see the number on the scale go down. But this apparent drop is deceiving because it’s actually water weight that you’re losing, women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, M.D., tells SELF. The weight loss is temporary and is not actually changing your body fat composition. “Very little to no fat can be lost [with laxatives],” Dr. Wider explains..

While weight and weight loss are highly individual and complex issues, what’s clear is that they depend on a number of factors in and out of your control. This includes your diet and exercise routine, yes, but also things like your metabolism, hormones, genetics, other health issues you have going on, or medications you’re taking. In any case, as Dr. Leavey puts it,your body weight has to do with so much more than “excess poop.”

4. Long-term use of laxatives can actually perpetuate your constipation issues.

Stimulant laxatives, the kind most commonly used for weight loss, are “relatively harsh” and shouldn’t be used for a long period of time, says Dr. Leavey. Why? “The bowel can get used to them, leading to more constipation,” he explains. Your system develops a dependence on them, according to the Mayo Clinic, meaning your ability to have natural bowel movements declines and need more and more laxatives. It’s a nasty cycle best avoided. (That said, if you do think you have developed a dependence on laxatives, talk to your doctor.) According to the NIDDK, you should only use stimulant laxatives if your constipation is severe or other laxatives have not helped.

While of course, if you are experiencing persistent constipation, you should talk to your doctor first to see if there’s an underlying health issue, generally bulk-forming laxatives are the gentlest on your body and safest to use long term, according to the Mayo Clinic.

5. When used over the long-term, laxatives can actually be extremely harmful.

While it’s usually fine to take a laxative here and there if you’re stopped up, ongoing and unnecessary laxative use—such as using them in an attempt to lose weight—can negatively impact your health in a few ways.

Prolonged laxative use can irritate the lining of your bowel and cause all sorts of gastrointestinal issues, Dr. Leavey says. It can also cause dehydration and electrolyte and mineral imbalances, Dr. Wider says. Since electrolytes such as calcium and sodium are crucial to several body functions, an imbalance can cause dizziness, fainting, blurry vision, and even death, Dr. Wider explains. These imbalances can also cause symptoms like abnormal heart rhythms, weakness, confusion and seizures, per the Mayo Clinic.

What’s more, osmotic laxatives can cause your blood pressure to drop and even cause permanent kidney damage, Dr. Leavey adds.
Bottom line: This is not a weight-loss method you want to try. “There is no rational basis to try to lose weight with laxatives, and there is a clear potential for harmful side effects,” says Dr. Leavey. “Don’t do it.”


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