Cycling Class at the Gym

Research-backed tips to help you get fit

(BPT) – A new year and a new you — that’s the theme of this season, right? So how are you going to improve yourself in 2018? If you’re like many people, weight loss is at the top of your list, and maybe you’ve already picked out your diet and your exercise plan.

Now you need a strategy to help you stick to your resolutions. And that can be easier said than done.

Sticking with any wellness plan can be tough, particularly if you aren’t seeing immediate results. But you have to trust the process. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will the new you. Creating your best self takes perseverance and guidance, but it can be difficult to sort through all the information available. To get started, here are some research-backed tips that can help you meet your goals so that you’ll be on the right path to your best self yet.

Cut the sugar

Beyond weight loss, changes to our diet can have profound impacts on our overall health. For example, avoiding fructose, found in most processed foods, will leave you fundamentally healthier in just nine days, according to research found in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (JAOA).

Low-carb beats low-fat diets

Chances are you’ve debated these diets yourself, so consider this fact: A scientific review published in the JAOA finds that low-carb dieters shed anywhere from 2.5 to 9 pounds more than those on low-fat diets. Give it a try and see how you do.

Work out with friends

Need that little extra push to tackle your daily workout? Make it a team effort. People who work out with friends reported a 26.2 percent reduction in their stress levels and they also experienced a boost to their mental, physical and emotional quality of life, according to recent research. So grab a friend — it’s good for your workout and for you.

If you get hurt, don’t walk it off

Accidents happen and when they do, you should err on the side of caution and seek a professional opinion. Avoiding proper diagnosis and treatment may cause you to end up suffering from larger problems later. This may include arthritis, chronic pain and even disability, according to a clinical review. If you get hurt, the best way to get back on your feet quickly is to first get off them and seek help right away.

Soak up the sun … safely

Exercising outside is great. Just don’t forget to slather on a good layer of sunscreen to protect your skin against the sun’s damaging rays. However, keep in mind that sunscreen decreases vitamin D3 production by 99 percent, according to a study published in the JAOA. This can lead to problems like muscle weakness and bone fractures. To counteract that deficiency, let your skin be exposed to the midday sun for a short time — no more than 30 minutes, depending on your skin’s pigmentation — before applying your sunscreen for the rest of your workout.

Find the right doctor for you

No matter your fitness goals, finding a doctor you trust will help. Doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) consider the health of the whole person and focus on wellness and injury/illness prevention as part of their standard care. A DO believes the mind, body and emotional state all contribute to the health of the patient, and they can be an effective partner in realizing the new you.

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The truth about what makes your skin dry and itchy in the winter

(BPT) – We wait all year for activities that come along with winter, like sipping hot cocoa by the fire or staying in to snuggle up under cozy blankets while re-watching our favorite movies.

The winter season also brings some less-than-desirable side effects, though. An all-too-common winter woe is dry, flaky skin that can feel itchy, tight or painful.

In fact, a recent survey conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CeraVe among more than 2,000 U.S. adults revealed that 55 percent of Americans feel having dry skin in the winter and having chapped lips are among the things they dislike most. Moreover, 57 percent of Americans said having healthy skin is more important than staying up-to-date on social media, 23 percent would move to another climate if it promised healthier skin and 18 percent would give up their favorite food for the duration of winter if it meant not having dry skin for the season.

The good news is that none of those trade-offs are necessary, because treating and preventing this wintertime discomfort can be helped with a simple change, says Dr. Michelle Henry, a board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon based in New York City.

“In the winter, the conditions are much harsher on the skin, which means your skin has different needs,” Henry says. “So when the seasons change, that just means it’s time to switch up your skincare routine, just like you change the way you dress and how you spend time outdoors.”

Henry shares some of the common causes of dry winter skin, along with her expert tips for cold-weather skincare so you can start feeling better all over.

1. Dry air is everywhere

You may think that the outside air is to blame for your dry skin. While this may hold some truth, heated indoor air also has very little humidity. When you spend your life basking in this dry environment, your skin eventually pays the price.

“During the winter months, the skin contains more moisture than the air,” Henry says. “What happens is the dry environment leeches the moisture from the skin, leaving it looking and feeling dry and dull.”

Moisture loss, dryness and cracking comes as a result of damage to the skin barrier. To replenish your taxed skin, slather on a rich emollient that contains ceramides daily. Ceramides are like the mortar that holds the bricks of your skin together and are essential to healthy skin. For on-the-go relief, tote along small containers of moisturizer wherever you go.

2. Too much (or not enough) exfoliation

Make no mistake, exfoliation is important to year-round skincare, but adding it in the winter is essential. This process clears away dead skin cells and product residue, letting your winter moisturizers penetrate the skin and work more effectively, Henry says. Steer clear of products with beads and grains that strip and irritate the skin, especially in the winter. Instead, choose formulas designed to be gentle on sensitive complexions.

3. Too many long, hot showers

On a cold winter morning, a long shower that really steams up the mirror is relaxing and feels great. However, Dr. Henry says these long sessions are drying for the skin (and don’t get you any cleaner).

“I recommend that my patients keep showers under 10 minutes in lukewarm water,” Henry says.

Afterwards, she says, pat yourself with a towel so some moisture is left behind on the skin, and then seal it in by applying lotion all over.

4. Excessive hand washing

Hands can take a beating during the winter months. With germs running rampant all season, hand -washing is important to stay healthy, but those who wash their hands frequently tend to suffer more from dry skin, she says. Give hands some extra TLC this time of year. After washing, always apply a thick lotion to protect against and heal dry, cracked hands. Henry recommends CeraVe Healing Ointment, a gentle formula that contains three essential ceramides to provide intense, long-lasting moisturization, while soothing dry, chapped skin.

5. Your products are too harsh

Your winter skin care regimen should be different from your summer routine. Many summertime products are designed to remove dirt, oil and sweat, but when it gets colder and dryer, these products may become drying and irritating. Henry recommends switching your facial cleanser or body wash from a foam or gel to a cream-based moisturizing formula.

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