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10 Small Changes with Big Health Payoffs

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5. Sleep in your exercise clothes (comfortable ones).

Do you always intend to get up and go for a jog or log an hour at the gym before work but…don’t? Motivation may be your problem, and if so, Nicole Glor, an AFAA-certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor at Crunch in New York City, says that she gives her clients some unusual advice that works. “Sleep in your gym clothes and put your sneaks and sports bra by the bed,” she says. “Many of us waste too much time saying we need to work out but dread the process. Trick yourself by just getting dressed for it and not really thinking about the next step.”

6. Do your Kegels.

Experts say that as many as 1 in 4 women over the age of 18 experience episodes of involuntary leaking urine, called urinary incontinence. It’s embarrassing and frightening, but there is something you can do about it, say experts: Keep your pelvic floor muscles strong. According to a review of studies by The Cochrane Library, the pelvic-floor strengthening exercises known as Kegels were found to be an effective way to minimize urinary incontinence issues. Proof: Women who did their Kegels were between 2.5 and 7 times more likely to experience improvement than those who did not do the exercises.

Need a quick refresher course on how to do Kegels? First, to figure out which muscles need flexing, some experts suggest women insert a tampon or a clean finger into their vagina and then try to close their vaginal muscles around it. Contract these pelvic muscles and hold for about 3 seconds; repeat 10 times. Do these as often as you like, and anywhere you like—no one will know!

7. Give yourself a compliment.

The key to feeling happy, confident and proud of your body—flaws and all? According to Stacey Rosenfeld, PhD, a New York-based psychologist who specializes in issues of anxiety, depression, eating disorders and body image, the best thing you can do for yourself is to learn how to marvel at your body’s many abilities. “Focus on what your body can do, rather than on how it looks,” she says. “Too often, we pay attention to how our bodies appear, rather than what they allow us to do. Can your body dance or swim? Can you build sand castles at the beach with your kids? Does your body allow you to enjoy a hot bath or intimacy with a partner? Does your body transport you down the block or up a mountain?” Try this exercise: “Identify what you like about your body,” she says. “See if you can find 10 things you like about how you look, like the sparkle in your eyes, the strength of your calves or your hair.”

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