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10 Small Changes with Big Health Payoffs

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4. Wear a pedometer.

Boston-based personal trainer Helena Collins calls the affordable little pedometer “the most effective fitness tool known to man”—or woman. “Becoming aware of how much you move is such motivation to move more,” she says. “Not only for you, but for your whole family. Kids love pedometers—it becomes a family challenge about movement, not exercise.” It also may be fun to track how active (or inactive) you are each day. For starters, 2,000 steps is the equivalent of one mile. To boost your physical and mental health, wear a pedometer and challenge yourself to increase your steps every day.

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!

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