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Carrie Underwood's Secrets for Healthy Living -- On and Off the Road

The country music star talks about her diet, her exercise, her dog, and how she handles her fear of crowds.

De-stressing for Success

It's likely that very few people have a more pressurized lifestyle than Underwood, yet she manages to stay calm and centered (and rarely gets sick). Here's how she does it.

Get physical. A good workout is a stress-buster. "Cardio makes me feel good, it makes me happy. It really makes a noticeable difference."

Eat well. Let food be your medicine rather than supplements. "I'm not a huge pill taker, because I feel like our bodies are designed to take what we need out of food. So I don't want to make my body deficient and make it depend on what I take. I'd rather eat and drink things that are good for me."

Soap up. Washing your hands prevents colds. "I'd rather take preventive measures than get sick and try to battle things off. So I do wash my hands quite a bit."

Doze off. Naps aren't just for toddlers. "I enjoy naps but only on days off, because I can take, like, a three-hour one. I'll take a nap if it's just a total rainy day off and there's nothing you can do anyway."

Give back. Doing good deeds boosts your well-being. "People think, 'I don't have time to volunteer,'" she says, "but there are little things you can do to make the world better and raise awareness, whatever your passion is. Like if you go to facebook.com/Pedigree, you can become a fan, and they'll donate a bowl of food to a shelter dog. That's a free meal, and it took 30 seconds of your life."

Underwood's stress is also diminished by spending time with her beloved dog, Ace, who, she says, is almost a child to her. He's no mere pet: He has his own fan club, and he even helped her pick out the white jumpsuit she wore to sing the national anthem at this year's Super Bowl (he sniffed a few piles of outfits before settling on the winner). "Ace is my constant," she says. "I'm in a new hotel every day; he's the same. He's always glad to see me whether I've had a good or a bad day."

This makes perfect sense to Rebecca Johnson, PhD, RN, director of the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri. "I can't imagine someone in Carrie's situation not having a pet with them," she says.

"Pets have a way of providing something real when perhaps many things in our lives may seem temporary or vulnerable. Stress relief and unconditional love: What could be better for someone with such a demanding lifestyle?"

Underwood, an advocate for many animal causes, including Pedigree's Adoption Drive, says there are many studies that prove pets can lower your stress level. Johnson couldn't agree more. "Research evidence clearly shows that interacting with a companion animal is associated with lowered blood pressure and cortisol, or stress hormone, levels," she says. "In fact, these benefits are especially helpful with episodic stress -- stressful events or situations.

"But even beyond that, pets provide unconditional love and acceptance of us. They don't need us to perform perfectly to be worthy of their love. To them, we're always 'stars.'"

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Reviewed on July 08, 2010

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