Health News

Lockdown is making period poverty worse – here’s how you can help

Coronavirus has made life for those already struggling financially even harder.

It took an intervention by footballer Marcus Rashford to get free school meals to children who were going hungry with schools closed.

Lockdown has also deepened the levels of period poverty experienced by women and girls all over the UK.

According to the period poverty charity, Bloody Good Period, there’s been a 5.5 fold increase in the volume of period products being distributed during lockdown.

The charity told Stylist that it’s ‘now distributed just under 33,000 packs of period products since the start of lockdown: that’s a 5.5 fold increase in the volume of supplies distributed in “normal” times’.

Before Covid-19, 10% of women in the UK couldn’t afford period products and another 15% found themselves having to use less suitable products because they were more affordable. Lockdown has exacerbated the problem with more people having to rely on sanitary products.

The Department of Education launched a scheme back in January to give out free period products in schools. However, with so many schools being closed or inaccessible to non-key worker families, many girls have had their main source of help cut off. The government claims that the scheme is still running and that girls can have products distributed to them by their school or college whether they’re learning on site or at home.

But the fact remains that many people are having to make difficult choices at the moment. Is a mum who’s struggling going to buy a pack of nappies for her baby or a box of tampons for herself?

Back in March, the Food Foundation found that more than 1.5 million adults in Britain couldn’t obtain enough food, with 53% of NHS workers reporting that they were worried about getting food. If people are having to choose whether they can afford to eat three meals a day, the chances are that period products will come pretty low down the list of priorities – despite how fundamental they are to our existence and health.

How to help

Sponsor a period

A really easy way to help other people get access to products is to donate to the Bloody Good Project.

There are three suggested donations, starting at £8.45 to support a light flow (1 x pack of day pads, 1 x pack of night pads), going up to £17.01 for a heavy flow (incl. more day pads and pantyliners). Or, you can choose your own donation. Either do it as a one-off or sign up to sponsor a period every month. Read more about it here.

Buy from brands who give back

Brands like Hey Girls not only create brilliant period products, but all their profits from their Buy One Give One scheme go directly towards helping girls and women in need in the UK. Choose from menstrual cups, period pants, reusable pads, tampons, and pantyliners.

Donate period products

Freedom4Girls is a period poverty charity in West Yorkshire which is gladly accepting products from the public, business and product providers. It’s got a number of donation stations set up around Leeds and other areas in the region. You can also donate if you’re not based in West Yorkshire – just contact them here and they’ll tell you how to help.

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Health News

Quick & Easy 4th of July Recipes So You Can Focus on Fun

Our Fourth of July celebrations are going to look pretty different this year. We won’t be planning lavish affairs with mile-long guest lists but that doesn’t mean we won’t be celebrating this patriotic holiday in fun (and delicious) ways. No matter what your small and socially distanced July 4th celebration looks like this year, we’re willing to bet you don’t want to spend hours in a hot kitchen preparing the food so you might need a few quick and easy July 4th food ideas — as in, the kind you can whip up in 30 minutes or less.

Fortunately, there exists an abundance of just such recipes. From onion dip with star-shaped tortilla chips to a festive fruit salsa, we’ve rounded up just what you need to pull off a star-spangled July 4th party menu (even if you’re whipping it all up in the eleventh hour). So, don’t fret. No matter how woefully unprepared you feel for the festivities ahead, we’ve got you covered.

Get ready to add the following recipes to your list of fast favorites. And happy 4th!

A version of this article was originally published June 2019. 

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Here's everything YOU need to know about face mask guidelines

From what face masks are best, to when to wear them, here’s everything YOU need to know about the latest face mask guidelines

Ad Feature by LloydsPharmacy

If you’re unsure about the latest face covering guidelines, you’ll find the answers here

It’s all change with the lockdown guidelines of late, and as we begin to ease back into some sense of normality, certain measures are being brought in to make sure we can do it safely while avoiding a second spike.

One of these changes is the introduction of face coverings, but understanding exactly when you should wear them and which ones are best for you may have gotten lost in all the recent updates, leaving many of us confused and even worried about what is the right thing to do.

Luckily, we’ve broken down everything you need to know to give you peace of mind. 

What are the latest face covering rules?

If you are undertaking essential travel on public transport, you must wear a face covering

As of June 15, 2020, it is compulsory to wear a face covering when using public transport. This includes buses, trains, trams, taxis and ferries.

This was brought in because, as lockdown measures ease, more people are beginning to return to work and school, which increases the number of individuals using these public services. If using public transport is essential for you, wearing a face covering while you do so will protect those around you.

It’s not just public transport where face coverings are now required; you must wear one if you’re entering a hospital as a visitor or an outpatient, too. While not compulsory, it is also strongly recommended that you wear a face covering while you’re in an enclosed space with people who aren’t from your household when social distancing isn’t always possible. Examples of this could be supermarkets or high street shops.

However, there are exceptions to these new rules. People with disabilities, those who have breathing difficulties, children under 11 and anyone travelling with someone who relies on lip reading are exempt from these new guidelines and do not need to wear a face coverings.

You may also be given specific measures to follow by your employer when you return to your place of work, especially when working in a busy environment.

Why do I need to wear a face covering such as a mask?

As lockdown restrictions are lifted, you may feel more confident going into public spaces wearing a face covering 

Covering your face is important because it can act as a barrier for infectious droplets.

When we sneeze, cough or talk, we spray the air with droplets which then fall on surfaces and people around us; in some cases they can even be inhaled by others. 

If you cover your face and nose, you are preventing the majority of these droplets from being dispersed into the air and therefore reducing the likelihood of transmission, protecting yourself and others from becoming infected.

Even if you don’t think you have COVID-19, you could be asymptomatic, so following the new rules will protect those around you as you go about your business.

This is particularly crucial as we begin to return to normal life, and social distancing may not always be easy to achieve. Face coverings do not replace social distancing, but they do help make environments safer when keeping your distance from others isn’t possible.

What face coverings are best?

Whether it’s a homemade face covering or a face mask, choosing the right method for your needs can help protect you and those around you 

Now that face coverings are compulsory in certain spaces, it’s important to find one that’s suitable for your needs. 

One option is reusable face coverings, which are a cheap and safe solution for keeping you protected. The government has its own step-by-step guide for making your own face coverings, but many will prefer to buy one pre-made.

As well as minimising the risk of inhaling or involuntarily passing on droplets, these fabric coverings provide a barrier for hand to face contact, and can be machine washed after every use with your laundry, so they can be used again up to a maximum of 20 times. These are a more sustainable option compared to disposable masks, and are ideal if you’re only occasionally using public transport or popping to the supermarket.

However if you’re looking for a higher level of protection you should consider surgical face masks. LloydsPharmacy suggest the Type IIR face masks. These are commonly used by dental surgeries as they are ‘splash resistant’, and help to prevent airborne particles passing through to your mouth and nose. They filter out 98% of particles (3 microns in size), offering a greater level of filtration than a fabric face covering. If you’re returning to work or regularly finding yourself in an enclosed space with others, investing in a pack of these will be ideal. 

How else can I protect myself and others?

Carry hand sanitiser with you so you can keep your hands clean even when you can’t wash your hands with soap and water

Staying safe as we return to normal life is mainly down to hygiene and social distancing.

Whatever you do and wherever you go, make sure you are regularly washing your hands with soapy water for 20 seconds, or if you’re on-the-go and running water isn’t available, an alcohol-based hand santiser is recommended. This will help prevent the spread of the virus and stop you involuntarily infecting yourself too. You should also regularly wash your clothes and wipe down your phone to reduce the risk of transmission.

When you’re using a face covering, take care with putting it on and removing it. 

You should have clean hands to fit your face mask or covering, and when you’re securing it to your face, make sure it covers your nose and mouth without leaving any gaps. 

Refrain from touching the front of your mask as it may have picked up droplets during your travels, and when you take it off, ensure you wash you hands once it has been disposed of or put in the washing machine. Disinfect anything it may have touched during this process and wash your hands again too. 

Buy your face masks today 


LloydsPharmacy offer a range of face coverings and face masks that meet relevant standards for medical or personal protection needs.

Visit today to order your face masks and face coverings and have them delivered direct to your door.

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Health News

Breathing exercises that will help get you to sleep faster

There’s nothing worse than lying in bed unable to get to sleep. So whenever there’s a technique that promises to help you get to sleep faster, we’re all ears, especially if it’s something as simple as changing the way we breathe. “We know that the body, mind, and breath are all connected,” Peggy Lundquist of Gen X Mindfulness tells The List. “Understanding this can be used to our advantage because if we can bring about change in one of those pieces, change will inevitably come to the other two.” 

Lundquist continued, “Often, we can’t get to sleep because our wandering, sometimes even hyper, mind keeps us awake, tossing and turning. But, if we change our breathing pattern in a deliberate way, we will encourage change in our overactive mind, as well.” Sophie Jaffe, a health and wellness expert, as well as founder and CEO of Philosophie, agrees: “Those few moments before you drift off to sleep can be deeply healing,” she tells The List, introducing us to two different breathing techniques: butterfly breath and the 4-7-8 breathing method. 

Breathing techniques can work to calm the mind

According to Jaffe, the butterfly breathe technique is super simple and works to calm the mind. “You sit in a comfortable seated position and cross your arms over your chest, then begin to pat your hands on your shoulders and inhale, then look to the left as you exhale,” she explains to The List. “Inhale back at the center and exhale to your right,” she continues, adding that you should continue to repeat as necessary. If you’re a more visual person, Jaffe shared this adorable video of her son Leo demonstrating the technique.

The 4-7-8 breathing method, on the other hand, requires you to follow a few more steps. To begin, breathe out making a “whoosh sound”, then “close your mouth and inhale through your nose, counting to 4,” instructs Jaffe. “Hold your breath for seven seconds then exhale completely out your mouth for a total of 8 counts,” she continues, pointing out that you need to make a “whoosh sound” again before repeat the process four times. While it may seem odd at first, the more you do it, the more you’ll relax into it. Sweet dreams!

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When you walk a mile every day, this is what happens to your body

Racking up steps and miles by walking is arguably one of the easier forms of exercise for able-bodied folks. Walking is something that humans have done for as long as we’ve populated planet earth. Whether you circle around the track, meander through a scenic park, or simply strut to get from point A to point B, walking a mile every day is a surefire way get the 150 minutes of exercise per week that the American Heart Association recommends.

Walking is also a form of exercise that is absolutely free and can be done indoors or outdoors; on a treadmill or in a park. Plus you can make it even more enjoyable by going on a stroll with a family member or friend, rendering it a pleasant social activity. If you want to make it into an intense cardio exercise, you can also try out power walking, as noted by Healthline.

Whether you’ve been walking a mile every day for a long time now or if you’ve only just started the habit in the last few months, here’s exactly what happens to your body when you hit a mile every day.

Want to boost your body image? Walk a mile daily

We’ve all had that moment in the fitting room, right? The one where you find a dress you adore, only to try it on and think it looks terrible. Or perhaps someone tagged a photo of you on social media taken at an unflattering angle and now you feel like you aren’t attractive. It’s not a good feeling! 

Fortunately, though, if you walk a mile every day you’re actually working to improve your body image, according to certified personal trainer Annie Calhoun. “In fact, studies show that the increased awareness of physical capabilities provided through exercise will result in a sense of heightened self-efficacy and improved body image,” she told The List. “In part, this is due to the fact that focusing more on what your body can do, rather than what it looks like, will result in a greater connection to and appreciation for your body.” Instead of worrying that your best days are behind you, it’s smart to throw on a pair of sneakers and get moving.

If you walk a mile every day, your concentration may improve

Whether you’re a student in college or active in the American workforce in a variety of capacities, being able to concentrate is important to complete your assignments or do your job as best as you possibly can. Of course, concentration isn’t only important for school and work. Perhaps you want to keep your focus sharp so you can enjoy reading a book or write that novel you’re determined to publish. Either way, your attention span needs to be nurtured and protected.

One way you can do that is by walking, as noted by chartered physiotherapist Dr. Chris Norris. “Your concentration will improve because walking increases the brain activity, specifically in the areas of the brain responsible for focus and attention,” he revealed to The List. “Walking a mile every day enhances the connectivity of important brain circuits, combats declines in brain function associated with aging, and increases performance on cognitive tasks.” That’s a lot of brain benefit for such a simple exercise! 

Struggling with joint pain? Walk a mile daily

Did you know that 23 percent of all American adults struggle with some form of arthritis? That’s approximately 54 million people who have to deal with the pain, swelling, and stiffness in their joints that come with this disease, according to the CDC. In severe cases, arthritis can have debilitating impacts on people, limiting their ability to work, be active, and more.

If you’re one of the individuals who suffer from this condition, try walking a mile every day to get some relief. “Because walking is low impact, it not only prevents joint damage but can actually ease joint pain,” certified personal trainer Sergio Pedemonte shared with The List. “Regular walks are particularly helpful for reducing knee, hip, and lower back pain in seniors, and even folks with arthritis.” That’s good news, for sure.

There’s a specific reason that walking can help you manage your joint pain, according to registered dietitian Trista Best. “Walking increases joint lubrication and strengthens the muscles that support and protect joints,” she explained to The List. That’s helpful not just for folks with arthritis, but pretty much everyone.

You may lose weight if you walk a mile every day

Are you currently on a diet to drop the 15 pounds you recently gained? Perhaps you’re stepping up your exercise routine as well, in an effort to slim down and shape up. That means you’re joining approximately half of all American adults who are trying to lose weight, as noted by the CDC. 

One way you might be able to make that goal a reality is to walk a mile every day, according to physical therapist Dr. Jocelyn Wallace. “You may lose weight because it increases your activity level,” she told The List. “More activity means higher energy demands on your body, and if we use more energy than we consume, we will lose weight.” 

Of course, simply taking up a walking routine might not be enough if you’re making other changes that can thwart your intentions, according to Wallace. “This assumes that you do not increase your energy or food consumption in response to increased activity,” she continued.

Your digestion may improve if you walk a mile daily

Your digestive system is truly an extraordinary network, starting with the taste buds in your mouth and concluding with the process of elimination, the Cleveland Clinic noted. Thanks to this sophisticated process, we are able to take the nutrients that we need from food and convert them into cell-nourishing energy. Once we do that, we can expel whatever is left over.

However, that process isn’t always easy. If you’re interested in supporting your digestive system however, exercise should be in your future, according to registered dietitian Bri Bell. “When you walk a mile every day, you may notice an improvement in your digestion,” she shared with The List. “Movement such as walking physically helps move your bowels along and can reduce constipation and gas.” Indeed, that’s quite literally a relief!

Furthermore, if you have a condition like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), walking a mile every day may help to relieve symptoms, as noted by Healthline.

Your risk of heart disease will decrease if you walk a mile every day

Did you know that the number one cause of death in the world is cardiovascular disease? According to the World Health Organization (WHO), heart attacks and strokes are by far more likely to claim your life than anything else.

Fortunately, there are things that you can do to prevent these conditions — and exercise is a big one. “Walking a mile every day can improve your heart health and reduce your risk of a heart attack or dying from such an event by up to 30 percent,” registered dietitian Kelsey Lorencz revealed to The List. “While upping the pace to a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day, five days a week is recommended for maximum benefits, even a leisurely stroll for less time has been found to improve cardiovascular health.” 

Lorencz also said to remember that your heart is a muscle. So just as you would do push-ups to strengthen your arms, doing regular aerobic exercise strengthens your heart.

Need a mood boost? Try walking a mile every day

Do you ever find yourself feeling blue for no reason? Or perhaps you’re stuck in a rut and having trouble being your usual optimistic self. You might want to try adding a mile of walking to your day because, thanks to endorphins, it can boost your mood, according to physical therapist Dr. Nicole Lombardo. “Endorphins are hormones that make us feel good and are released when we exercise,” she explained to The List. “When you spend even just ten minutes exercising, these hormones are released and can have an effect that can last throughout your day.” Who knew one little walk could have such an enduring impact?

You may do better getting your steps in at a park or on a scenic road as opposed to a gym, though. “Walking outside also has mood-boosting effects,” the expert continued. “I suggest starting your day with a walk or walking midday as a pick-me-up.” So plan your day accordingly. 

Your stress levels may decrease if you walk a mile daily

The problem of stress is very, very real in the United States. In fact, according to a Gallup poll, a whopping eight out of ten American adults say they are dealing with stress in their lives. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by it all, you’re definitely not alone. And, if you’ve been nodding your head while reading this, there are some things you can do to help manage the stress on your plate, according to clinical psychologist Dr. Carla Manly. “Research shows that the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol tend to be dramatically reduced when you take a feel-good walk,” she told The List.

Walking a mile every day does more than just reduce those stress hormones, noted Manly. “By the very act of leaving your desk, your couch, or any stressful situation to take a walk, you are leaving your stresses behind you,” she continued. “When you consciously let go of your stress as you walk, you’ll feel a surge of relief as the parasympathetic nervous system comes on board.”

Walking a mile every day can improve your mental health

It might not seem like a lot, but walking a mile every day can have some pretty powerful health impacts. That’s even the case if you already have certain conditions and diseases, according to clinical psychologist Dr. Brian Wind. “If you’re battling a mental health condition like depression or anxiety, taking time to get moving and soak up some sunlight can completely transform your mood and emotional well-being,” he explained to The List. It can also help you manage other serious mental conditions like dementia and lessen some of the “cognitive issues in schizophrenia,” as noted by Psychology Today. So don’t underestimate the power of plain old walking!

You may reap more of these mental health benefits by walking outside instead of around an indoor track or at the mall, revealed Wind. “By walking outside and taking in your surroundings, you can take a break from whatever thoughts are troubling you and unwind,” he added. And that can have positive ripple effects throughout your day.

Looking to boost your immune system? Walk a mile every day

If your immune system works well and keeps you healthy and thriving, there’s a good chance you don’t think of it all that often — and you’re quite lucky to be in that situation. Regardless of how well it works, your immune system is a complex and multi-faceted system that even doctors don’t fully understand, according to Harvard University.

If you’re interested in boosting your immunity, there are several things you can do, like abstain from smoking, drink in moderation, and cultivate good hygiene habits. Walking a mile every day helps as well, according to chartered physiotherapist Dr. Chris Norris. “Your immunity will improve because walking reduces your risk for disease and promotes longevity,” he shared with The List

Given that walking can be as gentle as you make it, it’s also good for patients with conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), noted Norris. “Walking can help improve symptoms and lower their risk for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome,” the expert added.

Walking a mile every day may help you sleep better

Getting a good night’s sleep is super important for your overall health, as noted by Healthline. Of course, getting solid rest is often easier said than done. If you struggle with falling asleep or want to wake up less often during the night, walking a mile every day can help. “Burning energy from exercise and physical activity can help you sleep better at night,” registered dietitian Amanda A. Kostro Miller revealed to The List. “In fact, if you suffer from insomnia, physical activity may give you similar benefits as sleeping pills.” Well, that’s impressive!

That’s not all, though. There are additional links between walking a mile daily and sleeping well at night, according to certified personal trainer Nancy Feinstein. “Exercise boosts the production of melatonin, which helps you fall asleep,” she told The List. “Also, when you walk your temperature rises; as it cools down, it promotes not only falling asleep, but staying asleep.” All the more reason to get outside once a day and pound the pavement for a bit.

You may get stronger if you walk a mile every day

The importance of building and maintaining muscle mass for women cannot be overstated, according to Verywell Fit. It helps us ward off osteoporosis, avoid pain and injuries, and reduces the risk of chronic diseases. Plus strength training can increase confidence and decrease depression, which sounds like a win-win to us.

If you’re just beginning to get serious about strength training, you should consider starting out by walking a mile every day, according to chartered physiotherapist Dr. Chris Norris. “You will get stronger because walking works your large muscles over and over, and pushes your heart and lungs to work hard,” he explained to The List. “Over time, this makes your heart stronger and more efficient.” And that can help to prepare you for even more intense exercise down the road. In addition to strengthening your lungs and heart, walking a mile every day can even strengthen your brain, as noted by Science Daily

You'll enjoy walking more and more if you walk a mile every day

Let’s face it: one of the reasons it can be difficult to walk a mile every day is because it takes motivation to commit to the practice. But that didn’t stop registered nurse Sandra Crawley from pledging to do just that, as she’s aware of the many benefits that such an activity can bring — including a new appreciation for physical activity. 

“Throughout my one-mile-a-day challenge, I’ve realized that not only has my mood improved throughout the day, but I’ve learned to look forward to exercising every day,” she revealed to The List. “You actually start to look forward to the walks, even on the days you’re tired because you can feel the difference mentally.” Believe it or not, it just so happens to be true!

If you’re looking to muster up the gumption to do the same thing yourself, Crawley revealed there’s a way to frame your mindset to get it done. “The old adage of an object in motion stays in motion is a great way to think about it,” she explained.

You may feel a bit sore when you start walking a mile daily

If you go from being fairly sedentary to walking a full mile every day, you’ll probably feel it. “You may feel sore because when muscles work harder than they are used to, low grade muscle damage can occurs,” registered dietitian Conor McCrink shared with The List. “This kick starts the repair process, but may cause something called delayed onset of muscle soreness for around 24 to 48 hours after exercise.” So if you find yourself in a bit of pain after day one, know that it’s totally normal, especially if you’re not used to regular exercise.

Don’t worry, though, walking a mile isn’t always going to be an uncomfortable experience. It’s almost always a temporary situation, according to McCrink. “This soreness should subside with adequate rest and recovery,” he added. If it happens to last longer, contact your doctor or medical professional for informed advice. 

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Health News

The real reason you should stop hand-washing your dishes

What to do if you need to wash dishes and there aren’t enough to justify running the dishwasher? Why, use a sponge, dishwashing liquid, and a bit of elbow grease, of course. But both environmental experts and scientists are now calling time-out on that plan.

There’s a reason why our parents used to pre-wash dishes before they were loaded into the dishwasher: The machine didn’t do the job very well. But that’s no longer the case, as nearly all modern dishwashers have soil sensors that are able to pick up how dirty a dish might be. And while it might once have been true that dishwashers used up gallons of water in one cycle, that’s in the past, too. A kitchen faucet can discharge up to 2.2 gallons a minute – while dishwashers use anywhere from 15 gallons per cycle for older models to 5.5 gallons for an Energy Star-rated model (via Reader’s Digest). 

“While it may be possible to use less water/energy by washing dishes by hand, it is extremely unlikely,” the EPA’s Jonah Schein says. “In order to wash the same amount of dishes that can fit in a single load of a full size dishwasher and use less water, you would need to be able to wash eight full place settings and still limit the total amount of time that the faucet was running to less than two minutes” (via Science Alert). 

Dish-washing sponges host plenty of bacteria

But there’s another reason why you should be thinking about using your dishwasher, which has nothing to do with the environment and everything to do with keeping your and your family healthy. In a study reported by Time, German researchers say they found no less than 362 different kinds of bacteria hanging out in the different crevices found in a household sponge. If that isn’t disgusting enough, sponges can actually hold up to 45 billion per square centimeter — or about the same level found in an average stool sample. And given the size of a typical sponge, we’re looking at an average bacterial infestation of 5.5 trillion germs on a single sponge. (What’s more, you may also want to be leery of the towel you use to dry your dishes.

Furtwangen University professor of microbiology Marckus Egert admits the findings were shocking for him and his team.  “It was one to two orders of magnitude more than we initially expected to find,” Egert says. “No one had ever seen bacteria sitting inside a sponge. One problem we have with bacteria and microbes is that we cannot see them. And if you don’t see them, you don’t believe they are there.”

We are lucky that the bugs, for the most part, aren’t the kinds that make us sick. But we’d like to think that the thought of saving water and dumping germ-filled sponges might be enough to avoid washing dishes by hand.

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What happens to your body when you drink witch hazel

Witch hazel is one of the most well-known skincare ingredients. If, like most of us, you’re not sure exactly what it is, here’s the scientific answer: “Witch hazel is extraction that is made from leaves, bark and twigs from the genus of Hamamelis virginiana, H. mexicana, H. ovalis. Eastern – H. japonica, H. mollis,” Tsao-Lin Moy, acupuncturist, Chinese medicine expert, and founder of Integrative Healing Arts, explains to The List. “It is an astringent with high tannin concentration and affinity for treating skin inflammations.” 

And while witch hazel is commonly used topically, would you see any benefits from drinking it? “Some ‘folk medicine’ uses for witch hazel seem to indicate preparations by making teas and poultices from the leaves and twigs,” says Moy. However, there’s no way it’s the same witch hazel you find on the shelves of your local drugstore today, which has most likely been distilled to ensure it is highly concentrated. In folk medicine, “the plant is less processed, and the delivery of medicinal properties would be different,” Moy adds.

Drinking witch hazel isn't the best idea

Ultimately, “there is no research on the good or bad of drinking witch hazel,” says Moy. “[But with] the tannin protein interaction with saliva and mucous membranes of the mouth and throat, you would experience a ‘puckering and drying’ in the throat, possibly feeling like the throat is closing,” she explains. “This would be similar to eating a peach that is not ripe.” 

Witch hazel may also give you tummy troubles, similar to what you might experience if you’ve had too much coffee. Again, it’s the tannins, plant compounds found in both, that cause the upset stomach. But despite this discomfort, Moy notes that it’s unlikely drinking witch hazel will cause any real harm. However, with no real reason to drink it, you’re better off using witch hazel topically and letting it do what it does best. If you do decide that you want to try drinking it, speak to a medical professional first, as there may be an alternative that has more research behind it.

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17 Waterproof Vibrators You Can Bring Into the Shower with You

Many of us have had the bright idea to take our favorite sex toys outside of the bedroom—and into the shower. The only issue with this plan? While many sex toys are designed to be water-friendly, they aren’t actually waterproof. “Water-resistant” and “fully submersible” are two very different things. Thankfully, there are tons of genuinely waterproof vibrators on the market. So we can all stop murdering our favorite sex toys in a quixotic quest to figure out which ones are bathtub-compatible.

It should come as no surprise that many sex toys are completely waterproof. Suction-cup dildos were practically designed with shower walls in mind, and you can straight-up boil select stainless steel, silicone, and glass toys to clean them. As a general rule of thumb, if it doesn’t have a battery, motor, or some other electrical component, you can probably introduce it to your bathtub. The issue, of course, is that most vibrators have batteries, motors, and other electrical components. Are they totally off-limits in water-heavy settings?

No, they aren’t off-limits—at least, some of them aren’t. Many vibrating toys are genuinely waterproof. You can bring them into the shower or tub—even into the pool or hot tub (assuming you have adequate privacy). Though these toys have electrical or battery-operated components, they boast solid shells that keep water from getting inside. This means you’ll want to take good care of your waterproof toys; a small crack could mean your vibrator is no longer submersible.

What’s nice? Waterproof vibrators are (un)surprisingly abundant. Your options aren’t limited at all. There are waterproof rabbit vibrators, waterproof clitoral vibrators, waterproof anal vibrators, and more. Your go-to vibrator is likely available in a waterproof variation—or at least, something very similar to it is. The space is so vast and varied that you could easily swap out all your favorite vibrators and replace them with waterproof options. And considering how situationally versatile waterproof sex toys are, that might not be such a bad idea after all.

Our mission at SheKnows is to empower and inspire women, and we only feature products we think you’ll love as much as we do. Please note that if you purchase something by clicking on a link within this story, we may receive a small commission of the sale and the retailer may receive certain auditable data for accounting purposes.

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Health News

15 Online Classes You & Your Kids Can Take Together

Maybe homeschooling was fun for some of you, but I know I spent a lot of my time grumbling to myself about having to learn adding and subtracting again. Now that summer is here, we have a new opportunity, parents! We can do a very different kind of learning at home that will enrich our lives as much as our children’s. We can learn the skills, crafts, and arts we’ve always wanted to, and bring our kids along for the ride.

The beauty of this new age of online education is that you never have to feel embarrassed about being the oldest or youngest in the classroom. You also have so many options at your fingertips. You can learn guitar or painting, bike repair or knot-tying, art history or Japanese or the latest coding languages, all in your home. You can take some of them as real, live courses with an instructor teaching a class (or just you). Or you can opt for the more flexible on-demand videos or multi-media sites to absorb your new knowledge at your leisure.

What we’ve listed here are courses that are either targeted at adults or children — no one has officially caught on to our innovative idea of intergenerational learning. But we think that both you and your kids will learn something new from all of them, regardless of your actual grade level. Whether these new skills turn into a lifelong hobby for you or maybe a career for your child, or you both decide to drop it next month, the best part of this will be the memories you create learning together.

Our mission at SheKnows is to empower and inspire women, and we only feature products we think you’ll love as much as we do. Please note that if you purchase something by clicking on a link within this story, we may receive a small commission of the sale and the retailer may receive certain auditable data for accounting purposes.

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Health News

The Best Water Workouts You Should Try This Summer

When you think of working out, there’s a good chance running, weight lifting, spin class and some tire-pushing, heavy duty boot camp come to mind — but what about water workouts? The pool is one of the best places you can go to get an overall cardiovascular workout that’s also gentle on your body — especially during the summer season when it’s almost too hot to function outside — that will leave you feeling cool and strong in all the right ways. Plus, the post-workout chlorine smell is a bit nicer than your regular dry-land workout sweat, if you ask us.

What are water workouts?

Simply put, water workouts are any cardiovascular or conditioning program you can do in the pool. The workouts are made for any fitness level and are easy to customize or adapt to specific health conditions or injuries. Plus, you can do these workouts with or without equipment. If you choose to add resistance, some of the more common ways to up the intensity of your workout are flotation belts, kickboards, water weights and pool noodles.

As far as the types of classes or workouts to choose from, the possibilities are endless. Aqua cycling, deep-water running, shallow-water boot camp and circuit-format group exercise classes are just a sample of what’s available.

One of the more popular water workouts is aqua jogging, or deep-water running. Performed with a flat belt around your waist, Aaptiv trainer Ed Hall tells SheKnows that this exercise mimics running in water but with the toes pointed to help keep your head above water. It is ideal for maintaining an aerobic base without the impact of running on land.

What are the benefits of water workouts?

Bet you didn’t know that swimming is the fourth-most popular activity in the United States. Water workouts have been around a lot longer than some of the current fitness trends, and they don’t appear to be dying down anytime soon.

In a 2007 study published in the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention, participants reported that they enjoy exercising in the water more than on land. Plus, you can exercise longer in the pool since the water protects your joints and muscles from a lot of the pain you may experience running or in a boot camp-type of class.

“Water workouts are safe for most people, as the low- to no-impact movements and hydrostatic pressure can be therapeutic for those with injuries or other limiting factors,” certified personal trainer and AEA-certified aqua group fitness instructor Dr. Kelly Morgan, who has a Ph.D. in health communications, tells SheKnows.

But water workouts are not just for people who need the pool to help them manage a health condition. Even the fittest will be challenged in the pool. Don’t believe us?

Rather than hitting the pavement or pushing weight around for your next workout, head to the water instead. You might be surprised just how challenging a swimming-based workout can be.

Which water workouts are the best?

Though most types of movement — in or out of the water — are better than nothing and good for your health, some water workouts pack more of a punch than others.

“Depending on your fitness goals, some types of water workouts will be better-suited than others,” says Hall. If you are a weightlifter, Hall recommends a shallow-water boot camp class that uses noodles, float boards and pool dumbbells because it works your muscle concentrically and not eccentrically (less gravity). This means you are less likely to get sore, you can work harder and get the most out of your workout.

Classes that incorporate aqua jogging or pure water aerobics classes focus more on cardiovascular conditioning. But regardless of the type of workout you choose, Morgan says the benefit of exercising in the water is that the water resistance adds a strength-training element to all movement.

Should you join a class or workout on your own?

If you need that extra boost of motivation to work out or you’re looking for the social aspect a group class provides, joining a class may be right for you. However, there is no need to do water workouts as part of a large group. All the workouts you do in a class can be done on your own.

If you’re new to swimming or water-based workouts, taking a few classes to familiarize yourself with the different exercises might be helpful.

“Someone can demonstrate the types of exercise to do and how to perform them correctly and in the proper order,” Hall says. Then you can take what you learned in the class and create your own workouts. Knowing how to do a water workout will come in handy if you’re traveling or on vacation and need to use the hotel pool to exercise.

Sample water workouts

The best part about working out in the pool is that you have a variety of workouts to choose from. Here is a sample swim/strength plan Louise Love, assistant director of aquatics at Missouri State University, shared with SheKnows:

Swim/strength workout

  • Warm up 200 meters (one lap is typically 50 meters)
  • Tread water with your hands up for one minute, 30 seconds
  • Swim 100 meters
  • Tread water with your arms only for one minute, 30 seconds
  • Swim 100 meters
  • Tread water with arms and legs for one minute, 30 seconds
  • Swim 100 meters
  • 15 push-ups (out of water)
  • 15 squats (out of water)
  • Swim 300 meters (pace yourself)
  • Planks (out of water)
  • Center hold for 30 seconds
  • Side hold for 15 seconds
  • Other side hold for 15 seconds
  • Cool-down: Swim 200 meters, slowing heart rate down by doing easy strokes or swimming on your back

Cardio workout

  • Jog in place
  • Jog moving forward, back, right, then left
  • Jog with high knees moving forward, back, right, then left
  • Jog kicking your butt moving forward, back, right, then left
  • Low front kicks in place, to the front
  • Low kicks moving forward, back, right, then left
  • Waist-high kicks in place, to the front
  • Low front kicks in place, legs going out at a 45-degree angle
  • Waist-high front kicks in place, legs going out at a 45-degree angle
  • Kick to the back, lifting your legs as high as possible, in place
  • Jumping jacks, getting low and keeping your body in the water
  • Jumping jacks moving forward and backward (repeat two times)
  • Jog in place
  • Sprint in place for 15 seconds (repeat three times)
  • Cross-country ski — left arm goes forward, left leg goes back then right arm goes forward, right leg goes back. Ski to the right then left (repeat two times)
  • Low front kicks in place to recover
  • Repeat all above — you can wear aqua gloves to add resistance, but when doing so, keep fingers spread and hands open

So, the next time you think you can skip your workout because it’s too hot, try and find a pool and hop in — there are plenty of fun ways to exercise!

A version of this story was published May 2018. 

For dry fitness in the heat, here’s a our favorite warm weather workout clothes:

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