This week’s fit links from around the web:
- Spy on the health issues that people are Googling most. — Ladies’ Lounge
- If you’re in a blaming mood, it may be time to examine your sleep habits. — BodyOdd
- Busy day? You can still squeeze in an amazing workout in 20—here’s how! — FitSugar
- Excessive alcohol and drug abuse has decreased slightly in recent years, but is still a big issue in many states. How does yours stack up? — USA Today
- Helpful hydration pointers the entire nation needs this week. — FitBottomed Girls
- Is it the truth or do you dare order? The accuracy of restaurant nutrition information is put under the microscope. — L.A. Times
Bed bugs seem to be getting all of the attention lately. There may be more stealth organisms hanging out where you hit the hay, SleepBetter.org has found in a new study appropriately named “Fungus Among Us.”
SleepBetter tested pillows owned by more than 1,000 college students across the country, and they found that the average pillow has 350,000 potential live bacteria colonies and nearly 100,000 potential live yeast and mold colonies. Eek!
Some other fast pillow facts:
- Of those tested, men’s average nearly twice as much bacteria as women’s
- Not surprisingly, pillows that were three to five years or older had many more microbes than those less than one year old
- More than 40 percent of those surveyed admit to never washing their pillows Did you know you should do this twice a year? Here are instructions!
The SleepBetter team asked me if I would like to submit a pillow for testing as well, so that I could compare my (very unwelcome) bedmates with those already uncovered in the test. I was a little leery at first to learn the truth. But I had to admit that after hearing how common the microbes are, I might just sleep better knowing what was really hiding under the pillowcase.
I’ll share the good news first: My pillow was relatively clean on the yeast and mold front. The not-so-good news? It was about average when compared to other pillows tested for bacteria. One strain in particular they were able to detect was a generally harmless microbe (that can, in very rare cases, cause pulmonary issues) often found in water, dust and soil. The perfect nudge I need to make sure I schedule time for evening showers—and also invest in new pillows every 18 to 24 months!
Now tell us: Are you vigilant about keeping your bedding tidy?
This week’s fit links from around the web:
- Ten recipes for building a bikini-friendly burger this holiday weekend. —FitSugar
- “I say a little prayer for you…” More Americans are turning to their spirituality to help cope with health issues. —Time Healthland
- The long-anticipated new album from Gaga is here—and packed with great tunes to power you through your workout! —Fit Bottomed Girls
- We’ve heard of ice cream trucks, but snack trucks? These “mobile vending machines” may be sabotaging even the most nutritious school lunch programs. —WSJ.com
- Find out if your city is among the fittest (or least fit) in the U.S. —American Fitness Index
In the new book Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?, Alex Hutchinson, Ph.D. tackles dozens of health hot topics, from vitamins to VO2 max. You’ll find research-based answers to the most common questions related to gear, strength, competition, managing your waistline and more. Talk about a comprehensive resource!
Test your wellness IQ with five true or false questions straight from Which Comes First…
- Fact or Fiction: You will perform at your best if you include plenty of dietary fat in your pre-workout meal.
- Fact or Fiction: It doesn’t matter what I think about while training.
- Fact or Fiction: Exercising when illness symptoms are “above the neck” won’t harm your body.
- Fact or Fiction: When women want to build muscle, they should focus on completing a large number of reps with a light weight.
- Fact or Fiction: Getting plenty of shuteye will help your speed and reaction time.
Click below for the answers.
The not-so-welcome news for some of us: Clocks “spring forward” this Sunday—meaning that we lose an hour of our already limited sleep. But we at FITNESS consider this well worth it, since what we lose in sleep we gain in extra post-workday sun time. That means more opportunities for outdoor evening exercise!
Here are a few fun sleep-related tools that may not help you snooze more, but do guarantee to make the switch a bit more bearable or fun:
For soothing…The White Noise app will play your favorite soothing sounds (wind, showers, ocean) as well as some options that strike us as not-so-calming (vacuum, violent noise or train). And it will play for as long as you like, because, appropriately, there are multiple sleep timers. ($1.99, iTunes Store)
For laughs…The mattress company Sealy recently released a new app that harkens back to the popular junior high fortune cookie joke. Simply snap a photo you’re your smart phone or iPod touch and place a “in bed” caption after whatever you like. (Free, iTunes store)
When all else fails…Perhaps you could find someone who actually sells the Sleep Safe Tape, so that when you do finally nod off, others will think you’re as alert as ever. (Of course, we don’t really endorse this kind of trickery, but it sure is a creative idea!)
Do you look forward to setting your clocks ahead or struggle with the switch?
More from FITNESS: 5 Steps to a Good Night’s Sleep
Yawn…Are you already on your fourth cup of coffee or trying your best not to fall asleep at your desk today? Chances are, you’re part of the 1/3 of Americans who don’t get enough sleep at night. Since this week is National Sleep Awareness Week we’re sharing easy ways you can relax and snooze soundly.
- Try a lavender body wash before bed. A recent study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that the scent helped insomniacs sleep better.
- Turn off all TVs, computers and cell phones 30 minutes before bed time. The blue light these devices emit has been shown to suppress production of sleep-inducing melationin.
- Stretch it out. Do these yoga poses and stretches right before bed (you can actually do these on your bed!) to relax your mind and body.
Do you have a bedtime ritual to help you get a good night’s rest? Share it in the comments below!
Have you ever had a dream about your morning workout? Or maybe you dreamt you were back in middle school gym class? Regardless of what your slumber was about, there could be some helpful symbolism behind it. We asked DreamMoods.com, an awesome site with tons of dream info, for their help deciphering some of your most common fitness-related dreams.
1. Jumping Jacks
To dream of jumping jacks signifies your need for more balance in your life. Try to maintain order while you pursue your goals.
2. Sit Ups
Doing sit ups in your dreams suggests that you need to pay better attention to something…whether it’s a relationship, work, or project. Alternatively, doing sit ups could also indicate that you need to show more pride and confidence in your abilities. (MORE: Check out our Top 10 Ab Exercises!)
3. Lifting Weights
This dream is a simple metaphor. You’re flexing your muscles—you want others to know that you’re in charge.
If you dream that you’re jogging, it suggests that you’re not looking for change—you’re just pacing yourself. But dreaming of being in a race is a little more complicated…it could symbolize that you’re comparing yourself to others, that you need to slow down, or that you’re feeling particularly empowered and mentally “rehearsing” for success.
Water always has tons of symbolism behind it and often has to do with your emotions and unconscious mind. If you dream you’re swimming, it could be that you’re seeking emotional support—this is a common dream for people going through therapy. If you’re underwater while swimming, then it suggests that you’re completely submerged in your own feelings. Take note: You need so badly to deal with your emotions that your unconscious self is forcing you to do it while you sleep!
6. Pull Ups
To dream of doing pull ups symbolizes a situation in which you must—or will—rise above. It could be a difficult challenge you’re facing or it could be that you need to move on from the past and look toward the future. (MORE: Get sculpted arms with this workout from The Biggest Loser trainer Bob Harper!)
Simply put, dreaming of pushups could mean that you need to be more assertive and take initiative.
Have you had a recent fitness-related dream, but don’t see it above? Check out dreammoods.com to see their complete dictionary of terms.