Best Workouts You Won’t Even Notice You’re Doing

Woman with dog

There is now a continuous influx of new studies that point to the many incredible benefits that regular exercise can bring, ranging from a lower risk of heart disease to a reversal of the aging process. While many may enjoy structured workout routines, these are not for everybody, so here are a few workouts that are guaranteed to get you fit, without you even noticing this happening.

Walking Your Dog 
Your dog needs exercise just as much as you do, so heading off for a long dog walk is a great way to take care of both of you. Being around animals in general also boosts your physical health and mental well-being in so many other ways, so if you are guilty of often letting dog walks slide, now is the time to change that. If you do not own a dog but would still like to enjoy the many benefits that come from spending time with one, there are now many services out there that enable you to borrow someone else’s dog for a few hours, or, alternatively, you could simply find a friend’s dog, or a neighbourhood dog, that would benefit from some extra exercise.

Woman with child

Playing With Your Kids 
Whether you choose chase, hopscotch or jump rope, playing with your children is a great way to boost all of your fitness levels while creating some long-lasting memories. Each of these activities are effective ways to burn calories, and will also teach your children about the importance of exercise from an early age.

Dancing 
Dancing involves moving your body energetically and continuously, both of which are perfect for keeping your heart rate elevated while burning calories. If you are wanting to learn a new skill at the same time, then a dance class would be ideal for you, but the same benefits can be had simply by dancing to some music at home. All you need to do is blast your favorite songs and let the beat move you, which will, when done on a regular basis, strengthen your heart, tone your muscles and improve your balance.

Gardening

Gardening 
Gardening for around 30 minutes a day can burn up to 300 calories, providing that you are actually moving around, digging and planting, rather than just standing still and admiring the view. Gardening would be classed as a moderate level cardiovascular exercise, and its benefits include everything from a healthier immune system to a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. If you like the idea of gardening but do not know where to start, begin by sowing some seeds of a food that you love to eat, as the sense of accomplishment that comes from growing your own produce is a great motivator to spend more time in your garden.

Exercise is key when it comes to staying healthy, but this does not mean that you need to develop a structured exercise regime. Instead, by spending half an hour to an hour a day on one of these activities, you will be gaining the benefits of a regular workout without having to feel as though you are actually working out.

Take a Look at Motion Pictures

Otherwise known as a movie or a film, motion pictures were one of the most influential, and popular, forms of media throughout the 20th century, and are something that many tend used to take for granted. If you have ever wondered exactly how these motion pictures we know of today came about, read on to learn all about it.

Woman using picture roll

What Exactly Is a Motion Picture?
By definition, a motion picture is a series of pictures that are projected onto a screen, which then creates the illusion of a moving picture. Photography, projection and motion had all been discovered by the 1800’s, but it was not until the 1890’s that these were finally put together, resulting in the motion picture.

Eadweard Muybridge
An English photographer who was known for his ground-breaking work in photographic studies of motion, Eadweard Muybridge are who many would accredit the birth of the motion picture to. Muybridge conducted a photography session where he set up 24 cameras that were linked to tripwires, so that he could take photographs of a horse galloping. After developing the images, he projected them onto a screen, creating the world’s very first motion picture, albeit only two seconds long.

An Industry is Born
Since technology was extremely limited in 1890, motion pictures that were produced at this time were all under a minute long, with no sound. However, this was still a huge breakthrough, signalling the birth of a new industry, which proceeded to grow to huge scales from here. Films began to consist of several different shots, making them longer and longer, while new cameras were introduced, and film studios built. Special effects were soon introduced, as was film continuity, meaning that action could now seamlessly move from one sequence to another. In 1905, The Nickelodeon Theatre in Pittsburgh became the first permanent theatre to show only films, and then, in 1910, actors began to receive screen credits for their roles, leading to the creation of movie stars.

The First Movies
For the first eleven years after the first motion picture was produced, motion pictures grew from consisting of one single shot to a number of different shots, created by large companies in purpose-built studios. However, it was only in the early 1900’s that the first official movies were created, meaning that they had a form of narrative, as well as basic editing techniques. A number of different techniques were then invented, with masters of the industry shining through. George Albert Smith is known for perfecting the close-up shot, while Edwin S. Porter was known for being hired by Thomas Edison to develop a new projection model.

Whether you are an avid film buff or only watch movies on occasion, there is no denying the importance they have had on the progression of modern day life. Movies enable people to do just about anything, from travelling the world to experiencing emotions, making it no surprise that they are considered to be one of the very best forms of entertainment that has ever been invented.

Tips for Learning to Crochet or Knit

Knitting and crocheting have made quite the comeback in recent years, not only for the beautiful, intricate results that they can produce, but also for the therapeutic nature of the act itself. If you have been wanting to take up a new hobby, here are some tips to help you to decide whether learning how to knit or crochet is right for you.

Materials

Know the Difference Between Knitting and Crocheting
Knitting and crocheting are two different techniques, meaning that by learning one, you will not automatically know how to do the other. Knitting requires a needle in each hand, as well as one hand working the yarn, whereas crocheting uses just one tool, with one task per hand, meaning that most beginners find it easier to learn how to crochet rather than knit. Other than for making sweaters, crocheting can be used to create just about everything, which also makes it the more versatile of the two.

Solid Colors and Large Tools
While those wispy balls of striped yarn may seem incredibly tempting at the store, beginners should opt for solid, simple colors instead, preferably choosing a yarn that has a good stitch definition, as this will make it much easier to learn the craft. Large and durable tools are also better than smaller versions, because although your work may not end up being as fine as you would have liked, larger tools will make it much easier for you to learn the different methods involved.

Woman crocheting

Do Not Underestimate the Power of YouTube
When it comes to learning a new skill, YouTube should always be one of your first points of call, as this is where you will find a magnificent wealth of knowledge on just about every subject. Whether you decide on knitting or crocheting, YouTube is where you will find step-by-step tutorial videos for beginners. While there is no denying the benefits that come from buying a couple of books on the subject, actually being able to see somebody utilize a method will help it sink in to your head in a way that a book is simply not able to do.

Find a Friend to Teach You
It is most definitely possible to teach yourself how to knit or crochet by reading books and watching videos, but there is no beating real-life assistance from someone who knows what they are doing. Having a friend who can teach you how to knit or crochet will mean that you will have someone on hand to point out any mistakes that you are making, which could save you so much time in trying to figure out where you have gone wrong. If none of your friends know how to knit or crochet, try convincing one of them to learn with you, as this makes it so much more fun, or look for a class that you can join.

Knitting and crocheting are useful skills to have, and are both great ways to harness your creativity. Even if you have never had much of an interest in crafts before, these are skills that bring with them so many different benefits, and will leave you with beautiful handmade goods by the end of it.

Pushing Past Your Comfort Zone

Lent is all about taking the necessary steps to improve your life and become a better person, and one of the best ways in which to do this is by pushing past your comfort zone and taking a few new risks in life. Expanding your horizons and breaking through your self-imposed limits brings about so many different physical and mental benefits, while empowering your mind at the same time, helping you to achieve a much more fulfilled and happy life.

Man balancing on rope

What is a Comfort Zone?
Your comfort zone is basically a behavioral space in which your activities fit into a certain routine or pattern that minimizes stress and risk. Not only does this provide mental security, but it also leads to regular happiness and lower levels of anxiety. While this may be the case, pushing past your comfort zone on occasion can really bring about some incredible results, from boosting productivity to harnessing your creativity, making it worth putting some conscious effort into expanding your horizons.

Take Small Risks with Everyday Tasks
The best way to begin pushing your boundaries is by taking small risks with everyday tasks that you do. This could be anything from taking a new route to work in the mornings, to cutting out meat from your diet for a couple of weeks. While these may seem like extremely small changes, they are easy to implement will still have the effect of providing you with a new perspective on your everyday life.

Making Decisions
Each time you make a decision, no matter how many options you may have, there will always be one choice that is the riskiest and uncomfortable, as well as one that is the safest. While you may immediately be drawn to the safest choice, as this lies within your comfort zone, it is likely to be the most uncomfortable option that really helps you to grow as a person. The next time you are making a decision, slow down and really consider each of your options before choosing one, rather than just instinctively opting for the choice that you are most comfortable with.

Tomorrow is a New Day
There is no denying the fact that taking risks in life can often seem quite scary, especially if they do not go as planned. However, you need to be able to pick yourself up from this and remember that tomorrow is a brand new day in which you will be able to implement all that you have learned today, giving you a greater chance of success in the future.

There are so many different ways in which to push past your comfort zone, and even if all of the experiences that come from this are not positive, you will still be learning something new about yourself with each step that you take. Whether you make an effort to travel to new places more, volunteer with a worthy cause, or simply learn a new language or a musical instrument, pushing your own personal boundaries may seem like a challenge at first, but, the more that you do this, the easier it will be to do in the future.

Extend Your Life by Reading Books

Woman reading on bed

Reading brings about many different benefits, from de-stressing the mind to improving language skills, but there is one extremely advantageous benefit that many are not aware of. A recent study carried out by the Yale University’s School of Public Health showed that people who regularly read books, rather than magazines or newspapers, add an extra two years onto their lifespan when compared to those who do not read, giving you the perfect excuse to begin spending your evenings curled up with a good book.

Results of the Study
The study carried out by Yale University lasted for 12 years, and focussed on three subject groups; those who did not read at all, those who read for around three and a half hours per week, and those who read for more. Even in the second group of subjects, there was still a 17% chance of an increased lifespan, showing the incredible benefits that reading can bring.

How Does Reading Books Extend Lifespan?
Unlike magazines or newspapers, reading books encourages two cognitive processes that are extremely beneficial. The first is referred to as “deep reading”, which is an immersive process that enables the reader to form a connection to the world around them. The second cognitive process is the way in which books are able to promote everything from empathy to emotional intelligence, all of which heighten the body’s chance for survival. The way in which books feature complex, interwoven stories cannot compete with the short snippets of information provided by newspapers and magazines, and this recent study has more than proven the varying effects that different types of reading material can have.

Reading book

How Long Should You Read For Each Day?
Yale University’s study showed that the longer that a participant read for each day, the longer they would live for. While you may not have time to read for hours each day, even 30 minutes a day can still be hugely beneficial in terms of extending lifespan. One of the advantages to reading is that it can be done just about anywhere, so even if you do not have time at the end of your day, try bringing a book along on your commute to work, or setting aside some time on your lunch break.

What Types of Books are Best?
While the study did not look into the exact genres of books that were read by participants, other studies have discovered that around 87% of book readers choose to read fiction, meaning that fiction was most likely to be the primary type of book read during the study. However, this does not instantly mean that other types of books are not beneficial, although more studies will need to be carried out in order to confirm this.

In addition to extending your lifespan, reading also brings about so many other health benefits. From improving memory to expanding knowledge to boosting analytical thinking skills, making the effort to squeeze in at least 30 minutes of book reading a day will have some hugely positive effects on your life.

Three Aspects of Healthy Living

While there are many different aspects to consider when it comes to healthy living, there are three that are absolutely key. From physical health to mental well-being to social relationships, make sure that you place a priority on each of these parts of your life.

Woman running

Physical Health
There are a number of factors that contribute to an individual’s physical health, but two that you can have full control over are diet and exercise. In today’s world, it is all-too-easy to get the diet part wrong, especially since supermarket shelves are lined with unhealthy, processed foods. Improving on a diet can often seem daunting, so take this one step at a time, making easy and gradual changes rather than dramatic, difficult ones. For example, incorporating a new vegetable into your meals each week could be a great first step, as could making your own healthy smoothies at home. Exercise also plays a huge role in physical health, with the majority of people out there not getting enough exercise at all. Again, this is something else that can seem challenging to initially get motivated about, so begin by picking a few forms of exercise that you genuinely enjoy, such as a certain sport or a dance. Once your fitness levels begin to improve, it will be much easier to branch out and see what else is out there.

Woman meditating

Mental Health
Mental health is an extremely broad topic, but one of the key causes of poor mental health in today’s world is stress. When you experience stress, this triggers an emergency response in your body, which sends the hormone cortisol coursing through you. Chronic stress, which means consistently elevated levels of cortisol, will increase your risk for so many mental health problems, from depression to other forms of mental illness. When it comes to keeping your stress levels under control, you may need to experiment with different tactics before finding one that works for you, whether this may be doing some form of exercise, spending an hour gardening, or spending time on a new hobby.

Friends having dinner

Social Bonds
Healthy relationships are a vital part of healthy living, and there is plenty of research out there that shows that strong social bonds are linked to a longer and happier life. Not only do healthy relationships mean that you are 50% less likely to die prematurely, but they can also boost your immune system and help you to deal with stress better, which, in turn, will be a boost to your mental health. If you are looking to expand your social circle but do not know where to begin, look into local groups or clubs where you can meet people that share similar interests to you, or ask your existing friends to introduce you to some new people.

When it comes to healthy living, there are always areas in which you can improve on. Whether this may be making improvements to your diet to support your physical health, or expanding your social circle to support both your physical and mental health, be sure to pay close attention to each of these three aspects of healthy living.

Simple Exercises to Tighten the Skin Above Your Shoulders

Loose skin can be caused by a number of different factors, from weight loss to aging, and, once your skin has taken on this looser appearance, tightening it back up can seem like quite the challenge. While there is nothing that you can do at home to transform your skin overnight, here are some simple exercises that, when carried out regularly and consistently, will help to tighten up the skin on your shoulders.

woman doing push-up

Push-Ups
While many people perform push-ups to work the major muscles in the chest, this exercise is fantastic for toning the upper arms and shoulders over time as well. It is a common misconception that this is an exercise that needs to be carried out every day, but this actually does not give the muscles enough time to rest in between sessions. Between eight to ten reps is ideal, with two days of rest in between. Place your focus on improving your form rather than increasing reps, and, if you need an added challenge after a while, look into weighted push-ups and decline push-ups. There are many other push-up varieties out there, and not only will these target a different range of muscles, but they will also add some diversity to your workout routine and make it much more interesting.

Woman using dumbbells

Reverse Curls
Reverse curls are known for being able to really help with sagging skin, and are able to help to tone this back up. Hold a five to eight pound dumbbell in each hand, and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep the dumbbells in front of your thighs with your palms facing in before curling both hands and bringing them close to your shoulders. It is important to do this without bending the wrists, before ending it by lowering your hands back down to complete the repetition. This should be done in two sets of 20 in order to experience maximum benefits.

woman doing back extensions

Prone Shoulder Extension
The prone shoulder extension is another exercise that requires the use of dumbbells, and this is because weight training is the best way to fill out loose skin and tone the muscles around the shoulders. Lie face down and keep your arms by your side, with a dumbbell in each hand and your palms facing upwards. Lift your arms towards the ceiling, before pausing at the top of your range of motion and then slowly lowering your arms back down, stopping right before they actually touch the floor.

The shoulder is quite a vulnerable joint, which means that it is at a higher risk of injury than other parts of the body. While these exercises will be able to help in toning the muscle and tightening the skin, it is important to ease into them slowly, giving your body enough time to adjust to the new routine, as this will help you to avoid injury or muscle pain. You should also try to do some back and chest exercises before working on your shoulders, as your shoulders will still be involved in these other exercises, and will prevent them from being fatigued too early on in your workout.

Lifestyle Changes for the “Skinny Fat”

Woman in mirror

The skinny-fat phenomena is one that affects up to a quarter of average-weighted people, and describes those who look fit and healthy from the outside, but actually have a number of health problems brewing beneath the surface. If you feel as though you may fall into this category, these are the lifestyle changes that you need to make in order to bring your health back up to scratch.

Healthy Oils
Many people who are skinny-fat try to stay away from oily foods, believing them to be unhealthy. While there is no denying that a greasy bag of fries will bring absolutely no benefits to your body, there are certain oils and fats that are necessary for good health. The most important of these are omega-3 fats, which can be found in highest concentrations in oily fish, such as salmons and sardines. Incorporating more of these into your diet will help to stabilize your cholesterol while reducing blood pressure.

Build Some Muscle
Building muscle mass is vital if you are skinny fat, and the best way to do this is through weight training. This encourages your body to store its lean muscle, rather than use it as fuel, and will help to add some more tone to your body. In order to support your increasing muscle mass, be sure to consume plenty of protein, whether in the form of eggs, meat, or seeds, as this will protect your newly acquired muscles.

Woman doing pushup

Support Your Natural Metabolism
While you may think that you have a naturally fast metabolism, there are many lifestyle habits that actually alter this, and it is likely that your true metabolism has been hidden for a while. Soft drinks, which contain artificial sweeteners, can interfere with the chemicals within your body, affecting your metabolism, as can sleep deprivation, which also increases sugar and carbohydrate cravings. In addition to watching your diet and ensuring you are getting sufficient sleep, you should also be incorporating regular cardio sessions into your routine, as this will boost your natural metabolism while helping with your fitness levels.

Keep Stress Levels to a Minimum
Stress is actually one of the main factors behind the skinny-fat phenomena, and while stress can often be unavoidable, there are still many ways in which you can take control over this and bring your stress levels back down. Different methods work for different people, so you will need to try out a few and see what helps when you are really stressed. Whether it may be ten minutes of meditation, taking some time to work out, or spending a couple of hours on a hobby that you are truly passionate about, keeping stress levels to a minimum will help your body to thrive.

Research has shown that being skinny-fat puts the body under incredible amounts of stress, and can actually be even worse for you than obesity. If you think that you are skinny-fat, then now is the time to implement these lifestyle changes, so that you can soon get back to your healthiest self.

Knowing When to Keep a Little Secret

Parents talking to child

Children are naturally inquisitive, and while you may try to be as open as possible with them, there are certain snippets of information that you simply should not share. From your guilty late-night snacking to details of fights with your partner, there are times when the whole family would benefit if you kept a little secret.

Snacking and Junk Food
In order for children to really thrive, they need the right nutrition, and none of this can be found in junk food. If you are often guilty of late-snacking or the occasional junk food binge, this is something that you need to keep hidden from your children, at least until you have managed to beat that sugar habit for yourself, as it will not be doing you any favors whatsoever. In front of your children, keep up a healthy lifestyle, with snacks that are fresh and nutritious, because this will really help to shape their well-being and eating habits in the future.

Fights with Your Partner
Every relationship has moments of conflict, but, if you get your children involved in this, they will eventually feel as though they need to choose sides, and it will only tear your family up. It will also have a huge impact on the way in which they deal with conflict, as well as their own emotions, in the future, so be sure to never unload all of your problems onto them, and instead help them to understand that brief moments of conflict are absolutely natural.

Couple conflict

Finances
No matter how much stress you may be under regarding your financial situation, it is simply not fair to burden your children with this. Even if they may have to do without some of the luxuries that all of their friends seem to have, it is much better for them to be protected from financial stress and burden at such a young age. While there is no harm in explaining the situation in brief to help them to understand why you may be cutting back around the house, make sure that you do not scare them or make them feel helpless, keeping a positive tone to every financial conversation you may have with them or around them.

Sharing Secrets
It is common for parents to get together and unload the problems that they may be having with their children, but you must be sure to never share these with your own child. No matter how much trust you may have in them, they are still children and can easily let these secrets slip. It will also discourage them from gossiping, which is something that could definitely benefit them later on in life.

Children deserve to really enjoy, and make the most of, their childhood, but this cannot be done if they are burdened with certain secrets. Whether this may be financial stress or gossip about their friend’s parents, be sure to keep these bits of information under wraps, focussing instead on guiding your child through an emotionally, and physically, healthy childhood.

Princesses Who Shaped the Roles of Modern Day Royals

Modern day female royals are extremely influential, but this path had to first be paved by the princesses who came before them. From Princess Caroline to Princess Charlotte, these are a few of the princesses that had a huge impact on society in the 18th century, providing a blueprint for future generations of female royalty to follow.

Princess with teacup and umbrella

Princess Caroline
Also known as Caroline of Amsbach, Princess Caroline was a highly sought after bride, and ended up marrying the future King George II. Caroline was extremely intelligent and had a curious mind, outshining her husband in so many different aspects of life. While Caroline contributed to society in numerous ways, she is most remembered for being an incredible pioneer of medicine. Caroline carried out experiments with the smallpox vaccine, first on prisoners and then on her own children, all to favorable results. She was also an avid jewellery collector, and spent a large amount of time curating portraits and other pieces of art, emphasizing the importance of art to society.

Princess in pink

Princess Augusta
Princess Augusta was married to Princess Caroline’s eldest son, Frederick Prince of Wales, but, unfortunately for her, never became queen as her husband died quite young. However, her son, George III, was next in line to be king, and Augusta was absolutely crucial in shaping his reign. George III rightfully trusted his mother and her advice, and bestowed huge amounts of political influence upon him, guiding him to a position from which he could take control of the country on his own.

Woman in castle

Princess Charlotte
After Princess Augusta’s husband died, her son, King George III, took the throne and needed to find a wife. A Colonel was sent to Germany to seek out a suitable match, and Princess Charlotte was discovered. Rather than being picked for beauty, she was chosen for her high level of intelligence, as well as her sense of humor. As she settled in to life in England, Charlotte became a huge advocate of the arts, including those by masters such as Bach and Mozart, the latter of whom dedicated six sonatas to the Queen. In addition to also significantly expanding the collection at the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, Charlotte was also known for being the very first person in the country to have a Christmas tree, thus introducing this tradition to the United Kingdom.

The Enlightened Princesses Exhibition
Each of these three German princesses married into the British royal family in the 18th century, and had a huge effect when it came to shaping the role of the princess in the modern world. In order to bring attention to this, the Yale Center for British Art is hosting an exhibition titled The Enlightened Princesses, which features over 300 pieces that celebrate the influence that these women had. From extravagant court costumes to botanical illustrations and garden designs, to artwork created by royal children, this exhibition highlights how each princess was a huge advocate for the arts, sciences and trade industries, while showcasing the importance that they placed on the health of women and the welfare of children.

Princess Caroline, Augusta and Charlotte were each known for being passionate and innovative, contributing to just about every aspect of society and influencing an international audience. Today’s princesses are known for doing the same thing, but this would most likely not be the case if these earlier princesses had not paved the way for them.