'Rest Days' Are Important: 4 Ways to Make the Most of Them

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Consider this your permission to skip the gym today: Exercising too much without giving your body a break might make you sick, according to new research published in the journal Frontiers of Physiology. Researchers at Catholic University of Brasilia observed people who do CrossFit on a regular basis to see how the high-intensity exercise affected their muscles and immune system. After two consecutive days of the rigorous workout, people showed reduced levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines—proteins that white blood cells produce to help lower inflammation. In effect, the back-to-back workouts with no rest were hampering their immune function.

That study looked at CrossFitters specifically, but they’re not the only ones who need a little R&R. Taking some time off from the gym is essential, no matter what kind of workout you tend to do—whether it’s weight-lifting or running or something low-impact like a barre class. “Rest days are important regardless of intensity level because you’re placing the body and mind under some form of stress,” says Marlon Briscoe, a certified personal trainer and owner of BodyByBriscoe Studios in New York City. “Imagine going to school or work 365 days a year with no break—how would you feel?”

Keep reading for his tips about how to make the most of your days off.

1. TAKE OFF AT LEAST ONE DAY A WEEK.

If you’ve been exercising regularly for a while and are fairly advanced, you can probably get away with working out three or four consecutive days without any time off, says Briscoe; but even so, make sure to take off at least one full day each week. If you’re a newbie, you might want to ease into a routine and give yourself another day or two off (spread them out throughout the week).

“When you have a day or two off between workouts, your body will be able to come back at full force,” says Briscoe. Plus, he says, your mind will be rested, “so you’ll also be more encouraged to continue your program.”

2. ON WORKOUT DAYS, MIX IT UP.

If you do work out a few days in a row, make sure to target different muscles—for instance, do arms one day and legs the next, or alternate running days with cross-training. “Muscles break down during exercise and repair when you’re at rest,” says Briscoe. So if you keep working the same muscles over and over, they don’t get the chance to build themselves back up. “You’ll compromise your results if you work out the same body parts on consecutive days,” he says.

Another reason to change up the routine: You’ll lower your chances of injury. If your muscles are tight or sore and you try to work through the pain, you have a great chance of harming yourself, says Briscoe.

3. ON YOUR OFF DAYS, BE LAZY.

Don’t be tempted to go for an easy bike ride, jog, or yoga class on your day off—because you won’t really be giving your body the break it needs. “A rest day should be just that: rest,” says Briscoe.

If you want to do something a little active, he advises sticking to easy stretching (holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds) or foam rolling. Those will help keep your muscles loose without putting too much added strain on them.

4. PAY ATTENTION TO THE P.M.

Getting enough Zs is another key component to your recovery post-workout, says Briscoe. He also recommends eating something with casein protein before you head to bed to help your muscles further recover while you sleep. Science has shown this is a good strategy; in fact, downing a beverage with casein protein half an hour before bedtime improved exercisers’ protein synthesis rates (which helps repair muscles) by 22 percent in a 2012 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. So feel free to enjoy a protein shake as a midnight snack.

7 Quick Tips for Disinfecting Your Home the Smart Way

Frequent cleaning of high-traffic areas can reduce the spread of illness in your home.
Frequent cleaning of high-traffic areas can reduce the spread of illness in your home.
BrianAJackson/iStock via Getty Images

With many people spending more time—or virtually all of their time—indoors, it’s natural for thoughts to turn to how to best clean surfaces that might help minimize the risk of spreading illness. Although researchers believe respiratory droplets are the primary way coronavirus is transmitted, preliminary data, which is not yet peer-reviewed, suggests the virus may remain on some surfaces for hours or days.

While scrubbing isn't a complex process, there are nonetheless some areas of your home you might be neglecting. Here’s how to best approach a household scrub, as well as identify and disinfect some common germ hot spots.

1. Pay attention to high-touch surfaces and clean them frequently.

High-touch surfaces are exactly what they sound like: Areas in the home that get handled and touched regularly. Think doorknobs, light switches, appliance handles, toilet handles, faucets, and remotes. And don’t forget laptops, keyboards, desks, and phones.

2. Don't just do a quick wipe down. Get the entire surface.

Taking a disinfecting wipe to the keyhole of a doorknob isn’t going to do you much good—it's important to really scrub all high-touch surfaces. Make sure you get every available surface area, including the plate behind the knob where fingers and hands often brush against it. When cleaning remotes, make sure you don't just scrub the buttons, but the space between them as well.

3. You can use soap and water.

While products claiming to kill 99.9 percent of germs are best in this scenario, there's another option if you're having a hard time tracking down those supplies—simply mix some dish soap in water. It won’t kill organisms, but it can remove them from the surface. (And while soap and water can work for high-touch surfaces throughout the home, you shouldn't use the solution on electronics like your remote or keyboard.)

If you’re looking to kill germs, diluted bleach (four teaspoons to one quart of water) and 70 percent alcohol solutions work well. But it's important to note that bleach and other cleaners can harm certain surfaces. So be sure to do your research and make sure the product you're using won't cause any damage before you start scrubbing.

4. Take laundry precautions.

If you’re trying to be extra-vigilant about the spread of germs in the house, you should consider washing clothes at the highest possible temperature and disinfecting laundry bins. It’s also advisable to use disposable laundry bags.

5. Remove your shoes before entering the house.

This step is more preventative, but it’s a simple way to keep from tracking in contaminants. Remove your shoes before going inside and leave them near the door. It's also a good idea to clean floor surfaces with disinfecting mop cloths, but be sure anything you use is safe for the finished surface. Cleaners like bleach can discolor certain materials.

6. Don't forget to clean your car.

Even people vigilant about cleaning their home can neglect their car interior. Since you’re constantly touching virtually every surface, be sure to wipe everything down regularly, including the steering wheel and door handles. If you have a leather interior, there are auto wipes available for those surfaces. And before you go wipe down any touchscreens, be sure to check your owner’s manual to see if they require any special microfiber cloth.

7. Give your debit cards a wipe.

It’s a good idea to disinfect credit or debit cards that follow you around on shopping excursions. As with all high-touch objects, be sure to wipe them down every day.

[h/t New York Times]

The World Health Organization Is Releasing a COVID-19 App to Combat Coronavirus Misinformation

WHO MyHealth is meant to help clear up misinformation surrounding the novel coronavirus.
WHO MyHealth is meant to help clear up misinformation surrounding the novel coronavirus.
MangoStar_Studio/iStock via Getty Images

As is the case with most crises, the novel coronavirus has become a breeding ground for misinformation. Because the disease is so new, there are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding it, but that hasn't stopped people from claiming to know how to treat, prevent, and detect COVID-19. In an effort to separate fact from fiction, the World Health Organization (WHO) is launching an app dedicated to sharing what we know and don't know about the virus, 9to5Google reports.

Named WHO MyHealth, the new app is a collaboration between former Google and Microsoft employees, WHO advisors and ambassadors, and other tech and health experts. Users will be able to compare their symptoms with those linked to COVID-19 and receive public health updates specific to their location. As of now, there are plans to invite people who have been either been diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19 to share their phone's location history to give experts a better idea of how the virus spreads.

WHO MyHealth, which is currently being built as open source, is set to roll out for Android and iOS on Monday, March 30. If you have questions about COVID-19 you need answered immediately, you can also access accurate and up-to-date information through the WHO's chatbot.

Any information regarding novel coronavirus should be met with skepticism when it can't be traced back to organizations like the WHO or the CDC—especially when it comes to supposed cures. No specific medication has been proven to treat or prevent COVID-19, so you shouldn't take advice from anyone claiming otherwise.

[h/t 9to5Google]

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