11 ways to get healthy and happy this spring

From burning 200 calories in two minutes to getting whiter teeth, we scoured the latest health news for ways to boost your health and wellness.
11 ways to get healthy and happy this spring

Photo by Influx Production/Getty Images

11 ways to feel your best

Strengthen your heart (with fruit)

Did you know berries can boost heart health? New research reveals that eating three or more servings a week of blueberries and strawberries can reduce the risk of heart attack. Research from the American Heart Association followed a group of women for 18 years and discovered that those who ate these super-fruits a few times a week were 32 percent less likely to have a heart attack than those who ate them once a month or less. —Lora Grady

Discover five more amazing health benefits from eating berries

Bowl of blueberriesPhoto by Influx Production/Getty Images

Banish bad thoughts (& boost good ones!)

If negative feelings are raining down on you, write 'em down and throw 'em away for a sunnier outlook, suggests a new study out of Ohio State University. It sounds silly, says study co-author Richard Petty, but it works because the act of writing helps turn emotions into concrete objects. Even positive thoughts become more tangible when you scribble them down and stash them in your pocket. "By throwing away bad thoughts or protecting good ones, you have greater influence on your unconscious mind," he says.

Try it now: Write a few encouraging words on a business card and carry it in your wallet — don't be surprised if you have more pep in your step than usual! —Madeline Cravit

11 ways to get healthy and happy this springPhoto by The Images Bank/Getty Images

Set the mood for eating better

Don’t reserve fine dining just for special occasions! Bringing a five-star feel into your home can help you eat more mindfully (and resist overindulging). After Georgia Tech researchers gave a fast-food resto a makeover with soft lighting, smooth music, white tablecloths and candles, they found their patrons ate more slowly, consumed fewer calories and even enjoyed the food more. The pleasant setting gave the stomach time to tell the brain it was full, says study author Dr. Koert van Ittersum. He says you can try his experiment at home for similar results.

Try it tonight: Bust out the china, play some Bach, dim the lights. Dine like you’ve got a million bucks and you’ll feel like it too! —Danya Cohen

Waiter-Arm-Silver-Tray-May-13-p116Photo, iStock.

Brighten your smile

Great news! We’ve found yet another reason for you to enjoy a daily dose of dairy: It keeps your teeth pearly white! Japanese researchers found a link between the lactic acid in dairy and healthier gums and teeth. The magic number is around 55 g of dairy a day — as little as a quarter cup of low-fat milk or cottage cheese.

Bonus: The natural calcium in dairy also strengthens teeth. 

11 ways to get healthy and happy this springPhoto by Istockphoto

Boost stamina

Next time you gear up for the gym, run for the roses. Sweet-smelling scents can increase your endurance levels, says new research from the Netherlands. Flowery, citrusy, minty or beachy fragrances help us stay energized and may also improve mood while we exercise. The scientific reasoning behind such “inscentivizers” is simple, says researcher Rick Schifferstein: “Sweaty smells convince your unconscious mind to quit early, but pleasant ones improve the experience.”

Try it today: Dab aromatic oils on the inside of wrists and behind ears and go that extra mile. —Anna Redman

11 ways to get healthy and happy this springPhoto by Istockphoto

Burn 200 cals in two extra minutes

Strapped for time? Do micro-exercise for max results! Short cardio bursts (two and a half minutes in total) during your regular workout help you burn an extra 200 calories, say researchers from Colorado State University. That means you can get a super-slimming workout in less than 25 minutes. It’s all about pushing as hard as you can in 30-second intervals to engage your body’s optimal fat burners.

Give it a go: Hop on a bike and pedal at an easy resistance for four minutes. Then cycle as fast as possible for 30 seconds. Repeat four more times. In, out and toned in 22.5 minutes. Boom! —Danya Cohen

11 ways to get healthy and happy this springPhoto by Stockbyte/Getty Images

Shape up with your phone

Looking for a little fitspiration? We've found the latest apps to get you going (no gym required!)

Define your assets 
With video tutorials, progress trackers and a cool customizing option, iFitness Pro teaches you how to properly weight train without the pricey personal trainer. As an added bonus, you can even witness the fitness: There are lots of hunks to ogle! iFitness Pro, $1. Potential calories burned: 211 to 422/hour. 

Stretch and meditate
Convert your living room into a personal healing space with a new stretching app. All-In Yoga has over 300 timed poses and breathing exercises, relaxing music and a squad of on-call yogis for live support for all your pose-related questions. All-In Yoga, $1. Potential calories burned: 281/hour. 

Get off the couch
Run the right way with Couch-to-5K. This safety-conscious app has three skilled coaches (we love Sergeant Block!) to ease you into a new routine. Commit to three 30-minute runs a week and you’ll be ready for a 5K in less than three months! Couch-to-5K, $2. Potential calories burned: 281 to 563/hour. —Laura Fader

11 ways to get healthy and happy this springPhoto by Istockphoto

Work out happier

Run faster! Push harder! Hold it just a little longer! French researchers say positive power phrases like these can help you take your workout to the next level, letting you go harder, faster and longer. They say a little enthusiastic encouragement goes a long way, while negativity and putdowns can really slow you down.

Bottom line: Be your own cheerleader or, better yet, find a fitness buddy. You can keep each other motivated with upbeat affirmations. —Dominique Lamberton

11 ways to get healthy and happy this springPhoto by Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images

Bag a stronger immune system

Could your carryall be a carrier for common germs? Cornell University researchers say yes! They tested doctors’ purses for different strains of bacteria and found many were teeming with Micrococcus, which can lead to pneumonia. Yuck! Study author Marc Feldman says it’s not only doctors who should be on the lookout — all of us could do with giving our bags a regular clean with antibacterial wipes.  

Fight back: Avoid the worst culprit for contamination (public-bathroom floors) by hanging your bag on the door. —Anna Redman

11 ways to get healthy and happy this springPhoto by Istockphoto

Supercharge your metabolism

You might think they’re a sworn enemy, but fat cells are your friends: They regulate energy, so we can function properly. A lack of sleep can impair this ability, however, says new research from the University of Chicago. “Fat cells become metabolically groggy without adequate sleep,” says study author Matthew Brady. “Instead of storing and releasing energy, they can leak lipids [fats] into the body. This can lead to diabetes, metabolic disease and obesity.” Four poor nights of sleep (four and a half hours) can reduce fat-cell function by 30 percent and metabolically age you over time by 10 to 20 years! —Danya Cohen

11 ways to get healthy and happy this springPhoto by Istockphoto

Fight disease every day before noon

Attention, java lovers: We’re thrilled to report that drinking coffee can protect against diabetes. Despite earlier studies linking caffeine to short-term spikes in blood sugar, a new U.S. study spanning 24 years shows that devoted coffee drinkers actually have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. And the positive effects are seen with or without caffeine. So what makes the grounds so good? Researchers speculate compounds in coffee like antioxidant polyphenols may be responsible for its protective effects.

Make it a habit: Enjoy your coffee in the morning. Just keep in mind that creamy mochas weren’t accounted for in the study, so stick to your favourite drip with just a splash of milk. —Dominique Lamberton

Click here to see more amazing health benefits of coffee.

11 ways to get healthy and happy this springPhoto by Istockphoto


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