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8 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Bridges Every Day

8 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Bridges Every Day

It’s pretty obvious 2015 is the year of the butt in fitness. Glutes have become the “it” muscles of the minute. They’re so popular they’ve even started the butt selfie (belfie) trend. So butts are everywhere in fitness today and for good reason. I would argue that the glutes may be the most important muscle group in the body. Unfortunately, in our sedentary society, we spend much of the day sitting on our butts instead of using them. This has lead to an an epidemic of flat, flaccid, underused glutes.

Many of the forms of exercise we engage in don’t really do a very good job of training the glutes well. Good thing is, it doesn’t need to be that way. Bridges are a great exercise that you can do everyday to learn how to activate the glutes. When done correctly bridges teach core control, hip control, how to deactivate the hamstrings and maybe most importantly fire up the glutes. Here are some of the amazing things that happen when you start doing bridges everyday.

1. You’ll Say Goodbye to Back Pain.

A weak and under-active butt is a prescription for low back pain. As we live in our sedentary, mostly seated, modern lifestyle our glutes don’t get used much. This results in other muscles like the spinal errectors and hamstrings taking over the job that the glutes are meant for. This process of the glutes becoming less active has been termed “Gluteal Amnesia.” The result of Gluteal Amnesia is often too much movement and loading at the lower back instead of the hips. This has been show to one of the primary causes in the development of low back pain.

Doing bridges everyday (especially after prolonged sitting) will help to “wake up” the glutes and reset the pelvis. This helps the body to remember to use the hips (glutes) to create movement instead of the more fragile lumbar spine.

2. You’re Knee Pain Will Magically Disappear.

One of the primary reasons for knee pain is a lack of control of the upper leg bone, the femur. This lack of femural control can include the femur sliding forward, internally rotating, or collapsing towards the midline of the body (valgus movement). All of these movements, if allowed to occur chronically are associated with knee pain. The glutes play a major role in controlling the femur at the hip joint which will have an effect on how the other bones of the knee joint join together and move.

Bridges, especially of the single leg variety, can help train the femur to stay in line with the knee and toes, avoiding potentially damaging knee movements.

3. Your 5K Time Will Improve.

One of the primary movement functions of the glutes is hip extension. Driving the leg behind you. Many distance runners use a lot of quad and hamstring to run but very little glute. This can not only limit the length of their stride, but also where the foot hits the ground, the amount of force per foot strike and the stability of the pelvis. Improving your glute function, by doing bridges, will help to strengthen and improve all of these aspects of your running and you’ll only become faster and more efficient.

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4. You’ll Stand Up Taller.

Posture is king. We can go to the gym and work out hard for an hour a day but if you spend the other 24 hours of your day slumped over you’re not undoing your chronically awful posture in 60 minutes. The glutes are literally the kingpin of movement. Without glutes that are active and strong the pelvic bowel can not sit properly. This means all the muscles above and below the pelvis, like the core, can’t perform optimally and the body will have to compensate. This compensation usually comes in the form of bad, hang off the low back or slumped forward posture.

Doing bridges will help to teach you not only how to strengthen the glutes so the pelvis sits correctly but also what a neutral spine feels like.

5. Your Boyfriend/ Girlfriend Will Thank You.

Guys and girls agree: a firm, round, butt. The kind that sits high on the hamstrings is considered almost universally to be sexually appealing. And it’s been that way since, well, since forever…

“You’re drawn to a woman’s heinie for the same reason you’re attracted to her breasts, hips, and a little waist: because those traits would have been indicators of fertility to your ancient ancestors.” – David Buss Ph.D.

And women, don’t differ in this opinion. Ask Men did a poll of 100 women and found that they too preferred a tight, muscular, rear. Ranking the butt as the number 1 male body part that “turns them on the most.”

Once you’ve been doing bridges everyday don’t be surprised if your significant other takes notice of your improved posterior and start greeting you with butt grabs instead of hugs.

6. You’ll Finally be Happy With How Your Jeans Fit.

Women are generally not satisfied with how their jeans fit and end up settling more often than not. No more having to search everywhere for a pair of jeans that “fits right” or just “looks ok.” Having a shapely rear will instantly upgrade any pair of jeans. Now, keep in mind that once you add some shape and size to your glutes from bridging everyday you might end up with the dreaded #fitgirl, #fitguy problem of larger than “normal” glutes for the waist cut of the jeans. That creates a “problem” in itself….

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But isn’t that a good problem to have?

7. You’ll Be Setting Squat and Deadlift Personal Records.

The squat and deadlift are often seen as “leg” exercises and they do work the legs really well. But ask any experienced lifter and they’ll be quick to point out that they are really hip (glute) exercises that also involve the other leg muscles. To squat and deadlift safely and effectively it’s important that the glutes are active and strong. Inactive/ weak glutes that are not creating enough hip tension (external rotation and extension) are some of the most common problems I see in trainees. Glutes that don’t fire can decrease the depth of your squat because the hip and core are not working together effectively.  Allow the knees to collapse in because of a lack of external rotation at the femur, straining the knee joint. And putting excess strain on the low back muscles if the pelvis tucks under.

One of the great things about doing bridges everyday is that there are so many variations of bridges they can be programmed as both glute activation and glute strengthening exercises depending on your focus that day. Doing bridges everyday will help your glutes catch up to your quads and hamstrings making your squats and deadlift form and weights improve quickly.

8. Your Driver will Become Your Best Club.

Golfers tend to focus a lot on the “core,” which is important. But if you’re after a more powerful and consistent swing you need strong glutes to help generate force and stabilize the pelvis so you can stay in the correct posture through the swing.

“If power must generate from the ground upward, the ability to properly transfer through a strong torso position into the arms and club, lies in the strength and correct function of the glutes.” –Meredith Parker, TPI 

A recent study done on high versus low handicap golfers came to this conclusion:

“Golfers with a low handicap are more likely to have increased pelvis rotation speed as well as increased gluteus maximus and medius strength when compared to high handicap golfers.” –Callaway, Glaws et al.

Once you begin doing bridges everyday, not only will your golf buddies envy how your posterior looks, they’ll envy how much your long game has improved.

Bridges really are a great exercise because they’re as versatile as they are effective. Here are some bridge variations that you can progress in difficulty and focus as you improve.

Glute Bridge:

glute bridge

    The two legged bridge is the simplest of the bridge variations. This bridges starts lying on the floor with your knees brought up about half way and shoulder width apart. Keeping the rib cage down, in line with the abs, focus on squeezing the glutes very hard, pressing the heels through the floor and pressing the hips up until the hips are fully extended. At the very top you should concentrate on really squeezing the glutes for a full second before lowering smoothly to the floor. Some of the keys to doing bridges effectively are really focusing on using the glutes and shutting down the hamstrings. Also be sure not to allow the pelvis to shift out of neutral or the rib cage to “pop up.” When done correctly the there should be a straight “unbroken” line from the shoulders through the hips and knees.

    You should start with just body weight but this movement can be brutally effective when loaded up with a barbell across the hips. Just make sure you have some padding for the bar.

    Single Leg Glute Bridge:

    single leg glute bridge

      Once the two leg version becomes too easy you can switch to this variation. Too easy means you can stay in perfect form, the hamstrings never fire, the ribs never come up and the glutes drive the movement achieving full hip extension (lockout) on each rep. This version is exactly the same except one foot is off the ground. Being on one foot doesn’t just increase the difficulty of the movement up and down (hip extension) but also the external rotation (knee collapsing to the mid-line) challenge. Make sure the toes, ankle, knee and hip always stay in a straight line.

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      Glute Bridge External Rotations:

      Holding the top of a glute bridge while pressing the knees out on the band will work the glutes in external rotation and extension. Done correctly this will absolutely set your butt on fire.

      The key to this type of bridge is to maintain full hip extension, even when pushing out on the band. The hips should never fall. Push out on the band as far as you can (maintaining hip lockout) once there allow the knees to come back to the start position and then press out again. Be smooth and deliberate to make sure you maintain maximal tension on the glutes the whole time.

      Shoulders Elevated Glute Bridge (Hip Thrust):

      This exercise, more commonly known as the hip thrust, has become one of the go to exercises for glute development. This is essentially a bridge with a much larger range of motion and a higher hip extension demand. For this bridge you want your shoulders on a stable surface (bench, box, even chair). Set your feet up so that your shins are vertical when you’re at the very top of the movement. The rib cage should stay down in line with the abs and you should focus on hinging through the hips.

      Make sure you’re foot pressure is always in the heels, never in the toes and at the finish you achieve full hip lockout. That will result in the best glute activation and development. This movement should be mastered with just body weight before progressing by adding a barbell or band across the hips.

      Tip: Keep the chin “tucked,” down to the chest. While this isn’t a neutral position for the cervical spine, keeping the chin down or even looking at the hip joint helps most people keep the rib cage down “on the abs” at the top of the movement.

      Shoulders Elevated Single Leg Glute Bridge

      The single leg hip thrust is a fairly advanced variation. It’s performed exactly like the traditional hip thrust but with only a single leg at a time. This exercise is MUCH more difficult than the two leg version. You can add a dumbbell on the working leg, barbell or even a mini-band just above the knees to increase the difficulty.

      Tip: Take the nonworking leg and bend it at the knee. At the top of the movement the knee should be pointing at the ceiling, squeeze your glute as hard as possible and think about driving the knee of the nonworking leg up to the ceiling.

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      Start with the simplest version and progress as you master the movement. Don’t be afraid to add weight, band tension or range of motion to the movements as long as the quality of the movement stays high. You’re probably not going to build the firmness or roundness you want your butt to have if you’re simply using only your body weight and staying light all the time. Your muscles need to be exposed to progressively higher loads to grow and take shape. That said, don’t let your ego get the better of you. Keep the movement quality high and focus on getting the best, most intense, contraction in the glutes you possibly can.

      Once you start doing bridges everyday, you’ll be surprised at how quickly your glutes improve and the amazing things that will happen once your butt is actually turned on and active through the day.

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      Fitness Coaching

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      Last Updated on March 30, 2020

      Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

      Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

      Feeling tired all the time?

      Have you ever caught yourself nodding off when you’re watching TV, listening to someone drone on during a meeting or even driving a car?

      I know I have, especially when I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive.

      Feeling tired all the time may be more widespread than you think. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

      If you’re tired of feeling tired, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

      In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re feeling tired all the time and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

      What Happens When You’re Too Tired

      If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

      Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

      • You may have trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired within your brain.
      • You may experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not because your brain’s neurotransmitters are misfiring.
      • You may get dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
      • You may find it more difficult to exercise or to perform any type of athletic activity.
      • Your immune system may weaken causing you to pick up infections more easily.
      • You may overeat because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids even when you’re not hungry.
      • Your metabolism slows down so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

      Are you saying that feeling tired can make me overweight?

      Unfortunately, yes!

      Feeling tired all the time can cause you to put on the pounds especially around your waist. But it is a classic chicken and egg situation, too.

      Heavier people are more likely to feel fatigued during the day than lighter ones. And that’s even true for overweight people who don’t have sleep apnea (source: National Institutes of Health).

      Speaking of sleep apnea, you may be wondering if that or something else is causing you to feel tired all the time.

      Why Are you Feeling Tired All the Time?

      Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

      Here’s a quick overview of each root cause of feeling tired all of the time:

      1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep restorative sleep.
      2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness which could be triggered by numerous issues such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
      3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

      The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance or emotional trauma.

      It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

      Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

      Feeling Tired vs Being Fatigued

      If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

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      Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

      Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep.

      But fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive (source: Science Direct).

      Symptoms of fatigue include:

      • Difficulty concentrating
      • Low stamina
      • Difficulty sleeping
      • Anxiety
      • Low motivation

      These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness but they usually last longer and are more intense.

      Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. But there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

      How Much Sleep Is Enough?

      The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

      Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

      So, quantity and quality do matter when it comes to sleep.

      The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

      Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

      Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[5] So, you should definitely plan on getting seven hours of deep restorative sleep every night.

      If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is most likely reason you feel tired all the time.

      And that is good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

      It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

      4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

      Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

      1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
      2. Exercising regularly
      3. Using stressbusters
      4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

      So, I know it is possible to change your lifestyle even when you’re working crazy hours and have lots of family responsibilities.

      After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

      In addition, I lost two inches off my waist and looked and felt better than ever.

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      I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

      Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

      • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy including getting enough sleep.
      • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day ideally for six days a week.
      • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
      • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

      The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight and to achieve overall wellness.[6]

      And yes, there does seem to be an important correlation between being lean and feeling rested.

      But overall based on my personal experience and Dr. Sear’s scientific proof, the key to not feeling tired all of the time does seem to be 4 simple changes to your lifestyle.

      L — Living Healthy

      Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested and better overall.

      So, whether you’re sleep deprived or potentially suffering from fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you probably want to find a way to sleep better.

      In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger.

      As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

      Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

      1. Unplug

      Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. But tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime.

      So turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

      2. Unwind

      Do something to relax.

      Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating or taking an Epsom salt bath.

      3. Get Comfortable

      Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

      Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep.

      Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

      Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed.

      If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[7]

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      Above all, be gentle with yourself and count your blessings, some sheep or whatever helps.

      This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

      E — Exercise

      Many people know that exercise is good for them, but just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

      That’s what happened in my case.

      But when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my lifestyle.

      As part of my lifestyle upgrade, I knew I needed to move more.

      My friends who exercise all gave me the same advice: find an exercise you like to do and find a specific time in your schedule when you can consistently do it.

      That made sense to me.

      So, I decided to swim.

      I used to love to swim when I was young, but I hadn’t done it for years. The best time for me to do it was immediately after work, since I could easily get an open swim lane at my local fitness club then.

      Also, swimming became a nice reason for me to leave work on time. And I got to enjoy a nice workout before eating dinner.

      Swimming is a good way to get your cardio or endurance training. But, walking, running and dancing are nice alternatives.

      So find an exercise you love and stick to it. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training and flexibility training in during your daily 20-minute workout.

      If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try because you will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

      A — Attitude

      Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

      When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted. But there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued.

      Do you want to know what that master stress-busting technique was?

      Breathing.

      But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

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      Here’s how you do “Long-Exhale Breathing”:

      1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy (so you know you are breathing deeply from your diaphragm and not shallowly from your chest)
      2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air)
      3. Hold your breath while you count to 7 mentally and enjoy the stillness
      4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it)
      5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep, long exhale breath
      6. Repeat 3 times ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system

      This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

      When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[8]

      Plus, this is a great technique for helping you get to sleep, too.

      N — Nutrition

      Diet is vital for beating fatigue – after all, food is your main source of energy.

      If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels.

      Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated, time-consuming though.

      For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

      Unless your current diet is solely made up of fast food and ready meals, adjusting to a fatigue-fighting diet shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system.

      Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

      1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
      2. Add a healthy fat or protein to your any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed. Please note that carb-only snacks lead to blood-sugar crashes that can make you eat more and they can keep you from sleeping.
      3. Fill up with fiber especially green leafy vegetables. Strive to get at least 25g per day with at least 5 servings (a serving is the size of your fist) of green vegetables.
      4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice and corn.
      5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
      6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives such as So Delicious Dairy-Free Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream.
      7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive and nut oils.
      8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts such as Kite Hill Plain Yoghurt with 1g sugar or Lifeway Farmer Cheese with 0g sugar.
      9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice

      Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

      That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

      Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multi-vitamin or specific supplement.

      The Bottom Line

      If you are tired of feeling tired, then there is tremendous hope.

      If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices.

      If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes including:

      • Enough High-Quality Sleep with Bedtime Routine
      • Regular Exercise You Love
      • Stress Reduction with Long-Exhale Breathing
      • Fatigue-Reducing Diet

      Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle Is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

      More Tips to Help You Rest Better

      Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
      [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
      [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
      [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
      [5] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
      [6] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
      [7] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
      [8] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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