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Everyday Health Dilemma Solved

Sleep in or exercise? Eat a doughnut for breakfast or nothing? Find out which is the better choice.

Exercise for half an hour three days a week or go for a two hour bike ride on the weekend?

Better choice: Half an hour, three days a week

Ideally, aim for 30 to 60 minutes of activity at least five days a week. Every time you exercise, you reap benefits like lowering blood sugar and boosting metabolism.

Apply a heating pad or an ice pack after a minor injury?

Better choice: Ice pack

The experts agree that for the first 24 to 48 hours of muscle soreness or injury, ice is the way to go. A tough workout can cause microscopic tears to the muscle tissue, which cause an inflammatory response and soreness. Ice will control the swelling.

But… After 48 hours, heat can be soothing, and it promotes blood flow to the area to help start the muscle-repair process.

Eat a doughnut for breakfast or eat nothing at all?

Better choice: Doughnut

If you haven’t eaten for upwards of eight hours, your low blood sugar can make it difficult to focus on work. That’s why experts begrudgingly recommend eating a doughnut (the plainer the better). Studies have also found that those who skip breakfast overcompensate by eating more calories throughout the day.

But… To offset some of the doughnut’s shortcomings, drink a glass of low-fat milk for protein. It will help you feel fuller, longer.

Before going for a run, stretch for 5 minutes or walk for 5 minutes?

Better choice: Walk

To prepare your body for an activity, the best thing you can do is a similar activity that’s slower and gentler. So start with a walk, then gradually raise your intensity. Stretching cold muscles can increase your risk of injury, which is why experts believe that it’s better done after your body is warmed up.

But… Stretching promotes flexibility, which may also lessen the risk of injury. Just be sure to warm up first or stretch after exercise.

Sleep an extra hour or get up and exercise?

Better choice: Exercise

Contrary to popular belief, a full eight hours of sleep isn’t necessary for good health, but regular exercise is. Studies have shown that people who sleep seven hours a night have a lower mortality rate than those who sleep more than eight hours. And if you have trouble getting up early, the best solution is… getting up early. Going outside to exercise in the morning light will help reset your body clock and eventually make it easier to wake up earlier.

But… If you’re particularly sleep-deprived—you have a new baby, say—it’s not worth sacrificing sleep to exercise. In addition to fatigue and difficulty focusing, inadequate sleep may contribute
to depression, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, according to the U.S. National Sleep Foundation.

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