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Lifestyle & Wellness
September 29, 2023

What does it mean to be healthy?

5 minutes

How do you know if you are physically healthy? Let's find out.

Health encompasses all aspects of well-being, including physical, mental, and social wellness. While being free from disease is one part of health, there are other important factors that contribute to a healthy life.

If you're trying to answer the question of what does being healthy mean to you, it's important to understand that health looks different for everyone. Sometimes, such as during a time of grief, your mental health may need more focus than other aspects of your health. Other times, such as after a tough diagnosis, your emotional and social health may take a back seat as you prioritize your physical health. Our health and well-being needs fluctuate over time, and it's normal to focus on different parts of your health as your seasons of life change.

Here, we'll take a look at some of the different types of health, factors to consider when working to improve your health, and how you can work to achieve an optimal state of wellness.

Types of health: What does it mean to be mentally and emotionally healthy, as well as physically healthy?

Health is personal, and what means positive health for one person may not for someone else. It's important to get to know what makes you feel your best. Three common focus areas of well-being include physical, mental, and social health.

Physical health

Your physical well-being--including physical ailments, injuries, immune system function, cardiovascular health, etc.--is an important part of your overall health. Physical health can be more cut-and-dry than other types of health. Target numbers (like getting into an ideal blood pressure range) can help people know when they're making progress with their physical health.

Mental health

It can be harder to pinpoint progress with mental well-being than with physical well-being. Mental health can be more subjective. Scaling and other mental health measurement tools can offer insight into a person's mental and emotional well-being. That being said, understanding whether a mental health treatment (such as therapy or medication) is working can be harder than understanding whether a treatment for a physical ailment is working. While finding the right mental health support can take time, it's well worth your effort.

Social health

Humans are social creatures, and our interaction with one another is an important part of our well-being. When we don't feel connected socially, our physical and mental health can suffer. Being a part of a family or a community is key for health. Your social support system doesn't have to be the one that you're born into--it can be the one you choose. Close friends, neighbors, coworkers, and chosen family can all play a significant role in improving social health.

Factors for good health

If you want to improve your health, it's important to have a starting point. Taking stock of where your health is doing well--and where there is room for improvement--can help you stay motivated to keep improving your health.


You can't choose your genetics, but you can choose behaviors that allow you to make the most of what you've got. Understanding your genes through talking with your family about their history and taking certain DNA tests can help you understand what you're up against. If you find that you have significant genetic issues, working with a genetic counselor can provide you with the information you need to be as healthy as possible, no matter what your genes. Working on your genetic health understanding helps you get an idea of what to expect health-wise over the course of your life--and can provide extra motivation to engage in healthy behaviors.

Tips to boost genetic health:

  • Talk to your doctor about any DNA tests that might make sense for you based on family history
  • Talk with your family members about health issues that run in your family
  • Schedule an appointment with a genetic counselor if you have concerns


Your environment affects both your physical and mental well-being. Creating a clean, safe environment can help your health thrive. When it comes to the basics of environment, you'll want to make sure that your home, workspace, and anywhere else you spend time are clean and pleasant. Staying away from smoke and other pollutants and allergens can allow your body to focus on vital processes, rather than trying to fend off allergens. Allowing sunlight into your space, cleaning regularly, and working to spend time in outdoor spaces when possible can make your environment work for you.

Tips to boost environmental health:

  • Get outside when you can--being outdoors is healthy for the body and mind.
  • Keep your home and workspace clean and free of clutter.
  • Stay away from allergens, including smoke.

Health inequity

Health inequity in the United States--and around the world--is stopping many individuals, communities, and populations from achieving optimal health. A lack of access to healthcare, resources, healthy food, clean water, and preventative care can all make it devastatingly difficult for people in certain areas or with certain difficulties to thrive. Many health disparities between groups are preventable, and advocating for your care--and helping others advocate for their care--can help to reduce inequity in the healthcare system.

Tips to stop health inequity:

  • Write to your local and state elected officials demanding policy change.
  • Talk with your local hospital about opportunities to serve those in need.

Heart rate

Generally, a low resting heart rate is indicative of good cardiovascular health. Most hearts beat between 60 and 100 times per minute. The more efficient your heart, the less your heart may need to beat at rest--for example, an Olympic athlete's heart may only beat 40 times per minute while they're resting.

Tips to lower your resting heart rate:

  • Practice stress management techniques, like meditation and yoga.
  • Stop drinking alcohol and caffeine.
  • Get regular cardiovascular exercise--at least 20 minutes, 3–4 times per week.

Evidation: Start keeping track of your health today.

At Evidation, we provide you with the health data you need to ensure that you're moving toward optimal wellness. We're proud to put you in the driver's seat of your own health. Download the app today to start making your health data work for you.

Lifestyle & Wellness
September 27, 2023

How to stay asleep all night: unlocking the secrets of a full night's sleep

5 minutes

Why can't I sleep through the night? Here are reasons why you might be waking up and tips on how to stay asleep all night.

The human body's designed to work hard, but it’s also designed to restore and rest during sleep. As you work on improving your health and wellness, don’t neglect the value of sleep. Yet it’s not just getting enough sleep that matters; it’s also getting enough quality sleep. If you're suffering from frequent nighttime awakening, then you're not getting good sleep. Here’s a closer look at how to stay asleep all night so you can get better quality sleep.

Quality sleep is a key component of health and wellness

The average adult needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Yet even if you’re in bed for all of those recommended hours, constant waking up during the night means you aren't getting the true rest you need, and your health and wellness could be suffering. Here’s a closer look at how to stop nighttime waking for a better night's sleep.

Common reasons you’re waking up during the night

senior woman lying in bed cannot sleep from insomnia

If you’re noticing a problem with waking up during the night, finding the underlying cause is important. There are multiple reasons why this might happen. These include:

  • Physical problems, like illness or pain
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Sleep disorders
  • Medications or foods, such as caffeine
  • Problems with the sleep environment
  • Age

With so many potential causes, you might feel frustrated at trying to fix the issue. Thankfully, once you do find your underlying cause, there are many options to help you get better sleep.

Understanding the sleep cycle

Your body moves through four stages when you sleep, according to the Sleep Foundation, and restorative sleep requires you to go through all four multiple times a night. If any stage is interrupted, you won’t feel rested. Here's a closer look at each stage.

Stage 1

Stage one is the stage when you first fall asleep. It’s short, lasting between one and seven minutes. During this stage, your brain and body activities start to slow down, but you wake up easily.

Stage 2

If nothing interrupts you during stage 1, you’ll quickly head into stage 2. Here, your body temperature drops, and your muscles relax. Your overall brain activity slows, and you’re harder to wake up. This stage lasts about 10 to 25 minutes during your first sleep cycle and can get longer as the night goes on.

Stage 3

Stage 3 is your deep sleep. Here, your body relaxes further, and you’re hard to wake up. This stage creates delta waves, a slow brain wave that medical professionals can identify on scans. Many medical experts believe this is where your body recovers and grows, making it a highly restorative stage. This stage lasts between 20 and 40 minutes.

Stage 4

Stage 4 is called REM sleep, and this stage is when you dream. The Sleep Foundation indicates many believe this to be the stage that impacts memory, learning, and creativity. You’ll enter REM sleep after around 90 minutes of sleep, and your brain will start to wake up. The length of time you spend in REM sleep changes through the night as you cycle through the four stages, ranging from a few minutes to over an hour. About a quarter of an average night of sleep is taken up by REM sleep.

Getting woken up at any part of this process could impact your emotional and physical health. Each stage is vital to feeling rested and restored, but deep and REM sleep may be the most important. Constant waking up during the night hurts these stages, leaving you feeling groggy and tired.

Causes of nighttime awakenings

Are you wondering how to improve sleep quality? First, understand the reasons why you're waking up at night, which may include these:

Stress and anxiety

One of the most common reasons people struggle to get a good night’s sleep is due to stress and anxiety, according to WebMD. If you’re struggling with your mental health, your sleep often stays in the lighter stages, leaving you without the healing deep and REM sleep stages.

Poor sleep habits

If you’re struggling with poor sleep habits, your body may struggle to fall and stay asleep. For instance, if you consume caffeine close to bedtime, it may prevent you from staying asleep. Similarly, the blue light from electronics can keep your brain in a more alert stage. Having an erratic sleep schedule can also be problematic.

Problems in the sleep environment

If you have a pet that jumps on you at night or a neighbor whose porch light shines in your window, your sleep may suffer. Other problems in the sleep environment may include an uncomfortable mattress or the wrong temperature.

Health concerns or medication

Finally, you may suffer from a health condition that impacts your sleep, including sleep disorders like sleep apnea. Some medications can also impact sleep. If you feel that you’re not getting enough sleep, consider having a medical checkup to rule out any of these physical concerns.

Tips to stay asleep all night

Are you ready to get a better night’s sleep? Consider these strategies:

Create a sleep-friendly environment

Set up your sleep environment so it’s sleep-friendly. Tools like a fan or white noise machine, room-darkening blinds, and a cooling mattress can all help set the stage for a good night’s sleep. In addition, exposing yourself to natural light can trigger your body’s natural melatonin production cycle, making you feel sleepier when it’s time to go to bed.

Manage stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety can leave you with an overabundance of cortisol and adrenaline, and these hormones impact sleep. Learn ways to reduce adrenaline naturally and practice techniques such as meditation and journaling to lower other types of stress and anxiety.

Establish a consistent sleep routine

Keeping your sleep habits on a good, solid routine will help your body and brain learn when to fall asleep. Going to bed and getting up around the same time each day will help you sleep better. Research has found that “catching up on sleep” by sleeping in on the weekends is a fallacy. You need consistent, daily sleep to feel rested. After you’ve established a routine bedtime and wake-up time that works for your body, consider adding a routine to your bedtime that helps your brain wind down. Figure out what helps you relax, such as a warm bath or some time reading, and do those activities before you go to bed.

Treat sleep disorders

If your doctor discovers a sleep disorder, then treat the disorder. Restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea are two of the most common, but there can be others. Work with your doctor to get these conditions under control.

Tackle diet and lifestyle factors

Several lifestyle factors can impact your ability to sleep. Exercise can help you sleep, but it works best if early in the day, rather than before bedtime, when adrenaline will impact your sleep. Some foods can help with your sleep as well, including low-fat cottage cheese, bananas, cherries, and salmon.

Taking control of your health can have a positive impact on your sleep routine and overall quality of sleep. Evidation can be a tool to help. Download the app today, and start tracking your health to improve your overall wellbeing.

Lifestyle & Wellness
September 22, 2023

Risks of only sleeping 4 hours a night: causes and solutions

5 minutes

Breaking down the causes and solutions for adults who struggle to sleep for 7+ hours a night.

The benefits of sleep are no secret.

For most adults, 7 hours or more of sleep each night is recommended. Getting enough sleep can help lower the risk of serious health conditions, manage a healthy weight, and reduce stress, just to name a few.

This begs the question - why are more and more people struggling to get enough sleep? What is the short and long-term impact of sleep deprivation?

In this post, we’ll dive deep into the dangers of chronic sleep deprivation, why so many people can’t seem to get the sleep they need, and how you can improve your sleep quality over time.

Why aren’t we sleeping enough?

1 in 3 adults aren’t getting the recommended 7 hours of sleep per night. From a demanding job to a busy social life, there are many reasons adults aren’t sleeping as much as they should.

With a significant increase in digital consumption, from our phones to binge-watching TV shows, sleep seems to be the one thing most adults are willing to sacrifice.

Many adults work multiple jobs or have shift work that requires them to sleep less or during times that are not ideal within their environments. For example, a night nurse may have to sleep during the day, but the home environment may not be suitable for 7 hours of quiet, uninterrupted sleep.

Other people are living with health disorders, from anxiety to sleep apnea, that impact the quality and duration of sleep they get each day.

What can happen to your body if you don't sleep enough?

The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night for adults. However, it’s not just about the length of time you sleep; it’s also about the quality of sleep you get in that time period. Sleep quality plays a role in the recovery your body undergoes while asleep and how rested you feel the next day.

If you can't sleep longer than 4 hours a night, you may start to notice negative changes within your body and mind. Here are some of the most critical ways your body will feel the impact of not enough sleep.

Physical Health Impacts

Your body requires enough sleep to reset and repair itself. Your heart rate slows, your blood pressure falls, and some vital organs don’t have to work as hard during this period of rest. When your body does not have this time to repair, it can be damaging in several ways.

Those who do not get enough consistent sleep can be at a higher risk of the following:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Stroke
  • Weakened immune system

Mental Health Effects

Think back to a time when you didn’t get enough sleep - how did you feel the next day? Many people report feeling more stressed, drained, impatient, and unable to focus when they’re experiencing sleep deprivation. This is likely because adequate sleep helps maintain our cognitive skills, like attention, memory, and learning.

The brain needs sleep to rest and repair just as much as the body does. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to the following mental health effects:

  • Struggle to focus or think clearly (brain fog)
  • Negative emotional responses
  • Increased risk of mental health disorders
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Bipolar disorder

Mortality Increase

Since the 1960s, data has shown that individuals who get seven or more hours of sleep have the lowest mortality risk. Particularly for those who are living with pre-existing conditions, getting enough sleep (among many other factors) has the power to add years to our lives.

Cardiovascular Disease

Over time, chronic sleep deprivation can negatively impact the heart. Whether you’re intentionally getting less sleep or struggling with insomnia, a consistent lack of sleep is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease.

This risk is associated with other factors related to sleep problems, including higher stress levels and a lack of physical exercise, which can impact heart health as well.

Sleep Extension

Sleep extension occurs when you’re in a sleep “debt,” and your body needs to make up for the sleep it lacks. Sleep extension is when you intentionally sleep longer than you normally would to catch up on sleep. For people who regularly get less than the recommended amount of sleep, sleep extension can have physical and mental benefits, but for most, it’s not a sustainable lifestyle or practice.

Improving Sleep Quality

Now that you know the dangers of chronic sleep deprivation, let’s get into the actions and healthy lifestyle changes you can make to improve your sleep quality. Whether you’re currently experiencing poor sleep or you have in the past, these are suggestions and recommendations you can implement in your daily life to improve your sleep quality and duration.

Take Care of Your Body

If your sleep quality needs improvements, take a step back and evaluate a few parts of your daily habits. Are you eating healthy? How much caffeine are you consuming? Are you getting enough exercise?

Aside from the physical aspect, your mental health habits may need modifying as well. Take the necessary steps to lower any types of anxiety you experience on a regular basis. These steps can include therapy, meditation, yoga, journaling, and other self-care practices that work for you.

Create a Bedtime Routine

Establishing a routine can help to improve your sleep quality over time. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Take other measures to ensure you are relaxed and ready for bed by putting your phone down an hour before bed.

Meditating before bed can be a very useful tool, especially if you have trouble quieting your mind. With practice, you’ll get into bed feeling calm, relaxed, and ready to catch some Z’s. Meditation is typically associated with calmness and peace, but it also has a beneficial impact on the body and the mind as you prepare for bedtime. While meditating, your breathing slows, and the part of your brain that controls sleep cycles is activated.

Take Melatonin

Melatonin is a natural hormone made by the brain that assists with sleep. Trying a melatonin supplement may help improve your sleep patterns over time if you struggle with short sleep syndrome. Just be sure to find a product that has undergone third-party testing to ensure it’s safe and has the accurate dosage.

Track Your Sleep

Many health apps offer sleep trackers where users can monitor the rest they get each night to identify changes or irregularities in sleep. Having access to your personal sleep data can help you make lifestyle changes in order to improve your sleep over time.

Sleep your way to optimal health with Evidation

If you were wondering, "Is 5 hours of sleep enough?" Now you know that change is imminent for your physical and mental health. Evidation Members can earn points for tracking self-care activities such as walking, sleeping, food intake, and more. By completing surveys and questionnaires, Evidation Members gain access to insights about their sleep patterns and personalized content, like tips and articles to help improve sleep. Download our app today to get started.

Healthy Eating
September 20, 2023

Should you eat before or after a workout to lose weight? Here's what you need to know

5 minutes

Losing weight is hard work. Knowing what to eat--and when to eat it--can help you hit your goals.

Working to lose weight can feel like trying to figure out your body's secret code to wellness. While there's some guesswork involved when it comes to finding the best way for you to drop some pounds, one thing is clear: you can't out-exercise poor nutrition. When it comes to weight loss, eating well is key. Understanding what to eat--and when to eat--in relation to your workouts is important when it comes to maximizing your weight loss efforts.

Here, we'll take a look at what you need to know when it comes to pre- and post-workout nutrition.

What should I eat before working out to lose weight?

If you're finding yourself searching for terms like "after exercise what to eat for weight loss" or "before workout snack lose weight" it's likely that you're serious about getting fit. What you eat before and after your workouts can help you make the most out of your daily burn.

If you're not going through a strenuous workout, you likely don't need to eat before you exercise. The energy that you burn during a light workout will contribute to your overall burn--and will not need to be replaced with additional food.

If you want to eat before you work out because you're feeling peckish or are about to do intense exercise, you'll want to choose real, unprocessed foods to help you get the most out of your physical activity. You may find that you get your best workout when you stay away from fat-heavy foods prior to your workout.

If you decide to eat before your workout, you'll want to stick with something that combines a protein with a carbohydrate. Solid pre-workout meals and snacks can include:

  • Low-fat plain yogurt and fruit
  • Crackers with peanut butter
  • Cooked vegetables and lean protein
  • Half of a sandwich with meat and cheese

You'll want to pay attention to how your pre-workout food affects your body. If you feel fantastic after eating a certain pre-workout meal, be sure to make note, so you can incorporate it into your routine.

When should I eat after a workout to lose weight?

Spending time searching for "when should I eat for weight loss" or "what should I eat before working out to lose weight"?

Unless you're performing very high-intensity exercise (intense weight lifting, high intensity interval training, high intensity competitive sports, high level endurance training), you don't need to eat immediately after you're done working out. Sticking to your standard schedule of eating is usually sufficient for refueling your muscles after exercising when you're working to lose weight.

If you're working out intensely, are interested in building muscle, or are working out for more than an hour, it's smart to consume a meal within the hour following your workout.

If you need a meal after you work out, you'll want to focus on real foods that provide a balance of fat, protein, and carbohydrates.

Some great post-workout meal choices include:

  • Vegetables and hummus topped with a splash of olive oil
  • Grilled chicken with vegetables and rice
  • Grilled or pan-roasted fish with a sweet potato
  • Veggie-loaded tacos made with fish or lean beef

If you're not eating immediately after your workout, you'll still want to be sure to focus on natural, unprocessed, balanced meals to fuel your weight loss.

Balancing your calorie intake

As you lose weight, gain muscle, and become more active, you may find that you need more or fewer calories in order to continue on your health journey. You may also find that your eating schedule needs to change--for example, you may need a larger breakfast if you're completing intense workouts in the morning.

Generally, if you're working out for less than an hour and want to lose (rather than gain or maintain) weight, you won't need to take in additional calories. If you're working out for more than 60 minutes, your body may need additional calories in order to keep your energy levels high and your nutrition balanced.

A word of caution when it comes to refueling after a tough workout: you'll want to keep an eye on total calories, not just macronutrient (protein, fat, and carbohydrate) levels. Some high-protein options (like protein bars) pack a hefty amount of calories, which may derail your weight loss efforts.

Tracking your food intake can help you understand what's working and what's not when it comes to your weight loss. Keeping an eye on general trends (rather than day to day losses and gains) can give you insight into whether your caloric intake is supporting your weight loss goal.

Listening to your body

Portrait of a mature man breathing fresh air, checking in with how his body feels after exercising

It's important to listen to your body when working to lose weight. Your caloric needs can change based on a number of factors, and it's important to pay attention to your body's natural signals.

If you find that you're feeling faint during your workout, or you're feeling weak, you'll want to beef up your pre-workout meal or snack. You may also find that you feel sluggish or weighed down by your pre-workout meal or snack, which may mean you want to downsize your intake (or skip eating before your workout altogether).

If you find that you're especially hungry following your workout, it's ok to boost your post-workout meal. If you're finding that you're not losing weight at the rate that you'd like, it can also be helpful to change the composition of your post-workout intake. Loading up on veggies, ensuring that you're properly hydrated, and increasing your protein intake can all help you feel satiated after a workout.

The bottom line: your body knows what it needs to fuel up. As you continue your weight loss journey, you'll begin to notice when you're truly hungry (as opposed to craving foods that don't fuel your body). Pay attention to how your food choices affect your workout and recovery, and remember that adjustments to your nutrition plan are often necessary as your body composition changes.

Take control of your health by downloading the Evidation app today

When it comes to improving your health, understanding your body is key. Evidation allows you to put your health data to good use, providing insight on how you can change your lifestyle to lose weight, manage health conditions, and more. Download the Evidation app today to get started.

Your Health
September 15, 2023

Can you exercise with high blood pressure? Here's what you need to know

5 minutes

Learn how to use exercise and other lifestyle changes to lower your blood pressure levels

If you've been diagnosed with hypertension (the medical term for high blood pressure), you might be searching for terms like how can I bring my blood pressure down or does exercise lower blood pressure. Good news: there are several lifestyle changes you can make to get your blood pressure back to healthy levels.

An important note: everyone's health is different, and if you've been diagnosed with high blood pressure, it's vital that you talk with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. You'll need to take special considerations if you aren't currently physically active. Follow your doctor's recommendations for lifestyle changes, and be sure to check in with them before making adjustments to your workouts or nutrition plan.

Can exercise lower blood pressure?

The good news: yes, physical exercise can absolutely help you to lower your blood pressure, especially when used in combination with other lifestyle modifications.

Many people choose to try exercise, dietary changes, and stress management techniques in an effort to avoid the need for high blood pressure medication. For some, taking these steps can eliminate the need for hypertension drugs.

Working out can lower your blood pressure by 5 to 8 mm Hg, according to the Mayo Clinic. It's important that you keep up with exercise once you start, as you'll only experience the positive effects of working out on your blood pressure if you keep up with your routine. Doctors recommend that you shoot for at least half an hour of moderate exercise each day.

You don't have to do a super-high intensity workout to reap the benefits that exercise has on your heart health. If you're searching for answers to questions like does walking lower blood pressure, you're on the right track. Moderate exercise like dancing, walking, and cycling can all help you lower your blood pressure.

Working out with high blood pressure: The benefits

Working out feels great and can help you boost your cardiovascular health for several reasons. While exercise itself can help to lower your blood pressure, it can also affect other systems in the body that can contribute to a boost in heart health as well.

Weight loss is an important part of lowering blood pressure for many people. According to the Mayo Clinic, research shows that blood pressure tends to decrease by about 1 mm Hg for every two pounds lost. In addition to making dietary changes, exercise can help you begin to lose weight.

In addition to losing weight in a general sense, losing fat around the waistline can also help to lower blood pressure levels. Men are at risk for high blood pressure when their waist measurement surpasses 40 inches, while women are at risk when their waist measurement surpasses 35 inches. All-over weight loss can help to lower the size of your waist, making it more likely that your blood pressure will return to healthy levels.

Exercise can also help with stress reduction and getting better sleep--both factors which can contribute to positive heart health. You may find that exercising too close to bedtime can have a negative impact on your sleep. Moving your workouts to the morning can often provide a burst of energy to start your day while also making it easier to fall asleep at night. Taking a few moments to meditate or relax following your workout can maximize the stress-busting benefits of exercise, which can also help to lower your blood pressure levels.

Safety considerations for high blood pressure and physical exercise

After a diagnosis of hypertension, it's normal to pay close attention to your heart. Exercise will make your blood pressure rise temporarily, but it should go back down after you finish your workout. If your blood pressure is especially high, your healthcare provider may recommend that you use medication to control your blood pressure before you begin to exercise.

Working out with high blood pressure: exercise intensity and duration

Moderate-intensity exercise is a great start for people who have been diagnosed with hypertension. If you'd prefer to work out at a higher intensity level, that's fantastic--as long as you check in with your healthcare provider to ensure that you're stepping your workouts up safely. Activities like high intensity interval training and weight lifting may be safe, but you'll need to talk with your doctor before beginning these and similar activities, as they can be strenuous on your body's cardiovascular system.

A good way to judge your exercise intensity level is by your ability to hold a conversation while you're working out. Moderate exercise will make you feel an increase in your body temperature. You should be breathing harder than normal, but not to the point where you wouldn't be able to chat with a friend. Conversation should feel fairly normal, and you shouldn't need to pant to catch your breath between words.

Starting with half an hour of exercise each day can be a sustainable way to get started with improving your heart health. Adding a walk after dinner or during your lunch break can help you begin the habit of adding more movement to your day.

How to prevent high blood pressure with exercise and other lifestyle changes

In addition to exercise, there are many things that you can do to prevent high blood pressure, or to get your blood pressure back to healthy levels if you've been diagnosed with hypertension.

Switching up your nutrition plan is a smart step to help your heart health. Changing your diet to include a wide variety of produce, whole grains, and low-fat dairy can all help you lower your blood pressure. Lowering your salt intake can help as well. Salt is hidden in many foods, especially those that are processed and packaged. Even when cooking at home, lowering the amount of salt you add to food can help. Try seasoning your food with new spices and herbs to add a boost of flavor without increasing sodium levels.

Limiting or eliminating alcohol can also help to lower your blood pressure.If you need help with your drinking, talking to your doctor about resources available to you can be a good place to start.

Taking control of your health: Evidation can help.

When you're living with hypertension, it's important that you keep a close eye on your health progress to ensure that your cardiovascular health is moving in the right direction. Evidation can help. When you download the app, you'll be able to utilize your health data to help you move forward with getting your blood pressure to healthy levels. Knowledge is power--and Evidation can help you get your power back, one day at a time.

Fitness & Exercise
September 13, 2023

Benefits of Pilates: strengthen your body and elevate your well-being

5 minutes

New to Pilates? Learn about the different types of Pilates, benefits of Pilates workouts, and how to decide if it's a good fit for you.

The practice of Pilates was developed over 100 years ago by Joseph Pilates, a German trainer who wanted to create a practice that had benefits for both the mind and the body. He wanted to strengthen both facets of his health, and believed that his method could help to repair problems in the body.

Pilates developed his exercise regime under intense duress, while he was at the Knockaloe internment camp. He worked with others who were imprisoned at the camp, fine-tuning his method to provide maximum benefits to both the mind and body.

Here, we'll explore everything you need to know about Pilates, from the different types of Pilates, the benefits you can expect from doing Pilates regularly, and how you can use Pilates to get maximum results.

What is Pilates?

Part stretching, part strength, and part mind-body connection, Pilates takes a multi-faceted approach to fitness. Many types of Pilates utilize what Joseph Pilates referred to as "apparatus." The most common type of apparatus used today is known as the Reformer, named for its ability to reshape and realign the body. Each apparatus in Pilates is used to accelerate the process of aligning the body, stretching, strengthening muscles, and supporting the development of a strong core.

Each session of Pilates is meant to feel like a workout, rather than a mental health or physical therapy session. It often takes experiencing a Pilates class to understand how intense the workouts can be, as they consist of small movements that may not look like hard work to someone who isn't familiar with the process.

There are many similarities between yoga and Pilates, including the importance of mind-body connection. The key distinction is that yoga is rooted in a deep spiritual tradition. Pilates focuses more heavily on physical health and encourages a stronger focus on core strength.

Different types of Pilates

If you're getting ready to try a Pilates class for the first time, it's normal to feel overwhelmed when learning about the different types of workouts that all fall under the Pilates umbrella.

There are seven general types of Pilates, and understanding the differences between the different types can help you choose the option that's the right fit for your needs.

Classical Pilates

Also known as Contrology, classical Pilates is based on the concepts initially developed by Joseph Pilates, and follows his sequence of movements in order. Classical Pilates classes can be done either on a floor mat or on a Pilates Reformer.

Clinical Pilates

Clinical Pilates requires the instruction of a physical therapist who will work with you one-on-one to use the concepts of Pilates to address injury or other health concerns.

Contemporary Pilates

This type of Pilates combines classical Pilates concepts and movements with other types of exercise, including aerobics and yoga. Each instructor approaches contemporary Pilates differently, and classes can vary widely.

Mat Pilates

A Pilates mat provides comfortable cushioning and can easily be done in the comfort of your own home. While some mat Pilates classes have a specific focus, generally, the practice works to improve balance while strengthening the legs, hips, lower back, pelvic floor, and shoulders.

Reformer Pilates

Young fit man doing reformer pilates in studio

A Pilates Reformer machine uses a frame, platform, and spring-based system to create resistance as participants move through a series of Pilates exercises. Most find that Reformer Pilates is more intense than mat Pilates. It's important to learn how to use a Pilates Reformer under the supervision of a trained instructor, but over time, you may feel comfortable purchasing and using a Pilates Reformer at home.

Stott Pilates

This type of Pilates works to create balance in the body by restoring the natural curve of the spine. During Stott Pilates, participants work to keep the lumbar spine off of the floor while moving through a series of movements designed to strengthen the muscles that surround the spine.

Winsor Pilates

Named after Mari Winsor, the method's founder, this type of Pilates works to focus on energy in the center of the body, and is focused on healthy weight loss. Winsor Pilates encourages participants to focus on their breathing, using the power of their breath to support their movements throughout their Pilates practice.

What Pilates does for your body

People who practice Pilates may experience myriad health benefits, which can include:

  • Improved muscle strength (especially core strength)
  • Restoration of balanced muscles throughout the body
  • Increased muscular control
  • Lower stress levels
  • Enhanced flexibility
  • Improved posture

Like any workout program, it takes time and consistency to see continued results while taking Pilates classes or going through Pilates workouts at home.

What is Pilates good for?

Pilates can be a great way to get back into exercise if you're just starting to work out, have limited mobility, or are recovering from an injury, as the movements are customizable to your ability level. You'll likely find that you're able to progress through tougher movements as your strength and balance improve.

While Pilates is certainly a strenuous workout, you'll be able to go at your own pace, taking breaks as necessary. Many people who are dealing with stress find that the concentration required by a Pilates workout provides a welcome break from the chatter in their minds.

How effective is Pilates?

If you're new to this type of workout, you may be wondering, "Is Pilates good exercise" or searching for answers to questions like "does Pilates build muscle".

Good news: Pilates provides many health benefits for both the brain and the body. In addition to supporting healthy, sustainable weight loss, Pilates is also found to support improved mental health.

In addition to working as a solid fitness program on its own, Pilates can also work to support your body as an add-on to other workouts. The practice can help to strengthen muscles and create a sense of muscular control that can protect the body from injury.  

Take charge of your fitness with Evidation

Ready to make the most out of your workouts? We've got you covered. Understanding where you're starting and the progress you're making is key to learning more about what works for your body. Download the Evidation app today to use your health data to your advantage, one workout at a time.

Your Health
September 8, 2023

Understanding the different types of Multiple Sclerosis

5 minutes

No two MS diagnoses are the same. Understanding different types of MS can help you understand your diagnosis.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), you may be unsure of where to turn. MS is a complex autoimmune condition, and no two people experience multiple sclerosis symptoms in exactly the same way.

Here, we'll explore exactly what a multiple sclerosis diagnosis means, the different types of MS and how they can show up in the brain and the body, and how to take steps to take control of your health following a tough diagnosis.

What is multiple sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis affects several parts of the body, including the optic nerves, brain, and spinal cord. These components make up the body's central nervous system, which is responsible for receiving, processing, and responding to information perceived by the senses.

While researchers don't fully understand what causes MS, it's clear that the condition causes the body's immune system to attack the central nervous system. The nerve fibers that run through the body are coated in a protective layer called myelin. When a person develops MS, the myelin is damaged, which interferes with the messaging between the brain and other parts of the nervous system.

There are many different symptoms of MS, including:

  • Numbness
  • Mood changes
  • Tingling
  • Memory issues
  • Pain
  • Paralysis
  • Fatigue
  • Blindness

Some people find that they only experience multiple sclerosis symptoms during flare-ups, while others experience symptoms on a more consistent basis. Flare-ups can be caused by an infection in the body, not getting enough sleep, and inflammation in the body that may or may not be related to eating certain foods.

Understanding how your body is responding to MS is a key first step in managing your condition. In addition to knowing what causes your symptoms to worsen, it's also important to understand your classification of multiple sclerosis.

Multiple sclerosis or MS. autoimmune disease. the nerves of the brain and spinal cord are damaged by one's own immune system.

Types of MS

The type of MS you have may change over time. As you work with your healthcare provider to understand and manage your symptoms, they'll keep you updated on the current classification of your condition.

Here, we'll explore the three main types of multiple sclerosis--relapsing-remitting, primary-progressive, and secondary progressive, as well as clinically isolated syndrome.

Relapsing remitting MS (RRMS)

The most common type of multiple sclerosis, RRMS is characterized by periods of fewer or no symptoms, followed by periods of relapse. About 85% of people with MS are diagnosed with RRMS.

During the recovery period between each relapse, RRMS does not get worse. During each relapse, however, symptoms tend to increase in severity.

Relapses of MS are defined as the appearance of new symptoms or the resurgence of old symptoms. Keeping a journal of your symptoms can help you and your doctor to understand lifestyle factors or foods that may push your body to relapse. Typically, relapse symptoms begin and worsen within a matter of hours or days, and may remain active for just a few days or for several months.

While some relapses require inpatient treatment, often, symptoms can be managed at home. Some people find that symptoms come and go during an RRMS relapse. The return to the recovery period is often gradual, with relapse symptoms fading over time.

Primary progressive MS (PPMS)

Most commonly diagnosed in people aged 40-49, primary-progressive MS becomes worse over time. PPMS only accounts for about 15% of all MS cases. Many people don't notice that they're showing symptoms of MS at the start of the disease, as early indicators of PPMS are typically mild.

Unlike other types of MS, people with PPMS don't usually experience relapses. Their symptoms usually stay consistent for long periods of time, with a gradual increase as the disease begins to progress.

People are diagnosed with PPMS when their MS symptoms are apparent and get worse over the course of a year (rather than relapsing MS, in which symptoms get better and worse over time). In order to diagnose PPMS, your doctor will take an MRI of your brain and/or your spinal cord, looking for at least two lesions that formed at different times. You'll also have a lumbar puncture procedure. Your treatment team will analyze your spinal fluid, looking for antibodies that indicate the presence of MS.

There are many ways to manage the symptoms of PPMS, including lifestyle changes and medications. You may find that a combination of medication and lifestyle changes works to slow the progression of your symptoms.

Secondary-progressive MS (SPMS)

Sometimes, MS progresses into different stages as the severity and frequency of symptoms begins to increase. Relapse remitting MS (RRMS) can progress into SPMS for many people. During this stage of the disease, symptoms are continual, without a recovery period. In order to diagnose a progression to this stage of MS, healthcare professionals look for a six-month period during which symptoms have continually become worse.

While there's no cure for MS, some drug therapies can be helpful for people with SPMS, including beta interferons and siponimod. Your doctor will also work with you to develop lifestyle strategies to help you manage your symptoms.

Clinically isolated syndrome (CIS)

If your brain shows signs of damage that's similar to MS, and you've had symptoms in line with MS, it's possible that you may be diagnosed with clinically isolated syndrome, or CIS. Many people who are diagnosed with CIS are never diagnosed with MS.

Autoimmune diseases and your health

Autoimmune diseases are complicated, and it can be hard to pinpoint the link between worsening symptoms and lifestyle factors. With the permission of our app users, Evidation is putting health data to work in the fight against autoimmune conditions. Click here to learn more about the research we’re doing to further the medical community’s understanding of autoimmune diseases.

Ready to take control of your health? Download Evidation today.

No matter what health conditions you're working to manage, understanding your health data can provide you with a great starting point. When you download Evidation, you'll have access to your health data and trends, allowing you to get a picture of how your lifestyle affects your well-being. Download the Evidation app today to get started.

Fitness & Exercise
September 6, 2023

How beneficial is walking for weight loss? Exploring the impact of the walking

5 minutes

Answering the common question, "Can walking help you lose weight?" and discussing the many physical and mental health benefits of consistent walking for physical exercise.

Consistent physical exercise is foundational to any weight loss journey, regardless of your current health or the goals you’re pursuing.

When paired with a healthy diet, physical exercise can help people from all walks of life maintain a healthy weight while creating long-term, sustainable habits to improve their lives.

Creating a consistent exercise routine takes time and commitment, and giving yourself grace is essential as you find the forms of exercise that work for your body and your lifestyle.

Fortunately, there are so many ways to get physical exercise, and walking outside or on a treadmill is one of the most common ways people choose to work out.

This post explores the many benefits of walking for weight loss and why it’s such a popular form of exercise for people of all different ages, sizes, and backgrounds.

Key benefits of walking for weight loss

As you explore walking for weight loss and maintenance, there are important benefits you should know about.

While walking comes highly recommended by medical professionals, it’s also a popular choice for athletes, those recovering from injury, and everyone in between. Let’s explore why this form of physical activity is so widely embraced and what positives it can bring to your journey.

Metabolism boost & burning calories

Metabolism plays a role in weight loss; it’s defined as how your body uses energy or burns calories. Unfortunately, we don’t have total control over our metabolism, which is partially related to genetics and our health history.

However, some of your metabolism can be controlled by lifestyle and the activities you perform regularly. The more movement you participate in during the day, including physical exercise like walking, the faster your metabolism works. Building consistent daily habits that include more movement, whether taking a walk during lunch or walking for 30 minutes after work in the evening, will contribute to a faster metabolism.

A high or faster metabolism means your body will burn calories during movement and while your body is resting. This is an ideal scenario for weight loss because your body is still working even when you’re no longer exercising. Weight loss is much more attainable if you burn more calories than you consume.

Sustainable and low-impact

Many choose to add walking to their exercise routine because it’s low impact and easy on the body. Regular walking at a moderate pace usually doesn’t add any strain to your muscles or joints, particularly the hips, ankles, and knees.

Walking offers minimal risk of injury, unlike other high-intensity cardio exercises like cycling or running. It’s also a more sustainable method if you want to work out for longer periods of time; you can walk longer or farther without overexerting yourself.

Many individuals add a few walks a week to their workout routine as a way to let their body recover; you control the pace, the distance, and the duration, making it a very sustainable form of exercise, whether you’re power walking or just strolling with a friend or your dog.

Cardiovascular health

The body needs cardiovascular exercise to maintain a robust and healthy heart. Engaging in regular cardio exercise can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of disease, and even reduce inflammation throughout the body, all by strengthening and exercising the heart!

Cardiovascular exercises range from high intensity like jump rope, boxing, rowing, and running to lower impact exercises like hiking, walking, and swimming. You don’t have to push your body to its limits to get a great cardio workout. Moderate or brisk walking is a fantastic way to get the heart pumping, improve blood flow, lower cholesterol, and much more.

General health and well-being

Whether you’re on a committed weight loss journey or just looking for new exercises to maintain your weight, physical exercise, like walking, is a great way to take care of the body and the mind.

Some people take long walks to free their thoughts, gain new perspectives, and even meditate. By getting fresh air or a change of scenery, many experience a change in outlook or even the “runner’s high” without engaging in high-intensity cardio exercises.

It’s no secret that physical exercise of any kind can significantly impact your mood. During exercise, the human body releases adrenaline and endorphins, which are known to improve mood and stress levels.

Additionally, regular physical exercise like walking has been shown to improve the quality of sleep, particularly for middle-aged and older adults.

Experts recommend anyone over 18 get at least 7 hours of quality sleep every night so the body can recharge and repair itself so you can wake up energized, healthy, and ready to take on the day!

As you add more cardio workouts to your weekly schedule, ensure you stay hydrated. As your body works harder and sweats more during your workouts, your body will need more water to function properly. As a general rule of thumb, experts recommend men drink 125 ounces of water each day, and women drink 91 ounces per day.

How many calories does walking burn?

According to Mayo Clinic, 30 minutes of brisk walking can help you burn at least 150 calories per day. The farther you go and the faster your speed is, the more calories you’ll burn along the way.

Many wearable devices will help you track these metrics, regardless of where you are on your journey to wellness. Whether you’re training for an event or setting a weight loss goal for yourself, having a supportive device can help you achieve those goals by tracking your progress along the way.

How often and how far should I walk?

Depending on your current physical health and if you want to lose weight by walking, most experts recommend starting with slow-paced walks for a short, manageable distance.

Start by going for 2–3 walks per week for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. You can add time and distance to your walks as you build endurance and muscle strength. Before you know it, you'll be walking 30 minutes a day and loving every minute of it.

Keep your health a priority with the Evidation app

Walking is a low-impact and enjoyable way to add physical exercise to your daily routine. Is weight loss from walking possible? Most definitely! Starting small and creating healthy, sustainable exercise habits takes time and commitment, but with apps like Evidation in your corner to track your progress, you’ll be achieving your goals in no time. Download the app today and get started on your health and wellness journey!

Your Health
September 1, 2023

Breast cancer prevention: understanding the key factors and risk reduction strategies

6 minutes

Understanding the risk factors and preventative measures women can take to reduce their risk of getting breast cancer.

The thought of receiving a breast cancer diagnosis can be crippling, and many women wonder if there are any ways to prevent breast cancer that are within their control.

While breast cancer risk factors are genetic and out of our control, a few protective factors do reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Understanding these strategies and taking the necessary steps to ensure you’re living a healthy life is the most effective way to reduce the risk of getting breast cancer.

What are the risk factors and main causes of breast cancer?

When abnormal cells develop in the breast and multiply, breast cancer forms. While researchers don’t know for sure why abnormal cells develop, they have pinpointed a few risk factors and the main causes of breast cancer. These include:


Older age is the primary risk factor for breast cancer. According to, women over 30 have a 1 in 200 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer in the next 10 years, while women over 70 have a 1 in 25 chance.


Women are much more likely to get breast cancer than men, although male breast cancer does happen. The American Cancer Society estimates that over 297,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2023, with around 2,800 men receiving the same diagnosis.


Women with a history of breast cancer in their immediate family, including their mother, sister, or daughter, have an increased risk of receiving a breast cancer diagnosis.

Lifestyle choices

Your lifestyle choices significantly impact your risk of breast cancer. Smoking and drinking alcohol are breast cancer risk factors, particularly if you consume regularly or have been a smoker for many years.

Obesity is another risk factor for breast cancer. Fat tissue is known to contain excess amounts of estrogen, a hormone that is associated with breast cancer, when high levels are present in a woman’s body.

How to Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer On Your Own

When it comes to breast cancer, many factors are out of your control. However, you can play a role in reducing your risk and potentially catching cancer early by doing the following:

Pay attention to your body

You know your body better than anyone, so pay attention to any signs or symptoms that may present themselves. If your breasts or skin change in appearance or you detect a lump, consult your doctor immediately.

Stay on top of mammograms and breast checks

Breast cancer screening recommendations are helpful ways to prevent disease and are highly effective at detecting breast cancer. These screenings include mammograms, breast ultrasounds or MRIs, and clinical breast exams performed by a doctor or nurse.

Know your family history

Some forms of breast cancer run in families, so knowing your immediate family history is critical to reducing your risk. Some people opt for genetic testing to know with more certainty what their risk is.

5 Ways to Prevent Breast Cancer With Your Lifestyle Choices

Genes, lifestyle choices, and your environment can all increase or decrease the risk of getting cancer at some point in your life. This applies to all kinds of diseases, not just breast cancer.

Fortunately, we have some control over our lifestyle choices and can take steps to make modifications as necessary to improve our health. Here are five meaningful improvements you can make in order to decrease your risk of getting breast cancer.

Eat Healthy

A healthy diet won’t actually prevent breast cancer from forming, but it can help lower the risk of getting it by ensuring your body is healthy and functioning properly by boosting your immune system.

Be sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Avoid saturated fats, processed meats, and charred foods. 

For women who are genetically predisposed to breast cancer or have already beaten the disease, any steps to feel proactive with their health is often very helpful. As Evidation research suggests, nearly 23 percent of surveyed individuals reported feeling fearful and concerned about their cancer returning. Research shows that low-fat diets may reduce the risk of first-time breast cancer as well as recurring breast cancer, which is encouraging for those women who have already received a breast cancer diagnosis and those who are in remission. 

Stay Active

Research shows that women who are active and get regular physical exercise have a 10-20 percent lower risk of getting breast cancer, particularly in postmenopausal women.

We already know that staying active is essential to maintaining peak physical health at any age and can drastically improve overall health. Staying active has many benefits; you just have to find an activity you enjoy doing and make it a consistent habit in your life.

Adults need 150 minutes of moderately intense physical exercise per week to stay healthy and at least two days of strength training (working out with weights).

Avoid Smoking and Drinking

When a person inhales smoke from a cigarette, they are breathing harmful toxins into their lungs. These toxins include cancer-causing chemicals, increasing the risk of getting breast cancer at some point in their lives, especially when compared to people who have never smoked.

It’s never too late to kick the habit if you're a smoker. Doing so can decrease your risks of getting breast cancer and other diseases, including lung cancer or heart disease.  

Drinking alcohol is much more widely accepted, and some forms, like red wine, are often recommended for improving heart health. Alcohol is still a toxin and should be enjoyed in serious moderation.

Alcohol increases the levels of estrogen and other hormones in a woman’s body, which are associated with certain types of breast cancer.

Most experts recommend having two or fewer alcoholic drinks per week to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Carrying excess weight can significantly increase a woman’s breast cancer risk before and after menopause.

If you are overweight, work with your doctor to develop a plan to lose weight healthily. Plan to add physical exercise to your weekly schedule and start swapping out any unhealthy foods with clean options that will give you more energy and help you burn more calories. Eating healthy, balanced meals can help you feel satisfied and full to avoid snacking until your next meal.


If possible, breastfeed your children for up to one year to reduce your risk of breast cancer.

During breastfeeding, the body loses breast tissue, which can remove cells with potential DNA damage. Breastfeeding also changes the hormones (like estrogen) in a woman’s body and reduces your contact with them. Many of these hormones promote breast cancer growth.  

Using Evidation to Improve Your Overall Health

Thinking about receiving a breast cancer diagnosis at any point in your life can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to lower your risk and ensure your body is as healthy as possible.

Using Evidation, members can develop positive behaviors to create healthy habits for the long term. From tracking your steps to keeping a food diary and tracking your progress along the way, Evidation empowers our community to make impactful changes in their lives, one day at a time. Get started here.