Imagine if you could be the best version of yourself. What do you envision? Likely, the picture involves expending some effort. It's not sitting around and passively consuming whatever comes along, but having the self-discipline to stop doing the things which don't push you forward in life, and start doing the things which will elevate your health, well-being and ability to be productive. Here are what the experts have to say on the subject.

You'll feel better if you limit your time on social media

How would you feel if you cut back on your use of social media? Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have an inkling. They monitored 143 undergrad students, asking them either to use Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat as they normally would, or to limit their use of each of those platforms to only 10 minutes daily.  After three weeks the group which limited its use of social media was significantly less lonely and depressed, compared with the use-as-normal group. "Our findings strongly suggest that limiting social media use to approximately 30 minutes per day may lead to significant improvement in well-being," the study authors write.

Your quality of life will increase if you exercise

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently updated its "Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans." It states that adults should be doing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity a week, as well as strength training the body's major muscle groups at least twice a week. If you're still inclined to keep your sedentary lifestyle, know this: the guide was compiled by a scientific committee which scoured the scientific literature regarding physical activity and health. The evidence is clear: Elevating your heart rate and maintaining strong muscles will make you feel better, be more productive, experience improved sleep and reduce the risk of many chronic diseases which will cut your life short.

You'll be a better conversationalist if you ask this one question

That's according to Terry Gross, host and co-executive producer of NPR's "Fresh Air," who has interviewed thousands of people during her decades-long career as a radio personality. "Tell me about yourself" are the only words you need, regardless of the social or business situation you find yourself in. "The beauty in opening with 'tell me about yourself' is that it allows you to start a conversation without the fear that you're going to inadvertently make someone uncomfortable or self-conscious," writes Jolie Kerr, who interviewed Gross for The New York Times. "Posing a broad question lets people lead you to who they are." From there, Gross believes it's just a matter of being genuinely curious about what the person has to say.

You'll burn more calories if you restrict how many carbohydrates you consume

Keto, Paleo and other low-carb diets get a bad rap because they're difficult to maintain. But a rigorous $12 million dollar study led by researchers at Boston Children's Hospital found that the kinds of foods a person eats--not just strict calorie counting--actually matters a great deal when it comes to weight loss. In the study, 234 overweight people tried to lose about 12 percent of their body weight over a couple of months. The participants who did so--164 of them--were then allowed into the next part of the study in which they were put into one of three eating groups: high-carbohydrate, moderate-carb or low-carb. After 20 weeks, the low-carb participants lost the most weight due to burning more calories a day, compared to the other two groups. Apparently, eating a diet high in carbohydrates (think pasta, rice, bread, potatoes or anything with sugar) raises insulin levels and lowers caloric burn, whereas the opposite effect holds true for a low-carb diet.

Published on: Nov 21, 2018