The 5 Running Essentials You Need To Train For Your First 5K The basics that runners old and new swear by. By Amanda Pena Hero Images via Getty Images So you’re training for your first 5K and need some new gear? If you’re like me, when you start a new fitness routine you overdo it on the initial shopping spree, preparing for any potential situation you think you’ll run into. Really, though, all you need are some basic essentials to get started. To get yourself prepped for the 3.1 miles, start slowly and work your way up. It’s a mantra that works not for tackling the miles ahead of you, but for pacing yourself on buying more advanced running gear. If you’re training for your first-ever 5K, you don’t necessarily need a $200 fitness tracking watch, when instead an app like Map My Run and a cheap $40 phone armband will do just fine. You might not need 80 pairs of the same running tights (#guilty), but you definitely need to get fitted for a comfortable running shoe. Think of it as needs versus wants. It can be easy to go a bit overboard on the pre-run shopping, but we’re here to simplify your search for only the essentials that runners both old and new swear by to make their runs the best yet. Slay your first 5K with these five running essentials: 1Compression Socks Jet Knee injuries are so common among beginner runners, therefore, help prevent or treat them with these compression socks from ACE. They’re designed to provide a comfortable, even compression and have dual-stretch power knit material for extra comfort. 2Wicking Socks Jet Let’s face it, your feet get sweaty when you run. But that’s probably because you’re not wearing the right socks. Invest in a few good pair of wicking socks like these from Thirty 48. They’re affordable, have extra padding, and are designed to keep moisture away. 3Running Storage Jetcom Getting a FlipBelt changed my running game entirely to the point where I can’t believe I carried my phone in my hand for so long. It comfortably sits on my hips, holds my keys, phone, chapstick, some tissues for cold-weather running, AND their ergonomic water bottle. It’s a runner’s storage magic. 4Wireless Headphones Jet There’s probably nothing more distracting than toggling with headphone wires during a run. Cut that unnecessary stress out of your life with these wireless headphones that are meant to stay in place during a rigorous workout. They have reflective cable for night visibility, a built-in microphone, and are sweat-proof resistant. 5Muscle Roller Jet Recovery is key after every run. I get shin splints pretty easily and using a muscle roller before and after every run on my legs helps prevent any muscle injury. RELATED…9 Essentials You Need To Start Running Outdoors In The Winter10 High-Waist Leggings That Will Stay Up During Your Next WorkoutHow Do You Run With A Phone? This Gear Is The Answer HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Download Amanda Pena Creative Specialist, HuffPost Suggest a correction MORE:Huffington PostScience And TechnologyShoppableRunning The 5 Running Essentials You Need To Train For Your First 5K CONVERSATIONS

The 5 Running Essentials You Need To Train For Your First 5K The basics that runners old and new swear by. By Amanda Pena Hero Images via Getty Images So you’re training for your first 5K and need some new gear? If you’re like me, when you start a new fitness routine you overdo it […]

Here’s What You Need To Know About The Bacteria In Your Vagina A microbiome doesn’t just exist in your gut. By Sarah DiGiulio Melanie Dawn Harter via Getty ImagesVagina-themed cookies. 120 You’re probably aware you have a microbiome in your gut teeming with (hopefully) healthy bacteria that may help with everything from preventing obesity and digestive diseases to reducing the risk of anxiety and Parkinson’s disease, as well as some cancers. But your gut is not the only place where bacteria thrive in the body. Communities of bacteria ― scientifically referred to as microbiota or your microbiome ― exist all over the body, including in the vagina, according to Jacques Ravel, a professor and associate director for genomics at the Institute for Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “They exist in all the areas that are exposed to the environment” or can be when foreign things enter, as in the case of the gut, Ravel told HuffPost. And just like having the right healthy bacteria in the gut is important, having the right bacteria in the vagina can have an effect on health, too. While research on the vagina’s microbiome is still in its early days, there are some things experts do want patients to understand about the bacteria down there. Here’s a breakdown of what you should know: 1. Some vaginas have bacteria related to the bacteria in yogurt ― and that type is considered ‘good’ bacteria One type of bacteria found in some vaginas is from the same genus as the bacteria in the yogurt in your refrigerator: lactobacillus. Every genus has many species within it. And the specific species of lactobacillus that can be found in the vagina is different from the species found in the gut, urinary tract and some yogurts, Ravel explained. There are many types of bacteria that can live in the vagina, but if you have lactobacillus, you’ve won the vaginal microbiome jackpot, according to Ravel. 2. Healthy bacteria can lower your risk for sexually transmitted infections Having lactobacillus is linked to a lower risk of infections from STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV, as well as a lower chance for other problems, including pelvic inflammatory disease. Scientists like Ravel think that’s because lactobacillus produces a lot of lactic acid, lowering the vagina’s pH level to about 3.5 or 4 (which makes it very acidic). And an acidic environment is a hostile one for infections, Ravel explained. And that’s a good thing. “[The vagina is] an open site, just like the mouth or anything, meaning that you can have a lot of invading bacteria,” he said. But lactobacillus, by making the vagina acidic, protects against all of that. Another infection lactobacillus helps prevent is bacterial vaginosis. It’s very common and can cause pain or itching in the vagina, an odor and a white or gray discharge (and increased risk of other infections or complications if left untreated). Antibiotics can help, but once a women gets this infection, she’s more likely to get it again and again, Ravel said. Many women ignore the symptoms or don’t realize they’re something to tell their doctor about. (And most gynecologists don’t routinely look for the infection ― so if you do suspect something’s up down there, say something!) 3. Good bacteria may help prevent preterm labor Several studies suggest that pregnant women who have lactobacillus in their vagina are less likely to deliver their baby prematurely. One such study of 49 pregnant women linked lactobacillus to a lower risk of preterm labor and showed that women with two other species of bacteria, gardnerella and ureaplasma, were most likely have a preterm birth. But other studies contradict those results, Ravel added. And other research suggests that race may explain why lactobacillus can help prevent premature births for some women and not for others. “I think the association is a lot more complicated than we think,” Ravel noted ― “prematurity being such a multi-factorial, multi-causal condition.” 4. A lot of women don’t necessarily have good vaginal bacteria A lot of women don’t have lactobacillus in their vaginas. They have microbiomes down there that look entirely different with a lot more variety of bacteria and a lot less (protective) acidity, added Richard Cone, a professor of biology and biophysics in the biophysics department at Johns Hopkins University. “All of these women are at markedly increased risk of acquiring STDs, including HIV, and when they become pregnant are at higher risk of premature births and perinatal infections,” he told HuffPost. Data that Ravel and his colleagues have collected show more than 25 percent of women have no (or low levels of) lactobacillus in their vaginas ― and that number jumps to more than 40 percent for Latinas and just under 40 percent for African-American women. But that doesn’t mean those women’s vaginas are unhealthy, Ravel added ― they’re just at higher risk for all of those problems lactobacillus protects against. 5. Your mom may be to blame for whatever your vagina’s microbiome looks like There’s evidence that having good vaginal bacteria can be passed down from mother to daughter. Not because you’re born with certain genes but because if a baby girl is delivered vaginally, she’s exposed to her mother’s vaginal bacteria at birth. If the mom has good bacteria, it may precondition the baby to grow good bacteria later on (since vaginal bacteria doesn’t tend to accumulate until puberty), Ravel said. The problem is that would mean that babies delivered via C-section or to mothers without lactobacillus would be less likely to grow that good vaginal bacteria later on. Some babies born via C-section still end up with lactobacillus in their vagina, though, Ravel said. So, even though the connection makes sense, it’s tough to know with certainty how important that link is. More studies are needed but ethically are tough to do, Ravel said. 6. Birth control can change the bacteria in your vagina Some types of estrogen-containing birth control, like some birth control pills, can help encourage lactobacillus to grow and spread in the vagina, Ravel said. That’s because estrogen is what encourages growth of any vaginal bacteria ― and why women don’t tend to get a lot of bacteria in their vagina until puberty. Other types with progesterone, like Depo-Provera, have been associated with increased infection risk, according to Ravel. Researchers are currently investigating whether that might be because those birth control methods discourage the growth of healthy, protective bacteria, he added. 7. Having sex can change the bacteria in your vagina Men have bacteria on the penis, and those microbes look a lot more similar to the communities of bacteria found in women without lactobacillus. They can be transferred when you have sex ― and, if they do, they tend to wipe out any good bacteria you have. Studies that have followed women over the course of several weeks (for which the women had their vaginas swabbed and the microbiota analyzed, and the women also reported sexual activity and hygiene) have shown that the non-lactobacillus bacteria can take over the microbiota in the vagina in a very short amount of time (eliminating lactobacillus) ― in some cases, by the next day. That doesn’t mean that having sex will necessarily get rid of good vaginal bacteria if you have it, but it might, Ravel said. Using a condom helps block the spread of those bacteria. 8. Vaginal douching can get rid of good vaginal bacteria, too You do not need to clean your vagina. Use a gentle soap and water to wipe around the exterior areas ― and anything farther up cleans itself. One study followed 3,620 women for a year, testing the women every three months for the bacterial vaginosis infection. Women who reported vaginal douching were more likely to be among the 40.2 percent of women had the infection at some point over the study. 9. Scientists are working on a probiotic for your vagina Ravel’s lab, as well as another company in California, are developing probiotic treatments (basically a concoction of bacteria from healthy women with lactobacillus, Ravel explained) that could be administered directly to the vagina to allow healthy lactobacillus bacteria to colonize and take over any woman’s vagina. The challenge is finding the right type of lactobacillus that’s able to actually do that, since many strains are too weak. There’s also a challenge in determining if it would work for all women. Other companies are working on a similar treatment that would be given orally as a pill. None of those treatments are ready for prime time yet, Ravel said ― but he’s hopeful. “I think those solutions are coming.” RELATED COVERAGE10 Facts Everyone Should Know About HPV6 Bizarre Things That Happen To Your Body On Your Period7 Things Men Should Know About Vaginas Download BEFORE YOU GO PHOTO GALLERY 100 Ways To De-Stress Sarah DiGiulio On Assignment For HuffPost Suggest a correction MORE:Women’s HealthWomen’s Sexual HealthBacterial InfectionsSt DsVagina Here’s What You Need To Know About The Bacteria In Your Vagina 120 CONVERSATIONS

Here’s What You Need To Know About The Bacteria In Your Vagina A microbiome doesn’t just exist in your gut. By Sarah DiGiulio Melanie Dawn Harter via Getty ImagesVagina-themed cookies. 120 You’re probably aware you have a microbiome in your gut teeming with (hopefully) healthy bacteria that may help with everything from preventing obesity and […]

WELLNESS How Much Sleep Do Athletes Need? Olympic Sleep Coach Talks About The Importance Of Rest And Recovery A good night’s sleep could be the difference between taking home gold or silver. By RYOT Studio PhotoAlto/Odilon Dimier via Getty Images Over the past 10 years, sleep has become the secret weapon of more and more Olympic competitors. High-level athletes like Gwen Jorgensen and Melissa Stockwell have been prioritizing quality rest in order to improve their performance and speed up recovery, giving them an edge in the highly competitive world of sports. Ahead of the Winter Olympics in South Korea, we’ve partnered with Sleep Number to share why rest is so important for Olympic medalists, and to offer some tips for how you, too, can snooze like a gold medalist. To help explain the science, we called on Dr. Mark Rosekind, a sleep specialist who has been researching sleep for decades at companies like NASA and Alertness Solutions. In 2005, Rosekind worked with eight-time Olympic medalist Apolo Ohno and the gold medal-winning U.S. men’s volleyball team to help them optimize their sleep. “A lot of the science has been around for a long time, but people are now realizing that there is something there that can help them,” Rosekind told HuffPost. “As athletics become more and more competitive to where a millisecond can be the difference between a gold and silver medal, everyone is looking for any possible edge they can get — sleep is that edge.” As Rosekind explained, the interest in sleep among top-level athletes has increased over the past decade even though the benefits of sleep have been known for much longer. Due to the way our society views productivity, sleep has not always been a priority, even for Olympic athletes. “Our society reinforces that sleep loss equals a badge of courage; you don’t have to sleep so you can get the job done,” said Rosekind. “Yet, all the science says no. You might think that way, but your performance will suffer.” According to the National Sleep Foundation, research has shown that a lack of sleep could increase fatigue, lower energy and even disrupt your ability to focus. Still, while we know the negative effects a lack of sleep can cause, according to Rosekind, we should look at the value sleep can add. “It really starts with people acknowledging that sleep is like food, water and air,” said Rosekind. “The basic biological need that humans have to have to survive, but you want to go beyond survival. That means you want to optimize your sleep and realize it has value. It’s going to enhance your performance, safety and mood.” In order to optimize sleep for athletes at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Camp in 2005, Rosekind started by improving the environment with things like blackout curtains, white noise machines and dawn simulator alarm clocks. Rosekind also helped the athletes deal with issues such as jet lag, by working with them to develop a nightly routine. He created a list of pre-bed tasks for the athletes to follow so they could train their bodies to start relaxing before bedtime no matter where they were. “You need to do things that are conducive to falling asleep,” said Rosekind. “It can be taking a bath and reading a book, or getting in your pajamas. You also don’t want caffeine or heavy exercise within a few hours of bed.” Gwen Jorgensen, who took home a gold medal after winning the triathlon in Rio in 2016, shared with HuffPost that she has a regular bedtime routine, in which she gets eight to 10 hours of rest so she is refreshed and ready to perform at her best. Rosekind suggests that everyone, not just Olympic athletes, work on making their environment sleep-friendly, in addition to creating a pre-bed routine. He also recommends tracking your sleep since many of us make incorrect estimates regarding the quality and amount of sleep we actually get each night. “The development of sleep tracking has been a huge benefit for people, especially athletes, for understanding and optimizing their personal sleep needs,” he said. “In athletics, it is all about measurement, how fast you can do this, how high you can do that. Sleep is just one more factor that we can measure.” Rosekind hopes society will follow the lead of these Olympic athletes and start to recognize the immense benefits a good night’s sleep can have, not only on our performance, but on our overall well-being. “One of the quotes from Apolo that I love is, ‘You can only train as hard as you can recover,’ and that is all about the sleep,” said Rosekind. “There is no question you can measure the benefits of sleep, and not just in gold medals.” Quality sleep will keep you performing your best. Like diet and exercise, sleep is essential for optimal health and performance. Because everyone’s sleep needs are different, Sleep Number® beds with SleepIQ® technology insideadjust to your ideal level of firmness, comfort and support. SleepIQ technology tracks how well you sleep each night, giving you personal insights into your sleep so you’ll learn how life affects your sleep and how sleep affects your life. Find your Sleep Number® setting for your best possible night’s sleep. Download RYOT Studio RYOT Studio Suggest a correction MORE:SleepOlympic GamesSelect ComfortVolleyballNational Sleep Foundation How Much Sleep Do Athletes Need? Olympic Sleep Coach Talks About The Importance Of Rest And Recovery CONVERSATIONS

WELLNESS How Much Sleep Do Athletes Need? Olympic Sleep Coach Talks About The Importance Of Rest And Recovery A good night’s sleep could be the difference between taking home gold or silver. By RYOT Studio PhotoAlto/Odilon Dimier via Getty Images Over the past 10 years, sleep has become the secret weapon of more and more […]

Introducing The Good Kind A collection of stories about the unexpected kindness of strangers. Share yours! By Lindsay Holmes Thomas Barwick via Getty Images 130 Think about it: You’ve likely had an experience in which a complete stranger went out of their way to help you. Maybe it brightened your day when you needed it, or perhaps the gesture had a bigger effect on your life. The world needs these stories. That’s why we’re creating The Good Kind, a new editorial initiative at HuffPost that will share instances about the unexpected kindness people have received from strangers. Consider this project a “missed connections” for compassion. We want to highlight these anecdotes ― no matter how big or small they may be ― as a way to elevate the goodness that exists across the globe. Take, for example, this story about a stranger who stepped in to fix a couple’s crumbled wedding cake on the day of their nuptials. Or this Disney World security guard who asked a little girl dressed as a princess for her autograph to make her feel special. And there’s this story about a bus driver who went beyond the call of duty to make sure a girl who was lost got to school on time. We want to hear about a time a complete stranger showed you kindness when they didn’t have to. It could be as simple as getting a special compliment when you really needed it, or something more dramatic, like a first responder who helped you out after an accident. Hit us up at thegoodkind@huffpost.com to share your story, with details on what happened and how it made you feel or the particular mark it left on your life. Your experience might be posted on this site or our social media channels. Let’s celebrate the good kind of people we’ve encountered. Because we all could use a few more stories like this. Download BEFORE YOU GO PHOTO GALLERY 100 Ways To De-Stress Lindsay Holmes Senior Wellness Editor, HuffPost Suggest a correction MORE:Huffington PostGood NewsActs Of Kindness The Good Kind Introducing The Good Kind 130 CONVERSATIONS

Introducing The Good Kind A collection of stories about the unexpected kindness of strangers. Share yours! By Lindsay Holmes Thomas Barwick via Getty Images 130 Think about it: You’ve likely had an experience in which a complete stranger went out of their way to help you. Maybe it brightened your day when you needed it, […]

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