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The latest fitness trend — cozy cardio — couldn’t be more Nice News-coded. The concept has blown up on social media thanks to a content creator named Hope Zuckerbrow. She began posting videos of her early morning workouts in 2022, and they quickly took off. 

It’s easy to see why. Cozy cardio rejects the idea that exercise has to be vigorous and intense. It involves walking on the treadmill in sweatpants (or even pajamas), lighting a candle, making a cup of tea, putting on your favorite comfort show or movie, and doing whatever else allows you to slow down and simply enjoy the movement. 

“I get so many messages from men and women — so many people — saying something along the lines of ‘thank you so much for kind of flipping my mindset on what I thought exercise is supposed to be,’” Zuckerbrow told the Associated Press. “This feels so doable.”

It’s an intriguing idea from the perspective of habit forming, especially for those who struggle to incorporate a regular exercise routine into their daily lives. “[Cozy cardio] fits in with a lot of what we know about how to get people to actually maintain behavior change,” said psychology professor Catherine Sanderson.

She added: “It very much relies on what psychologists would call positive reinforcement — the idea of, ‘It’s not just that I’m exercising. I’m getting to watch my favorite show. I’m tapping into something I want to be doing already.’”

Keep scrolling to check out some other examples of cozy workouts so you can hop on the trend. 

Cozy Pilates

A low-impact workout that has been shown to reduce pain and help people heal from injuries, Pilates lends itself perfectly to being coz-ified.  

Pilates also incorporates mindful breathing, which can help you stay present and relaxed. 

The routine above is intended to be a calming, “chill” version of a more typical Pilates session. But just because you aren’t going full tilt doesn’t mean you won’t feel the burn, so be sure to listen to your body and modify or take breaks as needed. 

Cozy Mobility Exercises

Mobility exercises support and increase your range of motion. They’re designed to improve your joint and muscle flexibility, which can lead to less pain and stiffness during day-to-day activities as well as other workouts.

This routine was created to act as either a warmup or a session for when you’re feeling under the weather or sore, but you can use it as regular morning or evening exercise as well. 

RELATED: The Benefits of Morning Exercise — And 5 Workouts You Can Try Today

Cozy Yoga

Yoga is one of those exercises that can vary dramatically depending on the type. Some strenuous yoga sessions may feel anything but cozy, and others require you to focus on your body and breathing so much that it isn’t practical to put on a television show or podcast at the same time. 

That said, yoga can also be one of the most relaxing and meditative workouts, making it a strong cozy candidate. This 20-minute “easy, breezy feel-good floor practice” is a great example. 

RELATED: The Best Free Online Yoga Classes for Older Adults

Cozy Strength Training

Since the key to cozy workouts is creating a comfortable environment and keeping the intensity low to moderate, even lifting weights can be made cozy. That’s one TikTok user’s takeaway, at least. Inspired by Zuckerbrow, she posted a series of photos of herself preparing for a “cozy strength training” session, complete with mood lighting and pajama pants.  

Check out the strength training video above to practice it from the comfort of home: It’s slow and controlled, a great way to ease into the day or wind down at night — just throw on some loungewear and light a candle to get the vibe right. 

One thing to remember when attempting any strength training at home is that you’re free to modify your workout so it makes sense for you. That could mean doing fewer reps, using lighter weights, or both.

Breckenridge Tourism Office

Contestants from around the world convened in the tiny town of Breckenridge, Colorado, nestled at the base of the Rocky Mountains, to go for gold in the 33rd annual International Snow Sculpture Championships this January. 

And when we say snow sculpture, we aren’t referring to Frosty the Snowman figures with coal buttons and carrot noses. Rather, the competing teams are tasked with building stunning, 12-foot-tall artworks from 25-ton blocks of snow using only hand tools (check out how those massive blocks are created). 

Team USA – Wisconsin Breckenridge Tourism Office

Twelve teams competed in the 2024 event: China, Denmark, Ecuador, India, South Korea, Lithuania, Mexico, Mongolia, two from Germany, and two from the United States. 

Beginning the morning of Monday, Jan. 22, the teams had until Friday, Jan. 26 to finish their work, for a total of 94 sculpting hours. At that point, judges began the process of selecting the winners, choosing between the dozen truly awe-inspiring creations. Some were impressive likenesses of humans and animals, others more abstract works of arts, and others representations of the state of society. 

Team USA – Breckenridge Breckenridge Tourism Office

The winners were announced at a free public ceremony that Friday afternoon, and spectators were then welcome to view the completed sculptures through Wednesday, Jan. 31. Two other honors, the Artists’ Choice Award and the People’s Choice Award, were selected by the competing artists and the viewers, respectively. 

This year’s gold medal-winning team was Mexico for their powerful sculpture, titled “The Beggar,” depicting a downtrodden man surrounded by Bitcoins. Per a press release from the the Breckenridge Tourism Office: “In describing their piece, Team Mexico’s message is clear: ‘Without a rich heart, wealth is a hungry beggar.’”

Gold: Team Mexico Breckenridge Tourism Office

Team Mongolia took home the silver medal for their sculpture, “Mother Earth,” while Team Germany-Bavaria earned bronze for their masterpiece, titled “FLOAT.” There are no cash prizes in the competition, but the winners receive trophies and, of course, “bragging rights,” as the tourism office put it. 

Silver: Team Mongolia Breckenridge Tourism Office

The championships were founded in 1990 by Rob Neyland, who playfully shared in a video that he has an alter ego by the name of “Carvin’ Marvin” and explained that the event was created “to help make Breckenridge be known for snow art the world over.” 

Bronze: Team Germany – Bavaria Breckenridge Tourism Office

Scroll to see more photos of this year’s ephemeral snow art. 

Team China Breckenridge Tourism Office
Team India Breckenridge Tourism Office
Team Lithuania Breckenridge Tourism Office
Team Denmark Breckenridge Tourism OFfice
Team Korea Breckenridge Tourism Office
Breckenridge Tourism Office
Team Ecuador Breckenridge Tourism Office

RELATED: International Snow Sculpture Championships 2023: See the Incredible Winning Creations

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Cancer affects millions of people every year — meaning many, if not most, of us have been personally impacted in some form by the disease. 

Initiatives like World Cancer Day, celebrated annually on Feb. 4, work to raise awareness, educate the public, and advocate for action in humanity’s collective fight against the illness. And though there is not yet a cure, incredible advancements in cancer research, detection, and treatment are being made every day.  

Those steps forward are offering new hope and promising continued progress in the field. To celebrate that progress, we rounded up some of the biggest wins and most exciting developments from the last couple of years. Scroll to learn more, and click here for helpful cancer prevention advice from two oncologists who spoke with Nice News. 

New Screening Test Can Identify 18 Early-Stage Cancers

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A team of researchers from biotech firm Novelna developed a simple blood protein test that enables experts to not only identify cancer in plasma samples, but also differentiate between early-stage cancer types with “high accuracy.” 

The study involved 440 participants, both healthy people and those who had been diagnosed with one or more types of 18 solid tumors. The tumors tested represented cancers in all the main organs in the body. 

Writing in the journal BMJ Oncology this January, the authors said their work “could be a starting point for developing a new generation of screening tests for the early detection of cancer,” adding: “These findings pave the way for a cost-effective, highly accurate, multi-cancer screening test that can be implemented on a population-wide scale.” Here’s how it works

Novel Treatment Improves Outcome for Kids With Rare Brain Cancer

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A new treatment for a type of rare and deadly pediatric neuroblastoma combined chemotherapy with an angiogenesis inhibitor, which blocks the growth of blood vessels that promote tumor growth. Researchers found that 26% of patients who received the dual treatment saw improvement, compared to 18% in a control group. 

The 160 treated patients, with a median age of 5, enrolled in the Phase 2 clinical trial also saw better one-year progression-free survival rates. 

Simon Gates, professor of biostatistics and clinical trials at the University of Birmingham in the U.K. and lead author of the study, called the results “very exciting.”

“Currently, the outcomes are really poor for children who get this horrible cancer and so even seemingly small increases in the chance that a patient is going to be able to shrink their tumors is significant,” he told The Independent, adding: “These results hopefully get us closer to finding treatments for children who develop neuroblastomas.” 

Personalized Cancer Vaccines Are Being Developed 

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

In October 2023, a potentially breakthrough vaccine for pancreatic cancer entered a Phase 2 clinical trial out of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The trial will evaluate whether the mRNA vaccine — which is customized for each of the approximately 260 enrolled patients at the center and sites around the world — prevents pancreatic cancer from returning after a tumor has been surgically removed. Get more details here.

An mRNA vaccine for melanoma is also in development by pharmaceutical companies Merck and Moderna, with the drug entering Phase 3 trials in July 2023. According to midstage data released in December, pairing it with Merck’s immunotherapy Keytruda cut the risk of relapse or death from the most deadly form of skin cancer by almost half, compared to Keytruda alone. 

The vaccine could enter some markets by 2025, Moderna’s CEO told CNBC. The companies are also trialing it in patients with non-small cell lung cancer, and plan to expand to other types of tumors as well. 

Another melanoma vaccine, this type called a TPLO and again specifically personalized to the patient receiving it, is nearing Phase 3 trials. It’s being developed by biotech company Orbis Health Solutions. Company founder Thomas Wagner told ABC News of the work: “People used to ask me the question, ‘When will there be a cure for cancer?’ And I’ve been doing this for 60 years and I could never answer that question,” Wagner said. “Until recently, until the last three or four or five years.”

Here are three more cancer vaccines to look out for

Breakthrough Cancer-Fighting Drug Is “Gentler” Than Chemo 

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A new drug called blinatumomab, or blina, that has already been found to safely treat cancer in adults is now being used as an alternative to chemotherapy in children as well. 

Unlike chemo, blina attacks only cancer cells, not the entire body, so it creates fewer detrimental side effects. And it can be administered through a battery-operated pump that the patient can take home, so they don’t have to remain in the hospital for treatment. 

“Chemotherapies are poisons that kill the leukemic cells but also kill and damage normal cells — and that is what causes their side effects,” pediatric hematologist Ajay Vora told the BBC. “Blinatumomab is a gentler, kinder treatment.”

Blina is approved in the U.S. for both adults and pediatric patients with B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia, but is only being used off-label for kids in the U.K. One of those children is an 11-year-old named Arthur, whose leukemia did not respond well to chemo. His family called blina “a little bit of sunshine” when compared to Arthur’s previous treatment — and he’s now cancer-free. 

Scientists Identify “On/Off Switch” for Breast Cancer Metastasis

Lingyin Li and Songnan Wang/ Stanford University

Over 80% of advanced breast cancers fail to respond to immunotherapies, but research out of  Stanford University and the nonprofit Arc Institute has revealed one potential reason for the troubling statistic.  

A team of scientists discovered a protein called ENPP1 that acts as a sort of “on/off switch” in breast cancer’s ability to both metastasize and resist immunotherapy. Publishing their findings in December 2023, they determined that ENPP1 is produced by healthy cells and cancer cells in and around a tumor, and that patients with high levels of the protein are linked to higher resistance to immunotherapy and greater instances of metastasis. 

The results of the study could lead to more effective treatments and more accurate prognoses. “Our study should offer hope for everyone,” said biochemist and lead author Lingyin Li in a news release

Quest to Cure Cancer in Golden Retrievers Advances Human Research, Too

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Golden retrievers, known for being one of the most popular dog breeds, are, unfortunately, particularly susceptible to cancer. On a mission to understand why they’re at risk (and how to help them live longer), scientists have been studying their genes. 

Through those efforts, they discovered a genetic variant associated with a longer lifespan of nearly two years, which is equivalent to an additional 12-14 years for humans, The Washington Post reported in November. 

This research is directed “at one of life’s biggest mysteries, not just in dog science but in human health,” Elinor Karlsson, the director of vertebrate genomics at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, said. “Why do some people live longer than others? Why do some dogs live longer than others? We don’t know why, but this study is starting to get at that question.”

The hope is that with more information, we’ll get closer to increasing our furry friends’ odds of living longer. “Almost all golden retriever owners understand this statistic and are passionate about finding a way to reduce the cancer rate in the breed they love,” added Kelly Diehl, the senior director of science communications for the Morris Animal Foundation. 

RELATED: All Women Over 40 Should Be Getting Mammograms, New Breast Cancer Guidelines Urge — What to Know

AI Tool Identifies Lung Cancer More Accurately Than Traditional Tests

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A team of U.K.-based researchers published a study in November 2022 on how AI can spot lung cancer, finding their algorithm to be more accurate than the current tests doctors use. 

The algorithm was made using data from the CT scans of nearly 500 patients, all of which had large lung nodules. Researchers analyzed the scans via radiomics, “which can extract information about the patient’s disease from medical images that can’t be easily seen by the human eye,” a press release explained. 

They used AUC, or “area under the curve,” to measure accuracy. Per the release, an AUC of 1 indicates perfection and 0.5 indicates random guessing. The AI tool the researchers developed had an AUC of 0.87 when it came to identifying cancerous lung nodules — higher than the Brock score, which clinics currently use and has an AUC of 0.67. 

Though the AI research is still in early stages, it has big potential. “In the future, we hope it will improve early detection and potentially make cancer treatment more successful by highlighting high-risk patients and fast-tracking them to earlier intervention,” said lead author Benjamin Hunter. 

Gene Identified as a Possible Target in Fatal, Treatment-Resistant Brain Cancer 

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A team of researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles identified a gene that plays a key role in the growth of glioblastoma multiforme, a rare and lethal brain cancer that has no known cure. The research suggests that focusing on this gene, called P300, could help provide a therapeutic target for GBM, which is highly resistant to standard chemotherapy.

Brain cancer is notoriously difficult to treat. David Largaespada, a cancer researcher at Masonic Cancer Center, explained to M Health Fairview that “the tumor cells that we need to kill are behind this blood brain barrier, so many potentially useful drugs never actually get to them.” 

This makes UCLA’s findings — published in Nature Communications in October 2022 — a possible breakthrough discovery. 

Read more about it here

RELATED: Device the Size of a Pencil Eraser Kills Cancer and Prevents It From Returning, Study Finds

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In 1948, six years before the civil rights movement would officially begin, Gordon Parks became Life magazine’s first Black staff photographer. During his nearly three decades with the publication, he made an indelible impression not only on its glossy pages, but also on American society as a whole. 

Parks produced powerful photo essays that drew the public’s attention to issues like segregation and racism, but the artist was neither expected nor felt compelled to only chronicle topics connected to the color of his skin. He would often say that there was “no special Black man’s corner” for him there, according to Life. Indeed, he was also a fashion photographer and felt as comfortable snapping shots of celebrities as he did scenes related to social justice.  

Gordon Parks/Heritage Art/Heritage Images/via Getty Images

In addition to shooting still images, he was also a filmmaker — directing the iconic 1971 film Shaft — as well as an author, musician, painter, and composer. And each of his artistic pursuits served as conduits for his humanitarianism and activism. 

Parks was born into poverty in Fort Scott, Kansas, in 1912, the youngest of 15 children. He gravitated toward photography early on, intrigued by images of migrant workers he saw in a magazine while he was working as a waiter in a railway car. 

“I saw that the camera could be a weapon against poverty, against racism, against all sorts of social wrongs,” he told an interviewer in 1999, per The New York Times. “I knew at that point I had to have a camera.” 

Gordon Parks/Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

He purchased his first one at a pawn shop in 1938, and with no professional training, honed his skill to such an extent that, at age 29, he won the Julius Rosenwald Fellowship. He was awarded $1,800 — the equivalent of around $35,000 today — to support his burgeoning career. The grant helped him make his way to Washington, D.C., where he began working in the photography section of the Farm Security Administration and then the Office of War Information. 

With these agencies, he was able to “break the color line in professional photography” while creating striking images that shed light on “the social and economic impact of poverty, racism, and other forms of discrimination,” according to the Gordon Parks Foundation

One of his most iconic photos, taken in 1942 and titled “American Gothic,” features Ella Watson, a cleaning woman who worked for the government. Echoing the famous 1930 painting by Grant Wood, she stoically holds a broom and a mop. 

Gordon Parks/©CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

“I had experienced a kind of bigotry and discrimination here that I never expected to experience. … At first, I asked [Ella Watson] about her life, what it was like, and [it was] so disastrous that I felt that I must photograph this woman in a way that would make me feel or make the public feel about what Washington, D.C., was in 1942,” Parks said of the shot, per the Minneapolis Institute of Art. “So I put her before the American flag with a broom in one hand and a mop in another. And I said, ‘American Gothic’ — that’s how I felt at the moment.” The image is currently on display at the Harrison Photography Gallery in Minneapolis through June 2024. 

In 1944, Parks left his position with the Office of War Information to work on the Standard Oil Company’s long-running documentary photo project. Around the same time, he was making a name for himself by freelancing for various publications, namely Glamour, Ebony, and Vogue. Before the end of the decade, he would pitch his first photo essay to Life magazine. 

The story focused on the gangs running rampant in Harlem in New York City. To ensure he had the inside scoop, he befriended a member of one of the gangs. Accompanied by the young man, just 17 years old, Parks snapped stunning, expressive pictures of both the brutality and humanity he witnessed. The resulting images, a collection published in 1948 called “Harlem Gang Leader,” impressed editors so much that they offered him a position as staff photographer. 

Parks continued to shoot for Life until 1972, per the Times, the same year the magazine discontinued as a weekly publication. But he didn’t stop creating. He published memoirs, novels, and poetry, directed films, and wrote the music for a 1989 ballet titled Martin, about the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  

John Kisch Archive/Getty Images

In 1988, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Ronald Reagan. And though he’d never finished high school, he received more than 50 honorary doctorates from colleges and universities. He continued evolving his various artforms until his death at age 93 in 2006, and his work continues to be exhibited decades later. 

RELATED: Interactive National Mall Exhibition Features Stories Previously Untold in the Iconic Space

Nairobi, Giraffe Manor, the building with giraffes strolling nearby.
Edoardo Fornaciari/ Hulton Archive via Getty Images

Ever wonder what it’s like to sleep under the waves or live like royalty in an Irish manor? How about vacationing in a room suspended on the side of a cliff? Thanks to hotels taking accommodations to new heights (literally), these kinds of epic adventures are enticing travelers from around the globe.

Whether you’re a thrill seeker, animal lover, or just someone seeking an out-of-the-box itinerary, the 13 hotels below offer extraordinary experiences you’ll treasure in the moment and remember long after you come home. Memorable travels await! 

Remote Lighthouse-Turned-Luxury Retreat: Pater Noster | Sweden

JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images

Nestled about five miles off Sweden’s west coast is Hamneskär, an island with a lighthouse (and little else) that was once used to warn sailors of perils. Today, the tiny isle is home to an award-winning hotel that embraces its remote setting as its selling point. “We asked ourselves: What is luxury?” Erik Nissen Johansen, one of the designers, told the BBC. “Everybody felt that this was one part of the answer: an isolated island far away from everything in raw nature.”

With a capacity of two dozen guests, Pater Noster — which means “Our Father” in Latin and was a common prayer by sailors — is a nine-room hotel that offers small cottages that once belonged to lighthouse keepers and their families. Along with panoramic ocean views, amenities include a sauna, an art trail, a charming vegetable garden, and kayak tours. 

Get Cozy on a Cliff: Skylodge Adventure Suites | Peru

Calling all thrill seekers: You can now spend the night in a transparent bedroom suspended on the side of a mountain in Peru. Opened in 2013, the Skylodge Adventure Suites is the “first ever hanging lodge in the world,” per the company’s website 

Visitors must climb over 1,300 feet or hike “an intrepid trail through ziplines” to get to the suites. Upon arrival, guests will experience sweeping views of the majestic Sacred Valley from a 24 feet by 8 feet capsule made out of aerospace aluminum and weather resistant polycarbonate. Each suite also includes a dining nook, private bathroom, interior lights powered by solar panels, and of course, an intense adrenaline rush. 

Stay in a Castle: Adare Manor | Ireland

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Adare Manor, an enchanting retreat on an 842-acre estate in Ireland, gives guests a fairytale vacation. From the outside, the castle hotel looks fit for a royal family — from the 52 ornate chimneys and stone walls to the magical (and meticulously manicured) gardens. The interior is also brimming with neo-Gothic splendor, featuring large fireplaces, original 19th century art, and velvet furniture.   

The activities are equally impressive. Guests can experience falconry, cycling, and archery, along with carriage rides. And simply sitting on one of the garden benches and admiring the epic view is likely a memorable activity in itself. 

Get Close to Giraffes: The Giraffe Manor | Kenya

Imagine for a moment you’re enjoying your morning breakfast on a balcony with giraffes popping by for a visit in between sips of coffee. That’s not a mere daydream — it’s a wildly wonderful scene you can experience at The Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya. The boutique hotel is located in a breeding sanctuary, which has helped Rothschild’s giraffe populations rebound while providing guests with a unique opportunity to witness the animals wander the land — and maybe even stop by your door to say a quick hello.

A special appreciation for giraffes is apparent in many aspects of the hotel, from the wildlife photographs on the walls to the conservation initiatives. The establishment also assures that the giraffes have not been trained or domesticated and “have 150 acres (the equivalent of approximately 113 football fields) of indigenous forest on which to browse natural food sources.” Rather, “it is simply a fortunate advantage of the breeding program that the giraffes enjoy being fed by visitors.” 

See a Very Starry Night: Arctic TreeHouse Hotel | Finland

At the Arctic TreeHouse Hotel in Lapland, Finland, cozy suites provide stellar glimpses of nature — notably the northern lights and midnight sun, which can be admired from your bed, thanks to panoramic views from the windows. The suites are adorned with Scandinavian design details and Lapland-inspired touches to give a nod to their unique location. 

Guests can choose from an array of activities, like snow sports in the winter and spring and biking in the summer and fall. Depending on the time of year, the hotel also receives visits from reindeer

Go All Aboard: The Hotel Chalet | Tennessee

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Occupying the grounds of the Chattanooga Choo Choo train station, The Hotel Chalet is a completely reimagined retreat. Train carriages were transformed into suites and adorned with touches from the ’20s (like deco lighting and velvet sofas) and artwork from local artists. Even the courtyard’s bar was made from a caboose car. 

Given its iconic location, it’s no surprise the hotel looks straight out of a photograph from another era — especially the vibrant lobby and cozy parlor (Elsie’s Daughter).

Slow Down With Farm Animals: Coombeshead Farm | England

More than 60 acres of lush greenery surround the Coombeshead Farm: a cozy hideaway located in the heart of the Cornish countryside. The bed and breakfast is also a working farm and bakery, offering guests a real-world slice of farm life — complete with the smell of fresh bread wafting through the air, jams and morning buns available for breakfast, and a valley full of farm animals.  

The rustic restaurant features a menu that revolves around the produce and animals of the farm, focusing on sustainability and respect for the environment. In addition, the events calendar consists of hands-on workshops, like bread baking, watercolor painting, and etching. 

Sleep Inside a Snow Globe: Buubble Hotel | Iceland

Located in a forest in Iceland, the Buubble Hotel gives a new meaning to “sleeping under the stars.” With transparent, rounded walls, this quirky snow globe-like stay is dubbed the “5 million star hotel” thanks to its mesmerizing view of the night sky.

Per Condé Nast Traveler, the bubbles — named Una, Asta, Thorunn, Valdis, and Maria — are  “kept inflated by a slight over-pressure from a noiseless ventilation system” and include “heating elements with thermostat” so the stay is warm and cozy even during the chilly winter months. 

Think Pink: Madonna Inn | United States

Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images

When it comes to themed novelty stays, The Madonna Inn is in a league of its own. Established in 1958 and located about 15 minutes inland from the central California coast, the inn offers 110 unique themed guest rooms oozing with individuality and outrageously quirky charm. There’s a pink suite, a jungle room, and an antique car room. Fun fact: The hotel allows for guests to swap rooms during multi-night stays, so visitors can make the most out of their experience and see the range of themes. 

In addition to the eclectic rooms, the inn is home to a bakery, cocktail lounge (featuring pink bar stools), an iconic restaurant, a retro-style pool, and signature pink courts for playing basketball, pickleball, and tennis. 

Dream Under the Sea: The Muraka | Maldives

If you really want a stay that takes novelty to new levels, it’s hard to beat The Muraka: a luxury residence in the Maldives that allows guests to sleep underwater (cue The Little Mermaid soundtrack). While the top floor is above the waves, the bedroom is set underwater so guests can see remarkable views of the ocean before drifting off to sleep among the sea life. 

For guests who want to experience the blue views but would rather sleep above sea level, the residence is part of the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Resort, which offers traditional (but still very luxurious) villas with ocean scenery and an “undersea restaurant.”

Taste Tropical Life: NIHI Sumba | Indonesia

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Situated on an archipelago in Indonesia, the NIHI Sumba Hotel has 27 villas — each with stunning views of the Indian Ocean and Nihiwatu Beach. But the standout of the stay is the range of unique activities, such as swimming with horses and “golfishing” at a boathouse with eco-friendly balls that biodegrade and slowly release fish food into the ocean. 

Perhaps among the most special is NIHI’s on-site sea turtle hatchery program that aims to “improve the hatchlings’ chances of survival” by rescuing eggs from village markets, placing them in their hatchery, and then releasing the baby turtles into the ocean. 

See Mars-Like Dunes: Sossusvlei Desert Lodge | Namibia

Reminiscent of Mars, Sossusvlei Desert Lodge sits on a private 31,000-acre reserve in Namibia surrounded by expansive valleys and sand dunes that seem to go on forever. The serene setting is the perfect backdrop for the tranquil oasis, which features a private plunge pool for every suite and retractable over-the-bed skylights.

The hotel also offers myriad opportunities for guests to explore its surroundings. Enjoy a picnic breakfast after you walk across ancient sands; spend the night stargazing; get a bird’s-eye view of the vast desert expanses in a helicopter; and take advantage of specialist-led tours to get the inside scoop on this special place.

Live in a Fisherman’s Boat House: Klima Bay | Greece

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Fishermen’s houses (known locally as “syrmata”) are restored into luxurious beachfront stays at Klima Bay. Located in a traditional seaside village in Milos, Greece, the colorful suites were previously used to store fishing boats in the winter. According to the hotel, the color of each house is especially significant because the fishermen used to match their boat’s color to their house.

Now as a hotel run by third-generation Melians, the houses feature local touches (like pomegranates in bowls), along with private terraces and a garden to experience authentic island life.  

RELATED: Meet the Fanciful (and Massive) Wooden Trolls Hiding Out in the Pacific Northwest’s Forests

Ambie Hay/ Facebook

Thrifting is an increasingly popular way to shop (and a great way to spend an afternoon), but what if we told you it could be a full-time job? 

At least it is for Ambie Hay, who goes by “Palm Beach Thrifters” on social media. When she’s out and about in Palm Beach County, Florida, scouting for her clients, Hay follows their wishlists to find what they’re seeking. And when she comes across incredible antiques and vintage pieces that aren’t on the list, she posts them to her Instagram page, where she shares thrift items and their locations with her 196,000 followers from all over the world. 

Ambie Hay/Facebook

Her goal is simple: to promote secondhand shopping by encouraging people to check out local thrift stores. 

“Thrifting is such a blast, but it really takes a lot of time, and a lot of people are working or they have children at home,” Hay, 61, told Nice News. “That’s where I got the idea that well, at least I could post because I’m out there anyway.”

Hay, who worked in retail for 25 years, closed her own design boutiques to pursue her passion for thrifting and become a full-time reseller. Around five years ago, she started an Instagram account “to show others and to help the thrift shops because they’ve helped me so much.” 

“I found so many beautiful things in these stores, and I know how hard the volunteers work, and the thrift shops are always affiliated with charities,” she added. “And I thought, how can I give back to my followers? How can I give back to the thrift shops?”

Ambie Hay/Facebook

She’s been able to give back to her local shops by featuring vintage treasures on her account, offering the publicity and exposure they might not have otherwise had. “One of the [thrift stores] the other day said, ‘Oh my gosh, we had a group of women down from Tennessee, and they came in because you mentioned our thrift shop,’” she recalled.

For Hay, who’s originally from Kentucky, thrifting runs in the family. Her interest in it began when her mom would take her to Goodwill as a child, and she now thrifts with her nieces and nephews.

“I really love seeing that the younger generation now is embracing vintage pieces and secondhand shopping. I think it’s just fantastic,” said Hay. “I can see that it’s getting bigger and bigger.”

While the resale industry in the United States is slowly increasing — the number of businesses has grown by an average of 3.5% per year on average since 2018 — Americans still throw away more than 34 billion pounds of used textiles each year. 

Ambie Hay/Facebook

But people like Hay are helping to reduce waste by turning consumers away from fast fashion and its detrimental impact on the environment. 

And she’s starting ’em young: Hay wants to teach children about the importance of thrifting with her children’s book, published in 2021, focused on “the importance of recycling.”
As per her website: “Thrifting is proof positive you can earn money, save money, give back, and have fun all at the same time! … Thrifting is not a trend, it’s the future!”

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Portrait of couple kissing while hidden behind bouquet of flowers
Thomas Barwick/ DigitalVision via Getty Images

Valentine’s Day is all about love, but it’s not just for lovers. Feb. 14 is an opportunity to celebrate the many special people in your life, from best friends to grandchildren — essentially, anyone and everyone you hold dear. 

Spending quality time together is a wonderful way to acknowledge how much those individuals mean to you, but let’s be honest: Who doesn’t love giving and receiving presents? Read on for a list of Valentine’s Day gift ideas, ranging from the traditional chocolate and jewelry to tech-y gadgets, a scratch-off adventure book, and even a custom pillow with their pet’s face on it. 

The Adventure Challenge Couples Edition

Courtesy of The Adventure Challenge

The Adventure Challenge for couples includes 50 memorable date ideas presented scratch-off lottery ticket-style in a keepsake book — an ideal guide to help you break out of your usual date night routine. It also includes space to write your reflections and add photos of your experiences. Need an instant camera? We like this one

TableTopics Conversation Game 

Courtesy of TableTopics

No matter how long you’ve known each other — a few months or several decades — there’s always more to uncover; sometimes we just need a little assistance to find new topics of conversation. Enter: TableTopics. Play it with your partner or friends and family to learn more about the people you love.  

Tony’s Chocolonely Chocolate Bars

Courtesy of Tony's Chocolonely

Tony’s Chocolonely is a Certified B Corporation on a mission to “change the chocolate industry from within,” particularly the amount of child labor and exploitation that takes place on cocoa farms, so you can feel good purchasing tasty treats like the “everything bar,” packed with pretzels, nougat, caramel, almonds, and flaky sea salt.

Lovebox Messenger

Courtesy of Lovebox

Why deliver a onetime valentine when this heartfelt treasure can keep the love flowing all year long? Perfect for keeping in touch with grandkids or for letting your sweetheart know you’re thinking of them, it features a red heart that spins to alert you when someone’s sent a photo, message, or drawing via the accompanying app. 

LEGO Roses Bouquet

Courtesy of LEGO

Looking for a more playful way to bouquet? These bright blooms will never wilt, making them a wonderful — and beautiful — way to celebrate the flower lover in your life. Your recipient will have fun building the 12 roses and four sprigs of baby’s breath, and afterward, will get the added pleasure of finding the perfect spot to display their handiwork. 

Afloral Dried Bouquet

Courtesy of Afloral

Another long-lasting option in lieu of fresh flowers is this gorgeous bouquet of air-dried, pink globe amaranths. The 50-60 stems are between 14 and 18 inches, and were naturally grown and hand-gathered on a small Washington state farm. Pair them with this white ceramic vase for an extra special presentation. 

Mejuri Jewelry

Courtesy of Mejuri

Offering timeless fine jewelry as well as chic, casual pieces, Mejuri has something for every person and every price range. Explore the company’s selection for $150 and under, featuring stacking rings, pretty pearl bracelets, mini hoop earrings, and more; you can also find rings, bracelets, and necklaces for men.

The Giving Keys Jewelry

Courtesy of The Giving Keys

The Giving Keys is a Nice News staff favorite — Managing Editor Natalie Stone has two engraved key necklaces: One reads “Courage” and the other “Faith.” The brand’s new Valentine’s Day collection includes stunning pieces like a black enamel heart and a gold butterfly featuring the word “transform,” and a portion of profits go toward helping people transition out of homelessness and providing employment resources.

Philips Norelco Series 9000 Beard Trimmer

Courtesy of Philips Norelco

For precise beard and hair trimming, the man in your life needs the right tool — and this is the one. Self-sharpening steel blades and a Beard Sense Technology motor allow for a fast and close cut, while the zoom wheel provides 30 length settings, so he can create the exact look he wants. An hour of charge time provides 120 minutes of cordless use, and it’s 100% waterproof.

Backbone One Mobile Gaming Controller

Courtesy of Backbone

This neat mobile controller lets your recipient transform their iPhone into a console for on-the-go gaming, complete with responsive analog triggers, tactile buttons, and clickable thumbsticks. It’s compatible with an array of apps, and the three models can be used to play the games they already have on Xbox, PlayStation, or PC.  

Fitbit Inspire 3 

Courtesy of FitBit

The Fitbit Inspire is truly the Valentine’s Day gift that keeps on giving. This writer has one, and it’s helped her to make lasting health and lifestyle changes. Much more than just a step counter and heart rate monitor, the device tracks sleep and stress, includes 20-plus exercise modes for accurate workout breakdowns, displays call and text notifications, and more. 

Sur La Table Date Night Cooking Classes

margouillatphotos/ iStock

Everyone loves unwrapping presents, but experiences sometimes make the most memorable gifts. Furthermore, studies have pointed to the power that learning new things together has to strengthen relationships. Throw in some good food, and Sur La Table’s in-person, hands-on cooking classes are a win-win-win. Use the location tool to find a class near you. 

Whiskey Infusion Kit 

Courtesy of Do Your Gin

Shopping for a whiskey aficionado? This cool kit will hone your recipient’s mixology skills and leave them with something tasty to sip. Handcrafted in the U.S., it comes with three types of oak chips, cinnamon, coffee beans, cocoa beans, orange peel, bird’s eye chili peppers, and chai tea mix for infusing. It also includes two glass bottles and six stainless steel whiskey stones for chilling, and the entire kit is 100% recyclable and plastic-free.  

Wucidici Custom Pillow

Courtesy of Wucidici

Here’s a Valentine’s Day gift that is guaranteed to make someone smile: custom pillows featuring you or your pet, so your loved one has a likeness to squeeze even when they’re in another room or traveling (Though these also make for adorable bedroom or living room decor). Choose a one-sided or double-sided print; they start at 8 inches and go up to 28 inches. 

Saltverk Salt Gift Box

Courtesy of Saltverk

Any foodie will tell you how important a high-quality salt is for making flavors pop, and there are so many types out there besides the traditional iodized or kosher salt. This collection includes flaky sea salt (perfect for topping baked goods), lava salt, birch smoked salt, and arctic thyme salt, all hand-harvested from the westfjords of Iceland.

Lovepop Cards

Courtesy of Lovepop

Lovepop’s pop-up cards serve as fun, surprising tokens of your love for someone, whether it’s a friend, family member, or partner. With a particular focus on pop culture, the brand has something for everyone — from Harry Potter fans to Disney diehards. We also love the new plushpop cards, which open to reveal a 3D plush character like this adorable bear

Aura Digital Picture Frames

Courtesy of Aura

What more heartfelt Valentine’s Day gift than your recipient’s loved ones smiling at them from a frame? With Aura digital frames, you don’t have to choose just one photo, or even a photo at all. Each frame can store over 10,000 images and videos, uploaded by anyone who has access, so they can scroll through an array of cherished memories every day. 

Anthropologie Floral Night Gardenia Glass Jar Candle

Courtesy of Anthropologie

Anthropologie’s wax candles are some of the best-smelling out there, in this writer’s humble opinion at least. The vessels are typically equally beautiful, and this pretty pink glass one is no exception. The scent is described as “a delicate breeze of fragrant gardenia, salted guava, and soft tonka nestled within an unexpected warm musk base,” and it comes in sizes XS to XL. 

LAKE Pajamas

Courtesy of LAKE

Get your loved one something cozy and cute to wear to bed with the help of LAKE Pajamas. The brand offers a wide selection of year-round options for the whole family, but we happen to love the Valentine’s Day styles, featuring sweet details like ruffles and tiny hearts.

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Painting, drawing and artwork concept. Young smiling woman artist standing making drawing on canvas feeling creative vector illustration
Denis Novikov/ iStock

What do you like to do in your free time? That simple question might be surprisingly difficult to answer. It makes sense: With responsibilities, to-dos, and major world events, the pursuits that bring us joy often get overlooked. However, having fun isn’t frivolous; it’s necessary.

Research shows that when we’re doing uplifting activities, our bodies produce “happy hormones” — including serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins — which help us bond with others, feel empathy, learn, and regulate our digestion. And a Swiss study revealed that “playful adults” led happier, healthier, and more satisfying lives. 

In honor of January being National Hobby Month, we compiled a list of hobbies for you to consider sprinkling into your routine for a dose of play (and a mental health boost). You may notice the more you embrace enjoyable leisure activities, the more other areas of your life improve, like your mood, relationships, focus, and well-being. In this sense, engaging in a hobby can truly be a gift that keeps on giving. 

Note: If you’re nervous to try something new, take Adrianna Adarme’s advice on hobbies from her book The Year of Cozy: “Be OK with not being good.” Forget perfection. You’re doing this for fun, after all! 

Write Poetry

Jardul/ iStock

There is something soul-filling about reading poetry, and writing poetry delivers its own set of benefits. Research shows this creative practice may provide comfort and boost your mood during stressful periods and even help combat loneliness. For daily inspiration, read the Poem of the Day from the Poetry Foundation.

To get started: Intimidated just by the thought of writing poetry? Remember, you’re writing for you! Look into short-form poetry, like haikus or limericks, which can feel more attainable. We also recommend reading MasterClass’ “11 Rules for Writing Poetry for Beginners” guide.

Collect Something You Love

Chances are we all gravitate toward something that can be a joy to collect. Maybe stickers, shells, postcards, or stamps. Or perhaps it’s something more specific, like colorful coasters from each U.S. state, memorabilia from your favorite artist, vintage playing cards, first editions, or quirky Halloween decorations. Whatever it is, the experience of anticipating your next find and creating a collection that makes you smile is what matters. 

Dr. Shirley M. Mueller writes in Psychology Today, “The anticipation of the reward is more exciting to our pleasure center than possessing it. This explains, in part, why collecting frequently transcends a mere pastime and often becomes a passion. It gives sufficient pleasure that the participant wants to continue it more and more vigorously.”

If you’re worried about clutter, consider the “one in, one out” method, which is essentially making the effort to let go of something you don’t need (via recycling, donating, etc.) every time you get something new.    

To get started: Reflect on something you enjoy (or enjoyed as a kid), think about what could be realistic for your space and budget, and then start browsing around to see what speaks to you. 

Explore Your Family History

Nadezhda Buravleva/ iStock

If you’re interested in learning about your lineage, consider looking into genealogy as a hobby. The internet holds a wildly massive world of information about your family history, which can deepen your understanding and appreciation of your roots — and possibly introduce you to long-lost kin you didn’t know about. You may even feel inspired to write a story of your own

Keep in mind, this experience can possibly lead to an emotional reaction. Harvard Health explains, “Discovering ‘new’ family members through DNA genealogy testing can trigger a wide range of emotions, including happiness, anxiety, sadness, or even anger.” Before you begin, it’s recommended to reflect on the motivation for your search, provide space for family members to share their thoughts, and prepare for the results. 

To get started: Interview family members who might have knowledge about your shared genealogy.  Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org are also good places to assist with your search.  

Start a Reading Challenge

According to Statista, reading is the second most popular hobby in the U.S. (the first is cooking/baking). If you’re already a book lover and interested in putting a twist on your reading routine, try a reading challenge. 

For example, The 52 Book Club’s 2024 Reading Challenge is an effective and enjoyable way to branch out and discover different authors and genres. Or take advantage of Goodreads’ Reading Challenge, which allows you to set your reading goal (how many books you want to read throughout the year) and track your progress as you turn your pages. 

To get started: Pick a challenge, or make one of your own, and start reading away! 

Sculpt With Polymer Clay 

There are so many ways you can use polymer clay to craft unique pieces for your home — from cute figurines to vases and dishes. However, polymer clay is one of our favorite ways to make jewelry. 

It’s not only easy to work with and requires only a handful of tools to get started, but the process of making the shapes is soothing and meditative (think: pretty Play-Doh). Not to mention, you end up with creative jewelry you made yourself.

To get started: Look into this polymer kit or visit your local crafts store. 

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Learn a New Language 

If you regret not remembering everything you learned in your high school foreign language class, your brain will want to say “thank you” (or arigato, merci, or gracias) for finally taking up this hobby. Learning a new language is shown to boost mental agility, increase empathy, and lead to benefits on a neurological level. You may also find yourself feeling more curious and improving your memory

To get started: From apps like Duolingo and Babbel to online classes and free YouTube tutorials, there are many language learning resources to jumpstart your road to multilingualism.  

Nurture Your Green Thumb

Cultivating a garden is a beautiful way to nurture life and watch it grow before your eyes —- and it’s also a great form of exercise that provides a whole host of health benefits. It’s been shown to decrease anxiety and depression and increase emotional well-being, and a study of over 2,800 participants found that daily gardening reduced the risk of dementia by 36%

If you’re tight on space or interested in growing something more low-key, consider herbs. According to Gardenary, the plants are low-maintenance, don’t require lots of sunlight, and are able to thrive in limited space. 

To get started: Decide what you want to grow and where you want to keep your plants, and check out our list of must-have gardening products

Make Unique Flower Arrangements 

Much like gardening, working with flowers fosters a connection with nature, which is beneficial in itself. It’s also a wonderfully meditative way to tap into the creative process of working with colors, shapes, and textures — and you end up with a beautiful arrangement that can brighten your home or be a just-because gift for a friend. 

To get started: Before heading to your local grocery store or farmers market, watch the video above for some tips from Rajiv Surendra (whom you may recognize from Mean Girls). Then grab your favorite vase, some floral shears, and let your creative juices flow!  

Try Punch Needling

Videos of punch needling are all over social media — and the act of actually doing the needling is just as (if not more) relaxing as watching the process. The super simple form of embroidery involves “punching” thread through monks cloth, which creates a small loop of yarn. 

The method is commonly used to create rugs, cushions, and other textiles, but it can also be used to create smaller items like pillow covers, wall art, totes, stuffed animals, and so much more. Best of all, this craft involves repetitive steps, so you can easily get into a flow while unwinding and soaking up the benefits of making something with your hands. 

To get started: Explore the range of punch needling kits, including desert-themed and floral designs. 

Embrace Outdoor Activities

Birdwatching soared in popularity during the pandemic, along with forest bathing (or shinrin-yoku), which “involves taking deep breaths and experiencing the forest with full presence,” per Stanford University. Both are peaceful ways to unplug, connect to the present moment, and slow down. They’re also activities people of all ages can enjoy, either solo or with a group, for hours or just a few minutes. 

To get started: Research local birding clubs and guided forest therapy communities — or simply go outside and look around at the nature in your neighborhood. 

Start Stargazing 

Tired of looking down at your screens? Astronomy is all about doing the opposite: looking up! From learning the names of stars and constellations to participating in celestial events, the sky’s the limit when it comes to exploring the cosmic world. 

To get started: Sky and Telescope recommends getting binoculars and diving into sky maps. Then grab a chair and cozy blanket, sit back, and simply gaze up at the majestic universe above awhile.

More Hobbies You May Not Have Thought to Try:

  • Calligraphy
  • Mixology
  • Ebru art
  • Embroidery
  • Origami 
  • Tai chi
  • Pizza or pasta making
  • Roller-skating
  • Painting
  • Ceramic-making
  • Cycling
  • Woodworking
  • Pressed-flower art 
  • Dance classes
  • Host game nights
  • Throw themed parties
  • Restore furniture
  • Get into upcycling 
  • Puzzles
  • Make curated playlists

RELATED: 15-Minute Activities to Give Your Brain and Body a Boost

rats play
Victor Golmer/ iStock

Science has long shown that play is beneficial to humans: In children, the behavior aids in emotional and cognitive development, and in adults, playfulness has been linked to an increased ability to cope with stress.

Now, a recent study has added to that body of research by investigating which neural circuits are involved in play — and the findings could lead to a better understanding of how it can be used in therapeutic settings. 

Publishing their work in the journal Cell, a team of scientists sought to analyze rats’ neural activity during play, specifically looking at whether or not neurons within a region called the periaqueductal gray, or PAG, lit up. The PAG is a structure involved in instinctive behaviors like pain perception and defense mechanisms, and the team hypothesized that play is also an instinctive behavior.

To test this, they put on their gloves and began tickling the rats. According to The Washington Post, the animals enjoy being tickled, as evidenced by their emitting vocalizations akin to laughter in humans. 

aire images/ moment via Getty Images

“They’re vocalizing a lot during the tickling,” lead author Natalie Gloveli, a graduate student at the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Berlin, told the outlet. “And they jump around when they’re being tickled. They look for your hand, they chase your hand.”  

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She and her colleagues observed that a significant increase in neural activity within the PAG occurred as the rats were being tickled. The team then blocked activity in those cells, and found that doing so interfered with the rats’ ticklishness and desire to play. 

“The really surprising thing about this paper is that the PAG is not only involved in producing the behavior that’s used in play, but it actually seems to be involved in the motivation to engage in play,” said Sergio Pellis, a behavioral neuroscientist at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, who was not involved in the study. 

These findings, and understanding the neurobiology of play in general, “may assist in developing targeted interventions to help people, especially children, struggling with the absence or dysregulation of such states due to underlying medical conditions or environmental circumstances,” added Gloveli. 

And per Pellis, the results of the rats study also confirm just how deeply ingrained play is — as well as the “potential value of play being used therapeutically.” 

Play therapy has been used for decades in mental health settings in the treatment of both adults and children, and is defined by the Association for Play Therapy as “the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained Play Therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.”

Inspired by the rats to start incorporating more play into your life? Read on for some expert tips. 

But First — What Is Play?

According to Jeff Harry, a positive psychology coach who speaks internationally on the importance of adults infusing play into their daily lives, it’s all about immersing yourself in a moment. “I define play as any joyful act where you forget about time,” he explained on an episode of the NPR podcast Life Kit, adding: “It’s when you are your you-est you.”

Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, agrees. In his book Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, he defines it as a “state of mind that one has when absorbed in an activity that provides enjoyment and a suspension of sense of time.” 

Learn Your Play Style

Based on thousands of interviews and observations throughout his career, Brown delineated eight types of play personalities that adults fall into: the storyteller, the collector, the competitor, the creator/artist, the director, the joker, the kinesthete, and the explorer. Understanding which personality type, or types, you identify with may help you make space for the kinds of playful activities that you’ll connect to the most. 

Learn about each personality, and take a short quiz to find out yours

Challenge Your Inner Critic

One thing that can hinder our attempts at playfulness as adults is our inner critic — the voice inside our heads that often tells us we’re being embarrassing or saying or doing something wrong. Harry recommends engaging with your inner critic to get a better sense of how much of its feedback is just plain untrue. Speaking to Life Kit, he suggested going as far as naming the critic — something goofy, preferably — and then writing down all the things it says. 

Then, cross out the negative statements and replace them with opposite sentiments about yourself. Next time you’re in a playful moment and your inner critic shows up, you can kindly inform them that you’re hanging out with your inner child now instead.  

Think Back to Childhood

Remind yourself what it is that you find fun by reminiscing about your youth, recommends Meredith Sinclair, a former schoolteacher and author of Well Played: The Ultimate Guide to Awakening Your Family’s Playful Spirit.

“When you were a child, what were your favorite ways to play?” she elaborated to the New York Times. “And when was the last time you had these same types of feelings as an adult? What current activities bring you close to that same unabashed feeling you had as a youngster?” 

Recalling those activities can help you pick up a new hobby, adapted for adulthood, perhaps. If you loved rolling down hills as a child, consider finding a grassy park near you and running (or rolling) to your heart’s content. If you loved drawing, pick up an adult coloring book and unwind with it on the weekends. 

Incorporate Micro Moments 

Sinclair also suggests taking advantage of small opportunities to play throughout the day. Per The Times, “It could be dancing in the kitchen while you cook dinner or reading something that makes you laugh while you’re in the grocery line. Belting out a song during your drive home.” 

Indeed, music in particular is a great way to add more play into your life. In a 2020 blog post, Brown emphasized the ability of song and dance to activate joy and produce “states” of play.
Try making yourself a playlist with uplifting songs you can sing and move along to as you run errands, work, or just hang out. Here’s one to get you started.

GrapeImages/ iStock

There are few things you can do that can have as positive an impact on your physical and mental health as exercise. Physical movement comes with upsides like boosting brain function, lowering blood pressure, and reducing the risk of disease. Furthermore, there aren’t too many everyday activities — from walking to grocery shopping, climbing stairs, or playing with your kids or grandkids — that aren’t made at least a little easier by engaging in regular exercise. 

So is there an ideal time to work out? At the end of the day (pun partially intended), most experts agree that getting regular exercise at any time is better than getting none.That said, a body of research does point to the potential benefits of moving your body first thing in the morning. 

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One recent study determined that participants who performed moderate-to-vigorous exercise between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. had lower body mass indexes than those who did so midday or in the evening, while another found that morning workouts reduced blood pressure in both men and women. 

There can be psychological benefits to starting early as well. “You’ve gotten it out of the way and you’ve got the whole day ahead of you and you can check that off your list,” Jack Raglin, an exercise psychologist and professor at Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington, told Today. “Even if it’s tough to pull yourself out [of] bed, you may be pleasantly surprised how good you feel once it’s done.”

And per Healthline, in addition to potentially increasing your store of energy for the day, a morning exercise routine may come with fewer distractions and unexpected events that would otherwise be competing for your time and attention. The outlet also suggests that morning exercise can inspire you to make healthier food choices for the rest of your day, and, during the warm summer months, help you avoid the discomfort and dangers of exercising in hotter afternoon temperatures.

Feeling motivated? Read on for five types of morning workouts you can do bright and early at home (or anywhere, really) — no equipment required.

Plyometric Workout

Per Web MD, plyometric exercise involves short bursts of concentrated effort, utilizing speed and force. Think jumping (rope optional), doing pushups, running, and kicking. 

There’s no shortage of plyometric workouts available on YouTube. Press play above for a six- minute overview of five plyometric exercises that can be modified for all fitness levels, and then performed at your own pace and intensity. Or enjoy this plyometric workout, consisting of just four moves that can be done in 10 minutes, courtesy of SELF (and Jennifer Garner’s personal trainer, Simone De La Rue).

HIIT Workout

HIIT workouts (HIIT stands for “high-intensity interval training”) have been a darling of fitness experts for a long time, and for a great reason — they’re short and highly effective. As the name suggests, brief intervals of all-out exertion are broken up by quick rest periods, which improves cardio conditioning and strength building. 

Yoga

To ease into your day in a peaceful manner, while still getting your blood pumping and muscles contracting, yoga is a great option. Committed and casual yogis alike praise its ability to connect you to your inner self and the outside world, and depending on the style you choose, it can work up a serious sweat. 

Additionally, a study published in March 2023 found that yoga could help prevent frailty, an age-related condition linked to an increased risk of death and decreased quality of life. 

RELATED: The Best Free Online Yoga Classes for Older Adults

Stretching

Many of us may be under the (false) impression that stretching is strictly a quick warmup we’re supposed to do before getting to the “real” exercise. 

The above 15-minute stretching workout by Mady Morrison, which has garnered an impressive 78 million views as of this writing, upends that assumption with an invigorating sequence of stretches that focus on flexibility, mobility, and relaxation. For those of us who aren’t morning people, it’s a great way to start your day with movement that isn’t intimidating but will still make your body feel fantastic. 

Stairs Workout

Have a flight of stairs in your home or neighborhood? If so, say hello to your new gym. Pushups, planks, toe taps, and bursts of cardio are all rendered extra effective when you pair them with stairs.

As you can see, there’s no shortage of workouts to add to your morning routine. Here’s to starting off your day in the best possible way!