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Do you think you’ve got packing your gym bag down to an art?  Think again.  It’s no longer enough to throw your gym shoes, MP3 player, headband, and protein bar into your bag.  To make the most of your workout, and to stay in peak physical condition, you need to add these five new fitness accessories to your workout packing list.  They do everything from keep your skin clear to keep your energy levels up, and they’re all widely available, affordable, and absolutely essential.

Bamboo Hand Towel

If you’re still using the ragged, old hand towel you accidentally borrowed from your college gym, now is the time to upgrade to a 100-percent bamboo hand towel.  Bamboo beats cotton in softness, absorbency, sustainability, and natural germ-fighting powers.  In fact, you can expect your bamboo towel to fight bacteria and fungus even after 50 washes, making it the skin-friendly option for wiping a sweaty forehead or dusting off chalky hands.

Bluetooth Headphones

Ditch the bulky waist belt and itchy armband, and invest in a high-quality pair of cordless Bluetooth headphones.  These fitness-friendly earphones connect wirelessly to your phone, allowing you to leave your device in the water bottle holder on the treadmill or beside your weight bench, while still playing your music uninterrupted.  Newer models are designed especially for workouts, with sweat-resistant materials, stay-put designs, and even washable components.

BPA-Free Water Bottle

BPA is an industrial-strength chemical that is present in many plastic products, including inexpensive water bottles.  Over time, the chemical can leach into the liquid in your water bottle and potentially cause long-term health problems.  Choose a water bottle made from stainless steel or glass in order to reduce your exposure to BPA.  No matter what your chosen bottle is made from, keep it clean by rinsing and drying the bottle between each use, and washing it in warm, soapy water at least once each week.

Cleansing Facial Wipes

If looking great is part of your motivation to work out, exercise-induced breakouts are likely one of your pet peeves.  The combination of hot sweat with the oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria that naturally exist on the surface of your skin, is a recipe for disaster.  Packing cleansing facial wipes in your gym bag may be all you need to maintain your clear complexion and slim figure.  Look for a formula that contains exfoliating ingredients, such as salicylic acid, and use them before and after your workout.

Electrolyte Replacement Tablets

When you sweat, your body loses essential electrolytes, including sodium, potassium, and magnesium.  Electrolyte levels that dip too low can result in cramps, exhaustion, and nausea.  Tossing a tube of electrolyte replacement tablets into your gym bag means that even your sweatiest workouts won’t pose a health risk.  Just dissolve one of these tasty tablets (they come in flavors like berry, tropical, citrus, and grape) in 500 ml of water and drink up; you’ll feel better within minutes.

Don’t let your workout do more harm than good.  Pack these five new gym-bag essentials, and you’ll be looking and feeling better than you ever imagined.

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Nail Care Tips for Common Problems

Whether you’re a gardener, homesteader, or a straight up farmgirl, we all share one thing: a love of the earth. Literally. Most of us are notorious for gardening, cleaning, and caring for livestock without any gloves on. It’s hardly surprising when our nails start to show wear and tear from our soil-loving lifestyle.

Chipped nails, broken nails, frayed or split nails. Sound familiar?  How about spots, lines or ridges along your nails? In many ways your nails are a window to your health. They say a lot about how you live. If your nails aren’t looking their best, then you might benefit from taking a closer look at how you care for your hands on the outside and care for your body on the inside. Here are a few nail care tips for keeping those gardening hands as pretty as possible!

Keep your nails dry and clean. This prevents bacteria or fungi from growing and causing infections under your nails.

Don’t bite or pick your nails. Biting and picking at your nails can cause stress fractures which can lead to breakage. Both habits also damage your nail bed. If you are too rough and cut along the area, you can allow bacteria or fungi to enter and cause an infection in the area.

Keep your nails conditioned. Using a moisturizer, petroleum jelly, or castor oil can help keep your nails from drying out.

Want more tips on caring for your gardeners hands? You might like: 7 Hand and Nail Care Tips For Every Gardener!

Wear gloves! You know those yellow kitchen gloves and outdoor work gloves that you’ve been ignoring? Put them on when you’re working! Yard work, gardening, washing dishes and cleaning can leave your nails chipped, frayed, broken or exposed to harsh chemicals. Wearing gloves will protect your nails and hands from damage.

Optimize your nutrient intake. One of the best nail care tips that we can think of is one that benefits more than just your nails. Get on a clean eating kick! Weak and unhealthy nails can be a reflection of a nutritional deficiency. Try introducing some more Vitamin B and E as well as protein into your diet.

Your nails aren’t tools. Using your nails to pick, poke or pry things can damage your nails.

Use nail polish. Wearing nail polish protects your nails from damage. For best results, remove old nail polish after about ten days. Nontoxic nail polish only, please!

Avoid harsh chemicals. Chemicals such as acetone, formaldehyde and toluene can dry out your nails and make it difficult to maintain healthy and strong nails.

Try a brush-on nail strengthener. Nail strengtheners are composed of the same proteins as our nails.

While our nail care tips can usually help improve the appearance of your nails, see a doctor or dermatologist if you suffer from persistent nail problems that don’t go away on their own or are accompanied by other symptoms. It may be a sign of an underlying medical condition.

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