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6 Backpack Safety Tips

Exams. Pop quizzes. Homework. School can be a pain in the neck, figuratively. But if school is literally causing problems for your neck or back, your backpack may be to blame. Believe it or not, overloaded and poorly-positioned backpacks can actually cause serious injury. In a 2004 study published in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics, 64% of 11- to 15-year-olds who used backpacks also complained of pain. If you’ve ever had back or neck pain, you know how uncomfortable it can be. The pain is often caused by pressure on the disks of the vertebrae. These disks are responsible for spacing out the vertebrae, holding them in place, and acting as shock absorbers. As you get older, your disks wear down or degenerate, causing chronic pain, herniated disks, and nerve damage. Putting pressure (like the added weight of a heavy backpack) on these disks wears them down even faster. So what’s a student to do? The stuff inside that pack is essential to survival (or at least to passing math), but you don’t want to pay a painful price in years to come. Fortunately, following a few simple rules can ensure that you’re using your backpack properly and safely.

  1. Choose the right sized pack. Adult-sized backpacks are made for adults, not children. Make sure to buy a pack that is appropriate for your body size. Most stores and catalogs list this information in the product description. If not, just ask. A general rule of thumb is that when the shoulder straps are adjusted so that they are snug, the bottom of the backpack should be about two inches above your waist.  
  2. Lighten your load. Your filled backpack should weigh no more than 15% of your body weight. (Multiply your weight in by .15 to get the maximum weight you should carry.) A 140 pound person should carry no more than 21 pounds, and an 80 pound child should keep it under 12 pounds. To lighten the load, first remove any non-essentials. Even an extra hairbrush and a few notebooks can add weight. If your bag is too heavy, even when pared down to the basics, remove a textbook and carry it in your arms.  
  3. Lift with your legs. To lift and put on your backpack properly: face the pack, bending at your knees—not your waist—then lift with your legs and apply one shoulder strap and then the other.  
  4. Position your pack properly. Wearing your backpack on one shoulder can cause muscle strain and imbalance. Wear both shoulder straps, and adjust them so that they are comfortably snug. If the backpack has a waist strap, use it. It will distribute the weight of the pack more evenly. And position your body properly too, by maintaining good posture while you’re wearing your pack (and even when you aren’t!).  
  5. Get and stay fit. Maintaining your overall fitness by exercising and staying active can increase your strength and ability to carry heavy backpack loads, which will reduce your chance of injury. Cardio, strength training and flexibility are essential to your health and fitness.  
  6. Set a time limit. Try to wear your backpack for 30 minutes or less. Unless you’re on an all-day hike or jaunting across a sprawling campus, this rule shouldn’t be hard to follow. If you’re stuck wearing it for longer periods, try to carry the lightest load possible, and try to follow all of the other rules to a "T."
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Read This Before You Start Judging Big Girls at the Gym

In a doctor’s eyes, Katie Karlson is obese. She’s 5’9” and weighs more than 200 pounds. But those stats don’t tell you that she has worked out at least four days per week for the past six years or that she’s been a vegan for the past 10 months. By those standards, she’s healthier than most of us. But she knows many people see her and think anyone with her body type could never be healthy, let alone fit.

In a super -nspiring Instagram post, Karlson commiserates with all the other big girls (and guys) at the gym. The ones who were told they weren’t athletic when they turned the color of a ripe tomato while jogging in gym class. The ones who were taught to think of exercise as punishment—suggesting that in the process of nourishing themselves, they were doing something wrong.

Check out her wise words below—and see if she changes your mind about what healthy looks like:

10 Products That Every Healthyish Person Needs

Whether you’re a pro at healthy living or just trying to stick to your resolutions, it can be tough to find everything you need at a single store. You have to run to the organic market for protein powder, stop by a drugstore for beauty products, and don’t even get us started on trying to track down the perfect leggings for yoga.

But our friends at are changing that. The online store is a one-stop shop for everything from athleisure and natural beauty to blenders and snack bars. Plus, the more you buy, the cheaper the products get. We rounded up 10 of our go-to products that make it easier to be healthier every day.

Under Armour ColdGear Infrared Leggings These leggings are seriously high tech: One layer wicks away sweat, while another keeps you extra toasty during chilly months. And let's be real: Can you ever have too many wear-anywhere leggings?Available at, $36.36.† Poppin Soft Cover Notebook Whether you resolved to start journaling more or simply want to track your workout progress, a blank notebook like this one from Poppin is perfect for keeping you motivated. Science says so.Available at, $11.† Vega All-in-One Nutritional Shake This powder has it all: It’s vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free—and still packs 20 grams of plant-based protein per serving, making it perfect for a pre- or post-workout smoothie. Mix it with fruit and veggies, or enjoy it shaken with ice-cold water (we have!).Available at, $29.99.† Hamilton Beach Set n Forget® Slow Cooker If you haven't yet discovered the wonders of set-it-and-forget-it cooking, let us introduce you. Simply throw ingredients into the slow cooker in the a.m., go to work, and come home to a fully cooked, delicious-smelling meal. This cooker comes with power-interrupter protection and automatically switches to a warming mode once the correct temp is met. Need ideas on what to make? We’ve got plenty.Available at, $49.79.† Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil What can't this miracle oil do? It's a moisturizer, makeup remover, cooking oil, wood conditioner, and cat hairball preventer (srsly). Don’t be surprised if you use it daily.Available at, $12.45.† Ringly Smart Ring Activity Tracker If you're both a fashion girl and a fitness lover, most activity trackers leave much to be desired. Not Ringly. The stylish ring monitors your steps, distance, and calories burned, and can even help you set and manage goals.Available at, $195.† RXBAR Blueberry Protein Bar When you’re running from meeting to workout to happy hour, you need something you can grab on the go—that’s where RXBARs come in. The main ingredients are right on the label, so you know exactly what you're getting. Several of the bars are even Paleo or Whole30 compliant. No need to reach for a bag of chips again.Available at, $25.99 for a 12-pack.† Tree Hut Shea Sugar Scrub Shea butter, coconut and lime extracts, and a variety of natural nut oils make this scrub as soothing as it is exfoliating. Grains of sugar smooth away dead cells, leaving your skin polished and smooth. Bonus: The scent almost makes you feel like you’re on a tropical vacay. Almost.Available at, $6.48.† Garmin Vivosmart HR+ Activity Tracker What’s so special about this water-resistant activity tracker? Not only does it accurately track your heart rate, steps, floors climbed, and calorie burn, but it also monitors your sleep and functions as an alarm. So basically you’ll never want to take it off.Available at, $149.99.† NutriBullet Blender A healthy breakfast sounds great, but then reality kicks in: Ain’t nobody got time for eggs with whole-grain toast and made-from-scratch Paleo hollandaise. That’s where smoothies come in. With endless varieties to suit every nutritional goal and diet, smoothies are the best way to keep breakfast fresh—and enjoy it on the go. This NutriBullet even lets you blend in and drink from the same glass.Available at, $71.39.†

*New customers only. Minimum $35 value in the Grocery, Household, Health & Beauty, Baby, and Pet Supplies categories required per order. Maximum discount $30 on each order. Offer expires 2/11/2017 at 11:59 PM PST; if any of your first 2 orders are not placed by this date, they are not eligible for the discount. GREATIST20 must be applied on your first Jet order to qualify to be used on your first two Jet orders. Offer cannot be applied to previous orders and cannot be combined with other offers or discounts. Offer is subject to change or cancellation. Void where prohibited. Brand, category and other restrictions may apply. †Prices on are dynamic and subject to change. Prices quoted reflect prices on on 01/12/2017 at 5:30 PM ET.

What Happens When You Let Friends Use Your Tinder Account

I'm on Tinder, but I don't have to be happy about it. I am getting pretty good at explaining the internet to people. Most of the time, these are older relatives, like my parents and grandparents. "Facebook is mutual," I tell them. "Twitter is one-way. Tumblr is a like if Facebook and Twitter had a baby. A gay baby."

But last year, I was hanging out with a couple I'm close with, two hip, engaged-in-the-world 30-somethings with burgeoning digital presences of their own, when my friend asked, "How does Tinder work?"

I looked at her suspiciously. "Is that a trick question?" I asked.

My friend, Teresa, is married, works as a photographer, and is a minor Pinterest celebrity. (Full disclosure: I'm not sure I could explain Pinterest to you). She and her husband met eight years ago and have been married for four, so they've been off the market since the waning days of the George W. Bush presidency. Neither of them ever had a need for OKCupid, much less Tinder.

In the moment, I had to remind myself how Tinder worked: You attach the app to your Facebook account, tell it what kind of genitalia you're interested in, throw in an age range, and limit how far away a potential match can be. Then the app lines up the people that fit the bill—I assume using some sort of mathscience to order them—and presents them like targets at a phenomenally boring shooting gallery.

"Can I try?" Teresa asked.

Anyone who has used Tinder will probably be able to relate to the soul-crushing stupor you can enter when you use it—face after face getting flicked mostly to the left, occasionally to the right. At some point, it starts to feel like a war of attrition. Why would anyone want to try it?

I handed my phone to Teresa somewhat nervously, and she took to her task with relish. Even as I attempted to watch over her shoulder, I felt what I realized was an important sense of control over my Tinder matches slipping away. "No, no, no…" she said, her finger sliding left with a newbie's deliberateness.

"This guy is a lawyer... and he lives in town!" Teresa said, referencing a deep, ill-fated entanglement with a bartender I'd recently matched with while traveling. To Teresa's mind, that guy's biggest flaw was that he'd lived so dang far away. She swiped right on the lawyer. "Oooh, it's a match!" she said, showing me the victorious match screen.

I somewhat rudely snatched my phone back and examined the solicitor's profile. I knew almost instantly I would not have chosen him. He was alright-looking, just not my type. As I held the phone in my hands, it buzzed—he'd already sent me a message.

What if this whole time, I've just been doing it wrong? It's much easier to wander for 40 years in the desert if you know that there's a promised land of milk and honey at the end of the trail.

Teresa was not alone among my becoupled friends whose curiosity about Tinder was earnest and well-meaning, yet exposed large, gaping holes in my own sense of well-being. At that point, I'd already had several friends in LTRs—mostly heterosexual women, though that might just be because most of my friends are hetero ladies—ask questions about Tinder that felt gastrointestinal in their intimacy.

Of course, I can understand their fascination: Tinder and the other swipe-apps have become a cultural touchstone that is ethically inaccessible to the happily committed. Tinder offers its users thousands of faces and potential partners, while my couple friends have settled on one face that, the understanding is, will be it. To put it in cruder terms: They've got an app that shows them the same face over and over, that they constantly need to swipe right on. To someone who has chosen their person, Tinder must represent a kind of strange, forbidden playground that, for the most part, they have no real interest in, but still wouldn't mind checking out.

The disconnect seems to be in this idea that single people like being on the swipey dating apps. While I imagine there are those power users who derive pleasure from the experience, I feel that the lion's share of us Tinderers would just as soon not be on it if we didn't need to be. (If I had a nickel for every profile that starts with "Looking for someone who'll give me a reason to delete this app," well… I'd have a roll or two of nickels, at least). And though I can't deny the neurochemical high I get when I match with someone—especially an attractive someone—that dopamine dump seems rooted in the desperation of the entire exercise. Will this guy be the one that presages the end of singledom?

I know how the logic goes: The single—especially the chronically single, like yours truly—must just be not choosing right. Outsource the task to a friend (or even a computer), and they can choose a quality partner that we would have otherwise overlooked, clouded as we are by such petty considerations as attraction.

Maybe that's where my knee-jerk nausea originated: handing over control of my Tinder was equivalent to admitting that I couldn't trust my own sense of attraction, that quickening of the heart, the fuzzy tendrils that radiate out from the chest, the head-to-toe sweep of goosebumps you get when you really like someone. But without the starry-eyed thrill, what's the goddamned point?

On a purely practical level, there's another problem with letting my friend guest-swipe on my Tinder: The same way that a friend borrowing my Netflix login skewed my recommendation algorithm by binge-watching several seasons of Pretty Little Liars, Teresa's swiping had the potential to confuse the impersonal math equation Tinder uses to select my matches. Unlike the algorithms used by services like OKCupid, which try to use common interests to match people, the swipey apps use our instant hot-or-not reaction to their photos—which is apparently how good matches are made.

Maybe in the end, it all boils down to the same primal, emotional place I go to whenever someone offers dating advice: Don't tell me how I'm failing. Partly because they don't know how hard it is to not only be failing at dating, but to still be failing at dating. When they're done hypothetically and dispassionately swiping for me, they get to crawl into bed with their person.

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And partly because… what if they're right? What if this whole time, I've just been doing it wrong? It's much easier to wander for 40 years in the desert if you know that there's a promised land of milk and honey at the end of the trail.

Still, the swiping continues, not because I think it's a good way to meet people, so much as it feels like one of the only ways to meet people. And though I am living for the day when I can hit the X over the jiggling app icon because I've met (and locked down) the man of my dreams, I wonder if that final click might be 10 percent bitter to the 90 percent sweet. As one friend who has recently left singledom for a guy she met on Tinder said to me the other day, "I finally deleted Tinder last night, and it felt kind of sad."

After a moment, though, she reconsidered.

"No, not sad… what am I saying?" she said. "I guess I mean it felt sort of like a strange end of an era."

For a couple of weeks following Teresa's guest appearance on my Tinder, I kept matching with guys I had no memory of swiping on. I felt bad about ignoring them—though that seemed kinder than explaining the situation. Besides, there's a kind of horrible usefulness to the rhetoric of silence on dating apps. In fact, years of using these apps have taught me something like a new language—and maybe that was the at the core of the problem: Teresa didn't speak it.

I suppose I find myself locked in a strange symbiosis with Tinder, hating it, but also feeling ownership over it. Still, I keep swiping, hoping that with every flick of the finger, I'm bringing myself just a bit closer to the end of this strange, strange era.

The 19-Minute Workout for Increased Stamina and Core Strength

Doing separate workouts for cardio and core strength sounds like a total time-suck to us. Instead, get two workouts for the price of one with this short circuit routine that'll keep your heart rate elevated while you strengthen your midsection.

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This workout includes 11 basic bodyweight exercises, which means you don't need any equipment, and it only requires enough space to fit an exercise mat. This one is not about hammering out moves as fast as possible. [Insert prayer emoji.] Although you'll keep your heart rate up, it's about focusing on your form and getting the most out of every repetition. Hit play to get started.

To recap: An exercise mat is optional. Perform each move for about 30 seconds. Don't rest between each exercise.

Workout: Jumping Jack Kangaroo Traveling Push-Up High Knees With a Twist Superman Plank With Knee Tuck Greek Shuffle Squat With Side Kick Bicycle Crunch Seal Plank Turtle


Looking for more short and effective at-home workouts? Grokker has thousands of routines, so you’ll never get bored. Bonus: For a limited time, Greatist readers get 40 percent off Grokker Premium (just $9 per month) and their first 14 days free. Sign up now!

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