Three Things To Help You Age... and Live... Healthier
And they're all related to your bedroom
As mentioned in this issue of My Healthy Lifestyle, September is, among other notable designations, National Healthy Aging Month. In keeping with that theme, take a look at these three activities that can be part of a healthier future and a healthier present:
Count Your Blessings: Some people call it prayer, some meditation and others simply think of it as a moment of peace before you sleep. But whatever you call it or consider it to be, taking a short time to think about what was good about your day and what is positive in your life can boost your mental and emotional health as well as your immune system.
In his book Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., references research studies indicating that people who briefly pause to give thanks for what life has brought them tend to experience less anxiety, depression, headaches, muscle pain and other manifestations of stress. He goes on to say that the last thing you consciously think about before you go to sleep is important, so make sure it's a good, positive thought.
Wake Up and Stretch Out: Depending on age and activity level, there's a good chance you may wake up with some tight muscles, no matter how well you slept the night before. After you shower (you can skip this step obviously if you bathe in the evening before bed), but before you get fully dressed, take a few minutes to lightly stretch.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic say a morning stretch is a natural instinct that can have important health benefits all day long. Just a five-minute stretch starting with the neck, progressing to the arms and shoulders and lower back and calves improves circulation, boosts joint health and increases flexibility. You'll feel better and are less likely to injure yourself through other activities once those muscles are warmed up.
Catch Some Good Z's: Getting a good night's sleep makes you feel better and there are some solid physiological reasons why that's true. A sound sleep decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol which regulates the metabolism of sugar, protein, fat, minerals and water. Poor sleep can raise your metabolism, making you feel hungry and deprived. These factors are the perfect combination for turning to foods that may not be in your best interest from a health perspective.
At the same time, sleep deprivation slows you down mentally to a dangerous degree. In fact lost sleep can result in individuals having the same reaction time as drunks.
All three of the behaviors described above can make important contributions to your overall health and well-being. And as mentioned, they all can take place in the comfort and privacy of your bedroom.
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