The Strange-But-True Health Benefits of 7 Habits You Thought Did Nothing for You
Stop feeling guilty. You are not as unhealthy as you might think. Science shows the surprising health benefits of your lifestyle.
The health benefits of calling mom
You’re an adult. You can handle this. You don’t need to run to mommy over a bad day at work. Turns out there are health benefits of calling your mother. (Here are some superhuman things only moms can do.)
A study published in Proceedings B by researchers from the University of Wisconsin Madison put a group of girls ages seven to 12 through a stressful task and then divided them into three groups: The first had 15 minutes in person with their mothers, the second called their moms and the last one watched a film. Researchers found that levels of oxytocin—the “happy hormone” linked to emotional bonding—were increased in both the groups that had physical contact with their moms and those that just talked to Mom on the phone.
The researchers also saw that the levels of the stress hormone cortisol decreased in both the groups that talked to mom. And we know that our connection with mom doesn’t change age we age.
The health benefits of slowing down how fast you run
The goal of running for simple, right? Be faster, burn more calories, and be a better runner. But a study by University of Ottawa researchers Bradley Young and John Samela found that running fast actually doesn’t make you a better runner.
Instead, paying attention to pace is what separated the successful runners from the others. The goal is to get your body to recognize what pace you’re going so that you don’t burn all of your energy at the start of a run. Then when you need to use your energy reserves, you are not exhausted near the finish line. You run slower, and you can run for longer!
The health benefits of eating more food
If you think the key to weight loss is eating less food, think again. Eating small, healthy snacks throughout the day—in addition to your regular balanced meals—will keep your stomach full and stop you from running to the vending machine with major hunger pangs at 4 p.m.
Keep in mind that not just any snack will do. Keep them healthy and focus on nutrients. Delicious, protein-rich foods such as peanut butter, cheese and yogurt are tasty snacks that can help improve your metabolism and encourage muscle building. (Here are some ways to boost your metabolism.)
The health benefits of not getting eight hours of sleep
We are always told that a good night’s sleep helps you feel your best, protects you against diabetes, wards off heart disease and even burns calories. But how much sleep do you really need?
A study by researchers at the University of Birmingham School of Medicine found that those who slept more than eight hours a day—including naps—were 15 percent more likely to have metabolic syndrome than those who slept less. Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors, linked to obesity, which increase your chance of having heart disease and other health problems, including diabetes and stroke.
The authors of the study couldn’t say if the extra hours of sleep were the cause or the symptom of metabolic syndrome, but they suggested that “long sleepers” see health benefits from reducing the amount of sleep they get. Don’t miss these 13 secrets sleep doctors want you to know.
The health benefits of doing nothing
As rare as it may be to take some time for yourself to be alone and listen to music is actually good for your social skills.
A study published in Nature Reviews Neuroscience pulled together data from around the world studying the effect of music on the brain. They found that musical training, or any interaction with music-including listening-improved the brain’s ability to handle communication. The research reviewed showed that children with musical training have better-than-average vocabulary and reading ability. Musical adults had more “neuroplasticity,” aiding their brains’ long-term ability to adapt and change.
So every time you put on your ear buds to listen to the music, be it Taylor Swift or Rihanna, you’re improving your brain’s fitness.
The health benefits of feeling independent within your relationship
We know relationships aren’t always perfect, and you might think not doing something with your partner every day is bad for your relationship. But it turns out there is something to be said for a bit of independence. Couples who are attached at the hip could be putting themselves at higher risk of cardiovascular problems.
People who or felt like their loved ones could leave them may actually end up with a real broken heart, says a new study by the American Psychological Association.
Researchers found that participants in the study who had “attachment insecurity” were strongly associated with higher risk of stroke, high blood pressure, ulcers, and heart attack. The researchers are now looking into the health benefits of salving those apprehensive feelings.
If you are curious as to how often a couple in a healthy relationship have sex, you might be surprised.
The health benefits of water on your energy levels
It has no calories—so how could it affect energy?
Ordinary, plain old water, researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center found, raises alertness. The scientists discovered that water increases sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activity. SNS is responsible for activating the body’s responses under stress, raising blood pressure, energy use, and alertness. (Here’s what happens to your body when you drink eight glasses of water every day.)
Next time you need an energy boost, skip the caffeine or sugary sports drink and go for a drink of water.
Not ready to give up caffeine? Here are signs you might be drinking too much coffee.