Sometimes doing things for your health feels like a chore. But what if you could make yourself feel better and look younger while pampering your body and indulging in seemingly sinful treats? You can! These healthy tips for the year ahead feel a little naughty. Who said nothing good for you was fun?
1. Have more sex. Sex increases blood flow, which gives you a glowing complexion, brings oxygen and nutrients to the skin to fight wrinkles, feeds your hair for thick, healthy hair, and relieves stress for hours (or even days!) at a time. As far as your arteries are concerned, sex is as good as a Zumba class, decreasing your chances of heart disease, cancer and depression. Women with an average sex life are 2 to 8 RealAge years younger.
2. Have a drink each night. One glass of wine or a low to no-sugar cocktail each night increases your chances of living into old age without cancer or lung or heart disease. Keeping it to one alcoholic drink daily is heart healthy, increasing good cholesterol (HDL) by about 12 percent. This moderate alcohol intake also reduces blood clotting—by thinning the blood and dampening proteins that promote blood clots. Bonus: One study found that women who drink a glass of wine daily are thinner.
3. Take long walks. Besides helping you get to that ever-distant 10,000 steps a day, long walks give you something just as beneficial: time to yourself. Separating your body from the stressors of daily life gives you a chance to appreciate the world around you and take a break from tension. Do yourself a favor and leave the iPod at home. Mindfully take in your surroundings—the scenery, the smell of the air, the feel of wind on your skin—to reap the fullest mind-body benefits.
4. Make a weekly date night or friend night. Maintaining close relationships is a key to health and happiness. Your friends and family provide understanding and support that you can’t get anywhere else. Your wellbeing is important, so prioritize relationships and make time to see (or call) your closest compatriots. And if you’re married or in a serious relationship, it’s especially important (and fun) to carve out time for togetherness to reinforce your bond.
5. Eat dark chocolate for dessert. If you’re going to have dessert, why not have something delicious that is also doing you a lot of favors? Dark chocolate—that is, with at least 70 percent cocoa and no added sugar and no (zero) milk fat—is a huge beauty boon. It supports circulation, which is good for skin and hair (and your heart, of course!). It’s also full of antioxidant flavanols that fight sun damage and wrinkles, and research shows that women who eat a little chocolate five times a week have lower BMIs.
6. Get massages. Massage isn’t just a way to treat yourself on a special occasion (although a spa day is a great birthday present for yourself!). Massage produces measurable biological effects, including a decrease in hormones associated with blood pressure and water retention, and a possible increase in immune function. Aside from Swedish massage, hot stone and other traditional back and full-body massages, we highly recommend a foot massage. It elevates oxytocin, the hormone that makes you feel warm and fuzzy, and helps flush waste from your system. It’s also great for foreplay (see #1, above).
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