While sticking to a diet and diligently attending gym are the must-dos for good health, experts say that's sometimes it is okay to give yourself a break. If you're being too hard on yourself, it's time to cut yourself some slack. Here are some simple diet and fitness alternatives that are not only enjoyable but also effective.
Once in a while we all feel too tired to go to the gym or exercise at home. Research has found that repeatedly laughing till your tummy hurts has the same effect on your body as moderate exercise. Not only does a good laugh improve your mood, it also lowers your blood pressure, reduces bad cholesterol, enhances your immune system and is good for your heart. Just 15 minutes of laughter daily is known to help your blood vessels function better and has benefits which are similar to a simple workout. So while we don't say you give up working out in favour of laughing, sometimes it is okay to make the swap.
While the beauty industry cries itself hoarse on how important sunscreen is and how much damage sunrays can do in the long run, many people are forgetting that vitamin D is very important for the human body. Spending a few minutes in the sun daily (preferably early morning or before sunset) helps your body produce vitamin D - a nutrient that is essential for good health. A lack of vitamin D is known to increase the risk of osteoporosis, heart disease and even mental illness.
A little bit of dark chocolate every other day is good for your health say experts. A plant compound called epicatechin, which is found in dark chocolate, stimulated the same muscle response as exercise, which slows down muscle ageing. Dark chocolate also has antioxidants, which keep you healthy and even prevent wrinkles. Don't get carried away and gorge on a huge chocolate bar.
When you feel like reaching out for that unhealthy snack instead of a bowl of fresh fruit, have some popcorn instead. Experts say that popcorn is healthy alternative because it has almost double the amount of antioxidant polyphenols (which protect against cancer and heart disease) per serving as fruits and vegetables. It is completely unprocessed whole grain and has high fibre content, which ensures that you stay full and digest properly. Not only that, popcorn also helps lower cholesterol, is low in calories and has B vitamins. So while you maintain a healthy diet, have a bowl of plain popcorn or add some spices instead of processed foods, which are high in sugar, salt and oil content.
Realms may have been written about the benefits of music, and here it is, one more time. Want to lead a healthier lifestyle? Make sure music is a part of it! Studies say that listening to music will not only improve your mood but also lower stress, increase the levels of disease-fighting antibodies in your body and improve cardiovascular health. Some experts even suggest that music can provide relief from pain, help one recover faster from an illness and even improve mental health. Make it a habit to have music in the background at home. Or listen to it while you cook, travel or even simply go around doing your daily chores and errands.
(This article originally appeared in The Times Of India)