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En español l Your bedroom can be a haven of intimacy and solace, but did you know that what you do there can also keep you healthier and happier? It’s true. Read on for quick fixes to your routine that you can incorporate into your life — starting tonight.
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Contrary to conventional wisdom, you should not bound out of bed and hit the ground running. Studies at Harvard University show that the risk of having a heart attack is highest in the morning, as blood vessels are more constricted after a long period of rest. Instead, rise slowly; you might even think about taking your coffee back to bed.
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However restful your night, you’ll wake with some tight muscles. After your shower, but before you hit the road or the desk, stretch. The Mayo Clinic says a five-minute morning stretch improves circulation, boosts joint health and increases flexibility. When you’re supple instead of stiff as you move about, you’ll be less likely to hurt yourself.
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Most of us avoid looking at our naked bodies no matter how fit we are, so we often miss critical changes, says exercise physiologist Ann Wertz Garvin. “Looking at yourself naked gets you familiar with the normal you. Then, you’ll notice bumps or spots that can signal serious disease.” If you do see something unusual, don’t panic, but do consult a doctor, Garvin adds.
A 10-year study of 1,000 middle-aged men in Belfast, Northern Ireland, showed that men who had weekly sex had half the death rate of men who had less frequent orgasms. During sex, the body releases endorphins; muscles grow stronger; circulation increases; and chronic pain lessens. A bonus: You burn about 200 calories each time you, er, engage.
Taking a moment, just before sleep, to pray or meditate can boost your mental health and your immune system. In Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, psychology professor Robert A. Emmons says that people who pause to give thanks are less likely to experience anxiety, depression, headaches, muscle pain and other manifestations of stress.
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Despite the human desire to want to snuggle under blankets, the natural tendency of the body is to cool off as we sleep, which is a good thing. Pajamas can disrupt that, so Lisa Shives, a physician who serves on the National Sleep Foundation’s board of directors, recommends sleeping nude. (Just lock your door if you have housemates or kids.)
Getting a sound sleep decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which regulates the metabolism of sugar, protein and fat. Poor sleep can also lead to obesity, and can slow you down mentally to a dangerous degree. So turn off all electronic devices and go to bed early to catch those too-precious zzz’s.
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