17 Wacky Things That Are Actually Good for Your Body
Time to grab your hula hoop and put eggs on your face!
We learn pretty early on that living a healthy life isn't rocket science. Eat well, exercise often, get a good night's sleep, and you'll be fine, right? That may be true, but you could also be getting much more creative with how exactly you do your body good. There are some surprising things you're doing every day—or could be doing—that are great for your overall wellbeing. So grab your hula hoop and crack some eggs on your face, because you're about to to learn about the wackiest things that are actually good for your body.
You might think of a hula hoop as a toy meant for children and Cirque de Soleil performers, but it's a legitimately good fitness tool. According to the Mayo Clinic, hula hooping for 30 minutes burns, on average, 165 calories for women and 200 for men. Best of all: It's a total blast!
Talking to yourself
Society says that talking to yourself is strange—at best. But in reality, it's one of the best things you can do for your mental health. "If we speak out loud, it forces us to slow down our thoughts and process them differently because we engage the language centers of our brain," Dr. Jessica Nicolosi, a clinical psychologist based in New York, told NBC News. "By talking to ourselves we become more deliberate, and this creates a slower process to think, feel, and act, instead of being bombarded by our thoughts."
Getting a good night's sleep doesn't just mean getting enough hours every night (seven to nine, ideally). It also means making sure those hours are quality hours. And, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), regulating your body temperature is an essential component of good sleep. So, what's the easiest way to keep your body temperature in the target range of 60 to 67º Fahrenheit? Minimize the amount of clothing on your person. After all, your body temperature fluctuates throughout the night, and reducing the amount of layers surrounding you means you have better control over that fluctuation. So strip down before you hop in bed!
Drinking coffee before a nap
Yes, it may seem counterintuitive, but if you want to reap the greatest rewards from a nap, down a cup of coffee beforehand. The key is to drink it right before you hit the pillow. While you're asleep, the caffeine will kick in. Then, when you wake up, you'll be even more alert and refreshed than you would otherwise. Don't believe us? We tried it—and it was a total game-changer!
Smelling apples and cucumbers
Sure, eating apples and cucumbers is good for you, but what about smelling them? Turns out, a whiff can help minimize feelings of claustrophobia. Landmark research conducted at the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Center in 1995 found that smelling a green apple or a cucumber can change your perception of space, making places feel larger than they actually are. Interestingly, the smell of barbecue smoke—delicious as it may be—has an opposite effect, and makes rooms feel smaller.
Eating (some) insects
When you think of great natural sources of protein, the usual suspects likely come to mind: chicken, eggs, fish, lean pork. Well, allow us to introduce a new one: bugs. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), insects are already a regular part of the diet of approximately two billion people around the world. They have a significantly smaller environmental impact than farmed protein sources—they produce fewer greenhouse gases and require less labor—and also happen to be rich in fiber and other micronutrients, such as copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, selenium, and zinc. Oh, and they're nice and crunchy, too!
Sleeping with socks
According to the NSF, you'll sleep better if your feet are warm. "Heating cold feet causes vasodilation—dilation of the blood vessels—which may tell the brain that it is bedtime," the experts note. "After the blood vessels open in the hands and feet, heat is redistributed throughout the body to prepare for sleep."
A 2016 study published in the American Journal of Physiology: Heart and Circulatory Physiology found that fidgeting while sitting can protect the arteries in your legs and even potentially help prevent arterial disease. "Many of us sit for hours at a time, whether it's binge watching our favorite TV show or working at a computer," lead author Dr. Jaume Padilla, an assistant professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri-Columbia, said in a statement. "While we expected fidgeting to increase blood flow to the lower limbs, we were quite surprised to find this would be sufficient to prevent a decline in arterial function."
Popping a piece of gum does a whole lot more than freshen your breath. According to a 2013 study published in the British Journal of Psychology, chewing gum can actually help you stay focused for longer—especially in situations where you have to concentrate over a prolonged period of time. So, next time you need to focus, drop the espresso and pick up the peppermint!
If you're someone who frequently loses precious time to daydreaming, you may think you're wasting time. But in reality, daydreaming is a sign that your brain is active and well-equipped. A 2012 study published in Psychological Science found that people with wandering minds tend to have higher degrees of working memory. What's more, a 2017 study published in the journal Neuropsychologia showed that those who like to daydream have "more efficient" brains. Now, where exactly on the beach were we…
Sleeping on the floor
Humans haven't always slept on Caspers and Sleepnumbers. In fact, much of the world still sleeps on solid, grounded surfaces. But, as uncomfortable as it may sound to us, there may be health benefits to sleeping on the floor. For some people with acute back pain, snoozing on the ground in the short term can help alleviate those aches, Dr. Jennifer L. Solomon, a board-certified physiatrist at the Hospital for Special Surgery, told Women's Health. It can also help to lie on the floor with your knees up, which takes pressure off of your back, she adds.
Sleeping with your dog
Is cuddling up with Fido going to cost you a good night's sleep? Not necessarily, a 2017 study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings found. Though the ideal scenario is having your dog sleep in your room but not in your bed (which is associated with 83 percent sleep efficiency), letting your dog climb into bed with you doesn't reduce sleep quality that much (it's associated with 80 percent sleep efficiency). Not only that, but many of the people who slept with dogs in the study reported feeling safer with their four-legged friend resting next to them.
Jumping on a trampoline
It's a blast, yes, but jumping on a trampoline is also a fun way to get some exercise. Trampoline exercises are well-known to boost your cardiovascular health, improve endurance, and relieve stress and tension. On top of that, they can also help you improve your balance, coordination, and motor skills. In addition, a 2016 study published in the Journal of Sport and Health Science found that jumping on a trampoline may help improve bone density and strength. So, what are you waiting for? Get bouncing!
Putting egg whites on your face
We all know eggs are jam-packed with protein, but did you know they could also be good for your skin? A simple face mask made out of egg whites can help reduce discoloration of the skin caused by acne, according to an article in Facing Acne, reviewed by Dr. Jaggi Rao, a double board-certified dermatologist. It can also help firm and tone the skin on your face, thanks to the interaction of albumin in the egg white with salts in the skin, according to a 2016 study published in Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology.
We're frequently warned about how kissing can make us sick, from mono being known as "the kissing disease" to concerns over passing along a cold through your saliva. But kissing has a whole bunch of bona fide health benefits—including, but not limited to, the reduction of blood pressure. "Kissing passionately gets your heartbeat revved in a healthy way that helps lower your blood pressure," Andréa Demirjian, author of Kissing: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about One of Life's Sweetest Pleasures, told CNN. "It dilates your blood vessels—blood is flowing in a good, solid fashion and getting to all your vital organs." You heard it from a pro: Pucker up!
It's not exactly polite, but swearing can feel pretty $#@*ing great. In fact, unleashing your inner sailor can even reduce the perception of pain. According to a 2009 study published in the journal Neuroreport, those who swore displayed increased pain tolerance, increased heart rate, and decreased perceived pain compared with people who do not swear. Why does this happen? According to the study: "The observed pain-lessening (hypoalgesic) effect may occur because swearing induces a fight-or-flight response and nullifies the link between fear of pain and pain perception."
In a society that fetishizes working to the bone, taking some time to do absolutely nothing may seem like a waste of time. But in reality, it's exactly the opposite. In fact, recent research has found that separating yourself from daily concerns and spending time in quiet reflection and contemplation can improve health, sanity, and personal growth. What's more, 2014 research out of INSEAD suggests that doing nothing is crucial for creativity and innovation because it provides the mental space to come up with new insights. So, don't feel guilty about doing nothing the next time you have the chance—it's doctor recommended! And to kick your mindfulness into overdrive, check out the 20 Expert-Backed Ways to Improve Your Mental Health Every Day.
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