Take heart in this baker’s half-dozen of indulgences that can make you feel better and live longer.
If you feel as though everyone’s on your case about working out, avoiding fat-laden foods and not being a couch potato, don’t despair. Luxuriate in these cheap and easy luxuries. No thousand-dollar-a-minute health spas here – these are things you can do anywhere.
Stretch. As children, we start off being able to do the splits, climb trees and crawl through small spaces all day long, with no ill-effects. Once we reach adulthood, we spend our days sitting down and our agility takes a dive. Then mowing the lawn leaves us feeling stiff and creaky. Get flexible again by doing a range of stretches each morning. If you only do two, make it these: start with sitting up in bed. Keep your fingers intertwined and your palms facing outward reach above your head, tilting your head to follow your hands. Breathe in as you reach up and breathe out as your hands come down.
Drink wine. If you’re a teetotaler for whatever reason, there’s no need to start, but if not, have one glass of red with your supper. Wine contains resveratrol and a number of other antioxidants. It protects the body against heart disease, high blood pressure, cholesterol and stroke, as well as colon cancer, prostate cancer, melanoma and leukaemia.
Laugh. Find something that unfailingly makes you emit a belly-laugh, whether it’s your home video of Uncle Cyrus falling into the swimming pool, your scratchy old copy of Dinner for One, the works of PG Wodehouse or playing with your cat. Laughing lowers blood pressure, activates the immune system and stimulates breathing.
Have sex. Apart from feeling pleasant (If you haven’t noticed this, you may be doing it all wrong), it has health benefits. Like laughter, it prompts the release of endorphins, the so-called feel-good hormones. It can be mildly to excruciatingly aerobic and it tends to be good for relationships.
Sleep. Nodding off is a refuge, a haven from the cares of the world and your body’s way of coping with the masses of sensory input with which we deluge it daily. It’s when your brain does its filing, sorting out memories. The ability to get a good night’s sleep may be one of the single most important factors in staying healthy. If, after cutting back on caffeine and getting some light exercise during the day, you’re still unable to sleep, speak to your doctor.
Drink tea. Long thought to be good for you, tea has been shown to have a staggering array of health benefits.
Sweat. Some people shy away from the idea of exertion, but if you make aerobic exercise a habit you’ll find it’s almost addictive. Exercise triggers endorphins and regular, vigorous exercise leads to the so-called runner’s high, which can be so euphoric it’s a wonder it’s legal.