Can taking a nap be good for your heart? What about laughter, gratitude and chocolate?
Take a Nap
A new study shows that napping once or twice a week seems to cut in half people’s risk of heart attack, strokes and heart disease, compared with folks who never nap. But don’t overdo it, because more frequent napping provides no extra benefit.
Until now researchers have debated over whether naps are good or bad. Many researchers tell you to avoid napping because it will give you lousy nighttime sleep. This new research puts that theory in question. Still, researchers couldn’t say exactly why a couple of naps each week might do you good. Perhaps the extra sleep relieves stress.
In another study, University of Chicago researchers found that even one extra hour of sleep decreased the odds of hardening of the coronary arteries by 33 percent.
Have a Good Laugh
Research at University College in London says that laughing loud and long relaxes the walls of your arteries. This in turn increases blood flow for as long as 45 minutes. To be sure that you get enough laughter, aim for 15 minutes of chuckles.
Say Thank You
A decade-long study of more than 1,700 adults published in the European Heart Journal reports that adults who have a positive outlook on life reduce their chance of a heart attack. Keeping a gratitude journal is probably the best way to increase the amount of gratitude that you feel.
Eat Dark Chocolate
Eat dark chocolate to increase your intake of polyphenols. Polyphenols fight against free radicals, which are produced in our body and can cause cell damage. Polyphenols also protect the heart. The Harvard School of Public Health studied almost 8,000 Americans around age 65 for five years. They found that those who ate chocolate and sweets up to three times a month lived almost a year longer than those who ate too much chocolate or none at all. So aim for the right amount.
Here’s the rundown of four things that are good for your heart: after you’ve had a nap, eat chocolate while you watch a comedy…then write about it in your journal.