Great news! These easy natural health tips keep your mind and body in tip-top shape — no long workouts or elaborate diets required.
Sidestep eyestrain by sitting up.
If, like us, you’ve been spending more time getting lost in good books or scrolling through smartphone photos these past few months, there’s an easy way to dodge the eyestrain and fuzzy vision that this can sometimes cause. Simply sit upright rather than lying down as you read! This lowers the pressure of fluid inside your eyes by 14 percent, a new Spanish study found, warding off eye fatigue and blurriness. Bonus: Less eye pressure also curbs the risk of vision-hampering glaucoma by 30 percent.
Or soak up a shower! Dry eyes bothering you? When in the shower, submerge your face under the warm stream of water for at least 10 seconds, and you’ll have up to 90 percent moister eyes all day. Heat dissolves clogs in the meibomian gland, which produces oily tears that lubricate eyes, say University of Louisville scientists.
Reaching for the heavens sends joy soaring all day.
To start the day smiling and keep blah moods at bay, try reaching up to the sky and down to your toes in a gentle morning pep stretch. In a new study in the journal Psychological Medicine, women who practiced simple stretches like these for 10 minutes three times a week saw a 31 percent increase in happiness. Stretching reins in stress, which tamps down mood-dampening inflammation in the brain. The result: You’ll feel sunnier all day!
Speed weight loss with ‘giant steps’.
Shedding a few extra pounds is as easy as taking longer strides on your regular morning stroll. Doing so means you’ll burn 30 percent more calories. That’s the word from researchers reporting in the Journal of Biomechanics, who say widening your stance forces your legs to work just a little more, resulting in greater energy usage. Also smart: slowing down on your walk. University of Colorado scientists say a leisurely gait makes you hold up the weight of your leg a little longer between each step, helping you torch noticeably more calories.
Or move your dish! Shifting your plate a little to the left or right on your table helps you eat about 30 percent less. Breaking up your usual eating habits, like moving your dish or having breakfast in your dining room instead of at the kitchen table, makes you more aware of how much you’re consuming. That, University of Southern California scientists say, helps you better notice when you feel full.
Boost memory by gesturing.
When learning something new, such as a route to a new doctor’s office, make gestures with your hands that mime the instructions (like pretending to drive your car). It might sound silly, but it’s one of the simplest natural health tips! Doing so ensures you’ll remember details 37 percent more clearly, Chinese scientists say. Gesturing helps the brain encode information, meaning it gets securely stored in your long-term memory banks, where it’s easier to retrieve.
Or spritz perfume! Applying perfume before learning a new recipe, then applying the same scent before bed helps you recall 30 percent more details, a German study found. The familiar scent helps the brain consolidate new memories overnight.
Ease aches by calling up a smile.
Next time you’re uncomfortable, say, while getting blood work at your annual physical, think of a funny anecdote that’s sure to make you smile. When you break out into a grin, you’ll rapidly feel about 40 percent less discomfort, reveals a new study led by University of California, Irvine, scientists. A genuine smile floods your brain with feel-good chemicals, such as endorphins, which are known to reduce pain sensitivity.
Or seek the sun! When you’re sore, turn toward a bright window. Sunlight prods the body to churn out analgesic compounds that dull discomfort. In fact, Carnegie Mellon University scientists found surgery patients recovering in sunny rooms needed nearly 30 percent fewer pain meds than those in dim rooms.
Rev immunity with a tennis ball.
Roll your feet on a tennis ball, focusing on the inner arch, outer edge and heel, for 3 minutes a day. In a Korean study, women who did so increased immunity-boosting natural killer cells by 22 percent within six weeks. Pressing key points in the feet stimulates organs that flush toxins, so your immune system can work more effectively.
Or smell the roses! Things that make life meaningful, like chatting with friends or admiring pretty flowers, alter gene activity to make your immune system more robust, UCLA scientists say.
Keep these natural health tips in mind and feel your best inside and out!
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.