Head to your backyard and plant a garden this season. All that digging, weeding, planting and harvesting burns calories. Plus, the time in the sun signals your body to produce vitamin D, which protects against brittle bones, weak muscles, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. (Don't forget your sunscreen when you're outdoors, though.) Growing your own produce will also lead to a healthier diet. Most Americans don't eat the recommended amount of fruits and veggies; growing your own will make eating them so convenient you have no more excuse. If you don't have a big yard, don't worry: You can grow a vegetable garden on your porch or on your windowsill.
Taking a fitness class like Zumba provides a boost to your cardiovascular health, plus it helps you lose weight and tone muscles. Zumba is all the rage, but it isn't your only choice. Try a variety of classes -- spinning, cardio-kickboxing, power yoga and more -- until you find one that you truly enjoy. If you like it, you are more likely to stick to it and go often.
Research shows that music is actually good for your health, so crank up your favorite tunes. Music can reduce your stress, improve your mood and help increase your brain power. A study in Finland that used MRI imaging analysis found that music affects the creative, emotional and motor areas of the brain. Music is also used for cancer and heart disease patients during treatment because it has positive effects on their mood, pain level and overall happiness.
Going to the spa is a great way to pamper yourself, but it can also be good for your health. Visiting the spa is a great method to reduce stress and anxiety, and we all know how bad stress can be for your physical and emotional health. Additionally, some spa treatments can reduce back pain, increase circulation, improve sleep quality and aid digestion. Even just a soak in a hot tub can do you good -- a study in The New England Journal of Medicine found that after 10 days of using a hot tub for 30 minutes a day, patients with Type 2 diabetes needed less insulin, lost weight, slept better and experienced a general increase in their sense of well-being.
If you pick the right movie, going to the theater can actually be beneficial to your health. Laughter offers a number of health benefits, so choose a comedy. Humor and laughter help reduce stress hormones, lower your blood pressure, improve circulation and even increase disease-killing cells such as T-cells. After the movies, hang out with your friends. Friendships are very important to your health. Friends can help you avoid depression, feel younger, get well sooner and live longer.
When you're with your friends, you could be more active, too. Try out a new sport, take a hike or go dancing together as a group.
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