(BlackDoctor.org) — Want to boost your health, your memory, your mood, your energy, all of it! Too lazy to put very much effort into accomplishing any of that? Well, the below health tricks may be perfect for you. Yes, just about all of them do sound a bit odd, but trust us, they work!
Yawn. Yawns are one of the best-kept secrets for flexing your mental muscles, says Andrew Newberg, M.D., associate professor of radiology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Brain scans reveal that yawning activates areas responsible for social awareness and feelings of empathy—which may explain why yawns are so contagious: even reading this may cause you to yawn! “They might also strengthen the precuneus, a part of the brain that plays a central role in memory retrieval and self-reflection,” Dr. Newberg says. The quick hit of oxygen wards off sleepiness and helps you stay focused by regulating metabolism and cooling the brain.
Even better. “Yawn as often as possible—in the morning, at work, before a big test,” Dr. Newberg suggests. It will give your brain an instant pick-me-up. Can’t yawn on cue? Fake it a few times and you won’t be able to help yourself.
Blink. You may consider it a cute come-hither flirtation device, but batting your eyelashes is also essential for healthy eyes. The action coats the eye with tear film, a liquid layer that washes away debris and delivers nutrients to the cornea to promote good vision.
Even better. Avoid a staring contest with your laptop, cell phone or e-reader—it can make for fewer blinks. In fact, looking at a computer made the average gal blink half as often as usual, experts at The Ohio State University at Columbus noted. “We get so absorbed in the screen that our blinking reflex goes down, causing vision to get strained and blurry,” says James Salz, M.D., clinical professor of ophthalmology at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Try the 20/20/20 rule: Enjoy a tech break every 20 minutes and gaze at least 20 feet into the distance for 20 seconds to relax your eyes and encourage blinking.
Breathe. Taking slow, deep breaths can help lower blood pressure and alleviate anxiety, pain and asthma symptoms. It can even prevent painful cramps during exercise. “When we’re stressed, angry or intently focused, we breathe more shallowly or hold our breath without realizing it, which can reduce the flow of oxygen and intensify our emotional and physical distress,” says Mark Gregory, M.D., an internist at Washington University in St. Louis. “Deep breathing allows airways to fully expand for an improved exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, releasing tension and creating a calming effect throughout the entire body,” he adds.
Even better. Place your hands on your abdomen and practice slowly inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth, suggests Dennis Lewis, author of Free Your Breath, Free Your Life (Shambhala Publications). As you take in air, you should feel your belly expand. “When you exhale, do it gently through pursed lips and visualize that you’re blowing on a candle that’s several inches away so the flame is lightly flickering,” Lewis says. Repeat six or seven times and your breathing will naturally deepen. Does it get any easier than that?
Toast. That ice-cold brew at happy hour doesn’t only strengthen your resolve to chat up the cute guy or girl at the bar; it may also make your skeleton stronger. “Beer contains silicon, and diets rich in this element are associated with an increase in bone mineral density among premenopausal women,” says Ravin Jugdaohsingh, Ph.D., senior research scientist at the MRC Collaborative Centre for Human Nutrition Research in Cambridge, England. “The female hormone estrogen may act with silicon to help prevent bone loss in women.”
Even better. Brews derived from malted barley tend to contain more silicon than those that are wheat-based, according to a study from the University of California at Davis. Opt for pale ales such as India pale ales (IPAs), which were found to be the richest in silicon. But stick to one a day or you’ll cancel out any health benefits.