Ok, I have seen all the top 10 healthy guilty pleasure lists. But some of the items on that list are not all that healthy, or they don’t make you feel all that guilty, or they are not all that pleasurable. So I decided to compile my own true healthy guilty pleasure list. The great thing about this list is that if you don’t feel like having a meal of carrot juice and steel-cut oats (would it be just as healthy if I cut the oats with a substance other than steel), or working up a sweat at the gym, just pick one or two of the items from this list and know you contributed to your health today. I like to call it the Lazy Man’s Guide to Good Health.
Have a cocktail, or two, or even three. And it doesn’t have to be a glass of red wine that is chock full of resveratrol to add years to your life. Current studies show that drinkers live longer than non-drinkers. And even heavy drinkers even live longer than non-drinkers. So when you feel like a drink, indulge yourself and know that you may be adding years to your life. As a wise man once said, Live to Drink or Drink to Live.
SEX, SEX, AND MORE SEX
Dr. Oz, America’s (or at least Oprah’s) number one health advisor, touts the health benefits of an active sex life. In fact, he recommends sex 8 times a week, which is, as I calculate, an astounding 416 sex acts per year. So who am I to argue with Dr. Oz. And by the way, can I get a prescription for that?
The media has tried to makes us all feel guilty about that cup of coffee that helps us face the day. But the real truth is that more recent scientific studies have supported the health benefits of coffee than vice-versa. Recent studies have linked coffee consumption to decreased risk of diabetes and Parkinson’s and has proved it to be a mood elevator which can increase brain function. So don’t worry if you run on Dunkin. It’s definitely ok.
Sure, if you bake in the sun all day all summer long so that you resemble a brown lizard you are increasing your chances of skin cancer. But if you stay in your office and avoid the sun, you may end up with a Vitamin D deficiency like a huge percentage of Americans and actually increase your chances of other types of cancer and several other diseases. Vitamin D deficiency has become epidemic in our country, in part because of our sun avoidance paranoia. So make regular moderate sunlight exposure part of your routine to actually increase that healthy glow as well as your actual health.
When I say fats are healthy, I am not talking about that fats in that 32 ounce porterhouse. I am talking about the healthy fats that you find in the extra virgin olive oil that you drizzle over your bruschetta or the omega- 3 fats that you find in most kinds of nuts. Don’t worry about the calories, ingesting these fats are going to increase your heart and cardio-vascular health and improve your health in a dozen other ways. So when you are watching football this Sunday, grab that handful of nuts without guilt and know you are giving yourself a healthy handful.
By now we know that dark chocolate and the cocoa found in dark chocolate contains powerful anti-oxidants. In fact, a study conducted by Cornell University found that it contains anti-oxidants more powerful than those in green tea or red wine. So you can indulge your sweet tooth without guilt if you indulge it with a semi-sweet chocolate treat that is low in added sugar.
Massage may be the most important healty tip for the lazy man. Studies have linked massage to dozens of health benefits and it is used from everything from sports injuries to cancer treatment to stress reduction. One of the healthiest habits that you can cultivate is regular massage from a talented therapist. In fact, there are now nationwide chains of massage studios such as Massage Envy that offer discounts for membership.
Some researchers have identified lack of adequate sleep as one of our top national health problems and there is a compelling link between lack of sleep and increased obesity and diabetes. Even if you eat right and exercise, your lack of sleep may be sabotaging your other good health habits. So don’t feel guilty about sleeping late on weekends or even sleeping in and getting to work late. That extra sleep may make you healthier and more productive.
Laughter has been described as the best medicine and there is some scientific evidence that this may be true. a study at the University of Maryland concluded that laughter improves your blood vessel health and may play a role in reducing cardiovascular disease. We knew before that laughter can elevate your mood and mental state and now we know that it can improve your heart function as well. So when you to to that comedy club on Saturday night you actually may be doing something to improve your health.
TAKING A DAY OFF
Even if you are not an employee of the iphone factory in China where employees are killing themselves every week, overwork has been linked to health deterioration and increased death rates. When the stress at work gets the best of you, then taking a mental health day may be the best thing. It will clear your head, and reduce your stress level which in turn can reduce your heart rate and blood pressure and elevate your mood. Playing hooky may actually save your life (or your boss’s).
I truly believe that these 1o habits can increae your health levels. But doing them all at once and with too much intensity can be dangerous. Just like exercise.
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