2. Practice Slow Yoga
Slow yoga emphasizes one drawn–out breath for each movement you make. Like tai chi, it uses many repetitive flowing moves. "When you practice slow yoga, you create more awareness between mind and body,"says Beth Shaw, founder of Yoga Fit Training Systems in Los Angeles. This creates a deep sense of stillness and helps develop patience and lower stress, she adds.
HEALTH BENEFITS Last year, researchers in Sweden and India showed that practicing yoga can reverse the negative effects of high blood pressure, obesity, and high blood sugar. The studies, published in the journal Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, showed reduced waist circumference, blood pressure, blood sugar, and triglycerides (the chemical form of fat cells) and higher HDL (so–called good cholesterol) levels in a control group that practiced yoga versus a placebo group.
GETTING STARTED To find a Slow Yoga class near you visit yogafit.com or inquire at your local yoga studio. You might also consider restorative or yin yoga, two other gentle forms of the practice.
3. Take a Nap
You snooze, you win, according to a Harvard study published last year in The Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers revealed that people who regularly napped at least three times a week for an average of 30 minutes had a 37 percent lower risk of heart attack than those who didn't nap. "It shows that napping is an important preventive strategy just like regular exercise, eating right, and not smoking,"says Sara C. Mednick, Ph.D., author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life (Workman, 2006).
HEALTH BENEFITS A daily nap also boosts serotonin, says Mednick, which may lead to improved memory and performance. Napping can even contribute to weight loss, according to a study in the American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology, and Metabolism in 2007. That study looked at hormone levels in 41 men and women who were part of a seven–day sleep–deprivation experiment. Those allowed to nap for two hours following a night without any sleep showed a significant drop in cortisol, a hormone related to high levels of stress, and a complement of growth hormone, which helps regulate insulin and fat storage. Researchers concluded that a midafternoon nap improves alertness and performance and reverses the negative metabolic effects of sleep loss. GETTING STARTED The best time to nap is between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., but a 15– to 20–minute power nap at any time can help. Close the office door and take a snooze, or find a quiet place where you feel safe. Nap on weekends, Mednick says. "Just don't use the weekend to catch up on sleep lost in the week."Check with your doctor about napping if you're being treated for insomnia.
2. Practice Slow Yoga