How to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle in Surprising Ways 

We all know that eating nutritious foods low in sugar and regularly exercising are core components of a healthy lifestyle, but did you know putting soap under your bedsheets can have a positive impact on your health? 

Whether you are working from home or social distancing, there are several unique ways you can boost your health without having to leave the house. 

Here is a roundup of 10 things you can eat or do with surprising health benefits:

1. Knit or Crochet

Learning any new skill can have a positive effect on your brain health and boost your memory, but knitting and crocheting offer particular health benefits.

Once you surpass the learning curve, knitting and crocheting health benefits include lower blood pressure and heart rate as well as a decrease in harmful blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

While meditation offers many of these same benefits, craft activities that require concentration and problem-solving skills result in often useful products that also enhance your self-esteem.

Try your hand at knitting with these fun, free patterns.

Interested in learning more about the benefits of meditation? Download our Guide to 3 Stress-Reducing Meditation Practices You Can Do at Home.

2. Play Badminton at Home

Staying active is obviously important, but there are certain sports and activities that offer even more health benefits beyond just physical fitness. The health benefits of badminton, for example, include a reduced risk of osteoporosis and diabetes. Badminton also increases the levels of “good” cholesterol while decreasing “bad” cholesterol levels. Not to mention that this sport improves flexibility, muscle tone, and even your mental health.

A recent study conducted by Tohoku Gakuin University in Japan suggests badminton positively impacts the brain. Researchers found that the participants’ performance was boosted after they played badminton, but not after running on a treadmill. Unlike running, complex sports like badminton require the player to coordinate their movements and make quick decisions and coordinate their movements.

Want to practice badminton but don’t have the equipment on hand? Here are some fun badminton exercises to try at home during quarantine with no equipment required.

Many professionals and coaches practice badminton at home, and all you need is a racket, a wall without anything on it, and a shuttle. Mark the height of the net on your wall with tape, then play a backhand serve toward the wall. The shuttle will bounce back as if someone were driving at you and you can continue jabbing back and forth. You can also find affordable badminton sets for sale at local department stores including Wal-Mart.

3. Put Soap Under Your Sheets

Do you suffer from restless legs syndrome (RLS)? This condition is one of the most common sleep disorders. An estimated 5% to 10% of adults and 2% to 4% of children in the United States have restless leg syndrome

Although science has yet to back up the claim of soap curing nightly leg cramps, doctors hypothesize that the magnesium in soap helps relieve restless leg syndrome. Muscle cramps are known to increase in those with a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is also known to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and the metabolic rate, helping you fall asleep and stay asleep. 

Researchers also claim the smell of lavender is relaxing in itself and may be beneficial for the RLS condition. Try placing a lavender-infused, unwrapped bar of magnesium soap underneath your sheets before bedtime.

4. Make Time for Cuddle Time

Whether you cuddle up to your pets, kids, or spouse, research shows that snuggling releases oxytocin, a stress-releasing hormone that helps decrease blood pressure and the risk of heart disease. Cuddling also increases hormones that help fight off infections, thus boosting your immune system.

Additionally, the release of oxytocin will decrease pain levels. For example, when your neck hurts, you rub it for temporary relief. Simple touches like that release oxytocin to make you feel better. Cuddling requires full-body contact with another human or pet, releasing more of that feel-good hormone.

5. Have a Good Laugh

It’s often said that laughter is the best medicine, which is true when it comes to decreasing blood pressure. A recent study found that beneficial blood vessel relaxation was increased in volunteers after they watched a 15-minute movie segment that generated laughter. Overall, the study found that the volunteers’ average blood flow rose by 22% during laughter and decreased by 35% during mental stress.

Who said binge-watching funny movies wasn’t good for you? Here is a list of the 30 best comedies on Netflix right now.

6. Practice Your Photography Skills

Talk about a healthy hobby; research suggests that recalling positive past memories can help boost health and happiness levels. However, experts also admit it’s more difficult to remember positive memories than it is negative ones, which is where photography comes in. Capturing your happy memories and putting them together into photo albums or sharing them on social media can serve as an instant happiness boost later.

Moreover, one study proved that taking photos can promote your general well-being and mindfulness as well. Participants in the study were asked to take one photo each day and share it online via social media. After the study, participants showed an improvement in their well-being, community interaction, self-care, and even memory.

Don’t have a professional camera? No problem! You can easily practice your photography skills using your smartphone. Here are the 10 best apps to download for incredible iPhone photography and the best apps for Android phones.

Photography isn’t the only way you can improve your well-being. Download our Self-Care Checklist for a weekly outline of ways you can prioritize your mental health. 

7. Eat More Strawberries

As if they weren’t sweet enough already, there are nearly a dozen health benefits of strawberries. These berries are jam-packed with vitamins, so you only need to eat about five to meet your daily vitamin C requirement. Vitamin C is known to boost your immune system to recover more quickly and avoid illnesses.

Anthocyanins are also found in strawberries, which can reduce the risk of heart attack, lower blood pressure, and prevent platelet build-up. Strawberries can also help regulate blood sugar levels because they have a lower glycemic index than other fruits.

Additional health benefits of strawberries include:

  • They are fiber-rich, thus they promote the digestive system and prevent constipation
  • They contain anti-inflammatory properties, which reduce the risk of stroke, heart attacks, and cancer
  • They are high in potassium, which negates  the effects of sodium and can lower blood pressure
  • They contain a malic acid which can help whiten your teeth

Need some ideas on how to add more strawberries to your daily diet? Here are 55 delicious ways.

8. Play an Instrument

There are nearly endless health benefits of playing an instrument, including physical, mental, and emotional effects. For starters, playing an instrument is like a fitness exercise for your brain. It not only improves your memory and mental performance, but there’s even evidence that it can slow the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, as well as help a patient recover from a stroke.

Playing an instrument has also been known to minimize the risk of losing brain function during certain surgical procedures. Check out this video of brain tumor survivor Robert Alvarez playing guitar during an awake craniotomy at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Additional health benefits of playing an instrument include:

  • Strengthens the lungs and respiratory system
  • Enhances the immunological response
  • Alleviates stress
  • Refines your hearing skills
  • Leads to increased physical activity
  • Promotes good posture, which alleviates neck and back pain

Don’t have an instrument? You can find more affordable instruments here, including guitars for as little as $40. You can even get the kids involved and make your own instrument. From creating flutes out of PVC pipes to making a guitar out of cardboard, here are 52 creative ways to make your own instrument.

9. Clean the House

Who knew cleaning your home could burn an average of 50,000 calories a year? The average person walks 22 miles a year while cleaning their home. That’s almost a full marathon!

Just mopping the floors for 15 minutes can burn as much as 43 calories. Think about the workout you get when it comes time for spring cleaning or when you “Marie Kondo” your closet clutter. This cleaning workout might also release endorphins, the feel-good hormones that promote happiness and boost your energy. You’ll also enjoy fewer allergens in your home, thanks to your dusting.

Aside from burning calories, cleaning the house also offers mental health benefits. By cleaning, you put some control back into your life, leaving things a little more organized and a little less chaotic. 

10. Drink Unsweet Iced Tea

Iced tea offers more than a refreshing caffeine boost. Research findings conclude that tea can reduce the risk of heart disease and even prevent a number of others. Next to water, iced tea is a great source of hydration and offers a great alternative to sugary soda. Iced tea also contains eight times the polyphenol antioxidants found in vegetables and fruits.

Additionally, black tea in particular contains manganese, which strengthens your bones, supports your metabolism, and promotes healthy wound healing. In an 8-ounce glass of brewed black iced tea, you’ll get 520 micrograms of manganese.

Hiding in Plain Sight: Boost Your Health in Unexpected Ways

From eating leafy greens to talking a walk on your lunch break, there are several obvious ways to boost your health. It’s the less-obvious things that offer some astonishing health benefits. Try adding some of these things into your daily routine or diet and watch as you reap the benefits of good health and increased happiness.

Interested in more ideas for boosting your health? Download our 2020 Bucket List, for an outline of unique and surprising activities you can do at home to boost your health.

Your 2020 Bucket List of Fun Things to Do at Home