Leap of Faith
By Anna Sachse
Friday, February 29, 2008, is Leap Day. Obviously. In honor of this once-every-four-years day that very few people understand, we have compiled 29 totally random things you can do to better your health.
Volunteer: People with strong social support networks developed through volunteering have lower premature death rates, less heart disease and higher endorphin production.
Drink more water: Adequate water consumption lessens the chance of kidney stones, severe colds and constipation, and sharpens critical thinking abilities.
Hoof it: Regular walkers have fewer incidences of cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes, and they tend to look better in their bikinis.
Forgive that guy who cut you off in traffic: Stress hormones brought on by prolonged anger can damage your brain, muscles, organs and immune system—is it really worth it?
Be a top chef: Giant restaurant meals often contain enough calories for an entire day and enough fat and sodium to last you a week; make your own food and you are likely to eat less and better.
Sing in the shower: Belting out your favorite Bonnie Tyler or Beyoncé number has been proven to aid in relaxation, reduce pain and increase energy.
Touch fur: Studies have found that the simple act of petting your dog or cat slows your heart rate and causes your blood pressure to drop.
Benefit your friends: Talking through everyday problems with a friend can ward off more serious problems such as depression or insomnia.
Leave an extra-big tip: Altruistic people have greater well-being, happiness, health and longevity; you might also end up with a free dessert.
Make nature a natural: Studies have found that even just having views of natural scenes from hospital windows aided patients’ recovery after surgery.
Watch cartoons: Laughter can help reduce food cravings which means you are less likely to be laughing like a bowl full of jelly.
Shut up: Taking some quiet time can help you to relax and gain perspective.
Scribble it, just a little bit: Writing down the things that bother you can help you to release and get over them.
Eat more fruit: Loaded with fiber and vitamins, fruit is a weight-loss wonder drug.
Say thank you: People who accept compliments graciously tend to be more successful.
Write your legislator: Standing up for what you believe in boosts confidence and self-worth.
Snooze: The body needs seven to nine hours of sleep in order to recover and grow properly.
Clean up: Nearly 100,000 dust mites can live in one square yard of carpet, and their feces can cause allergic reactions.
Wear sunscreen: A cheap bottle of SPF 15 drastically reduces your chance of getting skin cancer.
Open a book: Reading stimulates the right side of your brain, stretching your imagination and making you more open to new things.
Get out: Traveling is refreshing, helping you to appreciate your regular life when you return.
Call your mom: Strong family bonds boost feelings of belonging, safety and trust.
Throw away the Us Weekly: Research indicates that pressure to lose weight and low body-esteem lead to worse mental and physical well-being than actually being overweight.
Don’t shampoo you: Washing your hair every day can remove too much of your hair’s natural oils, making it dry and dull.
Pump some iron: Lifting weights increases bone density and improves balance.
Feast on fish: A study in Finland found that people who eat more fish are 31-percent less likely to suffer from depression.
Have tea instead: Black, green, red or white, tea contains antioxidants that help protect against free radical damage.
Think positive: Studies have found that people who believed they had a high tolerance for muscle pain reported less discomfort during strenuous exercise.
Have fun: Happiness will make you a hell of a lot more likely to do everything else on this list.