Wild Thing? It Might Make Your Heart Sing

By Martha Michael

Being Active is a Healthy Habit

Be careful. Drive safely. It seems that taking things slowly are often in your best interest. But does it apply to everything you do?

Sometimes the best thing for your health and wellness may seem a little outlandish.

Hit the Highway

If you’ve got a hog, take it for a ride … your life might depend on it. An article in Inspire 52 says there are numerous health benefits to riding a motorcycle. For one thing, straddling your Harley or Suzuki gives you time in the great outdoors. And psychologically, the sights you see can give you a more positive outlook, especially while sharing the experience with friends.

Even physically, your Harley has health benefits, according to the article. Steering a motorcycle entails a lot more energy and finesse than your car, not to mention arm strength. And the way you’re seated strengthens your core. Bikers’ legs also have to flex, adding to their muscle development and tone.

Kick the Can

You can almost always count on fresh food proving to be a healthier choice than faster, more convenient, ready-made edibles. Jars of spaghetti sauce vs. Grandma’s home recipe and boxed mac-and-cheese vs. cooking from scratch -- it’s pretty obvious.

Additionally, studies have shown that a chemical in canned foods – bisphenol A, known as BPA – can affect four generations, according to an article in Women’s Health. That’s you and your children’s children’s children. The chemical hardens plastic and has been a part of the inside lining of canned food for a long time. Research shows it alters chemicals in the brain that affect behavior. The first generation of mice become anti-social, but by the third generation, the behavior flips. BPA still influences the mice, but incites manic overactivity in subsequent generations, proving it continues to affect chemicals in the system.

Take a Hit

As long as someone’s not on the receiving end -- without boxing gloves, at least -- you can alleviate unhealthy stress by punching something. If your stress level is too commonplace, says an article on Livestrong.com, it’s likely having a negative effect on your wellness. Messages in your brain that prompt short-term responses to stress benefit you in small doses, so it’s in your best interest to diffuse it if it’s a daily occurrence.

A punching bag offers you the chance to gain some exercise and relieve negative emotion, both of which contribute to better sleep and a reduction in depression.

Once Upon a Mat

Climb out of bed (especially if it’s a soft mattress) and lie on the floor. It’s one way to alleviate back pain, says an article in Men’s Fitness.

“Anatomically, when one lies on their back on a soft surface, they sink in, like a C-shape,” says Charles Kim, a pain medicine specialist at NYU Langone Medical Center. “Lying on your back on a more firm surface reduces this C-shape and thus the stress on the discs.”

The article also recommends that you sit on the floor instead of sitting in a chair at a desk. It frees your hip flexors and spine to move, instead of remaining locked into position in a piece of furniture.

Routine Rubdown

There are both physical and psychological benefits to manual therapies, according to reports from ScienceDirect, a source of scientific and medical data. Defined as “the skilled application of passive movement to a joint either within or beyond its active range of movement,” it successfully treats pain induced by injury and increases range of motion. Manual therapy works well in combination with exercise and other treatment, including clinical massage and acupressure.

Regular chiropractic visits maximize wellness through adjustments, as well as time spent in discussions with your practitioner to note changes in your health. Carving out time for attention by a healthcare professional is an ideal routine to maintain the health of your spine, which protects your nervous system.

Cut a Rug

Once you realize the health benefits, there will be no need for Lee Ann Womack to “hope you dance” because you’ll already be out on the floor. An article in Time claims that fast dancing exceeds the caloric output in swimming laps or going for a jog. One of the advantages, says Nick Smeeton, a principal lecturer at the University of Brighton in the U.K., is that there’s “movement in all directions” when you dance. “There is a lot of accelerating and decelerating in dancing, which the body is less able to do in an energy efficient way” than sports that are fueled by momentum.

Hip hop or foxtrot, it isn’t your style that matters, it’s how much you’re engaging in attempts to choose health-inducing behaviors. It’s nice to find that some of those options let you “put yourself out there” and live life closer to the edge. Because it’s also more fun to be wild than to be tame.

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