Can You Cheat Your Way to a Better Life?
Is there any such thing as a shortcut when it comes to health and happiness?
We all know there's no substitute for hard work — whether it's in the office or the gym. But what about the endless stream of studies that are released every day, telling us that the key to health and happiness is easier than we think? We took a look at some of the most recent "cheats" to see if there's any merit to taking the easy way — or if these studies are just a bunch of baloney. Here are what some researchers are saying:
British researchers report that you can burn 90 calories an hour simply by using your brain to write numbers in little boxes. According to researchers, the human brain needs 0.1 calories just to survive, so add a thought-inducing activity like Sudoku and you can increase that number to 1.5 calories per minute.
Don't Get Promoted
A study of 1,000 recently-promoted adults found that workers suffer 10 percent more stress in their new position. This work-related stress is known to increase rates of heart disease, flu virus, cancer and type 2 diabetes. This additional stress — and time in the office — also carries over into marital problems for a large number of people as well.
Think About Working Out
In a study at the Cleveland Clinic, men who just visualized themselves lifting weights saw a 13 percent increase in muscle mass. Never underestimate the power of the mind.
Change Your Name
If your name is Dan or Dave or Darcy, you're going to want to change it. Due to a subconscious link to school grades (D is for failure), experts have found that men whose names begin with the letter D have a significantly shorter life span. This is due to the link between low self-esteem and poor health. We think Donald Trump might disagree.
Have More Sex
In a British study, men who had intercourse at least twice a week lived longer than men who had sex less than once a month. This can be attributed to lower levels of stress hormones and lower blood pressure. Sorry, guys, those who masturbated every day didn't experience the same results.
Chat Away on a Cell Phone
Tests on mice found that radiation exposure from mobile phones reversed memory issues and the effects of Alzheimer's. Then again, how many reports have been coming out about the ill-effects of cell-phone radiation?
Got an ache or pain? Try cursing to seek relief. British researchers found that volunteers were able to withstand pain for longer when they swore compared to when they used non-offensive words. Any of us who have hit our thumb with a hammer will agree.
Stop Grooming Your Face Hair
Men with beards are more likely to land a job and a girlfriend, according to one Canadian study. But before you decide to hangup your razor for good, remember — this look generally only works when you look distinguished, not like a meth addict. A well-groomed beard projects the image of experience, wisdom, and masculinity.
Learn to Play Guitar
A Norwegian survey of nearly 50,000 people found that those who take part in a cultural activity (painting, dancing, playing a musical instrument) are healthier and less depressed than those who do not. As we age, we need to keep our brains active and continue to engage in different learning experiences.
Don't Live in West Virginia
A national study found that nearly one in five West Virginians said they did not get a single good night's sleep in the previous month. That's nearly double the national rate, making the Mountain State the most sleepless of them all. Researchers believe that the lack of sleep is connected to an abundance of obesity, smoking and heart disease in the state.
Shower Less Often
Thirty percent of showerheads contain high levels of a certain bacteria (Mycobacterium avium, to be exact) that is linked to pulmonary infections, say researchers at the University of Colorado. They warn that the tiny droplets of water make it easy to inhale the bacteria. OK, so not showering probably isn't the best option. Instead, switch your plastic showerhead to a stainless steel unit, as metal is less likely to accumulate as much bacteria.
Get Ozzie and Harriet Beds
A recent study found that couples suffered 50 percent more sleep disturbances if they shared a bed. Poor sleep has been linked to depression, heart disease, strokes, lung disorders, traffic accidents and even divorce.
Mow the Lawn
Yes, yardwork requires a bit of energy but it does more than hush a nagging wife: A chemical released by freshly cut grass makes people feel happy and relaxed, and could prevent mental decline in old age. Just more proof that grass does, indeed, make you happy.
Carry a Little Extra Meat on Your Bones
A Japanese study found that people who are a little overweight at age 40 live six to seven years longer than very thin people. The experts worry that skinny people have a heightened vulnerability to pneumonia and other diseases.
Play More Video Games
Grand Theft Auto may actually improve your vision. A study at the University of Rochester took 10 male non-gaming college students and gave them 30 hours of training with action video games. The men showed a substantial increase in their ability to see objects in a cluttered space compared with non-gamers who didn't log the screen time.
Drink More Beer and Coffee
A recent study found that men who drank coffee had a 60 percent lower chance of developing serious prostate cancer than men who did not drink any coffee. Want even better news? Hops found in beer may have a similar positive effect.
Drink Even More Beer
For some unknown reason, men who drink some amount of alcohol exercised an average of 7.2 minutes more per week than non-drinkers. A phone study found that light, moderate, and heavy drinkers worked out 5.7, 10.1 and 19.9 minutes more per week, respectively. But, please, don't take this to mean you need to start drinking more booze!
Sure, people worry that the sun can cause cancer but the vitamin D from the sun's rays are key in preventing dementia. More than 3,000 men (ages 40-79) were tested for memory, speed of recollection and physical activity levels. The men with higher levels of vitamin D performed consistently better than those with lower levels. The right solution? Get brief amounts of sunlight throughout the day whan at all possible — and always wear sunscreen.
German researchers have found that just having an erection is enough to spike your testosterone levels, promoting lean muscle and quick recovery times. A Rutgers University sex researcher agrees, saying porn is a simple hormone-replacement therapy. Who are we to argue with that?
Daydream as Often as Possible
It turns out that our brains become much more active when we daydream than when we focus on routine tasks. Until recently, scientists thought that only the "default network" of the brain stayed active while people let their minds wander. But Canadian researchers just found that the "executive network" — responsible for high-level problem-solving — also lights up.
Get Some Friends
A 10-year Australian study found that older people with a large circle of friends were 22 percent less likely to die during the study period than those with fewer friends. Human interaction is a key factor when it omes to aging.
Be a Republican
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that Republicans are 26 percent less likely to be in poor health than Democrats. One of the reasons may be that Democrats are 15 percent more likely to smoke cigarettes.