Spending your cash and ogling the latest designs is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon, but surely you should be working out at the gym or doing 100 squats instead? Well, although shopping isn’t the most strenuous of activities, it is in fact good for you. Shopping, according to a study published in the Journal of Psychology and Marketing, gives us much-needed mood boosts and was described as being ‘overwhelmingly beneficial’ for our frame of mind by researchers.
Hours can turn into minutes when you are Facebook stalking and the thrill we feel when we finally get access onto an ex’s profile is surely proof that some good can come from the internet. However, ex’s aside, it turns out that there are lots of benefits to searching the web. The internet helps us to improve our decision-making and complex reasoning skills and it could also be preventing some of the effects that ageing has on the brain.
Hanging out with friends
If you’re considering ditching your friends to finally get the car cleaned or you’re going to tackle that mountain of paperwork, don’t. Hanging out with your friends may not seem like a very productive activity, but your pals brings you a whole host of benefits; from giving you better brain health to stopping you from catching so many colds. In fact, a study by Brigham Young University found that having a good social network boosts your survival chances by 50 per cent.
Although stuffing your face every night with a creamy bowl of melted chocolate won’t do you or your energy levels much good, eating chocolate a few times a week has got some surprising benefits. A study in the US found that those who ate a little a few times a week were, on the whole, slimmer that those participants who ate chocolate every now and again. Plus a Swedish study found that those men who eat a chocolate bar a week could reduce their risk of stroke by a whopping 17 per cent.
For some of us, sex is definitely a favourite pastime and if you love doing the deed you’ll be pleased to find out that sex has lots and lots of health benefits. To begin with, an orgasm can help our skin look more youthful because it produces hormones that increase collagen production, which in turn helps to improve skin’s elasticity and softness. Sex also helps us get enough plenty of sleep because the hormones we release during sex - oxytocin and prolactin – help us to feel drowsy and relaxed.
A night out
On the morning-after-the-night-before, when you wake up on your friend’s bedroom floor with a magazine as a pillow, a night out does not always sound like something that is good for you. However, although heavy drinking isn’t in any way good for us, there are a few benefits from the other aspects of a night out. When you’re throwing out your best moves on the dance floor remember that dancing can reduce mental tension. Plus, if you’re a beer drinker, researchers have found that moderate consumption of beer can help to reduce risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and dementia.
Watching the game
Watching your team play football can seem like a completely health-free event, but if you’re a man, watching football can massively help your mental health. A study undertaken by the Mental Health Foundation found that men who find it difficult to share and talk about their feelings are able to open up more during matches. The study also found that 76 per cent of the men who took part in the study would not be embarrassed to hug their friend during a game.
Before your strip off and douse yourself in oil, too much sun is still bad for you. Not only can it give you skin cancer, too much sun can make your skin age prematurely and give you actinic keratoses, which are growths of scaly skin found on your body. However, a little sun has been found to alleviate tiredness, boost our libidos and can even ease depression. Plus, the sun’s UVB rays also aid the production of vitamin D, which helps to keep our bones healthy.
If you thought that the only movies that are good for us are those educational foreign films or black and white documentaries, you’d be wrong. Although these movies may be good for our minds, it turns out that comedies are good for our hearts. When we watch a movie that makes us laugh our blood vessels expand, which helps improve our blood flow. The lead researcher, Dr Michael Miller, said that watching a comedy was as good for your heart as doing ‘a bout of aerobic exercise’.
Curling up with a good book and a cup of tea is bliss, but who knew that reading your favourite book can actually improve your brain health? Researchers at the University of Sussex found that reading for only six minutes can reduce your stress levels by more than two thirds; imagine how much stress could be reduced if you read the entire Harry Potter series. The study also found that reading was more effective at reducing stress than walking or listening to music.