7 Sneaky Ways to Trick Your Body into Staying Healthy

By , Sarah Burns, Woman's Day
Avoid getting sick with these easy, unconventional tactics.

Mental Medicine
Surprise! Studies show the right thoughts and feelings may keep you healthier than a cabinet full of pills. So close that medicine cabinet and get ready to tap into your potent mental powers. Here, seven simple ways to psych out sickness. 
Have a chuckle to head off heart woes. 
Laughter really may be the best medicine. In a recent University of Maryland Medical Center study, researchers discovered a good giggle causes an endorphin surge, prompting a release of nitric oxide. That chemical fends off cell-damaging free radicals inside the heart’s blood vessels. More good news: Just 10 minutes of chuckling a day lowers your risk of having a heart attack, explains study author Michael Miller, MD.
Stay sunny to sidestep a cold.
Tweaking your perspective may keep sniffles and sneezes at bay. Scientists at Pittburgh's Carnegie Mellon University found that people with positive attitudes were much less likely to develop cold symptoms than Debbie Downers. "Being pessimistic naturally elevates levels of the stress hormone cortisol," explains Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of Three Steps to Happiness. "This can hinder the body's production of infection-fighting white blood cells." The result: immune-system cells that can't do their job well, and inflammation that makes it easy for sickness to take over. 

Turn on soft tunes to sleep better.
Listening to soothing music before bed can enhance your quality of sleep by 35 percent, say Taiwanese researchers. Softer selections like classical and jazz are especially effective at lowering stress hormone levels, slowing heart rate and improving breathing patterns, explains Dr. Teitelbaum. The combined effect can help you transition from a light, fitful sleep to one that's deep and rejuvenating. So make melodies part of your nightly wind-down routine.

Pray to live longer

Handing things over to a higher power could put more candles on your birthday cake. Indeed, people who attended religious services and prayed at least once a week were 46 percent less likely to pass away during a six-year study, says lead author Harold G. Koenig, MD, of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC. Other studies also indicate a connection. So what's the deal? High-stress lives don't last as long, and "praying is a stress release—you're asking for help," says Dr. Teitelbaum. "Frequent churchgoers are also more likely to take part in social activities and enjoy a supportive network of family and friends, which could help them avoid, or at least cope better, with personal difficulties."

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