VICE #1: Sleeping in.
It’s free, natural and has no drawbacks. More than giving you energy, getting enough quality sleep boosts your immune system, your memory and might even help you manage your weight. Lack of sleep has been linked to high blood pressure, glucose intolerance and belly fat, all known to be risk factors for heart disease. You should aim for the research supported 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. If you always seem to drag yourself out of bed, no matter how much sleep you get the night before, talk to your doctor. A good night’s sleep is not a luxury… it’s necessary to your health and well-being.
VICE #2: Mental health days.
Who doesn’t enjoy sneaking off for a well deserved time out? Turns out taking time off has been shown by research to relieve stress, lowering your blood pressure and thus your risk for heart disease. It also aids creative thinking, and may help with symptoms of depression. The good news is that the length of the vacation doesn’t matter one bit in terms of how happy it will make you. The best part is the anticipation.
VICE #3: Enjoying intimate pleasures.
A vice in some eyes to be sure… sex is, after all, the most pleasurable form of activity there is. It releases feel-good endorphins and oxytocin, the hormone that helps promote attachment, which very much benefits mental health. One study found that those who were sexually active one or two times a week had raised levels of the antibody immunoglobulin A that is thought to protect from colds and infections. As with many vices, sexual activity brings the chance for unintended consequences like infections and pregnancy, which is why it does not top the list.
VICE #4: A daily serving of chocolate.
A worthy, well loved vice. A square or two of the dark kind, without as much sugar and fat as milk chocolate, will do wonders. Dark chocolate and cocoa (75% cocoa content) might help lower blood pressure, cut the risk of stroke and bring other cardiovascular benefits according to more than one study. Dark chocolate has flavonoids that are believed to improve the flexibility of blood vessels, making them more resistant to plaque buildup.
Another study published last year found that eating 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate a day for 14 days reduced the stress hormones in highly anxious people.
VICE #5: Girls/Boys nights out.
Finally, research to back up a vice we all enjoy. A number of recent studies have shown how big an impact friends and family have on our behavior. From what we eat and drink, to how much we weigh (for better or worse). Strong social ties have also been found to bring benefits like fewer colds, better brain health and a longer life. Friendships are so good for you, as long as you’re in a well-balanced relationship with give and take being equal. Avoid those who are toxic to you.
VICE #6: Full fat dressing/sauces.…