Health Hacks That Actually Work
Cracking Up with Friends Increases Pain Tolerance
Genuine, feel-it-in-your-gut laughter triggers the release of mood-boosting endorphins, which leads to a higher tolerance for pain. Researchers at Oxford University, England put frozen wine-chiller sleeves around volunteers’ arms both before and after having them watch funny sitcoms, stand-up comedy routines, or serious documentaries. Those who laughed could withstand pain longer, and laughing along with others relieved pain better than did chuckling alone.
Singing Prevents a Cold
The catch: You have to belt it out with other people. Group singing increases levels of SIGA, or secretory immunoglobulin A—the fancy name for an antibody that serves as the first line of defense against bacterial
and viral infections. Studies found that choir singers have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and better moods overall, which probably plays a role in the immune system boost. “There’s something about having to coordinate your actions with those of others that brings particular health benefits,” says Daniel Levitin, PhD, a professor of psychology, neuroscience, and music at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
Chewing Gum Sharpens Your Wits
The same habit that irritates etiquette sticklers may help you concentrate better. British researchers had two groups of people listen to random lists of numbers and remember certain sequences; gum chewers had higher accuracy rates and faster reaction times than did non–gum chewers, especially towards the end. Other research suggests gum chewing may improve a variety of cognitive functions, including memory, alertness and attention, and enhance performance on intelligence and math tests.
Watching Reruns Restores Mental Energy
You know that little voice in your head that makes you feel bad for getting sucked into Seinfeld again? Ignore it. According to scientists at the University of Buffalo, USA, reruns can jump-start your energy. Test subjects who watched a rerun of their favorite television show after completing an exhausting cognitive task felt more energized. The reason: Reruns don’t require much mental effort (since you already know the plotline) and offer indirect social time with beloved characters without the energy-draining effects of interacting with a real person. This combination, researchers speculate, allows mental resources to build back up so you feel replenished.
Wearing Socks to Bed Improves Sex
How Dutch sex researchers figured this one out is probably the most interesting part. They had members of 13 couples take turns lying with their heads in a scanner while their partners… uh, excited them… so the scientists could compare brain activity in different states, from simply resting to orgasm. About half the women couldn’t climax—but the problem was that their feet were cold. The brain regions responsible for anxiety and fear (the amygdala and prefrontal cortex) need to be deactivated for women to successfully reach climax. A pleasant environment, which includes room temperature, is an important part of making women feel safe and secure. When scientists doled out socks to increase subjects’ body temperatures—making them more comfortable—80 percent reached orgasm.