In the midst of all the heated rhetoric coming out of the presidential campaigns, it's nice to get some news that brings us together and lowers our blood pressure in the process.
In a recent study, drawing on results from 20 other research projects, Australian scientists have found that eating some dark chocolate daily leads to a small drop in blood pressure. Cocoa products are rich in flavanols, plant compounds that help the body produce a substance to relax blood vessels. And researchers in Italy have found that eating the flavanols in dark chocolate also helps improve brain function. Of course, doctors advise us all to maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly and stop smoking, but it's nice to know that dark chocolate treats are also positively related to well-being.
Now what about that exercise plan? Have you found something that works for you? I tried a water aerobics class three years ago because of back and joint issues and have become a real fan. Since water provides resistance, the exercises are effective in burning calories and building strength while still protecting my body. And after class, especially in the summer, I enjoy the support and freedom that the water affords. I can swim laps, stretching out and drawing on my power, or float on my back, relaxing and enjoying the peaceful blue sky. For me, it's an ideal combination of physical exercise and emotional reflection.
For millions, the ancient practice of yoga provides that same combination of physical, mental and spiritual insight. With its emphasis on mindful breathing and meditation, yoga helps reduce stress, all the while strengthening the body's core. You can learn mental focus as you gain physical flexibility.
Of course, you may prefer a different type of summer exercise – walking, bicycling, zumba, tennis, gym equipment. Choose one that you enjoy so that you'll stick with it. You'll be getting in touch with your body and caring for it it at the same time. A nice combination any time of the year! If you've developed an exercise program that you like, use the comment section below to share it with us.