The Health Benefits of Relaxing

Coffee and  e-newspapers on the screened porch. An hour-long bike ride along country roads lined with wildflowers and cornfields, interspersed with glimpses of the Chesapeake Bay ending at a small sandy beach with a view of the Bay as far as the eye can see. A stroll through a farmer’s market with the dog. Lunch and a couple of glasses of wine at a local winery. A two-hour nap in the hammock. Cocktail hour on the dock. Dinner of wild goose breast (shot by  husband and son), snap peas, potatoes, turnips, and rutabagas picked from the garden that morning with husband, son, son’s girlfriend. Knitting and watching a movie. Bed.

That was my day yesterday (which explains why this blog is a day late [I’m participating in a 2014 FLX/WordCountBlogathon, so look for two blogs today]). At first glance, it might seen self indulgent. But let’s look at all the health benefits of my day.


  • Coffee. Studies find reduced risk of mortality, particularly from heart disease. Protects against Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes and liver disease, including liver cancer; improves cognitive function and decreases the risk of depression.
  • Bike ride. Regular exercises improves cardiovascular fitness, reduces the risk of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, cancer. . . . I could go on and on.
  • Dog. Studies find that owning a dog reduces stress and blood pressure, improves physical fitness (someone has to walk said dog), increases social interaction (I talked to at least 15 people at the farmer’s market about my dog and their dog), and reduces cardiovascular risk. As one study noted: “Overall, ownership of domestic pets, particularly dogs, is associated with positive health benefits.”
  • Wine. Reduces my risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and certain types of cancer. Also   promotes happiness (particularly when quaffed on a beautiful patio overlooking acres of grape vines).
  • Nap. Improves cognition and mood (which would explain why, if I snap at my kids or husband, they ask if I’ve had my nap).
  • Cocktail hour on the dock. Multiple benefits of the alcohol, social interaction with husband, son, and son’s girlfriend, snuggling with dog, and enjoying the calming view of the water. Priceless.
  • Wild goose. Wild game is far lower in saturated fat than farm-raised meat and poultry, has about a third fewer calories, and has far less cholesterol. Plus, there was no fat on these goose breasts.
  • Home-grown vegetables. Beyond the overall health benefits of vegetables come additional benefits from the physical exertion involved in planting and weeding the garden, and picking the veggies (do you know how hard it is to find pea pods on those crafty plants?).

Hmmm. I feel so healthy after all that activity that I think I’ll have to repeat it today.

What do you do to relax?

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