More proof that the good life is healthier for you…

  • Can this really be the best medicine?
  • This is a checklist we could all do with following
  • How could Dracula’s pet hate be a saviour?

On cold, wet and dark days like these my mind wanders to our summer break to Portugal.

Long lazy days spent with the family, bathed in the Mediterranean sun and delighted by fresh grilled fish, salads and local wine…

…now that’s living alright!

And a new study has found yet another reason to think that the way our southern European neighbours choose to live has much to recommend it.

Take the afternoon siesta as an example.

Towards the end of last year Researchers at the Asklepieion General Hospital in Greece studied 212 people and found that those who took a siesta experienced a fall in blood pressure.

Overall, taking a nap during the day was associated with an average 5 mm Hg drop in blood pressure.

For working men, the risk of dying from heart disease was 64% lower in those who took a nap than those who didn’t. Non-working men didn’t quite match that level, but still enjoyed a 36% reduction in risk.

Now, I’m hardly a hard working man these days… so I reckon I fall somewhere between the two categories (especially as my stress levels go sky high whenever Wales play Rugby).

Which means an afternoon nap could reduce my risk of a fatal heart attack by 50%!

So, armed with this new evidence, I’ve included a new ‘exercise’ in my daily routine…

How to protect your health in a hammock

I’ve unearthed the hammock I’ve had in the garage for the past six or seven years, and I’ve set it up in the conservatory.

And I’ve had a little nap after lunch every day this week. In fact, my level of dedication to this new regime is truly impressive. I haven’t missed a ‘session’ yet.

Every day around half past two I walk into the conservatory, do my warm up exercise (a little stretch of the back and a yawn), then settle down and concentrate – on sleeping.


And I have to say, it REALLY makes me feel better. I have more energy for the rest of the day, I’m more alert, and anything that’s wound me up in the morning soon ebbs away.

Of course, not everyone has the luxury of being able to have a little snooze straight after lunch.

But you can still take advantage of this breakthrough…

  • Have a siesta at least one day this weekend. Make it no shorter than twenty minutes, and no longer than an hour. If this is going to interrupt your plans, try getting up earlier, having lunch earlier, then sleeping before you go out and get on with your day. If you can manage this on both days – great. Just try it this weekend and see how you feel
  • Organise your day. If possible, tackle all the high-pressured, stressful jobs in the morning, and leave the period right after lunch for checking through emails or sorting out the filing… something that you can do on auto-pilot to allow your mind to switch off a little.
  • If your day is busy from start to finish, breathe stress out of your body. If there’s just no way you can relax for a whole hour, then I want you to do two things for me…
  • First, I want you to look at your lifestyle and see if you aren’t piling too much onto yourself. If you’re working at full throttle, day in day out, your body will eventually tell you to slow down – meaning anything from headaches to a heart attack.
  • Second, I want you to spend five minutes breathing. Not just normal breathing obviously (I want you to spend all day doing that!), I mean deep, relaxing breathing that will help you de-stress and unwind. In through the nose till your lungs are full, hold for one second, and out through the mouth.

This may sound like something you should do at the end of the day, but if an afternoon nap is good for your heart because of it’s de-stressing benefits, some slow breathing will have a similar affect.

Find somewhere quiet and give it a try.

And to help boost your heart even further, here are some powerful natural protectors that will do the job perfectly:

Does Dracula suffer from heart problems?

Take garlic to lower blood pressure. Garlic eases the strain put on the heart by high blood pressure by easing the spasms in small arteries. It also helps reduce the risk of blood clots (the cause of most heart attacks and strokes).

Arjuna – the bark of the Arjuna tree is packed with co-enzyme 10, a powerful substance that can help prevent heart attacks. Even cardiology departments prescribe this now – so it must be good!

Rosemary is full of antioxidants. It’s been uses as a food preservative for years, because these antioxidants help prevent the fat content in meat going off. And at the risk of sounding disgusting, it does exactly the same with your heart.

Hawthorn has been used as a heart remedy for years, by helping to dilate arteries that have become clogged over the years. It also protects the heart when its oxygen supply is cut off, which is exactly what happens when the artery walls fur up and close in.

That’s all for today. I’m off to look after my heart in my hammock…