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Want To Live Longer? Relax!
By The Daily News

Most of us consider relaxation a luxury rather than a necessity. But new research indicates that relaxation has a direct positive influence on your health.

Studies on the health benefits of vacations and meditation two paths to relaxation found that men at risk for heart disease benefited greatly from "taking a break."

Researchers at State University of New York at Oswego studied 12,000 men at high risk for heart disease, and found that those who took vacations had a lower death rate than those who did not.

Likewise, studies of people with high blood pressure who engaged in meditation also showed positive results. One study conducted 10 years ago found that meditation, combined with diet and exercise, produced significant improvements in health among participants.

More recently, a study reported in the journal, Stroke, found that meditation alone reduced the incidence of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) in participants who practiced transcendental meditation for 20 minutes twice a day.

Taking a relaxation break may very well prolong your life, but it also improves the quality of your life right now by helping you focus on the moment. Other recommended relaxation techniques include:

BREATHING

When you're tense, stop and take a few deep breaths, counting to six as you inhale and to eight as you exhale completely. As you breathe, close your eyes and sit or stand tall, with your shoulders relaxed.

EXERCISE

It may seem contradictory, but physical exertion has a very relaxing effect: You release tension, promote circulation and deep breathing, and devote time to yourself.

MUSCLE RELAXATION/MASSAGE

Take a moment to concentrate on specific muscle groups legs, torso, arms, shoulders and neck. As you isolate each group, slowly relax your muscles and breathe deeply. Massage takes this relaxation strategy one step further, as touch is a powerful way to release muscle tension. Enlist a partner and trade quick shoulder rubs to de-stress and recharge.

You don't need space to lie down to make this work. Just sit in a chair with a low back (below shoulder height) and have your friend stand behind you. Gently massage the shoulder, upper back and neck area, focusing on the muscles that feel tense.

Preferences vary regarding pressure, so give feedback. Then trade places. You'll feel calmer and more relaxed as you jump back into your routine.

Reprinted from the Daily News

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