Shift into the slow lane for greater health gains. Unlike house cleaning or hair removal, some things are best done slowly for maximum benefits. Here, we look at four healthy rituals that are worth lingering over.
"When you breathe slowly and fully it balances your nervous system and reduces stress," explains breathing coach Christine Heart Savage. "Because we release toxins through our breath, deep breathing helps prevent toxins accumulating and causing illness." She recommends 20 'circular breaths' a day, focusing on breath entering your nostrils, moving through the body and out of your mouth.
2 Lifting weights
For best results, avoid speeding through resistance training. In a US study, people who did slow weight repetitions (10 seconds lifting, four seconds lowering) gained 50 per cent more strength in two months than those who did regular-paced reps of seven seconds each. Going slow means your muscles have to work harder, rather than relying on momentum.
3 Brushing your teeth
Skipping through your brushing means you're not really cleaning plaque from the teeth, and could actually be damaging them. Because fast brushing is often more aggressive, it can cause recession of the gums and abrasion of teeth, explains dentist Dr Peter Alldritt. "You need to spend two minutes, twice a day, brushing your teeth," he advises.
Simply taking time to chew your food, rather than gobbling it, can wipe 837kJ from your daily energy intake. US experts found women who ate a meal slowly consumed an average of 279 fewer kilojoules. They also reported feeling fuller and more satisfied afterwards. To go slow, take small bites and chew thoroughly, putting your utensils down between mouthfuls.