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Seven is magic number that could save your life

Some very good news for fans of a quick-fix:

running, or even just slow jogging, for seven minutes a day could help halve your risk of dying from heart disease.

Well, nearly halve it - a study by Iowa State University found that people who ran for 51 minutes a week had a 45 per cent lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke than non-runners, plus a 30 per cent lower risk of death from all causes, living for an average three years longer.

It's a pretty fair trade, isn't it? Seven minutes for three years.

Here are some more seven-minute marvels... .

Brain

Just recently, experts at the Alzheimer's Association international conference in Copenhagen announced that playing card games and doing crosswords can boost brain power and prevent dementia. A few months ago, the University of Toronto had reached the same conclusion. So it's not hard to work out that grabbing a pen and your nearest newspaper (with an achievable-in-seven-minutes crossword on the back) can help the old grey matter.

Eyes

The advice from optical experts is that if you work in front of a computer, you should follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look 20ft away from your screen for at least 20 seconds. OK, so lots of people don't work the standard nine to five with a full hour lunch break these days, but for ease of calculation: 20 seconds every 20 minutes is a minute an hour. Times that by the seven hours in a working day and you're at a neat seven minutes, which will reduce eye strain, help avoid painful dry eyes and banish tension headaches.

Skin

Apparently, the average woman takes seven minutes 39 seconds in the shower. But it's not all about getting clean; use your bathing time to get glowing too, with a little help from the humble body brush. Daily body brushing - lightly brushing your skin, in the direction of your heart - will remove dead skin cells and encourage your circulation and lymphatic system (which removes body toxins). For an extra nudge to health, use the extra 39 seconds to turn off the hot tap; while not particularly pleasant, cold showers further boost skin glow, and can also help boost metabolism, apparently.

Arms and legs

Not keen on seven minutes of running? Does seven minutes of toning sound better? Last year, the American College of Sports Medicine's Health & Fitness Journal published a hugely popular guide called 'High-intensity Circuit Training Using Body Weight: Maximum Results With Minimal Investment'. Basically, it's 12 brilliantly easy-to-follow exercises (think old-school Jumping Jacks) that you can do in your living room, in just seven minutes, and still gain the same benefits as a sweaty hour in the gym.

Weight loss

Breakfast, the meal of kings, yes? Maybe very time-poor kings. A survey earlier this year revealed that most of us spend just seven minutes and 20 seconds on eating what's meant to be the most important meal of the day. Being short on time doesn't have to mean resorting to fast-food style breakfasts of croissants, or bacon and egg baps grabbed from the local cafe. Porridge, the ultimate low-fat, fibre-packed start to the day, needs just two minutes in the microwave and one minute to cool down. That leaves three minutes and 20 seconds to eat it.

Three more super sevens

l Seven seconds

Stress has been linked to a multitude of health issues, from insomnia to cancer and even stroke. Help beat it with some deep breathing: Breathe in slowly to the count of seven seconds, hold, then breathe out for eight to ten seconds. This quickly brings a sense of calm and steadies a racing pulse.

l Seven hours

A recent Arizona State University Phoenix study on sleep duration found that 'the lowest mortality and morbidity is with seven hours' of nightly shut-eye.

l Seven-a-day

After years being told five-a-day of fruit and veg is key for a healthy diet, researchers now suggest seven is in fact the magic number for helping to prevent many major illnesses.

Contextual targeting label: 
Health

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