The spirit of giving should be all about helping others, right? Well, not entirely. Psychologists have long understood the notion that altruism activates regions of your brain associated with pleasure, creating a mentally and physically rewarding “warm glow” effect. But if you want to give your heart a genuine gift, we have the bow and ribbon for your needs.
A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people who gave blood on a yearly basis were a back-slapping 88 per cent less likely to suffer a heart attack. Why? Too much iron in your blood can increase its viscosity, which puts extra strain on your heart and can lead to life-threatening clots. Scientists speculate that donating your blood on a regular basis balances iron levels, ensuring all that plasma is pumped around your body with increased ease.
You’ll also pocket a nice kilojoule burn from your philanthropy. The University of California found that giving blood torches more than 2700kJ, the equivalent of a lung-searing HIIT session. Need any more incentive? Well, according to Harvard University, we also derive pleasure through charitable acts in what’s been called “self-interested giving”. So, inject a little selfishness into your life and everyone – including yourself – will be better off for it.
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SHAKE IT OFF
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Full-body workouts lifting in the 8-12 rep range twice a week will up your ticker’s health, says the American Heart Association.