The Best Time to Exercise (and When to Schedule 4 Other Healthy Habits)
1 p.m.Get Your Vitamin D
Before you finish eating lunch, take your daily dose of vitamin D, which helps maintain bone health and may even protect against hypertension and cancer. D also happens to be an essential nutrient that about one-third of Americans don't get enough of, according to a report from the National Center for Health Statistics. Why should you take it with lunch? Blood serum levels are the best indicator of the vitamin D concentration in your body, and when researchers at the Cleveland Clinic had people take a vitamin D supplement with their biggest meal of the day, the subjects' serum levels shot up nearly 57 percent. "Vitamin D is fat soluble," explains study coauthor and endocrinologist Angelo Licata, MD, PhD. "It needs fat to be absorbed properly, and since you're more likely to consume the most fat in your largest meal, your body will be better able to put the vitamin to use." Just make sure your lunch contains mostly healthy fats like olive oil and nuts.
4:30 p.m.Be Creative
When researchers asked a group of students who considered themselves "morning people" to solve creative-thinking problems in the afternoon when they were less focused, they got 42 percent of the questions right—9 percentage points better than the group that answered them when more alert. "The best time for thinking creatively is often when you're not as focused," says lead study author Mareike Wieth, PhD. "Distractions may help you approach a problem differently, leading to more novel solutions."
11 p.m.Lower Your Blood Pressure
For years doctors have advocated that people at high risk for heart attack take an aspirin daily, but the pill may also help control high blood pressure. And taking it at bedtime is the best time, according to a study in the American Journal of Hypertension. Prehypertensive people who took 100 milligrams of aspirin before bed lowered their blood pressure significantly enough that researchers believe the habit could delay the need for hypertension meds by up to 15 years. (Morning aspirin-takers saw no benefits.) At night, aspirin reduces the activity of renin, an enzyme that raises blood pressure. And as your body reaps the benefits of a truly healthy day, you can rest easy.
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