OK, if you’ve just read the title and nearly spilt your Pina Colada then the chances are you’re already on a hen weekend rehydrating at the spa and claiming it’s one of your five a day, before the physical fun of an 80’s themed dance class. But actually it’s not as crazy as it sounds.
And before you start worrying, no we haven’t been experimenting on living hen parties, we’ve been looking at the findings of some of the world’s most respected medical and scientific institutions and the prognosis is good. Partying really can be good for your health with a number of potential benefits;
“One’s friends are that part of the human race with which one can be human.” George Santayana
According to a behavioural study of Barbary macaque apes by German scientists printed in the PNAS journal, spending time bonding with other members of the same sex is more likely to lower stress levels than time spent with other family members or a partner.
“The strength of these “friendships” has now been shown to buffer against the negative effects of social and environmental stressors.” [source: PNAS]
Any similarities between your own friends and a group of chattering monkeys is probably purely coincidental.
Last Night a DJ Saved My Life
According to Harvard Health Publication 30 minutes of fast dancing can burn 180 calories, so all that time you spend on the dancefloor during your weekend could get everyone toned up and healthier for the big day.
“Laughter is the medicine of life!”
It has been a long held belief by many that laughter has medicinal benefits. The Mayo Clinic is among those that have published on the positive effects a ‘ruddy good chuckle’ can provide.
Laughter lines – Short term physical benefits of laughter include;
- Stimulating Organs – Laughter enhances the intake of oxygen which stimulates the lungs, muscles and heart.
- Feel Good Factor – Laughter releases “feel good” endorphins have a strong effect in improving our mood.
- Stress Less – Laughter also helps stimulate circulation which in turn aids muscle relaxation conducive to lower stress levels.
- Relieve ‘Nearly-wed Head’ – It can also help lower both blood pressure and heart rate which relieve stress. This is particularly helpful for the bride-to-be about to face one of life’s most stressful events.
Long term benefits include;
- Boosts Immune System – “Positive thoughts actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.” (Mayo Clinic)
- Pain Relief – Laughter releases natural painkillers as well as having the ability to break pain/spasm cycles which are common to some muscle disorders.
- Happy Together – Laughter is often used in difficult situations which is why “black humour” is often prevalent in traumatic professions as a means of helping people cope (ambulance, fire service, police officers, military personnel, etc). It is also a great way to connect with people and help diffuse conflict.
- In The Mood – Depression and anxiety often associated with all sorts of medical and psychological conditions are also believed to be alleviated with a good belly laugh or two.
[Source Mayo Clinic]
“What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul.” Yiddish Proveb
Many religions have proclaimed the benefits of drinking (ancient druids and monks have been known to enjoy the odd bottle). But now modern science is backing the findings of all that brotherly love, although everything should be done in moderation of course.
- Viva la Vino! – According to a study at Queen Mary University, London, procyanidins from the tannins in red wine can protect against heart disease. Wines from Sardinia and southwest France are particularly high in procyanidins. [BBC News]
- Dia-straights – Amsterdam’s VU University published in Diabetes Care that moderate drinkers have 30 percent less risk of developing type 2 diabetes than non-drinkers.
- Stay Sharp – Over 365,000 took part in a research that showed moderate drinkers were 23% less to develop Alzheimer’s, cognitive impairment and other forms of dementia.
- Defence from Attack – According to a study by Italy’s Fondazione di Ricerca e Cura compared to non-drinkers, moderate drinking will make you 31% less likely to suffer strokes, heart disease or heart attacks. “What we are talking about is moderate and regular drinking. I think we will never stress enough this concept.” Augusto Di Castelnuovo, [source European Journal of Epidemiology]
- Weight Loss – Xanthuhomol, a chemical found in beer, could prevent you from putting on weight. The good news is tests on mice showed xanthuhomol produced 80% cut in cholesterol, cut insulin by 42% and they gained 22% less fat. The bad news is the equivalent amount required to produce similar results in humans would require drinking 3,500 pints in 24 hours. Back to the drawing board on that one.
- Weight Loss Two – Barcelona Hospital and the Carlos III Institute of Health in Madrid found men who drank up to a pint a day and ate a Mediterranean style diet “not only did not put on weight, but in some cases even lost weight.” [source News-Medical]
“I enjoy cooking with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food I’m cooking.” Julia Child
Somewhat counter-intuitively high adrenaline activities (such as hen party favourites like white water rafting and bungee jumping) are actually good for you because they cause stress. Researchers at Texas A&M University found that activities that create more epinephrine and cortisol (a.k.a. adrenalin) prepare your body for other stress factors.
Extreme activities cause a massive adrenalin rush which initially cause a sudden increase in endorphin causing a natural high and sense of well-being.
By overloading on adrenalin on a regular basis (for girls attending a number of hen parties over a single summer) your body stress levels learn to adjust quicker to sudden surges helping you remain calmer under pressure. [source Men’s Health]
“Anything that gets your blood racing is probably worth doing.” Hunter S. Thompson
So next time you feel you need a healthier lifestyle you can simply have a weekend away with your girlfriends. It can increase everyone’s physical and mental wellbeing when mixed with a well-balanced diet of female bonding, laughter, adrenalin-pumping activities and a few cheeky drinks.
If you’re not convinced there really is only one way to find out. Getaway with the girls and have a fabulous weekend!