When you’re losing weight, it’s important to stay motivated. Non-food rewards — for hitting weight-loss milestones or for trying a new activity — often help keep people motivated and inspired to reach their goal. And what’s more rewarding than getting a feel-good massage? A growing body of evidence shows that a rub-down can actually be healthy for you. In addition to simply feeling good, it just might help you fight certain illnesses and beat chronic aches and pains.
Health Reasons to Head to the Spa
1) It could reduce your stress.
Who hasn’t had a bad day — or a bad week — that makes you want to dive face-first into your favorite trigger food? A massage is the perfect way to help reduce anxiety. “Massage therapy is proven to decrease stress and anxiety levels because it reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol,” says C.G. Funk, Vice President of Industry Relations and Product Development for Massage Envy.
2) It can ease physical pain.
Nothing can wreck good gym intentions faster than an aching back or stiff neck. Whether your ache is a result of a chronic pain disorder or because your muscles are sore from your new exercise program, you might want to seek relief at a day spa. “Massage stimulates pressure receptors beneath the skin which in turn reduces the stress hormone cortisol and substance P, a neurotransmitter related to the sensation of pain,” says Tiffany Field, Ph.D., Director of The Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Medical School. Massage has been found to reduce pain and heal sore muscles by increasing blood flow and reducing inflammation — and one recent study found that a post-workout massage helped subjects' bodies repair muscle tears faster.
3) It may tame PMS.
The week before your period comes, you're cranky, have trouble sleeping and are achy. (Doesn't sound familiar? Lucky you!) But there’s relief for your PMS — and it doesn’t involve chocolate. A small study of 24 women with severe PMS found that massage reduced symptoms such as pain, water retention and mood swings. More research is needed to confirm these findings, but if you're choosing between a pint of ice cream and a hot stone massage, we say shut the freezer door and hop on the table!
4) It may help you get a good night's sleep.
When you feel calm and relaxed, chances are you’ll sleep better. When you sleep better, you feel good — both physically and emotionally. And when you feel good, you know you can do anything — including reach your weight-loss goals. If you’re tossing and turning, don’t risk being tired and cranky and eating too much to get you through the following day. Instead, get a massage — and sleep better tonight so you'll eat healthier tomorrow.
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