Just because you don’t light up daily or hit the tanning bed after work doesn’t mean you’re as healthy as you can be. Little things, like poor posture or even picking at your cuticles, can cause serious health issues down the road. The good news? These habits are easy to phase out to create a happier, healthier you.
Though it may be tempting to skip breakfast in the morning, research says you should pile up a plateful. A study published this year in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found men who skipped breakfast regularly were at a higher risk for Type 2 diabetes. The comprehensive study followed 29,000 men for 16 years and tracked a number of health factors. However, in a smaller study, scientists at Imperial College London found that subjects that missed breakfast tended to eat more at lunch. So think again if you believe that skipping breakfast is a great way to lose weight. You may actually end up putting on more weight as a result. Anything is better than nothing when it comes to eating breakfast, as long as it’s healthy. Numerous studies have shown that a good breakfast does wonders for a child’s performance in school; adults can likewise benefit.
Children have a tendency to leave the table with a plate half full. Their eyes always seem to be bigger than their stomachs, so it’s easy for parents to simply scoop up what remains on their plate. “Waste not, want not” is a phrase many adults heard as children, but it’s not a very healthy mantra to adopt. In fact, a University of Minnesota study suggests that ditching that bad habit leads to a healthier lifestyle. The study of 1,520 mothers found that those with children average 368 calories more than those without, part of which can be attributed to the nasty leftover habit. Stick to what’s on your plate, and leave the rest behind. Your body will love you for it.
Although it may not be sanitary, it’s unlikely that nail biting will cause any long-term nail damage, says Mayo Clinic dermatologist Dr. Lawrence E. Gibson. However, nail biting can contribute to skin infections and encourage the spread of germs. One way to avoid biting your nails, he suggests, is to occupy your hands or mouth with other activities such as chewing gum. Remember that nail biting can be an indicator of an underlying psychological situation, so it’s important to determine the root cause. Stress is one of those situations and, if that’s the case, take steps to address that factor.
Getting the proper amount of sleep is part of a healthy lifestyle, though the National Sleep Foundation is quick to point out that there is “no magic number.” Various factors determine an individual’s need for rest, but one thing is clear. Skipping sleep has been linked to increased physical health risks such as diabetes and heart problems, increased mental health risks including depression and substance abuse, and greater risk of motor vehicle accidents. A good night’s sleep is time well spent. Going to sleep at a regular time will help ensure that this happens. Even if you’re not tired, go to bed and just relax.
It’s late and you’re tired. It would be so easy to just hit the sack and forget about brushing your teeth. After all, who’s going to know? Just don’t tell the American Dental Association; they recommend brushing twice daily with one of those times being right before bed. As Alan Carr, D.M.D. explains, brushing removes plaque and the associated bacteria that can cause tooth decay and gum disease. A couple of minutes is all it takes, so get in the habit of heading to bed early if you tend to skip this important ritual. Once or twice isn’t going to make a difference, but getting in the habit of skipping the evening brush is going to cause problems further down the road.
Practicing proper posture doesn’t cost a penny and demands little precious time. It requires no trip to the gym or monthly membership dues, and the benefits are enormous. According to the Kansas Chiropractic Foundation, the long-term effects of bad posture include poor digestion and elimination, breathing difficulties plus muscle, joint and ligament pain. That’s a lot of problems that can be avoided with some simple techniques. The foundation suggests using a mirror to check your posture. Carefully observe the position of your head, shoulders, arms, hips and ankles. Keep your chin up and don’t slouch, just like your mom told you.