Remember coming home from nights out and leaving your coat in the garage to air out the cigarette smell? Remember when there was a “smoking” and “non-smoking” section on airplanes? Thankfully many cities around the country have now banned smoking in restaurants and public areas. It’s no secret that smoking- and second-hand smoke- are bad for your health: even the packaging has warnings.
While smoking may not be your vice, these three habits may be just as detrimental to your health.
1. Sitting. Rarely do we feel the therapeutic “ahhh…” of finally sitting down because most of us have already spent an estimated (and staggering) 9 hours of our day sitting. Yikes. Researchers are discovering that this sedentary habit has some pretty frightening side-effects: increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and possible early death.
Since many of these hours aren’t spent with perfect posture at our desks (school or office), but instead utilizing poor posture in front of our gadgets, we’re also increasing negative effects of poor posture: chronic fatigue, digestive ailments, decreased immunity, and decreased range of motion.
How can you break the habit? Unfortunately, long hours at school and work aren’t ending any time soon. So, try to incorporate more walking time during your day.
*Take a couple of minutes to stand and stretch every hour
*Get moving during lunch: take a walk or try the noon workout class
*Move your meetings…outdoors! Take advantage of warm days to brainstorm and discuss while you walk.
*Instead of vegging on the couch after a long day- hit the batting cages or driving range
*Catch up with friends on a walk or enjoy an ice cream treat by walking to the ice cream shop.
Diet Pop: If your diet pop habit is all about saving calories, remember…you can walk off calories, you can’t walk off chemicals! In fact, the artificial sweeteners in diet pop may actually be adding to your waistline. Aspartame, in particular, has been linked to pretty nasty side effects: *Headaches/Migraines *Dizziness *Nausea *Numbness *Muscle Spasms *Weight Gain *Rashes *Depression *Fatigue *Irritability *Tachycardia *Insomnia *Vision Problems *Hearing Loss *Heart palpitations *Breathing Difficulties *Anxiety Attacks *Slurred Speech *and Joint Pain.
Yummy right? Here’s another interesting tidbit. Researchers at University of Texas found that over a 10 year span,
diet pop drinkers had “a 70% greater increase in waist circumference compared with non-drinkers. Participants who slurped down two or more sodas a day experienced a 500% greater increase!”
Whether this dramatic increase is due to artificial sweeteners quieting the brain’s response to feeling full, or justifying higher caloric choices due to “saving calories” is uncertain.
How can you break the habit?
*If you’re hooked on the carbonation, choose a sparkling water & flavor with in-season fruits
*If you’re missing the taste of pop, wean yourself slowing by switching to an organic or cane sure (not high fructose corn syrup) soda
*Stop bringing cases into your home. The added inconvenience (and cost) of purchasing them individually may help you end your habit quicker.
*Brew a pitcher of iced tea and add your own simple syrup
3. Sleep Deprivation. We all have our bouts with insomnia. But if you’re chronically burning the candle at both ends, your body is losing more than sleep. Staying up late watching Netflix? Getting up early to workout, even after a late night?
While some of us may be convinced that we only need 4-5 hours of sleep, our bodies truly need 7-8. Even though you may notice frequent headaches or decreased mental clarity when you’re tired, your body notices stronger effects.
Too little sleep can lead to heart disease, obesity, depression, diabetes, decreased reaction times, and possibly early death.
How can you break the habit?
*Try to avoid using electronics: computers, phones, tablets, at least an hour before you plan on going to bed
*Keep a notepad/pen on your bedside table. Don’t let random to-do lists items interrupt your relaxation, write them down and you eliminate the worry of forgetting
*Try going to bed 15 minutes earlier every couple of nights to get your body (and mind) used to an earlier bedtime
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