We live in an increasingly health conscious world - from superfoods to exercise gurus and diets galore. But maintaining overall health goes beyond a focus on just food and fitness. Here’s some common daily habits that could be doing you more harm than good.
1. Forgetting to wash your sheets
We know it doesn’t feel like you have 10 minutes every week to change your sheets but please, please find it. What happens if you don’t? Oh just sleeping on a bed full of bacteria, dead skin cells and maybe even poop. Pick a day each week and don’t let yourself slip under those covers until they’re fresh. If you really can’t manage it then treat yourself to a couple soft new sheet sets and you can get away with changing them weekly but washing the lot once a month.
2. Listening to music on the way to work
If you’re the kind of person who plugs in and tunes out on the way to work each morning your hearing could be at serious risk. On average the sound of city traffic sits around 85 decibels, a fairly safe level. But in order to drown this out many of us crank up the volume on our personal music players. Headphones can quickly reach 105 decibels which is enough to damage your ears in just 15 minutes of use. You’re in the clear for a song or two but consider adjusting the volume to suit your surrounds - there’s no need to blast the music on a quiet street.
3. Focusing hard on weight loss
Nina Mills is an Accredited Practicing Dietician and nutritionist from What’s For Eats? Here’s a common habit she sees that really doesn’t do anything for people’s health.
“Pursuing weight loss! Research has shown that, contrary to popular belief, pursuing weight loss through dieting leads to poorer health outcomes and in most cases weight GAIN. There also isn’t a single way of eating that results in long-term weight loss. So, it is essentially a pointless, not to mention, harmful habit that our culture seems fixated on.”
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4. Using a standard office chair
What has two arms, four legs and one seat? No, it’s not some creature from the deep sea; just your everyday office chair. Most basic chair designs actually aren’t the best for prolonged use. The problem isn’t so much that most people aren’t aware their chair isn’t giving them the support they need but rather they don’t know what to do about it. There’s a range of solutions available to you but if you want a quick fix upgrade yourself to an ergonomic or kneeling chair instead.
5. Pre-heating an empty pan
Non-stick cookware has long been a saviour in the kitchen. It feels healthier especially because it requires less oil or butter to cook with. But there’s a hidden danger in the coating used to create the celebrated non-stick effect. Studies have found that at just 500 degrees fahrenheit (or 260 celcius) this coating starts to break down and emit toxic chemicals. For reference, preheating an empty non-stick pan can reach unsafe temperatures in under 2 minutes. A few tablespoons of oil adds only an extra 30 seconds of safety. To keep your kitchen safe never preheat an empty pan and cook things slower over a medium heat to limit the potential of reaching dangerously high temperatures.
6. Classic mealtime mistakes
Alexandra Handreck is a clinical nutritionist from Optima Health who has a few common mealtime mistakes that won’t help your health in the long run.
“- Eat fruit on an empty stomach as it digests the quickest. Eating it after a large meal, creates a 'traffic jam' like situation in our gut, causing the faster digested fruit to get stuck behind the slower digesting foods, which can cause gas and bloating in some people.
- Avoid drinking large amounts of fluid at meal times as it tends to dilute our digestive enzymes which can prevent our body from absorbing the nutrients consumed and can leave us feeling bloated and lethargic.
- Avoid chewing gum as it causes the production of insulin which subsequently increases hunger for quick fixes which are often our sugary foods.”
7. Running daily as exercise
There are so many great things about running. It gets you outdoors, is great for physical and mental health and in most cases going for a run is the perfect free exercise. No wonder so many people slot it into their day. But, as with most things, moderation is key. According to joint doctor’s running is unlikely to damage your knees unless you are doing too much of it and in the wrong ways. Make sure you’re taking rest days between runs for your joints and muscles to recover. Invest in a good pair of supportive shoes and avoid running on hard surfaces such as street pavements.
8. Wearing contact lenses everyday
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare almost half of Australians require corrective vision and many of them opt for the subtler solution of contact lenses. Typically there’s nothing wrong with preferring to use contacts over a set of glasses but there’s a reason your optometrist warns against falling asleep with them still in. Your eyes need oxygen just as much as the rest of your body and by covering them endlessly with a clear film you’ll be denying them their vital air. If you’re a contact lense junkie make sure to give your eyes a break every so often. Take a day off in favour of your glasses and make sure to follow the cleaning and disposal recommendations from your optometrist.
The more you know the easier it is to make living a healthy life part of your everyday routine. If you’re falling for any of these common traps it’s time to build some new habits.