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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Surprising Habits Ruining Your Health

You may do this.  Do this instead.

1. You haven't changed your pillows in years

If you wake up with puffy eyes and a stuffy head, blame your pillow and its microscopic inhabitants. Unless you regularly change your pillows or toss them and your bedding into the dryer, you're inhaling dust mites along with their digestive enzymes and feces, says Steven M. Houser, MD, director of allergy and paranasal sinus medicine and surgery at MetroHealth, Ohio. "These allergens accumulate and can trigger allergies and asthma in susceptible individuals," says Houser.

Do this instead: Use dust-proof barriers on pillows and mattresses (available online and in bedding stores) and fluff pillows and comforters in the dryer every couple of weeks for 10 minutes or so, which kills dust mites.

2 You can't remember the last time you replaced your toothbrush

If you haven't replaced your toothbrush since the last Presidential election, it's likely harboring some nasty stuff. Bacteria, fungi, and even herpes viruses can lurk, waiting to incite a nasty cold sore or worse, says Hemali Ajmera, DDS, a New York cosmetic dentist. "Bacteria linked to periodontal disease and cardiovascular health can multiply," says Ajmera. Oral fungal infections can also be picked up and spread to other members of the household or re-infect the same person.

Do this instead: Replace your toothbrush every three to four months. Kids who chew on their toothbrushes should get a new brush every few weeks, and teenagers with braces will also need to replace their brushes more often.

3 You sleep in on the weekends

When you get up early on weekdays, you may look forward to making up for lost sleep on the weekends. Unfortunately, your body doesn't work that way, says Jack D. Gardner, MD, medical director of the Medical Sleep Solutions Center at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, TX. "Sleep isn't like a piggy bank from which you can take an hour from Tuesday and deposit it on Saturday," says Gardner. Sleeping extra hours on weekends shifts hormones (i.e. melatonin and cortisol), which changes your circadian rhythm, the body's built-in 24-hour clock. "It's like sleeping in different time zones," says Gardner. You'll pay the price with chronic tiredness and fatigue plus an inability to fall asleep when you do hit the hay.

Do this instead: Be consistent. "Get up within an hour of your normal weekday wake-up time on weekends," says Gardner. Turn on lights or open the curtains to allow light to signal to your body clock that it's time to wake up.

4 You stretch your back as soon as you wake up (or while still in bed)

Stretching out your back helps reduce back pain, but it can work against you if you do it first thing in the morning. "At night when you sleep, the discs in your spine gain water," says Ted Dreisinger, PhD, FACSM, president of Therapy Advisors, San Diego, CA. This adds pressure on your discs when you first wake up, which causes more stress to them when you bend forward or bend backward.

Do this instead: Before you stretch in the morning, take 10 minutes to with your usual routine: drink coffee, wash your face and brush your teeth. After that, perform a simple stretch: put your hands on the top of your buttocks (palms to skin), as if you were putting your hands in your back pockets, then lean back, looking up and holding for about three seconds. Repeat three to four times.

5 You get your cardiovascular exercise exclusively on the elliptical trainer or a bicycle

Pumping away on a bike or elliptical trainer provides cardiovascular benefits but does little for bone health. If you're concerned with osteoporosis, you'll need to add some sort of impact, says Irv Rubenstein, PhD, exercise physiologist and founder of S.T.E.P.S., Nashville, TN. "Strength work alone isn't sufficient to build bone." Impact refers to moves such as jumping jacks, walking, and running. A machine such as the elliptical trainer provides constant muscle tension, but it's not enough to strengthen bones, says Rubenstein.

Do this instead: 

Add treadmill work, outdoor walking or running to your cardio routine. Or try these simple heel drops: rise up onto the balls of your feet (with or without shoes) and drop onto your heels. Perform 10 sets of 10 repetitions throughout the day.

6 You delay answering nature's call

When life gets too busy it's easy to prolong bathroom breaks. Problem is, resisting the urge to empty your bladder can stretch it out, says Tristi Muir, MD, medical director of the pelvic health and continence center at the University of Texas Medical Branch. "When this occurs the bladder doesn't contract well and, therefore, may not empty well." This may result in bladder infections (think of a stagnant pool), or a bladder that dribbles out over a prolonged period of time rather than one that empties more efficiently and completely.

Do this instead: Go when you feel the urge. If frequent urination becomes a problem, talk to your doctor or try eliminating common bladder irritants such as caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, carbonated beverages, chocolate and tea.

7 You carry your laptop or handbag over the same shoulder every day

Before you sling that heavy bag over your shoulder, try using the other side of your body. It could save you from future pain. "Carrying unbalanced loads over time may contribute to a number of muscular problems and pain of the neck, shoulder and arm," says Dreisinger. "Plus, carrying hand bags could aggravate arm pain by the gripping and twisting motion of carrying." Medial and lateral epicondylitis (elbow pain commonly known as golfer's and tennis elbow) can result even if you don't play either sport.

Do this instead: Switch shoulders and/or hands back and forth throughout the day when you carry a bag.  And get an acupuncture treatment.

8 You teeter on high heels

High heels may appeal to the eye, but can cause problems over time. Walking around for hours in high heels gradually shortens the Achilles tendon, says Rubenstein. "Over time, when you take off the shoes it pulls on the calcaneus (heel bone)." This places you at a greater risk of plantar fasciitis, a painful condition resulting from inflammation of a band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot. Adding to the problem, the fat pads of the feet naturally diminish with age, and walking in high heels only worsens the situation.

Do this instead: Change into flats when you get home and reduce the length of time you're in heels; walk barefoot when you can.  


Grow your own vegetables  -  patio, indoors, yard
 Please buy this Easy gardening Program from Roy and Dee 

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