It’s easy to laugh at those who remain clueless about how to eat well or stick to a workout routine. Before you wave them off as idiots, though, you might want to take a closer look at your own habits. Even those who think they’re doing all they can to maximize their health get things wrong, often daily. If you really want to be in tip-top shape, watch out for these 10 common mistakes.
1. Skimping on water
The standard rule of drinking eight glasses of water per day is probably going overboard, but most people go way too far in the other direction. Only drinking at mealtime just isn’t enough, and this constant state of dehydration can negatively affect your mood, energy, and even your heart. Dehydration can also lead to weight gain because the body’s signals for thirst and hunger are so similar that many confuse one for the other. You could be eating hundreds of calories your body doesn’t need simply because you haven’t been downing enough H2O.
The best strategy for fixing this problem is by always carrying water with you. Invest in a water bottle, or keep a drinking glass at your office. Adding a few slices of citrus fruit or cucumber helps give the beverage a bit more taste, which will encourage you to tank up.
2. Brushing right after eating
Regularly brushing your teeth is the best way to keep cavities and gum disease at bay. Though this might tempt you to scrub your chompers immediately after a meal, it’s better to hold off. The New York Times explained brushing right after eating can actually encourage acid erosion, which destroys the protective layer on your teeth. This is especially problematic at breakfast. Most people include at least a cup or two of coffee with their morning meal, and the dark brew is surprisingly acidic.
Wait at least 30 minutes before grabbing the toothpaste. You might even consider keeping a toothbrush at work. Letting acid hang out on your chompers for too long can also be bad news for your enamel, so swish around a little bit of water if you don’t have access to a toothbrush.
3. Sneezing or coughing into your hands
This one isn’t so much about you as it is those you encounter throughout the day. We often greet people with a handshake, so hacking into your bear mitts throughout the day is a nearly guaranteed way to pass along your germs and potential illnesses. Use a tissue if you have one, otherwise aim for the crook of your elbow. And don’t even think about trying to curtail a sneeze. According to Philly.com, doing so can damage your diaphragm, break a blood vessel in your eye, or rupture an eardrum.
4. Holding it
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in a project that you ignore nature’s call long after you realized you needed to hit the rest room. Apart from an uncomfortable pressure building down below, holding off on using the restroom can also negatively impact your health. According to The Huffington Post Canada, resisting the urge to urinate can cause your bladder to stretch out and encourage bacteria to grow. If things get too bad, these bacteria can cause a kidney infection.
Holding it in from the backside is equally as bad. DNews explained allowing excrement to build up in your system leads to constipation and could even affect your ability to go in the future. There’s a reason we call it waste, so get it out of your system.
5. Slacking on sleep
Many of us don’t get enough sleep and try to make up the difference by downing a few extra cups of coffee. Though the caffeine can certainly give you a little boost, it’s no substitute for the real thing. Those who regularly find themselves running on little sleep experience an increased risk of depression, cancer, memory loss, and heart disease. The habit could even lead to an early grave.
Aim to get an absolute minimum of six hours every night; eight hours is even better. Sticking to a regular sleep schedule is the best way to make sure you’re able to fall and stay asleep, so try to be as disciplined as you can. That goes for weekends, too. A little sleeping in is fine, but don’t go overboard.
6. Using your phone all day
You may have heard that using electronic devices close to bedtime can disrupt your sleep. Unfortunately, the bad news doesn’t end there for smartphones. According to a 2006 review, exposing yourself to this type of light after dark can damage your eyes. Even if you’ve managed to kick your nighttime habit of checking emails, the same act of scrolling through your phone during the day can do some serious damage to your body by contributing to poor posture. Limiting your use too drastically isn’t very practical, so try to be mindful of your posture when checking your texts.
7. Too much snacking
Just the thought of the long stretch from breakfast to lunch or lunch to dinner is enough to leave your stomach rumbling. Snacking can be a good strategy for keeping hunger at bay, but only if you manage to stick to the proper foods and portions. The problem is, many find it easy to keep nibbling away long after they’re satisfied. According to The Huffington Post, this type of snacking can encourage your body to store fat and lead to weight gain.
If cutting out your afternoon nibble isn’t doable, make sure you’re choosing smart snacks. Try one of these five suggestions. You also might want to consider giving your breakfast and lunch a little bit of a makeover to ensure you’re getting enough protein and fiber, which both help you feel satisfied.
8. Cranking up the volume
Whether you’re at the gym or stuck in the office all day, you probably reach for your headphones to listen to your favorite tunes. While it’s courteous of you to not blast tunes loud enough for everyone else to hear, you could be doing real damage to your ears. According to MedlinePlus, the tiny nerve endings in our ears are easily damaged by loud noises. You may suspect that frequent concert-goers are the only ones who may encounter this issue, but earbuds in particular can lead to hearing loss.
If you have a family history of hearing loss, you should pay particular attention to how loud your music is playing. Also, the closer the music is to your ears, the more likely you are to experience nerve damage. Headphones that go over the ears are generally less damaging than earbuds for this reason.
9. Forgetting to protect your skin
If you find you’re only applying sunscreen when you’re on the beach, then you need to remember that the sun can do real damage to your skin in the fall, winter, and spring, too. Everyone knows that sunburns can increase the risk of skin cancer, but those who are not prone to burning are also at risk from the sun’s rays. The Cleveland Clinic explains everyone should wear sunblock with at least 30 SPF, and if it’s not the summertime, then be sure to still apply some to exposed skin before heading outdoors. Remember: Repeated exposure to the sun without protection can cause damage to the skin over time even if you can’t see it.
If you’re the type to slouch over your keyboard when you’re in the office, then you’ll want to correct this right away. Everyone slouches from time to time, but if you allow your poor posture to continue, it can have real consequences to your health. Livestrong explains slouching can lead to sore muscles in your back, as keeping your back in a rounded position doesn’t offer support to your spine. That puts extra work on your muscles which can then cause tension and can even lead to chronic issues with neck or lower back pain.
You can also unknowingly cause blood vessel or nerve constriction. When you slouch, the pressure around the spine can potentially cut off the blood supply to the cells of the muscles, which can increase your chance of blood clots. Slouching can also cause your spine to curve, which can put pressure on the surrounding nerves and cause a pinched nerve. Do yourself a favor and sit up straight.