No one starts the day intending to be unhealthy. For the most part the majority of us try to exercise, attempt to make good meal choices, and generally observe some cardinal rules of health. But sometimes as good as our intentions are, we unknowingly do things that can potentially harm our health.
Think you have everything in check? You might want to have a look at our list of things that many of us do every day that are bad for us.
Eat From the Salad Bar
You choose to eat from the salad bar for lunch because it has to be good for you with all of the nutritious lettuce, broccoli, and carrots, right?
In truth, although they may appear to offer you good choices, most salad bars also offer high fat food items like creamy potato salad and oily, marinated vegetables, causing the total meal to be worse for you than a burger.
For example, a Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Caesar Salad has 780 calories and 51 grams of fat, and a Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger has 680 calories and 36 grams of fat. If you choose to eat a salad, make sure you check the caloric content (if available), and stay away from items that contain mayonnaise or a lot of oil.
Sit a Lot
Everyone knows that it’s important to exercise and that not exercising can put you at risk for certain health issues. But did you know just how bad sitting is for you? Recent studies have shown frequent sitting to be linked to increased risk of heart disease, decreased mental health, and other issues.
Surprisingly, even if you regularly exercise—but also sit a lot during the day—you’re still at risk! Experts refer to excessive sitting as “the new smoking,” because people who sit excessively are as unhealthy as those who puff on cigarettes. What should you do if your job requires you to sit a lot? Stand whenever you can!
Compared with sitting, standing burns an extra 20 calories per hour. Also, try to get up and move periodically or make it a point to move every hour or so. Sneak in movement whenever you can.
Pace while you’re on a conference call. Instead of scheduling a meeting over coffee, suggest a walk. Commit to walking during lunch or climbing a certain number of stairs per day.
Wear Skinny Jeans
Sure those tight pants look great on you, but are they worth the risk? An article in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry describes a case of a woman who experienced nerve damage from helping her friend move while wearing skinny jeans.
She was squatting throughout the day, and this caused compression of the area under the knee that houses a lot of nerves. The compression was severe enough to cause numbness in her lower legs that landed her in the hospital for a couple of days.
Doctors say that this condition is called “compartment syndrome.” It happens when the blood supply to the leg muscle is reduced because of tight-fitting pants. This in turn causes swelling of the muscles and compression of the nearby nerves.
What should you do? If you plan on doing a lot of squatting or sitting, don’t wear tight pants. If you don’t have a choice, make sure that you don’t bend down for extended periods.
Bite Your Nails
It may be a common temporary cure for the jitters, but biting your nails may not be worth the risks. The number and type of bacteria that live under your fingernails range from mild to pretty nasty.
Studies have found salmonella, E. coli, and other harmful pathogens.
If you bite your nails, basically whatever your fingers touch during the day ends up in your mouth. Even if you wash your hands regularly, most of us don’t get under the nails well, so bacteria festers there.
What can happen if you keep biting? You could end up with severe gastrointestinal issues or other unpleasant sickness.
Hold in Sneezes
We know this one doesn’t come as a shock. Ever try to hold a sneeze in? It feels like your head is going to explode! Well, it kind of can. Sneezes move at a whopping 100 miles per hour and can cause some damage if they’re stopped in their tracks.
Incidents of fractures in nasal cartilage, nose bleeds, and even detached retinas have been reported. What should you do if you’re in a situation where you need to hold it? Just do your best and muffle it in your sleeve.
Stare at a Screen All Day
Your mom was right. If you stare at it long enough, you’ll go blind. Well, maybe not blind, but staring at your computer screen for extended periods can cause some serious eye issues. The most common one is computer vision syndrome (CVS), which is characterized by blurry vision, dry and red eyes, headaches, eye irritation, and neck or back pain.
As you get older (say over age 40), it gets tougher to work on a screen for prolonged periods because your eyes become less flexible, and you become more susceptible to CVS.
What can you do to combat it? A couple of things. Try reducing the surrounding glare on your computer by dimming lights and avoiding window glare. Also, move your computer so that it’s slightly below eye level and about 20 to 28 inches away from your face.
Lastly, follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes look away from your screen and at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Wear Contact Lenses Excessively
We know that wearing your glasses is a pain, and a lot of people don’t really dig the laser eye correction surgery. So wearing your contacts is your best option, but wearing them too often may be bad for you.
The mechanism by which the lens sits on your eye causes the tissue of your eye to be blocked from receiving oxygen. As you can imagine, this is not a good thing. Wearing contact lenses too often can cause pain and dryness as well as damage to the corneas.
Give your eyes a break by using your contacts a little less and wearing your glasses a little more.
Not Clean Your Washing Machine
We wash our clothing in the washing machine—don’t the soap and bleach that we add clean the machine and our clothes at the same time? Apparently not!
Experts say that our washing machines are full of bacteria that get on the wet clothing and then on to our bodies. Microbiology experts explain that in a load of just underwear there can be about 100 million E. coli transmitted to the next load. And E.coli isn’t the only germ present in your wash.
Hepatitis A virus, norovirus, rotavirus, and salmonella can all be sharing the same living space in your washer as well. Want to get rid of these nasty germs? Wash your clothing with bleach and hot water (regular detergent doesn’t touch them).
Can’t use bleach? Use a product like Clorox 2 with peroxide. Also, periodically clean your washer by letting the machine go through its cycle empty with just bleach and water. Want to go the organic route? Experts say that the sun’s ultraviolet rays are as good at killing bacteria as bleach. As often as you can, dry your clothing in the sun.