General Health

Little Habits: Big Health Impact

Exercise and eat healthy. Done deal, right? As long as you take care of your body, you can expect to lead a long and healthy life. But you might never guess that these three little habits can affect your quality of life and even cut years off of it!

The first innocuous habit you may think is harmless: lying. The old advice holds that what people don’t know can’t hurt them. But it seems like giving people false information can hurt you. A study from last year tracked a group of participants for 10 weeks, asking half of them to stop lying. Participants kept track of their lies, their health, and the quality of their relationships.

The results may surprise you: Even telling just three fewer lies a week resulted in around seven fewer mental and physical health complaints. Participants also reported that their relationships improved. While it often seems that a little lie can save a lot of a heartache, choosing your words carefully and telling the truth can literally save you from aches and pains. By making a conscious effort to lie less and promote relationships with honest people, you can instantly improve your daily health.

Another feel-good habit that could be ruining your health: sleeping late. Unless you’re a teenager (whose bodies follow a different pattern), waking up with the sun helps  your body accomplish more, use energy more efficiently, and stay healthy. But this doesn’t mean cutting back on how much you sleep, just making sure to go to bed earlier so you can get your eight to nine hours.

Studies have found that getting a full night’s sleep can reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes; restricting sleep can result in hypertension, depression, irritability, and increased inflammation. And while popular culture may make a link between being overweight and sleeping more, it seems that the fewer hours you get each night, the more likely you are to be obese, develop diabetes, and more immediately, be at increased risk of having an accident. By gradually developing a new routine, and letting the sun be your alarm, you can set your body back into its natural Circadian Rhythm.

Our last little habit that can affect you more than you think: watching television. It’s easy to quickly identify the problems with watching too much television. Sitting around. Snacking mindlessly. Being tempted by junk food commercials. But taking it easy on the snacks and working out can counter any weight gain from watching T.V., right? Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that.

Studies show that adults who watch more television are more likely to be overweight and obese. And although activity usually protects against gaining weight, adults who watched television lost any benefits gained from physical activity. The good news is that a recent study showed that weight gain in children can be slowed by reducing the amount of television they watched. By limiting television watching to two hours a day, you can improve your health and make sure you aren’t undoing the benefits of activity and exercise.

Learn more about how sleep can affect your health and why you should choose activity instead of television.