If you want to live a healthier lifestyle, there are certain habits you’ll need to nip in the bud. It may not seem like a big deal to overdrink, smoke or skip your daily breakfast or workout – but all these things add up over time, and the impact on your health can be disastrous. If your goal is to get healthier, avoid these.
1. Binge Drinking
We’ve all read the studies claiming a glass of red wine a day can be good for us. Just because one of something is good doesn’t mean more of it is better. Excessive drinking is the 4th leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. Alcohol has been linked to breast and colorectal cancers. If that’s not enough to deter you, consider this: Women absorb alcohol differently than men. Women are more likely to become dependent on alcohol. Women who drink heavily also experience cognitive deficits and liver disease earlier than men who drink. For the sake of your health, stick to a glass or two.
Of course we all know smoking is bad for us. But still, many people do it! Smoking can lead to blood clots. Blood clots can block the flow of blood to your heart and can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries. If you don’t smoke but your partner does, you’re not in the clear: 46,000 nonsmokers who live with smokers die of heart disease each year. To protect your heart and the heart of everyone you love, quit smoking today.
3. Staying Sedentary
You have to move throughout the day; you just have to. Exercise can help ward off obesity and depression. It can help you burn calories to shed weight. It can also help cut your cancer risk. Two hours of moderate exercise a week has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer by 18%. You don’t need to do an insane workout. Simply lace up a pair of shoes and walk out the front door.
4. Ignoring Your Stress
Stress manifests in different ways for different people. It’s important to learn to identify how stress affects you so you can manage it appropriately. Your body reacts to change by releasing a hormone called adrenaline, which makes you breathe harder and raises your heart rate and blood pressure. If you’re constantly being stressed, your heart is at risk. Determine your stress triggers and figure out your best coping strategies. This may require talking to a mental health professional. This can sound scary, but it’s a lot less scary than having a stress-induced heart attack.
5. Mindless Eating
Ever polished off a tub of popcorn or a bag of chips while you watched TV? If you’re not paying attention to what you’re eating, your brain is not engaged in the process and you’re more likely to overeat. One study found that when some people were given extra large containers of stale popcorn and others were given smaller containers of fresh popcorn at the movies, the stale popcorn eaters still ate more. Instead of eating straight from a bag of cookies or crackers, put a few on a plate and concentrate on the bites you put in your mouth. Instead of filling up a huge dinner plate without even thinking about it, use a small plate and pay attention to your food as you eat. Engage your brain before you end up eating an entire bag of cookies without even realizing it.
6. Skipping Breakfast
You’re in a rush. You don’t have time to make eggs, much less a bowl of oatmeal or cereal. You don’t have any fruit or granola bars on hand to take with you. So you skip breakfast. And what happens then? You have less energy. You’re hungrier and more likely to overeat later in the day. Your metabolism gets out of whack, so you actually burn fewer calories than you would if you ate breakfast. None of these sound great, do they? Eat your darn breakfast.
7. Skipping Sunscreen
The benefits of sunscreen are twofold: you’ll look better and you’ll be healthier. Sunscreen wards off skin damage and wrinkles. But don’t just do it for your looks: sunscreen helps to fight against skin cancer and melanoma, which are deadly diseases.
8. Spending Too Much Time Watching TV
We all love our shows and movies, but devoting too much time to them each day can be detrimental to our health. When you’re watching TV, you’re sitting. When you’re sitting, you’re not getting any physical activity. And if you’re watching more than two hours a day, you’re more likely to indulge in soft drinks and high-fat, high-calorie processed snack foods. If you’re spending all your time watching TV instead of talking to your friends, doing crosswords puzzles, quilting, gardening, or baking, you may experience memory loss as well. Aim for less than two ;hours of TV a day and fit in bursts of movement whenever you can: during commercial breaks, for example. Also try to keep snacking and TV time separate. You’re likely to make healthier choices if you’re eating away from the TV.
If you want to improve your health, replace bad habits with good habits. Making poor daily decisions over and over can impact your health in a negative way, but making positive choices can turn things around. Start with this list of behaviors to avoid, add in some new healthy habits, and start inching your way toward a healthier life.