We all know that certain things are bad for us — smoking, not eating our vegetables, drinking too much; but perhaps the scarier thing is all the bad-for-you things you might be doing every day that you don't even know about.
We're all pretty aware of the big, most obvious stuff — like not wearing our seatbelt — and therefore we're making a conscious decision to incur some level of risk if or when we choose to partake in them. But when we have literally no idea we're doing something that could be negatively affecting our health, we no longer get to have a choice in the matter. And worse, if we did know, we might be making very different day-to-day decisions.
In the spirit of making informed and knowledgeable decisions about our health and daily behavior, here are nine super simple things that are bad for you that you're likely doing right now or at some point in your day:
1. Wearing The Wrong Shoes
If you're wearing high heels right now, you're probably not feeling super comfortable. And it's not all that surprising; according to the Spine Health Institute, our spines normally sit in an S-shape, helping with our bodies natural shock absorption as we walk. When we walk with a bent spine, shock absorption is reduced, and more pressure is put on the nerves in our back. Long-term heel use can lead to chronic lower back pain, tingling, and cramping, not to mention they put a ton of extra pressure on our toes and the balls of our feet.
However, there are ways to limit the damage. The American Osteopathic Association recommends limiting your heels to an inch and a half or less, and if you do wear a higher heel, try to avoid pointy stilettos, instead opting for a thicker heel that will distribute your body weight more evenly. They also recommend purchasing insoles for all of your heels to help with shock absorption, and to take the time to stretch your calves daily.
2. Not Resting Your Eyes
According to the National Institute of Health, most of us who sit at computers all day fail to rest our eyes enough, leading to eye fatigue and strain. They recommended the 20-20-20 rule, in which every 20 minutes you look 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds. They also said to always wear sunglasses on sunny days, as the sun can damage your eyes as well as your skin.
3. Sitting Down For Too Long
According to the CDC, sitting down for the majority of the day (aka at a desk and then in front of a TV) has been linked to premature mortality and chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer — not to mention more basic health problems, like chronic neck and back pain. The CDC recommended the use of a standing desk device at your workstation, as well as a conscious effort to get up and walk around the office throughout the day.
4. Holding Your Cell Phone To Your Face
According to a piece featured in ABC news, studies show that our cell phones are one of the filthiest things in our lives, harboring over tens of thousands of germs, and according to board certified dermatologist Dr. Ava Shamban in a piece for Prevention, the bacteria can cause acne and breakouts. If you've noticed a problem with your skin, this may be a simple thing you can do to help clear it up.
6. Not Alternating Water With Each Caffeinated Beverage
In a piece for SFgate, sports medicine writer Jan Annigan noted that, "The diuretic effect of caffeine increases your urine output. The more you drink in a short amount of time, the more water you could lose." She suggested alternating every caffeinated drink you have each day with a glass of water. And the same holds true for alcoholic beverages!
7. Drinking Caffeine 6 Hours Before Bed
Additionally, according to the CDC, 30 percent of the population doesn't get enough sleep. And that study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that consuming caffeine as early as six hours before bed has "important disruptive effects" on our sleep patterns. So if you have trouble falling asleep at night, or often wake up feeling exhausted, try swapping out caffeinated beverages for decaf teas and sodas by mid-afternoon.
8. Sleeping With Your Cell Phone
Another reason behind sleep deprivation could be that you're using your cell phone or other bright devices right before bed. In a piece for The Huffington Post, psychologist Shelby Freedman Harris recommended avoiding the bright lights of TVs, phones, and tablets for up to a full hour before bed. All the lights "can make your brain think it's still daytime," and instead she recommended simply reading or journaling.
9. Not Wearing Sunscreen
Neutrogena Beach Defense, $2.49, Jet.com
OK, I know I probably sound like your mom right now and this seems like the most boring piece of health advice ever, but according to SkinCancer.org, more cases of skin cancer are detected every year than breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancer combined. And if that's not enough to scare you, according to a study sited in The Daily Mail, a whopping 80 percent of wrinkles on our skin are due to sun exposure. Plus, with so many high-quality foundations and lotions that now come equipped with sun protection, there's seriously no excuse!
I don't mean to totally scare you, but the fact of the matter is most of us do a ton of stuff on a daily basis that's not only not good for us, but is also super easy to fix. So just be conscious of the above few things, and you'll likely be very glad you did down the road.