9 weird health habits you need to adopt
Bored with your daily routine?
You eat right. You exercise. You go to the doctor for regular checkups. Those are all great habits to maintain throughout your life, but why do they have to sound so, well, boring? Staying healthy by having more sex and taking more naps is way more fun! If you don't believe us, we dug through academic journals to come up with scientific proof that healthy choices can center around more than just vegetables and treadmills. Punch something, take off your shoes, go to happy hour, or try any one of these other weird health habits you need to adopt.
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By Emily Main, Rodale News
Eat soup out of a box.
Want to develop a single habit that will lower your risk of heart disease, brain cancer, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and infertility? Give up canned goods forever. A slew of studies over the past decade have implicated bisphenol A (BPA), the chemical used to make the linings of canned goods as well as hard plastics and thermal receipt paper, in all these diseases, yet the Food and Drug Administration and many canned food companies refuse to ban it from their food lines. Some companies are seeking out replacements, but they aren't disclosing what they're using, and those alternatives could be just as bad (or worse) than BPA. Opt for soup in boxes, which are BPA free, or in glass jars, if that's your only alternative.
Take up hiking.
Invest in a good pair of hiking boots! Scientists in Japan have started prescribing "forest therapy" as a way for people to relax and boost their immune health, after a study found that men who'd spent six hours hiking in a forest over the course of two days had higher levels of "natural killer cells," which strengthen immunity and help fight cancer. The healthy effects of those two hikes lasted for 30 days. If a few days of arboreal wandering don't fit your schedule, seek out whatever nature you can find, such as a park--or even your own backyard. Being in nature is a natural stress reliever, and relaxation is great for your immune system.
Hit up happy hour with your BFF.
Something as simple as meeting a friend once a week for a drink or for lunch could add years to your life, based on a study from the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. According to the authors, good friends can keep you from dying earlier, possibly because they're good influences for healthy behaviors, for instance, helping you to stop smoking and encouraging you to exercise. Friends also can help counteract depression, cope with the loss of a spouse, and keep us from becoming isolated as we age.
Read More: How to be happy: Work more, play less?
Preferably a punching bag or couch cushion, not your boss. Caging up your rage can lead to poorer quality sleep, according to research published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine. And not getting enough sleep, numerous studies have shown, can boost your blood pressure, heighten your risk of depression, and undermine your performance at work.
Clean every day.
When it comes to fun, cleaning probably ranks up there with root canals and doing your taxes. But resist the urge to let your bed go unmade--it could extend your life. Scottish researchers have noticed that people who engage in moderate housework every day live longer than sedentary types, possibly because all the extra calorie-burn is good for your heart. Not only that, but cleaning makes you nicer. A study in Psychological Science found that people in clean-smelling rooms were more likely to donate money and volunteer to charitable causes than people in a room that hadn't been cleaned recently.
Walk around barefoot (at home).
Now that your home is nice and clean, take off your shoes and leave them by the front door. The soles of those innocuous shoes actually harbor residues of toxic heavy metals, chemicals, and pesticides that can cause brain damage, infertility, and even obesity. Lead in soil remains our major source of exposure to this brain-damaging metal that's been tied to dementia and Alzheimer's disease, and pesticides from your neighbors' lawns, such as Roundup and 2,4-D, have been linked to nerve damage and childhood leukemia. To top it all off, chemicals found in driveway sealants were recently found to trigger childhood obesity in a study by researchers from Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health. Slippers are more comfortable inside, anyway!
Take more naps.
Even at work, seriously! A few years ago, the Pew Research Center polled working professionals and found that just 34 percent of people took naps every day. However, a third of those people made over $100,000 per year. A connection? We think not. Studies have also found that naps improve cognitive function, memory, and alertness, and one study in Greece found that people who took three 30-minute naps a week cut their risk of a fatal heart attack by 37 percent--largely due to the fact that naps cut down on heart-damaging stress.
Have more sex.
A roll in the hay makes you feel good, yes, but it also does wonders for your ability to ward off colds, flu, and other unpleasant illnesses. Researchers at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, PA, found that having sex once or twice a week boosts your body's production of immune system antibodies by 30 percent, compared to those who didn't have sex. The proteins in question, immunoglobulin A, bind to disease-causing pathogens when they first enter the body, summoning the immune system to destroy them.
Read More: 6 surprising benefits of sex