The 14 worst things you can do for your body
Oversleeping or hitting the snooze button
When it comes to sleep, the sweet spot is seven to nine hours. Sleeping for fewer than six hours or more than 10 hours each night has been linked to chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and obesity, according to a study from the CDC. Another stress to your body is hitting the snooze button. Disrupting your sleep diminishes the benefits of rest, leaving you more tired than if you had gotten up the first time the alarm went off, explains Dr. Yizhak Kupfer, assistant director of critical care and pulmonary medicine at Maimonides Medical Center in Booklyn, NY.
Throwing back more than two drinks a day
The CDC has reported that men who drink 3-4 alcoholic drinks each day are at a higher risk of developing cancer of the mouth, neck and throat. They are also twice as likely to develop liver cirrhosis and high blood pressure. Allow yourself at least two alcohol-free days each week. Binge drinking doesn’t only have serious health risks—it can also contribute to weight gain and prevent you from reaching your fitness goals.
Watching Netflix marathons
A full evening of “Dexter” may seem like the optimal way to unwind after work, but watch more than three episodes after sitting at your desk for eight hours and you'll put your health in danger. According to a recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, adults who sat for more than 11 hours a day had a 40 percent increased risk of dying within three years compared with those who sat for fewer than four hours a day.
Hiding out indoors
Not getting enough sunlight can deplete your body's vitamin D supply, which happens quickly during cold winter months. Some symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include tiredness, aches and pains, and depression. Taking a vitamin D supplement can help you get the recommended amount, about 600 IU for 19- to 50-year-old men, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements.
According to a recent study from Australia's Sax Institute, even light smokers double their risk of early death. “People don’t realize how damaging even light smoking is for your health—for cancer, heart disease, lung disease and a range of other conditions," says study co-author Freddy Sitas. Next time you want to have “just one”—don’t.
More: 5 best quit-smoking apps
David Nieman, Ph.D., a health and exercise science specialist in Boone, NC, has found that 90 minutes or more of continuous, moderate- to high-intensity, exercise weakens the immune system, making you more prone to illness. This effect can last up to 72 hours. If you don’t give yourself proper time to recover after working out and put too much stress on your body while training, you could be doing more harm than good.
Eating packaged foods
You may have to eat a frozen meal now and then, but don’t make it a habit. Packaged foods are loaded with sodium and other preservatives. The FDA suggests sticking to no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day—that’s one teaspoon of salt. A typical frozen entrée can easily pack more than 30 percent of your sodium intake for the day, so check the label before plopping one in your grocery basket.
Wearing the wrong shoes
A bad pair of shoes doesn’t just lead to foot pain, it can also cause problems throughout your body: “Your feet are the foundation of your body, and if they are not properly supported you can have problems anywhere from the bottom of your feet up through your neck,” explains Jeffery Solomon, D.C., president of the American Chiropractic Association’s Council on Sports Injuries and Physical Fitness. Choose your footwear wisely—if you have a long commute on foot, find a good pair of walking shoes that best mimics barefoot walking, then put your dress shoes on at the office.
Forgetting to stretch
A study from the University of Rochester Medical Center suggests that stretching as a complement to exercise may help decrease injury. Stretching in the morning also gets your body moving for the day (helping you avoid the snooze button), encourages blood flow throughout the body, and can improve your flexibility.
Not drinking enough water
Water keeps you hydrated, helps transport oxygen through your body, removes waste and toxins, protects your organs—and the list goes on. You always hear the old rule of thumb that you should drink eight glasses of water a day, but it really is true. Staying hydrated throughout the day will help you feel better mentally and physically.