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November 9, 2011 at 12:02 PMComments: 8 Faves: 0

The Top 4 Healthy "Bad" Habits

By Laura Hogg More Blogs by This Author

We know it all by heart: to lead a healthy lifestyle, you should eat lots of fruit and veggies. Get regular exercise. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Get eight hours of sleep.

That's all well and good, but let's face it--we've heard it, oh, I don't know, one or two times before. It's good advice--there's no denying that these habits are healthy--but I think it's safe to say we've pretty much tuned it out by now.

That's why it's so refreshing to hear that there are some "bad" habits whose wicked reputations are undeserved--habits that could actually make your body healthier and your mind sharper. There's a good chance that you've tried to break yourself of at least one of the following healthy practices. Things like:

4. Chewing gum

What you've been told: If your elementary school teacher is to be believed, chewing gum is an unsightly, nasty habit that "impedes the learning process" and distracts other students. Students caught chewing gum should be reprimanded immediately in order to nip this disgraceful habit in the bud.

The truth? Teachers: if your goal is to have students that are unruly and can't concentrate, by all means, make them spit out their gum. Despite what you've been told, chewing gum boasts a long list of benefits, including helping with weight management, focus, concentration, preventing tooth decay, and stress relief. It has even been shown to improve memory by as much as 35 percent.

So, teachers, if you're acting as the gum police and puzzling over low test scores, you might want to rethink your strategy.

3. Drinking coffee

What you've been told: Sure, coffee does smell good. But if you drink it, you're going to be a growth-stunted, hyperactive caffeine addict.

The truth? Actually, the health benefits of coffee are well documented. Studies have shown that, far from stunting your growth, drinking your daily java helps minimize your risk of getting Parkinson's, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Coffee is full of disease-fighting anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants. But what about caffeine? Surely that can't be good for you!

Wrong again. When used in moderation, caffeine can help reduce or relieve headaches, improve your mood, and even reduce the risk of colon cancer. Now, nobody is suggesting that you chug twelve Red Bulls in a day, but there's no need to feel bad about having a few cups of joe as a pick-me-up.

2. Being messy

What you've been told: Surely this one needs no explanation. Nobody likes a slob, right?

The truth? Go ahead--make your bed if it makes you feel better. But you might get a few unwanted bedmates if you do. Dust mites love it when you make your bed in the morning; it provides the perfect warm, moist environment in which they thrive, so they can do their job of causing allergies and other issues.

And as long as you're leaving your bed unmade, go ahead and let the rest of the house get a little bit dirty, and toss your chemical-based cleaning supplies. Of course, being too messy can cause problems--but making your home perfectly sterile weakens your immune system and increases the risk of asthma and allergies.

1. Fidgeting

What you've been told: "Sit still." "Stop fidgeting--you're driving me crazy!" "FOR THE LOVE OF--JUST STOP MOVING!"

Come on--what could worse than fidgeting?

The truth? How about obesity?

Like all other movement, fidgeting burns calories--and no, this is not just wishful thinking. A recent study by the Mayo Clinic found that fidgety behaviors (toe tapping, stretching, twitching, etc.) can burn up to 350 calories in a single day. It's no substitute for exercise, but if you're packing on the pounds at a 9-5 desk job, make fidgeting a habit and you could see weight loss results to the tune of 10-30 pounds in a year--all without leaving your chair.

So the next time you want to scream at your sloppy, gum-smacking, antsy, caffeine-hyped roommate, stop to consider--maybe they're just trying to be proactive about their health. (But probably not.)


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  • Most excellent. You reminded me to chew my gum after lunch, made it OK that my desk is a disaster, and now I don't feel so bad about being fidgety at my desk!

  • Love this blog, Laura. I definitely am a person who fidgets. The one I do most often is tapping my foot. It's good to know fidgeting actually burns calories! awesome!

  • I guess I should stop yelling at the kids about the bedrooms.. I already let them chew gum! and while teachers don't like the fidgety kid I should them know we all should do it.

  • According to this blog I'm like the healthiest person EVER! lol

  • Great blog, Laura! I printed it out and gave it to my son (20 years old), who is borderline AD/HD. He loved it, and said "See? I knew all along, I was doing the right things!" hahaha...

  • Thanks, everyone! Glad you enjoyed this :) I'm not a natural fidgeter, but now I'm trying to make it a habit!

    David - that's awesome, haha. I'm glad he enjoyed it :D

  • awesome

  • wow! crazy about the bed - here I thought making my bed was a good thing!

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