It seems like there’s a new study out every day presenting scary medical news. Figuring out how to stay healthy can be really stressful—and we all know that stress isn’t healthy. Fortunately, there are lots of simple ways to boost your health, from sleeping on your left side to getting a pet. Even playing video games can be good for you in moderation. Prepare to be amazed by this list of 20 Simple Health Tips.
20. Sleeping on Your Left Side
You may not think it matters which side you lie on when you go to bed, but studies have shown you’re better off snoozing on your left side.
This position improves blood flow to your organs, helping the spleen and intestines work more efficiently. There’s also a big bonus for heartburn sufferers since several studies have found that sleeping on your left side apparently reduces heartburn.
No one knows the exact reason for this but one hypothesis holds that left-side sleeping keeps the junction between the stomach and esophagus above the level of gastric acid. It seems very odd, but it’s all true and the good thing is that left side sleeping is a cool and easy trick everyone can use.
19. Don’t brush after eating, after all
Since you were a kid, you were probably told to brush your teeth right after every meal. It turns out that’s not such a great idea.
Acidic food or drinks—and even healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables, are often very acidic—can soften your tooth enamel.
This raises the risk of tooth damage with brushing. A better idea is to wait 30-60 minutes after a meal to brush those pearly whites.
18. Avoid Bright Lights Before Bed
You may like to relax before bed by reading on your tablet, surfing the internet, or updating your calendar on your phone. Unfortunately, even if these things are relaxing, they can prevent you from sleeping soundly.
It’s the blue light produced by all our electronic devices—any kind of bright lights at night interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps us sleep. Several studies have linked exposure to bright light at night to increased risk of several forms of cancer, heart disease, and obesity. Some preliminary evidence suggests lower melatonin levels may increase the risk of cancer.
If you like to read, a paper book is a better idea than an e-reader. But if you have to use something with a screen, a pair of amber-tinted glasses can reduce the blue light and help you sleep better—now that’s a bright idea.
17. Sitting correctly at a computer
Sitting at a computer can leave you with all sorts of aches and pains, and poor posture is a big part of the problem. Admit it, you sat up straighter just hearing that! Improving posture is a good start, but there are other changes you can make to reduce strain when sitting.
Raise the height of your chair, put your keyboard and mouse on your desktop surface, and move your monitor or laptop screen so it’s at exactly the height of your face—that way you won’t strain your neck looking down.
16. Exercising Longer is NOT a good way to lose weight
While experts agree exercise has many health benefits, it is not a magic bullet for weight loss. In fact, physical activity is usually only a tiny percentage of your daily calorie burn. Most of the calories you burn result from your resting metabolism – in other words, the basic functioning of your body, like breathing etc.
Additionally, many people overeat after exercise because it makes them hungry. If you do exercise, longer sessions may seem like a good idea, but you’ll actually get more metabolic benefits from a shorter, more intense workout than a longer one.
High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, helps you burn more calories after you finish exercising. One study found those who do a HIIT workout burned 100 calories more in the following 24 hours than those who did a longer, lower-intensity sweat session.
This can have some weight-loss benefits—IF you don’t follow your workout with a box of donuts. Instead, pack a healthy snack to eat after you exercise, as HIIT is most effective when paired with a healthy diet.
I’m not saying that exercise is bad and you shouldn’t do it. What I’m saying is that exercise alone is not enough or as important as most people think – Instead, put more focus on maintaining a healthy diet and the way you exercise.
15. Smoothies, energy bars, and even some salads are NOT healthy
Now that you know diet and calories are more important than exercise when it comes to losing weight, you may think that ordering a salad is the way to go.
Salads certainly can be healthy, as vegetables like lettuce, kale, and carrots tend to be low in calories and high in vitamins and fiber. But some restaurants add so much cheese, salad dressing, and sometimes even fried meats to their salads that they can top 1,000 calories!
If you’re dining out, ask for dressing on the side, so you can use a small amount and limit the extra calories. You can also ask for the cheese on the side, or left off entirely. If your salad comes with meat, ask for it to be grilled instead of fried.
Smoothies and energy bars often have an unhealthy amount of calories as well.
It’s always a good idea to check the label before buying or read a restaurant’s nutrition info online before ordering.
14. Loosen your tie to reduce your risk of glaucoma
Wearing your tie too tight can be uncomfortable—not just for you, but also your… eyeballs. There’s a reason some guys think of their necktie as a noose.
In one study of 40 men, adjusting a tie to “slightly uncomfortable” for only three minutes raised intraocular pressure—a leading cause of glaucoma.
So loosen up that tie—or better yet, just use a clip-on. Then you’ll also save yourself the stress of having to tie it every morning!
13. Easy on the Positive Thinking, It Can Make You Feel More Depressed
You know the feeling—you’re having a bad day, and someone attempts to help by telling you to “look on the bright side” or “have a positive attitude”. If you find this annoying instead of helpful, you’re not alone.
Studies have shown positive thinking provides only a marginal improvement in mood for those with high-self esteem. Those with lower self-esteem actually felt worse, probably because there’s nothing more depressing than a fake cheer when you’re having a lousy day.
Many people actually felt better when making a list of negative things about themselves. This may be because once you’ve identified your faults, you can work to improve them.
12. Masturbating Promotes a Healthy Sex Drive
Good news for the porn industry—masturbation is very healthy! As it turns out, showing a little self-love is not only temporarily pleasant, it can also help you have a better sex life in general.
The more frequently you have orgasms, the more your body produces libido-increasing hormones. Doctor Darius Paduch, director of sexual health at Weill Cornell Medical College found out that among his patients, this leads to a higher sex drive.
11. Beware of the new car smell and open those windows
Many people love that “new car smell”—so much that it’s even sold as a variety of air fresheners. But getting a good whiff of the real thing could actually be bad for your health.
The inside of a new car contains plastics, adhesives, and fabrics, and when these are concentrated in a small space—like the inside of a new vehicle—they can release harmful gases, especially in high temperatures.
As much as you might love that new car smell, it’s much healthier to roll down the windows and let it escape, especially in warm weather.
10. Yogic Breathing Improves Lung Function and blood flow to the brain
Pranayama sounds like something you might order at that new Indian restaurant downtown, but it’s actually a yoga breathing principle.
Yoga is healthy in general, but if you don’t have time to bend yourself into a pretzel, you can still benefit from Pranayama. This technique brings more oxygen to the blood and brain, and it can improve lung function.
Just don’t take any deep, calming breaths in your new car!
9. Get a Pet
If you already have a pet, you probably know your furry friend can help reduce stress. Many studies have shown having a pet lowers blood pressure and can even reduce the risk of depression.
Seniors with Alzheimer’s have fewer anxious outbursts when an animal shares their home. Walking a dog is also good exercise, but your pet doesn’t have to be furry and four-legged—watching fish swim in an aquarium has been shown to be just as relaxing.
8. Gardening Reduces Stress and Symptoms of Depression
Another good way to relieve stress involves getting down and dirty—in the garden, that is. One study in the Netherlands showed that gardening reduced stress even better than other relaxing activities, like reading a book. Spending time outside and away from digital devices combats stress and attention fatigue, and can even reduce symptoms of depression.
Growing healthy, fresh produce that you can eat and soaking up some Vitamin D from the sun are other benefits of the outdoor activity.
7. Drink That Wine
Wine lovers have reason to celebrate—maybe with a glass of, well, wine—because the beverage is actually good for you.
Wine contains polyphenols, which reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. They might also have antibacterial properties that are effective against the Streptococcus bug. Cabernet Sauvignon may even reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s.
Just make sure you don’t drink so much you lose your memory for an entirely different reason. Wine is best enjoyed in moderation.
6. Bird Watching Is Heart Healthy
Bird watching may sound like a sedentary pursuit, but it can actually be good exercise. Many bird watchers spend time walking through the woods while looking for unusual varieties of the feathered creatures.
Walking two miles an hour for two hours can burn almost 400 calories, and the fresh air and immersion in nature can also help reduce stress.
5. Playing a Musical Instrument
Even if you’re not a musical genius, playing an instrument has many health benefits. It improves hand/eye coordination and fine motor skills. Better still, it can increase your IQ by seven points—and it’s never too late to start.
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Both kids and adults reap these brain benefits. Adults who play instruments also have lower blood pressure. As for the people who listen to you play—well, we’ll get back to you on that.
4. Playing video games
You may have heard that sitting on a couch and playing video games is unhealthy, and doing so all day has its downsides. But playing video games also has health benefits: It reduces stress and depression, and can even help relieve physical pain.
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However, this is another situation where moderation is key—you should still try to keep your screen time to two hours a day or less.
3. Stop trying to shape up your butt
Sir Mix-a-Lot may have been on to something when he rapped about how much he likes big butts. While many of us think of this as a problem area that we want to reduce with diet and exercise, the fat stored there is not your enemy.
In fact, junk in the trunk contains an anti-inflammatory that prevents arteries from becoming clogged, and reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Back that thing up!
2. Surfing the internet
We’ve all heard how unhealthy it is to spend the whole day in front of a computer, but some time spent surfing the internet is actually healthy. Researchers at UCLA discovered searching the web boosts brain health in those middle-aged and older.
It may even slow some of the effects of aging on the brain by stimulating areas that control language, memory, and complex reasoning. Just make sure you take breaks and stretch while exploring the world wide web.
1. Pucker up
Assuming no one involved has mono, kissing can be a very healthy activity. The extra saliva from swapping spit can help break down oral plaque on teeth, reducing the risk of cavities and other dental problems. (Just don’t give up your toothbrush—brushing is still a better way of cleaning teeth!) Kissing may even help you lose a little weight by increasing your metabolic rate and burning extra calories.
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Who knew it could be such a good way to kiss calories goodbye! What’s the most surprising health tip you’ve learned?
Hopefully, this article has been helpful – Did you learn anything new? Also, which of these simple health tips did you think was the best, and do you know of any others? Please let me know in the comments down below.