7 Weird Health Habits That Can Make Life Better

Wednesday Jun 11 | BY |
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Weird Health Habits

Go ahead—sing out loud. Studies show it helps relieve stress and anxiety.

You’re eating right. You’re exercising regularly. You’re doing your best to keep stress levels down.

But still, life probably isn’t quite perfect…yet. Maybe you’re still suffering from allergies, anxiety, headaches, or other minor ailments.

The following tips may sound a little odd, but studies show they may make a big difference in your health.

  1. Go for a clean shave. We’re in the middle of allergy season (which seems longer and longer these days). If you’re prone to the sniffles, go barefaced. If you just can’t bring yourself to shave off that moustache, try washing it a bit more often. Research led by Dr. McNally and colleagues from the Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group in Virginia found that participants who washed their mustaches twice a day with liquid soap reported using fewer antihistamines and decongestants.
  2. See your dentist for a healthier heart. A 2011 study that followed over 100,000 people for an average of seven years found that those participants who had their teeth cleaned by a dentist or dental hygienist had a 24 percent lower risk of heart attack and 13 percent lower risk of stroke compared to those who had never had a dental cleaning. More frequent cleanings were associated with a lower risk, compared to occasional cleanings. None of the participants had a history of heart attack or stroke at the beginning of the study.
  3. Curse when you need to. Typically we hold back in mixed company, but if you hurt yourself, it may be best to let a bad word fly. According to a 2009 study, shouting a curse word when experiencing pain lessened the pain and allowed the participant to endure the painful activity 40 seconds longer than those who didn’t curse or those who spoke a neutral word. Researchers theorized that when we speak expletives, we tap into deeper regions of the brain that are usually not involved in language, activating stress responses that can make us less sensitive to pain.
  4. Speak the truth. Little white lies are often used to keep relationships flowing smoothly, but according to studies, they may be bad for our health. According to research presented at the American Psychology Association’s 120th Annual Convention in 2012, when participants reduced the number of everyday lies they told, they experienced significantly improved health. More specifically, they suffered fewer sore throats and headaches as well as fewer tense or melancholy times. In the weeks following the study, participants also reported that their close personal relationships had improved and that their social interactions overall had gone more smoothly. Examples of truth telling included avoiding exaggeration about their daily accomplishments, being honest about why they were late or why they failed to complete a task, and responding to a troubling question from another person by distracting that person rather than telling a white lie.
  5. Sing out loud. If your family is complaining about your shower performances, continue to ignore them. Better yet, get them to join in a group tune before breakfast. Studies show that group singing releases feel-good endorphins, relieves stress, and alleviates anxiety. A 2013 study found that singing in a choir may have some of the same positive effects as yoga, in regulating breathing patterns and reducing the variability of your heartbeat. What to sing? You may want to try show tunes. Another 2013 study found that participants with dementia who sang songs from movies and musicals experienced a marked improvement in their remembering skills versus those who simply listened during sing-alongs.
  6. Clean house. Do you avoid this one for as long as possible? You may want to rethink that habit. According to a 2010 study, those who take pride in their homes are healthier than those who live surrounded by clutter. Researchers stated that cleaning is active—a form of exercise—and that many people may not head out for a walk or a game of baseball, but would more likely take 30 minutes to pick up the living room or run the duster over the furniture. So not only do you get in a moderate workout when you clean, you also get to enjoy the benefit of a tidy home, which has also been found to reduce stress. Clutter, on the other hand—according to studies—reduces ability to focus and concentrate, increases stress hormone levels, and can even increase risk of depression.
  7. Exercise with a friend. This one may not be especially “weird,” but it is a good way to shake up your normal solo workout routines. According to a 2013 study, women who worked out with pals pushed themselves harder than when they exercised alone, burning more calories and going to the gym for longer. An earlier 2009 study found similar results in both men and women—participants with a partner lost more weight than those without one.
  8. Do you regularly engage in “weird” health habits? Please share yours!

    * * *

    James Gorman, “Wash That Mustache!” New York Times, September 9, 1997, http://www.nytimes.com/1997/09/09/science/wash-that-mustache.html.

    “Looking for a fitness boost? Workout with a friend—research shows that women train harder with an exercise partner,” Daily Mail, January 15, 2013, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2263099/Looking-fitness-boost-Workout-friend–research-shows-women-train-harder-exercise-partner.html.

    Lucy Cockcroft, “Exercising with a friend ‘helps to lose more weight,’” Telegraph, October 26, 2009, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/6438994/Exercising-with-a-friend-helps-to-lose-more-weight.html.

    “Professional Dental Cleanings May Reduce Risk of Heart Attack, Stroke,” AAOSH, November 19, 2011, http://aaosh.org/professional-dental-cleanings-may-reduce-risk-heart-attack-stroke/.

    “Why the #&%! Do We Swear? For Pain Relief,” Scientific American, July 12, 2009, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-do-we-swear/.

    “Lying Less Linked to Better Health, New Research Finds,” American Psychological Association, August 4, 2012, http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2012/08/lying-less.aspx.

    Stacy Horn, “Singing Changes Your Brain,” Time, August 16, 2013, http://ideas.time.com/2013/08/16/singing-changes-your-brain/.

    “Singing in a choir is good for your heart: study,” The Denver Post, July 10, 2013, http://www.denverpost.com/ci_23632264/singing-choir-is-good-your-heart-study.

    David Harding, “Singing show tunes helps fight off dementia, Alzheimer’s disease: study,” NY Daily News, November 12, 2013, http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/singing-show-tunes-helps-fight-dementia-study-article-1.1513903.

    Fiona Macrae, “If your house is as clean as a whistle, you’ll be fit as a fiddle,” Daily Mail, June 2, 2010, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1283437/A-tidy-home-means-tidy-body-study-reveals-cleanest-healthiest.html.

    Erin Doland, “Scientists find physical clutter negatively affects your ability to focus, process information,” Unclutterer, March 29, 2011, http://unclutterer.com/2011/03/29/scientists-find-physical-clutter-negatively-affects-your-ability-to-focus-process-information/.

    Lisa Kaplan Gordon, “The Link Between Clutter and Depression,” House Logic, August 8, 2012, http://www.houselogic.com/blog/home-improvement/clutter-depression/#.

    Colleen M. Story

    Colleen M. Story

    Colleen M. Story, a northwest-based writer, editor, and ghostwriter, has been creating non-fiction materials for individuals, corporations, and commercial magazines for over 17 years. She specializes in the health and wellness field, where she writes and ghostwrites books, e-books, blogs, magazine articles, and more.

    Colleen is the founder of Writing and Wellness. Her fantasy novel, “Rise of the Sidenah,” was released with Jupiter Gardens Press in September 2015. Her literary novel, “Loreena’s Gift,” is forthcoming in spring 2016 from Dzanc Books. She lives in Idaho. www.colleenmstory.com

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