They seem harmless, but could come back to bite you
The day is just beginning, but you’ve already put yourself in danger—and you don’t even realize it. Here are common health slip-ups people make every morning. How many have you committed?
1. You touched your face.
You just can’t keep your hands off yourself: People touch their faces an average of nearly four times per hour, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health. Why is that a problem? Well, your desk harbors hundreds of times more bacteria per square inch than the toilet seats in your office building, according to researchers at the University of Arizona. So when you rest your hands on a germy surface and then bring them to your forehead, it increases your likelihood of getting sick—and breaking out, too. “Simply rubbing or touching your face can lead to a condition called acne mechanica,” says Whitney Bowe, M.D., a New York City-based dermatologist. “The friction against your pores can cause them to clog, resulting in breakouts up to 2 weeks later.”
2. You stayed glued to your chair.
Plenty of research suggests that sitting too much is harmful to your health. In addition to increasing your risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and death—as if that isn’t enough encouragement to stand the heck up—a new Northwestern University study says each additional hour spent sitting per day increases your risk of becoming physically disabled by about 50 percent. Worse, many studies have found that excessive sitting can take a toll on your wellbeing even if you exercise daily. Get off your butt for a few minutes every 30 to 60 minutes. Consider sporting a self-monitoring device such as a pedometer or FitBit, which research shows can encourage you to take more steps throughout the day.
3. You checked Facebook several times.
Your Facebook habit could put your relationship on the rocks. Researchers in Chile found that the likelihood of a person thinking about leaving his or her spouse in the last 12 months is nearly twice as high for those who frequently use social media compared to those who forego Facebook. The social hub may spark jealousy between partners and makes it easier than ever to have an affair, researchers say.
4. You snacked at your desk.
Orange-stained fingers and an empty Cheetos bag aren’t the only clues you’ve been snacking behind your computer. Your waistline may provide some evidence, too. University of Liverpool researchers found that people who eat meals or snacks while distracted consume more calories, and the effects continue later in the day as well. Quit multitasking while eating. Power down distractions during mealtimes and focus on your food.
5. You rubbed your eyes.
“Eye rubbing has been linked to a disease known as keratoconus, a progressive weakening and thinning of the cornea that causes loss of vision and can’t be corrected by LASIK, soft contact lenses, or eyeglasses,” says Keith Walter, M.D., professor of Ophthalmology at Wake Forest University. Freaky! If you wear contacts, rubbing could cause a lens to get stuck under your eyelid. Fortunately, there’s a cul-de-sac-like structure that prevents it from going completely behind your eye, but it can get lodged way up there. “I found three contact lenses stuck under the lid in one patient, likely from aggressive eye rubbing,” Dr. Walter says. Talk to your eye doc if you experience itchiness, dryness, or contact lens discomfort. He or she can address the underlying issue to help you keep your paws out of your peepers.
6. You cluttered up your workspace.
The state of your desk could influence the state of your health. In a University of Minnesota study, participants spent time in either neat or cluttered office spaces. Ten minutes later they were offered an apple or a chocolate bar. Sixty-seven percent of people who stayed in the orderly office picked the apple, whereas 80 percent who spent time in disorganized workspaces opted for the candy bar. An organized environment encourages you to make conventionally good decisions, a.k.a. those you know are better for you, researchers say.
7. You held in your pee.
Trying to ignore nature’s call while finishing a conference call? Better make a beeline to the men’s room. Occasionally holding your urine is okay, but regularly clamping down on your sphincter can cause serious problems such as a urinary tract infection and bladder infection, and can even contribute to incontinence by weakening muscles involved in bladder control.