From getting out of bed to elevating our legs at the end of a long day, we go through our days largely on autopilot, hardly thinking about many of our regular activities.
However, just because we do these tasks every day doesn’t mean we’re doing them correctly.
Below, we reveal 12 daily health habits that you thought you were doing right and explain what’s wrong with them.
1. Waking Up
If you’re the 1 in 3 American adults who don’t get enough sleep, you probably struggle to get up in the morning and hit the snooze button once (or many times).
While it may feel good in the moment to get a few more minutes of rest, you’re throwing off your body’s internal clock by dipping in and out of sleep, which just makes it harder to get up in the long run.
It’s much better to get out of bed when your alarm clock initially goes off, no matter how groggy you feel.
2. Drinking Coffee
Many people swear that they need a cup of coffee first thing in the morning to help them wake up. However, science says that first thing in the morning isn’t actually the best time to drink coffee.
That’s because your cortisol levels are naturally high right when you wake up, and coffee can interfere with that.
Drinking coffee mid-morning (usually about 10 a.m. for most people) when your cortisol levels are beginning to dip will give you the biggest caffeine boost.
3. Skipping Breakfast
Another common morning mistake is skipping breakfast for some reason, whether you’re pressed for time or trying to cut calories.
But eating breakfast (or just smaller meals more frequently throughout the day) can boost your metabolism and actually help burn more calories in the long run.
It also improves your concentration, energy and mood and lowers your risk of cardiovascular issues.
Sitting is another one of those automatic habits that it’s very easy to do incorrectly.
Most of us slouch or otherwise curve our spines, putting pressure on our spinal discs and lower back. In turn, this can cause the discs to degenerate and result in stiffness, pain and more.
When sitting, you should make sure that your weight is evenly distributed and that your butt sticks back slightly to create a healthy curve at the bottom of your spine where it should be.
5. Elevating Your Legs
You elevate your tired legs at the end of the day to give them a rest and help reduce swelling—what could wrong with this simple act?
Turns out, many people don’t elevate their legs far enough (they should be above the level of the heart) or do it at the incorrect angle.
You should lie flat on your back, with tilted thighs, a bent knee and slightly angled calves.
A leg elevation pillow can help you achieve the proper position with hardly any effort on your part.
Breathing is absolutely necessary for staying alive from minute to minute, but just because it’s a reflex doesn’t mean you’re doing it right. Y
ou should use your nose as well as your mouth to breathe, as your nose can filter and warm the air in a way that your mouth can’t.
You should also breathe from the belly and not just the chest to be sure your inhales and exhales are deep enough and taking in enough oxygen each time.
Many people around the world in different cultures bathe about once a day, and some people even shower twice a day if they exercise.
However, this once-a-day guideline isn’t based on science. In fact, showering every day can strip moisture out of your skin and cause it to dry out.
If you don’t sweat or smell, you probably don’t need to shower each day.
8. Washing Your Hair
Just like with your skin, washing your hair strips the strands of their natural oil. It can dry out and become frizzy and brittle over time as a result, leading to a dull mane that’s prone to breakage.
Even if you shower every day after workouts, you don’t need to wash your hair unless it’s looking oily or greasy.
9. Washing Your Hands
You learn how to wash your hands as a toddler, but that doesn’t mean you learned to wash them correctly.
Few people lather their hands with soap for 20 seconds, the optimal amount of time needed to kill germs. Otherwise, you’ll spread bacteria around.
After rinsing your hands, you should dry them with paper towels (reusable towels tend to harbor bacteria, especially if they stay wet) and then recycle the paper towels.
10. Applying Sunscreen
First of all, if you’re not applying sunscreen every day you go outside for a substantial amount of time, you should be.
You can get sunburned even on a cloudy day, so slather up. Make sure you choose a water- and sweat-resistant sunscreen with a broad spectrum of UV protection.
Don’t wash your hands after you apply sunscreen. Otherwise, you’ll wash the sunscreen off and your hands will be exposed to UV radiation.
If you brush your teeth regularly, you don’t have to floss, right? Wrong!
Flossing removes the plaque and other invisible debris that builds up around your teeth, so brushing can’t replace it.
You should floss after brushing so the brush will already have removed the major debris and the floss can get to work on the plaque.
12. Warming Up for a Workout
Warming up before a workout is critical for loosening up your muscles and joints and avoiding injury.
Don’t static stretch. Instead, utilize dynamic stretches to get your body and muscles moving. You can jog before dynamic stretching to warm up but jogging alone won’t be enough to prepare your body for exercise.
Properly executing daily health habits can help you truly live your best life. From drinking coffee to washing your hands and everything in between, doing these 12 activities the right way will lead to a happier, healthier you. So get started today!
About The Author
Ryan Zell is the co-founder and owner of Lounge Doctor, the president of Legs 4 Life and co-owner of Ames Walker. When he is not working he enjoys running, hiking, and Virginia Tech football.