Everyone knows that you go to a doctor or to hospital when you’re feeling unwell. Medicine has come a long way in the past 200 years, and while there are some diseases we haven’t managed to eradicate or completely cure yet, it’s certainly looking a lot more hopeful.
However, between media reports of miraculous new drugs and treatments, one thing that gets less exposure than it deserves is prevention. Recent research has shown an alarming amount of preventable deaths that stem from these health mistakes. Here are a few habits that might be slowly damaging your body without you even realizing it:
1. Not using sun protection.
Skin cancer makes up nearly half of all diagnosed cancers in the US which is why protecting yourself against the sun is really important! In Australia, public health officials became alarmed by the increasing rate of skin cancer which led to the implementation of their successful “Slip, Slap, Slop, Seek, Slide” campaign, which includes:
1. Slipping on clothing that will cover up your body (e.g. long-sleeved shirts).
2. Slopping on some SPF 30 sunscreen.
3. Slapping on a hat that will shade your face.
4. Seeking shade where possible.
5. Sliding on some sunglasses.
It can be tempting to think that we can forgo sunscreen when it’s cloudy outside, but just because you can’t see the sun doesn’t mean the UV rays aren’t getting through! An additional benefit of sun protection is that it protects your skin from wrinkling as UV rays are one of the more common causes of skin aging and damage.
2. Too much sitting.
Did you know that sitting too much can reduce your lifespan?
I think I can speak for a majority of us when I say that it’s hard not to be sitting. College students usually have lectures for most of the day and it’s not like you can stand for all of it. Likewise when you start working, you’ll spend at least some time at a desk or in front of a computer, where you’ll most likely be sitting for most of the day.
Recent research shows that people who sit for more than 8 hours each day have a significantly increased risk of dying from any cause compared to those that sat for less than 4 hours each day. That risk doesn’t change even if you exercise each day.
Some people are actively combating this through various methods. There are treadmill desks, where you can work and walk sedately at the same time, and standing desks that allow you to stand and work. Then there are habits you can work into your daily routine such as getting up and walking a short distance every 20 minutes. Every little bit helps.
3. Reading from a screen before going to sleep.
I reckon there isn’t a single one among us who hasn’t been guilty of this at one time or another.
Unfortunately, multiple studies have shown that reading from a brightly lit screen before bed can have a drastic impact on your quality of sleep as it disrupts your internal clock, increases the amount of time you need to get to sleep, and makes you more groggy in the morning.
In this day and age, it’s hard to disconnect ourselves from our smartphones, tablets, laptops, and television. However, if you’re continuing to find yourself miserable and tired as you wake up each morning because you felt like you haven’t slept at all, it’s worth considering turning everything off in the hour before you go to sleep.
4. Wearing headphones and earphones during the day.
White Apple earbuds and Beats by Dre headphones have become a common sight on the streets. As music players have gotten smaller and storage sizes have increased, it’s become very convenient to bring along our music with us as we go about our days. It’s certainly a huge change from the boomboxes teenagers used to carry around during the 1970s.
Once the headphones are on, it’s easy to forget that we’re wearing them. Sometime music becomes part of the background noise, especially when our attention is focused elsewhere. When street noises increase, it becomes second nature to turn up the volume on our music players.
But did you know that there’s been a 30% increase in teenage hearing loss compared to the 1980s and 1990s? Researchers have found that young adults today are listening to music at higher volumes for twice as long when compared to the previous generation, leading to higher rates of irreversible hearing loss.
What we can do to combat this trend is to become more aware of the length of time we have our headphones on as well as the volume. Noise-canceling headphones are also a good choice because the decreased background noise means that there is a reduced tendency to turn the volume up. As a rule of thumb, if you can’t hear someone talking to you, your music is too loud.
All of these things I’ve mentioned might seem like very minor things, but they can have a very large impact on your overall health in the long run.
This is probably because it isn’t something we think about until the damage that’s we’ve caused our bodies show up. However, prevention is definitely the #1 strategy when it comes to maintaining your health and this should definitely be emphasized in this day and age.