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"Bad Habits" Practically Everyone Has Done

Don't worry, you're not alone here.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

No one is an island, as the saying goes, and when it comes to certain bad health habits, you are definitely not alone. Significant numbers of us (often nearly all of us) are failing to follow health experts' recommendations, some of which are vitally important to overall health and a long life. But there's no need to wait for a New Year to make resolutions to change up your routine. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Eating Too Much Sugar

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Simply put, a lot of us are eating more added sugar that we should. The average American consumes the equivalent of 17 teaspoons a day, mainly through sugar-sweetened beverages, desserts and sweet snacks. The American Heart Association's recommended limit: six teaspoons for women and nine for men. Added sugar and processed foods are major contributors to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Thankfully, Nutrition Facts labels now contain an added sugars category, so it's easier than ever to cut down.

2

Getting Insufficient Sleep

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Do you always get a great night's sleep? Consider yourself lucky. According to recent research by the CDC, one in three Americans aren't getting enough sleep, and more than 70 million Americans have chronic sleep problems. "Sleeping less than seven hours per day is associated with an increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and frequent mental distress," the agency notes.

3

Consuming Too Much Sodium

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According to the CDC, 90% of Americans eat more than the recommended daily limit of sodium (2,300 mg, or about one teaspoon of salt) every day. That's dangerous because excessive sodium can raise blood pressure, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. To stay healthy, check labels for sodium levels and limit your consumption of processed foods.

4

Not Getting Enough Exercise

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Even before the pandemic shut gyms and isolated many of us at home, almost 80% of Americans weren't getting the recommended amount of daily exercise. That's according to the National Center for Health Statistics, which in 2018 found that only 23% were meeting federal physical activity guidelines. Exercise benefits everything from your cardiovascular and immune systems to your mood, reduces the risk of cancer, and can literally make your body younger. Experts recommend getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, each week.

5

Binge-Watching

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What we did do before the advent of binge-watching favorite TV shows and movies from the comforts of home? Unfortunately, some things that were healthier. While binge-watching can relieve stress and promote relaxation, studies have linked it to health effects like insomnia, fatigue, decreased physical activity, and social isolation. One study at the University of Central Florida found that watching four or more hours of TV a day carries a 50 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease or early death. 

6

Scrolling Through Screens

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Most of us are spending more time than ever staring at out phones, tablets and other glowing rectangular devices. The problem with this: they emit blue light, which can damage your eyes and may even accelerate aging. That's the conclusion of a 2019 study that found blue light can damage cells in the brain and eyes. Researchers recommend getting as much natural light as possible, wearing blue light glasses, and limiting your screen time.

And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael
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