5 health mistakes to avoid repeating in 2021

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Jogging Stands Out as Best Exercise to Combat 'Obesity Genes'

Staying healthy during the coronavirus pandemic can be a struggle. You’ve sat on the couch and binge-watched TV shows, and you’ve relied on comfort foods to sustain you.

After nine months of isolation, however, it’s time to get back to the habits that kept you healthy before no one saw you for months on end.

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With that in mind, HealthSite.com recommends five habits you need to leave in 2020 and not repeat in 2021.

Breakfast

Studies on breakfast have generated opposing conclusions. One, for example, suggests you can skip breakfast, while another states that a high energy breakfast can promote weight loss.

A 2019 study, published in the British Medical Journal, found that people who ate breakfast consumed 260 more calories and gained 1 pound more than people who skipped the meal.

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At the same time, a meta-analysis by German researchers found that a person’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes increased by 6% after skipping breakfast just one day a week. The risk increased with every additional day of skipped breakfast and peaked at a 55% higher risk for four to five days of skipping morning meals per week.

A 2018 study found that changing up your breakfast menu to include more high-energy foods may help you lose weight, improve your diabetes and decrease the need for insulin.

These studies suggest breakfast has more benefits than drawbacks, so you might want to consider starting your day with a nutritious meal.

Exercise

It’s time to get off the couch. Walking from the living room to the kitchen doesn’t count unless you do it about a hundred times.

A study published earlier this year found that exercise boosts blood flow into two key regions of the brain associated with memory.

The study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, showed “this blood flow can help even older people with memory issues improve cognition, a finding that scientists say could guide future Alzheimer’s disease research,” according to UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Don’t overdo it, though.

Too much exercise doesn’t just take a toll on your body, one study found; it also taxes your brain.

Essentially, your brain will burn out and affect your ability to exercise. When there is a lot of activity in the brain’s cognitive control area, Blain told NPR, “athletes are able to ignore signals from screaming muscles and focus on winning.” But overtraining can fatigue that part of the brain, he said, and a person is less able to push their body.

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The good news is that you don’t have to work out that hard to see benefits from exercise.

An April study found high levels of physical activity of any intensity, whether washing dishes or jogging, can lower the risk of an early death for middle-aged and older people.

Conversely, the study found, being sedentary for 9½ hours a day or more (not counting sleeping) can increase your risk of dying early.

Sleep

Getting enough sleep should be one of the easiest things you can do for your health. The stress and anxiety of 2020, however, have made a good night’s sleep elusive for many, however.

It’s time to seek help from an expert if this applies to you.

Why? Your heart needs at least six hours of sound sleep each night to stay healthy, a 2019 study suggests.

People who don’t get enough sleep increase their risk for cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease — regardless of age, weight, smoking and exercise habits — the National Sleep Foundation says.

An April study by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine suggests excess weight can cause poor sleep.

“We think that sleep is a function of the body trying to conserve energy in a setting where energetic levels are going down. Our findings suggest that if you were to fast for a day, we would predict you might get sleepy because your energetic stores would be depleted,” said study co-author David Raizen, an associate professor of neurology and a member of the Chronobiology and Sleep Institute at Penn.

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Caffeine

A cup of caffeinated coffee might give you a jumpstart in the morning, but you stop after two cups — and have six cups at the most.

A study in 2019 from the University of South Australia suggests the “safe limit” is five cups a day.

“In order to maintain a healthy heart and a healthy blood pressure, people must limit their coffees to fewer than six cups a day — based on our data six was the tipping point where caffeine started to negatively affect cardiovascular risk,” professor Elina Hyppönen, one of the study’s researchers said.

That study found that people who drink one to two cups of caffeinated coffee a day had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than people who drank decaf or no coffee at all. But for individuals who consumed six or more cups of caffeinated coffee a day, the risk of cardiovascular disease increased 22%.

David Katz, a director at the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research center and author of “The Truth About Food,” told HuffPost: “More importantly, extreme coffee consumption is likely to be associated with harms unrelated to the heart, such as insomnia, agitation, and possibly a range of other metabolic effects, from microbiome to bone density.”

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Stress

Being an adult can be stressful during the best of times. During a worldwide pandemic, that stress can increase exponentially.

According to the financial website WalletHub, 39% of Americans say worry or stress about coronavirus has had a negative impact on their physical health.

“While some anxiety helps us cope, extreme anxiety can become coronavirus panic. When we are in a panic state, we suffer, we stress out our children, we are more likely to make mistakes and engage in irrational decisions and behavior,” said psychologist Elissa Epel, who works at the University of California, San Francisco.

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The CDC recommends the following measures to look out for your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak:

Stay informed, but avoid oversaturating yourself with coverage of the virus

Take deep breaths and try to meditate

When you can, eat healthy foods and get regular exercise

Take time to unwind “and remind yourself that strong feelings fade”

Take breaks from consuming coverage

Connect with others about what you are feeling

Maintain healthy relationships with friends or family members

Try to maintain a sense of positive thinking

The CDC also has resources available about coping with a disaster or traumatic event here.