bad habits

  1. Healthy Aging

    The five habits that will keep you alive

    Turns out the secret to healthy aging isn't much of a secret at all: it is plain old clean living.

    Treat your body like the temple it is, and you'll be rewarded with good health well into your golden years. And now, new research confirms this time-tested Biblical wisdom, identifying five good habits and all the benefits you can enjoy if you stick to them -- including a lower risk of just about all the diseases seniors worry about most.

    Dementia? You can forget about it.

    Diabetes? Won't happen to you.

    Heart attack and stroke? All your friends may live in fear of the "big one," but you won't have to worry.

    Not if you stick to the five basics of clean living for healthy aging:

    • Keep a healthy weight
    • Eat right
    • Get regular exercise
    • If you smoke, quit (and if you don't, don't start)
    • Drink only in moderation (or, better yet, not at all)

    That's it.

    Like I said, pretty basic stuff -- and if you manage to keep four of these five healthy habits, your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and other vascular problems will plunge by 70 percent, according to the study of 2,235 Welsh men tracked for up to 35 years.

    There's not a drug in the world that can make that kind of claim -- and that's not all clean living can do for you. These same basic healthy habits will also slash your risk of cognitive decline and dementia by 60 percent, according to the study published in PLOS One.

    Not bad for simply living the way you should, because these five clean living rules aren't controversial even in the slightest. Both by-the-book mainstream allopaths and the best natural holistic physicians will tell you we should all stick to these basics for healthy aging and living longer.

    And, when it comes down to it, they're not especially hard to follow.

    Yet very few people manage to pull it off. In the study, less than 1 percent hit all five -- and I don't think that's limited to Welshmen. I bet it would also be less than 1 percent of the U.S. population, male and female.

    That's a shame, because this is the "1 percent" anyone can join since you don't need money to have good habits (and if you quit drinking and smoking, you'll actually save some dough).

    All you need is a little willpower.

    And if a lower risk of major disease isn't enough of a reason to live clean, I've got another one coming up next.

  2. Doctor, my eyes

    The risks of smartphones go far beyond thumbs, wrists and sanity: A new study finds that the devices might be doing a
    number on your eyes, too.

    iPhones, BlackBerries and Androids help millions to work, keep in touch and stay entertained all day and night -- but they're also responsible for some pretty bad habits.

    And it starts with how we hold them.

    Researchers asked 130 volunteers with an average age of 23 to read text messages on their smartphones, then measured
    the distance between their eyes and the screen.

    And as it turns out, the volunteers almost all held their phones much closer than they would a newspaper, book or magazine.

    The researchers say the text readers held the phone about 14 inches away, with some holding it as close as 7 inches --
    compared to an average of 16 inches for normal printed materials.

    In a similar experiment, 100 participants with an average age of nearly 25 were asked to read a Web page on their smartphones -- and researchers say they held the phone just 12.6 inches away.

    So do those extra inches make a difference? You bet they do -- the researchers say it could place an extra strain on the
    eyes, especially for people who already wear glasses and contact lenses.

    They even suggest that optometrists consider testing vision at closer ranges for some patients and alter prescriptions
    based on mobile viewing habits.

    Since Web-based text tends to be smaller than newspaper print -- in some cases up to 70 percent smaller -- the most
    immediate action you can take right now is to go into your phone's settings and adjust the font size.

    Another option is to switch to a larger device for more serious reading -- including the Kindle and tablet computers like the iPad. In addition to larger screens, these devices contain even more settings to allow you to adjust text size as well as brightness.

    Finally, keep in mind that it's OK to put these devices down and even turn them off every now and then.

    Sometimes, the eyes just need a rest no matter what you're looking at.

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