Health mistakes women who make an effort to exercise and eat a wholesome diet sabotage their health in other ways. Often they don’t even realize that their everyday habits could be harmful. Here are ten unhealthy practices that apply specifically to women; some of them may sound familiar.
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1. Wearing the wrong bra size
Most women have never been measured for a bra and an estimated 80% wear the wrong size. A poor fit can lead to bad posture and back pain. A bra should support the weight of the breasts in the mid to lower back. If the weight is supported around the ribcage, it can cause the spine to curve. Back muscles may become strained and spasm. Your bra is the wrong size if the under-band rides up, the shoulder straps dig in or the back band is overstretched.
2. Wearing high heels
When you wear shoes with a two-inch or higher heel, your foot slides forward and your body weight is incorrectly distributed. You walk in a posture that strains your knees, hip, and lower back. High heels have been associated with a range of ailments including knee arthritis, chronic back pain, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, bunions, and injured leg muscles or tendons. The American Osteopathic Association recommends that you only wear heels on days that require limited walking or standing.
3. Ignoring strength training
A typical man at the gym will combine a cardio workout, such as running on a treadmill, with strength training such as lifting weights. Women are more likely to engage in aerobic exercise alone. Strength or resistance training is especially important for women because it builds bone density, helping to prevent osteoporosis. It also increases circulation and lowers blood pressure. While aerobic activity can help you lose weight, increasing your muscle mass will cause you to burn more calories even when at rest.
4. Not getting enough sleep
If you go to bed and wake up at the same time as your male partner, you may not be getting enough sleep. A Duke University study found that women tend to require more sleep than men. They use more of their brain while multitasking during the day, so they need more downtime to allow it to recover. The study also found that, compared to men, sleep-deprived women are much more likely to become angry or suffer from depression.
5. Lugging a heavy handbag
The average handbag, packed full of essential items, weighs about seven pounds. Carrying a heavy bag over one shoulder has a huge impact on posture. Your neck leans away from the load to balance the weight, the shoulder that bears the load is rotated backward and raised, and the load of the bag puts pressure on the spine and leg joints. Over time this can lead to neck pain, back spasms, prolapsed discs, sciatica, and arthritis. To avoid these problems, carry heavy loads in a backpack.
6. Unhealthy comfort eating
Women make more unhealthy choices than men when it comes to comfort eating. According to a survey conducted by Cornell University researchers, women tend to indulge in dessert foods high in fat, sugar, and empty calories to alleviate negative emotions. Men, on the other hand, treat themselves to hardy comfort foods like steaks or pasta when they believe they deserve a reward. Women are also 50% more likely than men to feel guilty about comfort eating.
7. The unrealistic conception of body weight
Several studies have shown that many normal, overweight, and obese women underestimate their weight, whereas underweight women tend to overestimate it. Columbia University researchers interviewed 222 mostly Latino mothers and measured their BMIs. An amazing 82% of those classified as obese underestimated their weight, compared to 43% of overweight and 13% of normal-weight women. A British survey found that women aged 35 to 39 underestimated their weight by nearly eight pounds on average.
It’s estimated that one in four women aged 15-44 douches, despite the fact that the practice is discouraged by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Douching changes the vagina’s acidity and disrupts healthy bacteria. It can also flush harmful bacteria into the uterus. A recent study found that women who douched two or more times a month had 152% higher levels of diethyl phthalate in their urine. Phthalate chemicals have been linked to reproductive problems and developmental problems in babies exposed to it in the womb.
9. Wearing makeup to bed
Many women occasionally to go to sleep without removing their makeup. Ironically, the very thing used to conceal flaws can create them if left on too long. Foundation makeup clings on to free radicals from the pollution which can breakdown collagen and cause wrinkles. It also clogs pores, leading to acne. Mascara, eyeliner, and eyeshadow can block tiny hair follicles and oil glands on the eyelids causing a build-up of bacteria that results in painful red eyes.
10. Drinking like men
Whether it’s at a social event, a date, or an informal business meeting, women often feel obliged to match men drink for drink. Because women have less body water than men, alcohol is less diluted. If a man and women drink the same amount, the blood alcohol level will be about a third higher in the woman. Compared to men, women have an increased risk of cognitive impairment, passing out or an injury after drinking too much.