30 Health Mistakes You’re Making in Public
You could lead your home like the narrowest ship: yoga until 7am, wholesome breakfast. However, once you go outside, all bets are void. From the moment you leave home, there are a number of overly simple mistakes that can endanger your health – and those of other people as well. These are the most common missteps that must be avoided. (Spoiler: You do not have to apply a hand sanitizer at the moment, but it would not hurt.)
Public Bikes: So good for the environment, may not be good for you. In 2017, the publisher of Men's Health tested the bacteria levels on various surfaces in New York City. The dirtiest object he'd found: the town's divisible CitiBikes, which were 45 times as germ rich as a subway bar.
The remedy Rx: If you use a shared bicycle – or bring your own coffee – bring an alcoholic hand sanitizer.
If you shake someone's hand and then rub your eyes, you can efficiently spread germs and make yourself sick, especially during the flu season. The sensitive mucous membranes of the eyes are like an e-z pass track for bacteria and viruses.
The remedy Rx: After shaking hands, be careful not to touch your face until you use hand sanitizer or wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. (What counts as "thorough"? Continue reading.)
Close conversations are not only annoying – their habit could give you the flu. In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study that found that the flu virus can be transmitted by simply breathing.
The remedy Rx: If you have a cold or flu, keep your distance. The CDC says that coughing, sneezing or talking can spread the virus up to six feet.
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Second hand cigarette smoke is not only a threat indoors. Stanford University researchers have found that a non-smoker who sits a few meters from the wind of a smoky cigarette is exposed to a significant amount of contaminated air. "We were surprised to discover that staying close to an outdoor smoker can lead to air pollution that is on average comparable to indoor values measured in previous studies on homes and taverns," said Wayne Ott , a Stanford engineering professor and co-author of the study. "If you sit in a sidewalk café and move within 18" of a person who smokes two cigarettes in an hour, your exposure to secondhand smoke may be the same as sitting in a tavern with smokers for an hour. "
The remedy Rx: Their exposure to the toxins in the smoke decreases with increasing distance. The Stanford researchers suggest moving six feet away.
It's true: your cellphone may contain more bacteria than a toilet seat. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, has tested phones containing 100,000 bacteria. They are always with us – and often near our faces – and thus an important means of spreading germs. "Viruses are a bit more mobile today than ever because you have cell phones," said Gerba.
The remedy Rx: Disinfect your phone once a month with a solution of 60% water and 40% alcohol. Apply with a microfiber cloth or cotton pad. Do not spray anything directly on the phone. You could damage it.
If you do not wash your hands after using a public toilet, you're not alone. A CDC study found that only 31% of men and 65% of women wash their hands after using a public restroom. This means that many bacteria commonly found in toilets – including E. coli, strep, salmonella, and other fecal bacteria – go out the door handle into the world.
The remedy Rx: Always wash your hands with soap and water. Keep reading to see how long.
Even if you remember to wash your hands, you may not wash them long enough to remove bacteria properly. A recent USDA study found that 97 percent of us do not wash their hands properly and the most common mistake is not to wash them long enough.
The remedy Rx: The USDA recommends washing your hands with soap for 20 seconds – approximately until "Happy Birthday" was sung twice – and drying thoroughly.
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We have something to tell you – sit down? Then you might want to get up. A meta-analysis of 13 studies found that people who sat without physical activity for more than eight hours a day had a similar risk of dying as people who were obesity and smoking.
The remedy Rx: Get up and move throughout the day. Take a break from sitting every 30 minutes, stand as far as possible and walk around frequently. And exercise regularly: The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate physical activity (such as brisk walking) or 75 minutes of intense physical activity per week.
Retiring for lunch is a great antidote to a busy office, but flying alone with all your meals may not be the best for your health. We tend to eat less healthy when we are alone than when someone else is involved. Some studies have even found a connection between lonely nutrition and health problems such as depression, heart disease and obesity.
The remedy Rx: Researchers believe that loneliness increases chronic stress, a risk factor for a range of health problems. So you never become too lonely – schedule regular visits with friends or family.
If you spend all your time in public, it can make you pasty. And that is more than a cosmetic problem. Never spending time in sunlight means you are getting yourself vitamin D, a health engine that is produced by our skin in response to the sun's rays.
The remedy Rx: Go for 15 minutes of sun a day. "15 minutes of sunlight can naturally increase the vitamin D level, improving bone health and immune function, and keeping the rhythm of the day in sync," says Dr. John M. Martinez, family doctor in La Mesa, California.
If you spend a large part of your time at a desk, you may be bending over a keyboard. This can be detrimental to your health. A bad posture can cause muscle aches and headaches. One study found that good posture can even relieve depression.
The remedy Rx: Get in line.
Some of the most overlooked pathogens found in our offices are the keyboard, telephone and desk. Common sense: Our hands (or mouth) are on or near them all day. If you do not disinfect them – especially if you are sick – you can pass germs to anyone who shares the room with you.
The remedy Rx: Always disinfect your work area if you do not feel well, especially in rooms where you work. Wipe the desk, the phone, the keyboard and the door handles with an antibacterial cloth or spray.
If you need to cough or sneeze, do not let it fly. The CDC says that a simple cough or sneeze can spread flu germs up to six feet. MIT scientists call it a "paint-like pattern of fluid fragmentation." It is not so pretty.
The remedy Rx: Do not use your hand. Cover mouth and nose with your upper arm or the inside of your elbow.
For many of us, it is an attitude to life to fool and persevere. But if you are ill, it should not be so – for yourself and for the health of your employees. According to a survey by NPR and Harvards T.H. In the Chan School of Public Health, 55 percent of Americans say they regularly go to the office when they're sick.
The remedy Rx: If you are contagious, stay home. Your colleagues will thank you.
"Over 50 percent of shopping carts in your grocery store contain disease-causing bacteria like E. coli that can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, fatigue, and fever," says Mitra Shir, MSc, RHN, a registered holistic nutritionist from Vancouver. "The germs – from other buyers who already have bacteria or have touched contaminated products – can live on the surface for hours."
The remedy Rx: Many grocery stores have antibacterial wipes that you can use to wipe the handles. They are also sold in portable packages that you can take with you. Wipe off the handle and let it dry for 20 seconds before touching it.
Family size lasagna is not the only threat lurking in the freezer. Door handles in the freezer are full of bacteria. One study found that certain handles contained 33,340 bacterial colonies per square inch – more than 1,235 times the bacteria found on an average cell phone.
The remedy Rx: If you come to the supermarket, bring a hand sanitizer.
Michigan State University researchers randomly tested a number of supermarket cashier conveyor belts for bacteria. They found it 100 percent. The bands are made of PVC, a porous plastic that is a breeding ground for germs, yeasts and molds.
The remedy Rx: Put all your products in plastic bags. When you get home, wash everything thoroughly, what you have bought and what touches your lips.
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We all work for the weekend and a night out is a great way to relax and connect with friends and family. Research shows that socializing can improve your health and prolong your life – unless you include too much alcohol in the equation. The reality is that many Americans drink more than they believe, which increases their risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
The remedy Rx: Experts recommend moderate drinking – ie no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men younger than 65 years. After the age of 65, men should vote back for one drink per day.
If you go public in case of illness, avoid physical contact with others. It is a courtesy that is unfortunately not too common.
The remedy Rx: If you meet a friend, tell him what's going on and that you should really skip the handshake or the hug. You will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Your cellphone has 10 times the bacteria of a toilet seat. What has 100? A typical restaurant menu. Arizona University researchers found an average of 185,000 bacteria on menus in a random selection of restaurants in three states. It makes sense: every menu could be handled by dozens of people every day, and a study in the Journal of Medical Virology found that cold and flu viruses can survive on hard surfaces for 18 hours.
The remedy Rx: Never let a menu touch your plate or cutlery. It is also a good idea to wash your hands after ordering or to use hand sanitizer.
If you travel by bus or subway, the likelihood of getting sick is six times higher than walking or driving – simply because you see many more people and their germs.
The remedy Rx: Use a hand sanitizer or wash your hands (soap for at least 20 seconds) after using public transport.
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According to Gerba, about one-third of women's purses are contaminated with fecal matter – most likely because they have been dumped on public toilet floors.
The Remedy Rx: Do not place your handbag on the floor of the bathroom (or other surfaces). Hang it on a hook or hold it in your hand.
Gerba told The Washington Post that his researchers had tested the germ counts in several offices and found an unlikely hot spot – the break room, especially the coffee pot handle. "We found that viruses spread between people who had never met," he said. "We thought the problem might be the toilet, but it was really the break room." When Gerba and his team used a synthetic germ in a break room, it spread to almost every surface in the office in four hours.
The remedy Rx: Place the hand sanitizer at your desk and use it after each trip to the coffee pot.
Reusable shopping bags are eco-friendly – and somehow dirty. A 2011 University of Arizona study found that 99 percent of the reusable bags they tested contained bacteria. 8 percent carried E. coli, indicating contamination with feces. Only 3 percent of owners of reusable bags said they regularly wash.
The remedy Rx: Disinfect your utility bags weekly with hot water and disinfectant.
For a study in Journal of Environmental HealthThe researchers ordered drinks in 21 different restaurants and found that nearly 70 percent of the glass-cultured lemon wedges contained disease-causing germs – a total of 25 different microorganisms, including E. coli and other fecal bacteria.
The remedy Rx: This is the rare case when we speak out for a reduction in your fruit consumption – do without the lemon twist.
Doorknobs: We have to use them so often that we do not think about how efficiently they spread diseases like colds and flu. And the door to your favorite café could see more microbial traffic than a train station. The 2017 Men's Health test revealed that the second-best finish in New York City was the door handle of a Starbuck – 30 times as much as a subway bar and 25 times more than a doorknob on Grand Central Terminal.
The remedy Rx: Do not lock yourself indoors. Be conscientious in washing your hands or using hand sanitizer before eating or drinking to avoid frequent insects. If you have touched public surfaces such as door handles, try not to touch your face before you can tidy up.
Another benefit of our gradual transition to a cashless society: when Chinese researchers tested 38 ATMs in downtown Taipei, they found that each key contained an average of 1,200 germs, including E. coli, and cold and flu viruses. The Enter key is a particularly popular meeting place for microbes.
The remedy Rx: When you use the ATM, press the buttons with your knuckle or hit a hand sanitizer when you're done.
Germ Guru Gerba and his team tested surfaces in shopping centers for bacteria. "We found food, E. coli, urine, mucus, feces and blood on escalator handrails," he told CBS News. "And where there is mucus, you can also find cold and flu viruses."
The remedy Rx: Avoid touching handrails unless you need to – then wash your hands or use a generous amount of hand sanitizer.
Viruses easily transfer from glass surfaces, such as those found on smartphones, to fingertips Journal of Applied Microbiology found. (Another good reason to regularly disinfect your smartphone.) So, if you're testing touch-screen devices in stores, you should be aware that one study found that four iPads were wiped in two Apple stores, one containing Staphylococcus aureus common cause of staphylococcal infections.
The remedy Rx: If you play with public touch-screen devices or computers, wash your hands or push the hand sanitizer when you're done.
A 2005 study found that 67 to 100 percent of make-up counter testers were contaminated with bacteria such as E. coli, staphylococci and strep. This can cause a number of skin and eye infections. In 2017, a woman sued make-up Sephora claiming to have contracted a mouth sore with a lipstick tester.
The remedy Rx: Avoid public make-up testers. Request a sealed disposable sample. If these are not available and you need to test a new shade, apply it to the back of your hand and then wash it off. And live your healthiest life with these 50 Secrets to Live to 100!