Lifestyle-induced disorders and diseases are turning out to be the predominant cause of ill health, these days. But leave alone wrong habits that are the result of over indulgence, some of the health mistakes we commit are because of wrong practices — when we do the right thing in the wrong way. Ironically, many health freaks too unwittingly make some of these mistakes, out of ignorance. Hema Vijay lists some of them.

Use of a tooth brush

Some of us use the same tooth brush for months, long after the bristles have lost their shape. It does not really help brush away food particles. And, we assume that vigorous brushing is all that is required for clean and healthy teeth. But actually, there is a specific brushing action to be followed. “Use a soft toothbrush. Any tooth paste will do, but the dab of paste must be about the size of a peanut. Then tap the brush so that the paste gets into the bristles. Now, brushing is to be done up and down, never horizontally across. As for the biting surface, it should be brushed thoroughly, but gently, with flat brush strokes. Clean the tongue too, with a tongue cleaner, which is provided at the far end of some tooth brushes. Discard the brush every three months,” advises Dr. Aswath Narayanan, Professor and Head, Public Health Dentistry, Tamil Nadu Government Dental College and Hospital, Chennai. And don’t forget to brush your teeth at bedtime.

Change is the fitness mantra

If there is a good practice that can have a negative effect or prove infeffective at a later time, it is a fitness routine that is never changed. “Our physical condition keeps changing, depending on our lifestyle, job, age, season, our ailments such as blood pressure, etc. Sticking to a routine which once worked well for you is not a good idea. A fitness programme has to constantly change, not just to keep pace with the condition of one’s body, but also maybe, evolve to the next level,” says K. Geetha, yoga instructor and therapeutic yoga teacher. Besides, following the same fitness routine allows monotony to set in, which makes you less enthusiastic about the workout altogether. And don’t forget to warm up before pursuing a sporting activity or a fitness workout and cool down afterwards.

Posture

Unfortunately, what feels comfortable now can make your body feel bad after a while. For example, sleeping on a soft bed or sinking into a cushioned chair that offers no resistance. A firm mattress is good for your back. And don’t use lumpy pillows. As for the sitting posture, the general idea of comfort and grace is to sit with the legs crossed at the knees. “But this actually impedes blood circulation to the lower legs and feet and could result in varicose veins. The right thing to do is to keep both the legs together on the floor, with one’s weight equally balanced. If you want to shift position, move both your legs,” recommends Dr. S. Ramani, general physician.

The rush-hour traffic

A study by scientists of the University of Southern California found that urban commuters are exposed to 45 per cent of the total air pollution in a day from vehicle emissions, even if they spend just 6 per cent of the day commuting. This makes commuting a big health risk, next only to smoking. Well, such studies are yet to be done in India, but considering our scant adherence to vehicle emission standards, it is best in the interest of our health to avoid the rush-hour traffic. And if you have no other choice but to set out in the rush-hour, drive with your vehicle’s window glasses rolled up.

Sacrificing sleep

Many of us look at sleep as time we can cut short, if we are to finish all our work and keep pace with our daily schedules. But cutting out on sleep (an average adult requires seven to nine hours of sleep; older people may need lesser hours) puts people at risk for developing anxiety, heart disease, hormonal imbalance leading to weight gain, and even diabetes, scientists say. Lack of sleep adversely affects our mental abilities. And then there are road accidents caused by sleepy drivers. So, regularly depriving oneself of the required hours of sleep can make one end up losing more hours of a good and healthy life.