5 'Healthy' Habits that Actually Aren't

You diligently slather on the hand sanitizer, stock your fridge with low-fat foods and nab a couple extra hours of sleep on the weekends. But are these so-called healthy habits really good for you? Not always. We spotted an interesting conversation at Reddit about this and decided to set the record straight on exactly which "healthy" habits you may want to ditch. Hint: If you hate sit-ups as much as we do, you're gonna love this.

Hand sanitizer
We all know that washing our hands is a must before we eat and after a trip to the restroom, but skip the hand sanitizer and lather up with good old-fashioned soap instead. Not only does that antibacterial gel dry out your skin, it's also not as effective as soap and water at protecting against a nasty norovirus (an ugly stomach bug). And diarrhea and vomiting can really put a cramp on those weekend plans.

Contrary to popular boot-camp belief, sit-ups are not the cure-all for muffin tops. In fact, research shows that these dreaded exercises can actually lead to spinal and lower back injuries. Did you know that each sit-up puts 730 pounds of pressure on your spine? Not only that, but sit-ups exert an unnecessary strain on the front abdominal muscles and aggravate the pelvic floor, which can lead to incontinence. Planks, anyone?

MORE: Why Low-Intensity Workouts Are Still Effective

Marketers may be clever at inspiring us to want a squeaky-clean vagina, but don't waste your money. Douching is not only unnecessary (our vagina knows how to clean itself, thank you very much), but doing so can actually mess with the vagina's delicate pH balance and leave your lady parts prone to dangerous bacterial infections.

Fruit juice
That label promising "real fruit juice" packed with extra vitamins may sound healthy, but juice is basically a stripped-down version of its origins. Meaning, the fiber from the skin is removed and you are left with mainly sugar. A typical eight-ounce serving of juice packs in 20 to 30 grams of sugar-the amount you'd find in a regular soda. Sure, it's better to choose fruit juice over soda, but if you really want extra vitamins, grab an apple instead (the fiber it contains slows down sugar absorption) and wash it down with water.

Catching up on sleep
Nabbing some extra shut-eye on the weekend may sound like a good idea, but it can backfire on you. Research shows that sleeping in on the weekend appears to mess with your circadian rhythm (your body's internal clock), causing you to get to bed later come Sunday night and experience daytime sleepiness and fatigue Monday morning. Your best bet? Stick with a consistent bedtime and wake time seven days a week, and be sure you're getting seven to eight hours of slumber each night.

Head to YouBeauty for four more unhealthy habits that seem healthy.

- by Deborah Dunham

Originally published on YouBeauty.com.

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