Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

6 Healthy Habits That Can Make You Sick

I dance the Macarena whenever I come across an article that argues against healthy living. I cautioned you against too much positive thinking a few days ago. I laughed while reading research about dark chocolate firing up the happy brain. And I high fived the doctors who warn folks against too much sunscreen–because it blocks the vitamin D that all of us need. I hate that stuff and was looking long and hard for an excuse not to look like a clown this summer. Thank you!



I’ve even performed the opposite of an intervention with one of my friends last week who was foolishly trying to give up alcohol and nicotine at the same time.

“No, no, no,” I told her. “You can’t do both of these together and expect to keep friends. Now I suggest you go pour yourself a glass of Merlot or light up the lung rocket pronto, and do us all a favor.”

Alas, I bring you one more doctor you will like: Dr. Erika Schwartz, Medical Director of Cinergy Health ( She’s here to tell us not to get too carried away with our healthy habits. Thanks, Erika!

As a society, we are constantly striving to lead healthier, happier lives. But with these efforts, we sometimes run the risk of going too far. As a rule of thumb, any extreme is unhealthy, but rarely are we made aware of the “cons” of healthy habits, instead led to think any good thing is better if done as often as possible. Not so fast…


Here are some examples of healthy habits that can backfire when done in excess:

1. Over-Exercising: Your body and mind do not need more than 3-4 days a week of 30-45 minutes of cardio activity. Cardio/aerobic exercises should be done every other day alternating with Yoga, Pilates, walking, and weight training on the off days. Hiking, swimming, tennis, golf, team sports and a simple variation in exercise over the course of the week, month and season is the best way to stay lean, toned and energized.

2. Staying Out of the Sun: Our bodies need Vitamin D to stay strong by making healthy bones and ward off illness by boosting our immune system. The only way to get Vitamin D into our system is via sun exposure. Don’t make yourself overly neurotic about sunscreen. If you are going to the pool or beach or participating in outdoor sports that involve more than 20 minutes of sun exposure, slather on the SPF 30, but if you are simply doing your daily errands outdoors, enjoy the feeling the sun on your skin. The only part of your body that should always be protected is the face.


3. Antibacterial Soaps and Gels: Antibacterial soaps and gels are good to carry in your purse or car but becoming obsessed with the sanitization they promise could weaken your body’s ability to fight off “good bacteria.” Using them is okay, but use regular soap as well.

4. Sleeping: The average person needs 8 full hours of undisturbed sleep at night. If you are regularly getting fewer or more than nine hours sleep, you are not doing yourself much good. Human beings are not built to think, process or function optimally on more or less than 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Not to mention too little or too much sleep is bad for our skin and causes bloating, overeating, confusion and depression.


5. Air Conditioning: While air conditioning feels great on a hot, humid summer day, don’t sit and breathe in cold recycled air all day and night long. The air may contain bacteria and germs and certainly all kinds of particles of dust. Every few hours, turn the air off, open the windows, go for a walk outside and breathe in the fresh air — don’t forget to wash your air conditioning filters with warm water and soap and let them air-dry every month you’re using them. And if you work in an office building where windows never open, bring a sweater to keep your core temperature warm and get out of the office at least for lunch and a mid-afternoon break

6. Organic Food: While organic foods – such as fruits, vegetables and packaged goods – tend to be expensive, the real problem is that unless you eat them directly from the farm, they to can contain pesticides or be processed. Make sure to read the labels of the food you are purchasing carefully even if you are buying them from the health food store. Foods don’t need to be “organic” to be healthy. Stick with labels that have simple and few ingredients, and a low amount of natural sugars (like honey, turbinado sugar, cane sugar), sodium and processed carbohydrates.


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  • Weeble75

    I don’t know where the research on this lies at this stage, but at one time at least there was a concern that the excessive use of antibacterial soaps (and other antibacterial products) could actually make infection problems WORSE by facilitating the development of supergerms (bacteria that are harder to kill because they’ve built up resistance to antibiotics and other antibacterial agents). Plain soap and water will do the job just fine.

  • melzoom

    love this. and get equally as happy about not-so-healthy health tips… like when I found out BMI was completely made up and means nothing in terms of health, and that the best is actually waist to hip ratio.

  • Paulette

    There are HEALTHY CHOCOLATE products avaialbe now that are great tasting and you can indulge in it without guilt because they are full of antioxidants and low glycemic too! Just make sure your chocolate is not heat processed and doesn’t have waxes, fillers or milk in it. So eat up and enjoy!

  • Appalachian Prof

    Oh, just enjoy the darn chocolate, even if it does have waxes, fillers or milk.

  • Catherine

    What a hoot you are, Therese! I avidly read your posts. I don’t know how you do all the reading you do, exercise, follow two kids and a husband. That fact alone keeps me going some days.
    Thanks, darlin’

  • Anne

    That is so funny my husband has placed in every bathroom and everyroom those instant germ things. I have one at my desk but I never use the ones at home. I believe they are great for on the go type of situations when you don’t have soap or water available. But in every room of the house is a little much.LOL

  • Elaine

    For years I’ve thought we’re all overly paranoid about nearly everything. Bacon has nitrites—–OOOOH Scary. Can’t get any REAL sun so let’s block any chance of getting vit. D. Germs!!!!!! OMG !!!!!That doorknob could be carrying the plague !!!!!. I grew up in the 50’s. No one disinfected everything I was exposed to. I lived. No one was afraid to shake hands or even give a kiss to friends as a hello or goodbye. I lived. I truly believe that the stress of today’s “protective” measures is more dangerous than the stuff we’re being protected FROM. Just relax, for heaven’s sake. Use common sense & wash your hands frequently. Enjoy life & stop worrying about every little thing.

  • cassa

    It is not a good idea to use antibacterial soaps or gels at any time. Triclosan and other antibiotic agents in the soaps and gels are actually no better than 15-20 second hand washing with regular soap or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer without any antibiotic agents. Triclosan in soaps and hand sanitizers is usually used in quantities too low to provide any true antibacterial effect and contributes to antibiotic resistance.

  • Leeann

    It has gone to the extreme, healthy living…They make all of so afraid to live no wonder why more and more people are being diagnosed with OCD. LIke that woman said lets all just live. We can take precautions but not to the extreme that today’s society has been brainwashed to do.
    God Bless you Therese and all off your responders
    Keep these coming Lord knows we need to be informed and informed in a way other than the science of it all….

  • regime

    I have gotten sick far less just washing my hands a lot, it’s not obsessive, but I wash frequently and try as much as possible to not touch my eyes, nose or mouth, especially if I’ve been on public transportation or anywhere that people have disgusting hygiene habits. I also cough or sneeze into the inside of my elbow (or even down the inside of my shirt), never on my hands.

  • andymacgrath

    Texas breast reduction
    Pumpkins are growing in very heavily fertilized soil and soil that has had extreme pesticide use. Soil that was used for trees, ie., non-edibles.
    These lovely things are really not safe to eat,,,,and such a shame,,,so many places outside of the USA find wonderful and nutritious ways to prepare pumpkin. Here its either pie or a jack o-lantern.

  • Steve

    I have seen kids become obsessed with antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers. Their parents have made them think they will catch the “plague” if they touch a public door handle. These are also the same kids who are sick all the time. Our parents grew up without all of the instant hand sanitizers and they lived.
    Unless you are playing with a slobbering dog or working in day care full of sick kids, take it easy with the stuff.

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