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Four bad habits, all good for you

  • Washington Post
  • July 20, 2013 - 2:40 PM

Four bad habits that are good for you

Some “vices” you’ve assumed were naughty or simply unproductive can offer pretty nice health perks — as long as you don’t overdo it.

Chewing gum. It boosts thinking and alertness in part by increasing blood flow to the brain, a new study has found. Previous research found that people who chewed sugarless gum before eating had fewer sweet cravings and ate 36 fewer calories.

Living like a slob. Not being a neat freak may ease allergies and help you breathe easier. A study found that dust mites — which can cause hay-fever-like symptoms and even trigger asthma attacks in people — were less able to survive in messy, unmade beds because conditions were too warm and dry for them.

Having dessert with breakfast. Having a small treat, such as a cookie, along with a high-protein, high-carb breakfast (think eggs and whole wheat toast) helped participants stick to their diets better and lose more weight than a low-carb, low-calorie breakfast did, a recent study found. The reason: Carbs and protein help to keep you full, while a shot of sweet may quell later cravings for treats.

Facebook. You may think of Facebook as a total time suck, but taking a little brain break from a project to browse your friends’ status updates or vacation photos can make you feel better, a recent study found.

McClatchy News Service

Anxious? There’s an app for that

Anxiety disorders can be debilitating. For people who don’t seek professional help, a new iPhone app offers guidance in the palm of their hands.

AnxietyCoach ($4.99), developed by two clinical psychologists and the Mayo Clinic, lets people track their worries; based on a user’s responses, it suggests therapeutic exercises.

Users begin by taking a short test to measure the severity of the anxiety. The app then creates a plan to deal with the problem. Users select situations — such as talking to authority figures, being observed while eating and using public restrooms — that make them anxious. Each situation is linked to a to-do list, exercises that the app’s creators say challenge people to face their fears.

For example, if someone has a fear of speaking in public, the app would suggest “Give a compliment to a stranger” or “Approach and join an ongoing conversation.” An exercise such as “Purposely mispronounce a word during a conversation” might seem counterintuitive, but it can show people with anxiety about speaking that they can recover from minor verbal stumbles.

Washington Post

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