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10 Surprising Health Facts

There are many studies published on health and fitness. It’s hard to keep up with the mass of information out there. Some findings repeat the advice we’ve heard over and over again however there are some which are more shocking. Here are 10 surprising health facts.

1. Drinking coffee can prevent depression

Aside from the many negative effects of caffeine on our health, caffeine has its positive points too. A study done at the Harvard School of Public Health found that women who drank a minimum of four cups of coffee per day could lower their risk of depression by 20 per cent. Suicide rates in women who drank at least 2 cups of coffee per day were lower also.

2. Chewing gum makes you more alert

Do you suffer from a mid-afternoon slump? Can’t seem to concentrate in the morning? Try chewing gum to make you feel more alert. Research done at the Coventry University found that chewing mint flavoured gum dramatically reduced feelings of tiredness. A similar study has shown that chewing gum can improve memory by 35 per cent and increase overall test scores, relieve stress and anxiety.

3. Sitting at a desk can increase death risk by almost 50 per cent

Office workers beware. Research from the University of Sydney found that people who sit at a desk for longer than 10 hours a day had a 48 per cent increase in risk of death. This was compared to people who sat for less than 4 hours a day. Daily activity is very important to counteract this health risk. Stand up from your desk and introduce 5 minutes of activity every hour and take regular breaks away from your workstation. Additional changes like taking the stairs will positively influence your body.

4. ATM machines are just as dirty as public toilets

It’s not something most of us would consider however cleanliness tests carried out in Britain found that ATM machines were as dirty as the toilets. Most of us don’t consider washing our hands after withdrawing cash but we probably should. Tests done on keyboards found the same bacteria as toilets and ATM’s which can lead to illness.

5. If you’re an optimist, it could help you live longer

Duke University Medical Center did a study on heart patients who were more optimistic vs. those who were less optimistic about their treatment. The optimistic patients actually lived longer than those who were more pessimistic in their mindsets. According to findings of a study published in the European Heart Journal, people who are optimistic have less chance of suffering from heart disease.

6. Smell an apple to prevent claustrophobia

We’ve been told that an apple a day can keep the doctor away. However, it can also help with claustrophobia. Smelling a green apple will relieve the stress associated with confined spaces, according to research from the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation. Headaches and migraines can also be prevented by sniffing a green apple. Some homeowners even use the scent to make their houses seem bigger to potential buyers.

7. If you’re tired… exercise

After a long day at work, going to the gym is probably the last thing on your list of priorities but research has found that exercising actually gives you more energy. Levels of fatigue and depression improved after a 30-minute session of moderate intensity exercise according to a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Exercise improves your cardiovascular health which means that more blood and oxygen flow around the body, therefore giving you more energy.

8. Sit-ups won’t give you a flat stomach

Stomach crunches don’t flatten the stomach. This type of exercise only works your abs, not your core muscles. One study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found carrying out six weeks of abdominal exercises alone was not enough to reduce abdominal fat. Cardio workouts and a healthy diet are what will help reduce the waistline.

9. Handwriting things can help your memory

The Indiana University found that in order to remember something, you should write it down – by hand. Writing boosts the memory and note taking by hand requires different cognitive processes than typing. For example, if you are writing notes in a class, you must listen carefully to what the speaker has said as it is impossible to write down every word. Through this process, you are using many cognitive skills such as listening, digesting and summarising information. It’s much more effective than someone who is just typing words into a laptop.

10. To cool down, drink something hot

This may sound counterproductive. According to a study from the University of Ottawa’s school of Human Kinetics, when a drink is hotter than your body temperature, it triggers a sweat response in the body that more than compensates for the increase. Initially a hot drink may make you feel hotter, but effectively cools itself quicker because it will cause you to sweat more.

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