With regular studies published on health and fitness, it can be difficult to keep up with all of the information out there. Some of the findings repeat health advice that’s been around for years, but others are a little more shocking. Take a look at these 10 health facts that might surprise you.
1. Drinking coffee can prevent depression
We hear a lot about the negative effects of caffeine on our health, but it turns out that caffeine has its good points too. Research from 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. Earlier research also found that females who drank two or more cups per day were less likely to commit suicide.
2. Chewing gum makes you more alert
If your suffering from a mid-afternoon slump or can’t seem to concentrate in the morning, then try chewing some gum to make you feel awake. Coventry University researchers found that chewing mint flavoured gum dramatically reduced feelings of tiredness. Another study on the subject found that chewing gum can improve overall test scores and memory by 35 per cent, relieve stress and reduce anxiety levels.
3. Sitting at a desk can increase death risk by almost 50 percent.
Office workers beware, as research from the University of Sydney found that office workers who sit for longer than 10 hours a day at their desk had a 48 per cent increase in risk of death, in comparison to people who sat for less than four hours a day. To counteract this health risk, try to introduce five minutes of activity every hour and make sure you take regular breaks away from your workstation. Simple changes like taking the stairs instead of the lift will also make a positive difference to your health.
4. ATM machines and public toilets are equally dirty
Withdrawing money from a cash machine is something may of us do regularly, but how many of us give our hands a wash after using them? Cleanliness tests carried out in Britain found that ATM machines were as dirty as the toilets. Specialists investigated swabs taken from the cash machine keyboards and from public toilets nearby and found both samples had the same bacteria known to lead to sickness.
5. If you’re an optimist, it could help you live longer
According to a study from Duke University Medical Center, heart patients who were more optimistic about their treatment, actually lived longer than those who were more pessimistic in their mindsets. Also, 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
An apple a day can do more than just keep the doctor away, it can also help with claustrophobia. Apparently smelling a green apple will relieve the stress associated with confined spaces, according to research from the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation. Sniffing a green apple can also prevent headaches and migraines and 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. A study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that levels of fatigue and depression improved after a 30-minute session of moderate intensity exercise. This is because 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
Many people fall into the trap of thinking that they can achieve a flat stomach by doing crunches. But the truth is, endless amounts of crunches won’t give you the stomach of your dreams – as the 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.
9. Handwriting things can help your memory
Research from Indiana University found that in order to remember something, you should handwrite notes, rather than type them. Writing is thought to boost your memory as note taking by hand requires different cognitive processes than typing. For example, if in a lecture you are writing notes, you have to listen carefully to what the speaker has said as it is impossible to write down every word. Therefore through this process, you are listening, digesting and summarising the information more effectively than someone who is just typing words into a laptop.
10. To cool down, drink something hot
It might sound counterproductive, but if you want to cool down, then drink something hot. According to a study from the University of Ottawa’s school of Human Kinetics, as the drink is hotter than your body temperature, it triggers a sweat response in the body that more than compensates for the increase. So although it might initially make you feel hotter, a hot drink will cause you to sweat more and therefore the body effectively cools itself quicker.