From "earthing" to sleeping on the floor, these eyebrow-raising behaviors might not be as crazy as you thought.
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Sleeping on the Floor
There’s some good to come from kicking yourself out of bed. “Anatomically, when one lies on their back on a soft surface, they sink in, like a C-shape. Lying on your back on a more firm surface reduces this C-shape and thus the stress on the discs,” says Charles Kim, a pain medicine specialist at NYU Langone Medical Center’s Rusk Rehabilitation. If you've got back pain--and a ridiculously soft mattress in your bedroom--try spending a night on the floor. While you probably don't want to make an every-night habit out of it, if you wake up feeling better, it's a pretty good clue you need to trade in your mattress for a firmer one, says Todd Sinett, D.C., a New York City-based chiropractor and author of 3 Weeks to a Better Back.
Meanwhile, sitting on the floor may be a welcome break from your desk chair. “By sitting in your chair, you are outsourcing muscular work to your furniture and locking your hip flexors and spine into a static position,” says exercise physiologist and licensed massage practitioner Nikki Naab-Levy. “Sitting on the floor allows you to switch between various sitting and kneeling postures.” The result: More movement through the hips and spine so that you don’t stand up feeling so tight.
No shoes, no problem. Walking around your home or yard barefoot may be the best thing that happened to your feet since, well, shoes, says Keith Penera, D.M.P., a podiatrist with HealthCare Partners in California. Walking sans supportive insoles and super-cushioned shoes causes the tiny muscles in your feet and ankles to work overtime, thereby becoming as strong as nature intended and allowing for you to walk with better biomechanics. Plus, if you tend to wear dress shoes more than you wear sneakers, going barefoot can give your back some much-needed relief, Sinett says.For the more hippy-dippy out there, a recent review in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health cites walking outside barefoot, dubbed "earthing" or "grounding," as a potential health-booster, leading to better sleep, reduced pain sensitivity, and better mood. Researchers claim that the Earth's surface is rich in electrons, and that skin-to-electron contact is vital to human health.Is Barefoot Running Really Better? >>>
Talking To Yourself
Sometimes, you just need a pep talk from yourself. In a recent study published in theEuropean Journal of Social Psychology, researchers from the University of Illinois found that cheering yourself on, especially in the second person (think: “You can do it. Just give me one more rep.”), boosts your resolve and chances at success. It’s a handy trick whether you are in the gym, trying to roll out of bed for a 6 a.m. workout, or attempting not to raid the supermarket’s snack aisle.
Meanwhile, talking to yourself can act as a form of meditation, helping to lower your stress, blood pressure, and improve both your mental and physical health, says cardiologist Kevin Campbell, M.D., F.A.C.C. Hey, sometimes you can just talk things through with yourself in a way you can’t with your girlfriend.
Can’t sit still? Good. Fidgeting throughout the day helps to counteract the effects of sitting at a desk all day. For example, in one Mayo Clinic study of both thin and overweight self-described “couch potatoes,” researchers found that those who fidgeted—whether that means tapping your feet, stretching your arms, or making regular stops past the water cooler—burned an extra 350 calories per day.
The food’s all going to mix in your stomach, so what does it matter if you finish off your fries before biting into your burger? It may actually promote more mindful eating habits and slow the speed at which you Hoover everything into your mouth, says Aaron Clark, D.O., a primary care physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. And a 2014 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that eating slowly can reduce how many calories you eat at each meal.
Meanwhile, if you fill up on healthy foods like a salad before moving onto your oversized bowl of pasta, it guarantees you’ll get your veggies and ups your chances of needing a doggie bag.
Granted, that bathroom stall is the first one. The stall closest to the restroom entrance consistently harbors the least amount of bacteria (and the most toilet paper!), according to research from Charles Gerba, Ph.D., a microbiologist at the University of Arizona. Maybe it’s because guys are trying to get more privacy further from the door?
Forget tighty whities. You know you've got to let those boys breathe with some boxers! But it turns out, going commando might be an even better approach. According to research published in the Scottish Medical Journal, wearing kilts “regimental style” (aka without underwear underneath them) keeps the testicles at an ideal temperature for sperm production and quality. Now, pulling on a kilt might be a little extreme, but the less fabric you can keep between your balls and fresh air, the better. Just beware of zippers.