Did You Know | Health

10 Bad Habits That Are Actually Good For Your Health

Bailey Weaver - Flickr / Shared

Health magazines love to flip flop from one healthy fad to the next.

One week everyone is eating granola for breakfast, the next we're all drinking super fruit smoothies. It can get totally confusing.

Well here's a bit of good news: most of the bad habits you're already doing are probably pretty good for your health.

Despite what your parents probably told you, feel free to do these 10 things without guilt:

1. Fidgeting

Constantly tapping your foot, wiggling a pen back and forth, or drumming your fingers on your desk are sure ways to annoy your coworkers.

But any good doctor will tell you to keep up your fidgeting.

See, fidgeting is one of the many non-exercise ways we burn calories during an average day.

Like walking around your home or working in the garden, these low-intensity habits promote weight loss by encouraging our metabolism to use up stored fat.

On average, fidgeting can burn more than 300 calories a day, so tell your coworkers you're just getting your daily deskercise in.

2. Swearing

Is it polite to do in mixed company? Certainly not.

But no one can deny that letting out a long, loud swear does wonders to relieve stress.

A number of studies have proven that letting out a string of curses will help you relax and increase your pain tolerance. That's why it feels so good to swear after you stub your toe.

While some experts think old, evolutionary habits help explain the connection between swearing and stress relief, Americans don't need to be convinced.

In one survey, 63% of people admitted they swear to relieve stress.

3. Chewing Gum

Loud chewing, lip smacking, popping bubbles. Chewing gum and the annoying noises it causes just rub some people the wrong way.

But there's a healthy side effect to all that popping and smacking most people don't think about.

Popping a piece of gum before a touch challenge seems to help your brain work more effectively.

All that opening and closing your mouth draws in more oxygen, which naturally improves brain function. In one study, it amounted to a 10% faster response time.

In summary: chewing gum is not dumb.

4. Burping And Farting

Speaking of bad table manners, only a handful of adults think that passing wind in public is anything but nasty.

But let's all remember that passing gas is totally natural, and it keeps our body working well.

Stifling a burp puts pressure on your digestive system, and when it gets too strong you'll trigger a nasty case of heartburn.

On the flip side, a held-in fart will bloat your stomach, causing nasty pain and discomfort.

What's the solution? Let'er rip and then say sorry, because gas is better out than in.

5. Complaining

You might see someone who constantly complains as a whiny Debbie Downer, but odds are they're happier than you. Really, it's just science.

Author Tina Gilbertson has written about constructive wallowing, or when a pair of friends talk openly about their problems and offer each other solutions.

Even without a friendly ear to listen to your kvetching, being open and honest about your troubles is a healthy habit.

Gilbertson reports that people who are realistic about their life - instead of overly optimistic or pessimistic - tend to be the happiest overall.

6. Drinking Too Much Coffee

Let's get this out of the way right off the bat, does drinking coffee cause cancer? No, in fact a steady coffee habit probably lowers your overall cancer risk.

We also know that a daily cup of joe will help you burn fat, lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and drastically reduces your chances of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Bear in mind that the sugary, dairy-filled coffee drinks most people choose are not healthy at all.

And avoid dosing yourself with caffeine close to bedtime - a regular sleep schedule offers more health benefits than caffeine.

7. Biting Your Nails

Parents come up with all kinds of zany ways to break this habit when they notice their children snacking on their nails.

But there may be more benefits to nail biting than drawbacks.

It's true that nail biters sometimes get sick from putting their germy fingers in their mouths. But they also seem to build up stronger immune systems through regular exposure to germs.

A study published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry also suggests that perfectionists are more likely to bite their nails.

So feel free to keep biting your nails - as long as you keep your hands clean.

8. Picking Your Nose

Nose picking

There's just one drawback to this healthy "bad habit": you have to eat the boogers once you pick them.

It turns out our snot is full of salivary mucins, a substance that helps prevent cavities.

Doctors believe that booger eaters also get added protection from infections, stomach ulcers, and other conditions.

Don't believe me? Take lung specialist Friedrich Bischinger's word for it:

"[Eating] the dry remains of what you pull out is a great way of strengthening the body's immune system. Medically it makes great sense and is a perfectly natural thing to do."

9. Skipping A Shower

Look, some days you wake up late and need to get out the door in a flash, regardless of how bad you smell.

But unless you're breaking a sweat at the gym or working hard outdoors, it's not so bad to skip your daily shower once in a while.

Unless you get dirty every day, you're just washing off your body's naturally occurring oils and healthy bacteria.

This leaves your skin dryer, redder, and itchier, and the extra washing does just as much damage to your hair.

In a pinch, wiping down your smelliest areas with a washcloth is a good substitute for a full-on shower.

10. Keeping A Messy House

Are you a disorganized mess? No! You're just artistic.

A study published in Psychological Science found that working in a messy room gives a serious boost to your creativity.

While an orderly environment seems to promote healthy choices, generosity, and following routines, people in messy rooms scored 28% higher on a creativity test.

So no, I'm not lazy. I'm just encouraging my family to think outside the box.

How many of these "bad" habits are you guilty of?

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories. CONTACT: zachary@shared.com