Little changes that make a big health difference - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Little changes that make a big health difference

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Small steps, big benefits. There are six simple things you can do to improve your health.

1. The first thing you can do to improve your health is make a simple adjustment the next time you're in your car. Tilt your rear view mirror up just a tad. It will force you to have better posture. Doctors say sitting creates pressure on the vertebrae, but sitting straight can help decrease any pain you might have in your back and neck.

2. Second, don't cross your legs. According to a recent article in AARP magazine, crossing your legs is bad for blood pressure.

3. The third small change you can make is at your computer. AARP says make sure you are sitting an arm's length away. You can test this by seeing if you can high-five your computer screen. Experts also say staring at your screen for two hours straight can really strain your eyes, so watch the clock and take short breaks every couple of hours.

4. If taking that break includes a trip to the bathroom, use the very first bathroom stall. Apparently most people want privacy, so they walk in as far as possible. That means the first stall is used the least, and has the least bacteria. The author of "The Germ Freak's Guide to Outwitting Colds and Flu" also suggests you keep your bags and purses off the floor. Toilets can send tiny pieces of fecal matter 20 feet into the air, so the floor has more fecal bacteria than anywhere else in the restroom. And don't forget to wash your hands on the way out.

5. A good belly laugh is good for your heart. The AARP cites researchers who say blood vessels dilate when we laugh, which gets your blood flowing and improves your cardiovascular health. In a University of Maryland study, volunteers who were shown a funny movie had increased blood flow of 22 percent while laughing.

6. Finally, pitch your pillow every 18 months. The AARP says a pillow older than that is a breeding ground for fungi, dead skin, dust mites and drool, and can aggravate allergies, asthma and respiratory disease. To see if your pillow is too old, fold it in half and squeeze out the air. If the pillow doesn't pop back open, you'll want to get a new one. If that's not enough to convince you, scientists say one-third of the weight of pillows older than two years is made of dead skin, bugs, dust mites and their fecal matter.

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