America's Worst Health Habits -- Is Yours Among Them?

Plus tips on how to quit them for good this year (10 Photos)

Brenda Kearns on Jan 21, 2011 at 11:24PM

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America's Worst Health Habits -- Is Yours Among Them?

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We Complain Too Much

While grumbling hardly seems like a health-sapper, discontentment can up your risk of serious health conditions like cancer and heart disease so dramatically that it can knock 12 years off your life, say researchers at State University of New York Upstate Medical Center. Turns out, complaining dials up production of cortisol, a stress hormone that speeds aging in every organ in the body.

Fix: Start appreciating the little things. “Paying attention to small treats like the smell of brewed coffee, or the feel of fresh sheets provides more long-lasting contentment, and a more significant health-boost, than major coups like buying a car or going on a cruise,” says Kathleen Hall, Ph.D., director of The Stress Institute in Atlanta. Why? Smaller pleasures crop up more frequently than larger perks, she says. “Every day, you can find dozens of small things to feel good about; however, if you keep waiting for something major, like a lottery win or a better job, you’ll only feel happy and content a couple of times a year.”

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