6 Healthy Habits That Can Make You Sick

By Therese J. Borchard, DivineCaroline

I dance the Macarena whenever I come across an article that argues against extreme healthy living. I laughed while reading research about dark chocolate firing up the happy brain. And I high-fived the doctors who warn folks against too much sunscreen–because it blocks the vitamin D that all of us need. I hate that stuff and was looking long and hard for an excuse not to look like a clown this summer. Thank you! I’ve even performed the opposite of an intervention with one of my friends last week who was trying to give up alcohol and nicotine at the same time.

And now, I bring you one more doctor you will like: Dr. Erika Schwartz, Medical Director of Cinergy Health. She’s here to tell us not to get too carried away with our healthy habits. Thanks, Erika!

As a society, we are constantly striving to lead healthier, happier lives. But with these efforts, we sometimes run the risk of going too far. As a rule of thumb, any extreme is unhealthy, but rarely are we made aware of the “cons” of healthy habits, instead led to think any good thing is better if done as often as possible. Not so fast …

Here are some examples of healthy habits that can backfire when done in excess:

1. Over-Exercising
Your body and mind do not need more than three to four days a week of 30 to 45 minutes of cardio activity. Cardio/aerobic exercises should be done every other day alternating with Yoga, Pilates, walking, and weight training on the off days. Hiking, swimming, tennis, golf, team sports and a simple variation in exercise over the course of the week, month and season is the best way to stay lean, toned and energized.

Related: Improve Mood and Self-Esteem with Green Exercise

2. Staying Out of the Sun
Our bodies need Vitamin D to stay strong by making healthy bones and ward off illness by boosting our immune system. The only way to get Vitamin D into our system is via sun exposure. Don’t make yourself overly neurotic about sunscreen. If you are going to the pool or beach or participating in outdoor sports that involve more than 20 minutes of sun exposure, slather on the SPF 30, but if you are simply doing your daily errands outdoors, enjoy the feeling the sun on your skin. The only part of your body that should always be protected is the face.

Related: You Need Sun! 10 Healthy Tips to Get It

3. Using Antibacterial Soaps and Gels
Antibacterial soaps and gels are good to carry in your purse or car but becoming obsessed with the sanitization they promise could weaken your body’s ability to fight off “good bacteria.” Washing your hands with warm water and soap for twenty seconds will do the trick.

Related: Healthy Immune Systems Through Dirt

4. Sleeping
The average person needs eight full hours of undisturbed sleep at night. If you are regularly getting fewer or more than nine hours sleep, you are not doing yourself much good. Human beings are not built to think, process, or function optimally on more or less than seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Not to mention too little or too much sleep is bad for our skin and causes bloating, overeating, confusion and depression.

Related: Top 10 Sleep Mistakes and Their Solutions

5. Relying on Air Conditioning
While air conditioning feels great on a hot, humid summer day, don’t sit and breathe in cold recycled air all day and night long. The air may contain bacteria and germs and certainly all kinds of particles of dust. Every few hours, turn the air off, open the windows, go for a walk outside and breathe in the fresh air–don’t forget to wash your air conditioning filters with warm water and soap and let them air-dry every month you’re using them. And if you work in an office building where windows never open, bring a sweater to keep your core temperature warm and get out of the office at least for lunch and a mid-afternoon break.

Related: 14 Ways to Keep Cool Without Air Conditioning

6. Eating Organic Food
While organic foods–such as fruits, vegetables, and packaged goods–tend to be expensive, the real problem is that they can still be heavily processed. Make sure to read the labels of the food you are purchasing carefully even if you are buying them from the health food store. Foods don’t need to be “organic” to be healthy. Stick with labels that have simple and few ingredients, and a low amount of natural sugars (like honey, turbinado sugar, cane sugar), sodium and processed carbohydrates.

More Related:
6 “Healthy” Eating Choices to Rethink
8 Common Myths About Dehydration
Everything You Know About Beating Stress is Wrong


Kamia T.
Kamia T3 years ago

I know that advertising supports Care2, so understand this being on two pages, maybe, but 6? Most of the discussion is basically saying don't become OCD about anything, which is true. Every good can become an inherent evil if pushed too far.

Fi T.
Past Member 3 years ago

Know when to stop

Charli S.
Charlotte S4 years ago

Every person needs to figure out how much sleep they need. I only need 4-6 hours. 7 and I'm sluggish all day. I can function on 2 but feel better if I have 4. But everyone is different. They way you figure out how much sleep you have is to take a week and don't have a use your alarm. See how your body feels when you wake up. Are you sleepy during the day? Don't count the 1st few days. It takes that long for your body to figure out there is no alarm. go to be when you feel sleepy and only when you feel sleepy. Get up when you wake up and are alert (this doesn't count bathroom trips). Don't let the medical establishment or anyone else tell you how much sleep you need. Only you know. and it can vary if you're ill, stressed, etc. .

Anne Mueller
Anne M6 years ago

Interesting article.

Tamara Austin
Tamara A6 years ago

Oh nooo... Must stop it all!

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener7 years ago


Allison Killion
Allison Killion7 years ago


Jeanne B.
Jeanne B7 years ago

I can't think of a reason justifying putting air-conditioning in the category of healthy things in the first place?

Loo Samantha
Loo sam7 years ago


Charles Webb
Charles Webb7 years ago

That bit about antibacterial hand cleaners is just plain not true!