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The 1 Minute Health Clinic

Good health is something we all desire and do our best to protect, but with busy lives where time is often at a premium, it can be difficult to devote a huge amount of attention to looking after your well being. However, there are some quick and easy ways you can look after different elements of your health. All these habits and tricks take less than a minute to perform, yet can safeguard your health in significant ways. Try to ensure some or all of them are part of your daily routine.
 
1. Brush Your Tongue in Addition to Your Teeth
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We all learn the benefits of brushing our teeth every day to help prevent tooth decay and gum disease, but we may overlook brushing our tongues. The back of your tongue is a breeding ground for germs, and taking just a minute to give it a gentle once over with your toothbrush after you've cleaned your teeth could help remove all sorts of plaque causing nasty and lingering food particles. It will also leave you with much fresher breath.
2. Stretch When You Get Out of Bed
For many of us, stretching is a natural, involuntary reaction on some mornings, but it should be something you add to your daily routine regardless. After hours lying still, you muscles need to start pumping again. It takes no more than 20 seconds to have a good stretch - extend your arms above your head, raise on to your toes and keep your body as straight as you can. You should feel the benefits pretty much straight away.
3. Use an SPF Moisturizer or Apply Sunscreen Every Day
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When it's hot and the sun is beating down, we become immediately conscious of the need to protect our skin from the harmful rays, and often reach for the sunscreen. However, just because it's cloudy does not mean that the sun isn't having an effect on your skin. Studies have shown that people who use SPF 15 sunscreen or a similar strength moisturizer maintain healthier, younger looking skin than those that don't.
4. Leave Your Shoes At the Door
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Many people consider it polite to remove their shoes and leave them in the hallway when they enter a home, but there are plenty of us who traipse around our own house with them on before taking them off later. Try to get into the habit of leaving your shoes by the door. It's a logical tip - your shoes carry bacteria (hence the odor), dirt, lawn chemicals and allergens that you don't want to be spreading around the house.
 
5. Take a Break From Your Screen
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Nothing puts more strain on your vision than staring at a computer screen for much of the day. If you are on your computer for a good number of hours over the course of a day, give your eyes a break by following the '20-20-20' rule. For every 20 minutes you are staring at the screen, turn your head and stare at something 20 feet (6 meters) away for 20 seconds. Your vision is too important to be be messed with - protect your eyes and this technique will help you maintain your concentration levels for longer too.
6. Microwave Your Kitchen Sponge
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If you were asked to name the place in your house that's most likely to be full of germs, you are likely to point to your toilet seat or front door mat. However, research has shown that the kitchen sponge is often the most bacteria-ridden item in your home. It's likely to be used on all sorts of grime and spills, and the chances are that it will also come into contact with raw meat at some point too. You should change the sponge regularly, but in the mean time, zap your sponge in the microwave for 30 seconds every day to kill unwanted germs.
7. Liven Up Your Water
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Many people don't drink the recommended daily amount of water every day because they find a glass of plain old H2O a little boring. It takes less than a minute to grab a piece of fruit or a vegetable and chop off a slice to liven it up. Infuse your water with whatever you like - orange, lemon, cucumber, kiwi, strawberries and peach are all good options and will also help quash your cravings for sugary, fruit drinks. Try to get into the habit of preparing and drinking a glass of infused water every two hours and keep yourself hydrated, while also benefiting from some of the goodness the infusions offer.
8. Manage Your Sneezes
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When you have a cold, chances are that you will carry tissues around with you and sneeze into them. However, the reality is that we all sneeze pretty much every day, regardless of whether we are sick or not. Protect both your own health and the well being of others by sneezing into the bend of your elbow if you don't have a tissue on hand. Importantly, this ensures that you don't use your hands, which are likely to be unclean and spread germs. Even better, carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your bag or pocket at all times and use it after sneezing.
9. Focus on Your Breathing
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Anxiety not only causes great distress at the time, but it also has a negative effect on your overall health. However, focusing on your breathing is a quick and easy way you can alleviate stress and ease your mind. Next time you are feeling anxious, take a minute to breathe slowly and deeply to help dispel the negative emotions, refresh your mind and lower your blood pressure.
10. Drink Your Milk
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If you eat healthy cereals, then you need to be aware that up to 40% of the nutrients contained within them dissolve when you add milk. This means that you have to drink the leftover milk in order to benefit from the complete nutritional boost that the likes of Muesli and grain-based cereals provide.
11. Recite the Alphabet as You Wash Your Hands
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This may sound like common sense, but although one of the earliest lessons we were taught in childhood is to 'always wash your hands', it's easy to slip out of the habit.  Most of us will give them a quick blast under the tap after we use the toilet or handle food, but we should also wash them when we return from any public place or outdoors - especially during flu season, when germs are lurking on door handles and surfaces. You also need to wash them properly - scrubbing them for at least 20 seconds in soap. Reciting the alphabet as you wash them is one way you can make sure you do a sufficient job.
12. Hug a Friend or Family Member
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Hugs are not just ways of showing affection or greeting a loved one, they are also healthy for you. There have been a number of studies that have proven the health benefits of regularly cuddling, and they have been found to be an effective stress reliever and a way to lower blood pressure. It only takes a few seconds, and you will be sharing the health benefits with the other person too (although in most situations, it's probably best not to hug complete strangers!)
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