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The Good News About Bad Habits

Just when you were trying to tame your vices, maybe you don't need to after all

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    Look at Bad Habits' Bright Side

    En español l We’ve all got bad habits. Here are six ways to make the best of your worst quirks, from binge-watching your favorite TV show to sharing gossip.

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    Skipping Breakfast

    Why it’s not so bad: Breakfast is vital — if you’re a kid or a farmer. If you’ve never been a breakfast eater, though, don’t worry about it. Two new studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition find that missing the morning meal has no effect on weight, cholesterol or resting metabolism.

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    Binge-Watching TV

    Why it’s not so bad: Taking time to see what Frank and Claire Underwood are up to is not only OK; it can stimulate the brain as you keep up with the complex plot, notes pop culture expert Steven Johnson, author of Everything Bad Is Good for You.

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    Blowing Your Stack

    Why it’s not so bad: “Suppressing anger isn’t healthy,” says Sandra Thomas, a professor at the University of Tennessee. A study she coauthored showed that older women who expressed their anger instead had lower levels of the inflammatory markers that are linked to cardiovascular disease.

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    Being Messy

    Why it’s not so bad: Household cleaners don’t kill all the germs in the house anyway, and those sponges and cloths can actually spread germs around your home, says Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at Arizona State University. That’s not a license to live like a pig, but there’s no need to obsess over every dust bunny.

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    Why it’s not so bad: Sharing harmless gossip with friends or coworkers can build social bonds and boost some positive behaviors, according to a recent University of Michigan study. Just don’t dump on your friends, or you might find yourself a social outcast — not a healthy alternative.

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    Why it’s not so bad: Older adults who take a daily 30-minute siesta get a much-needed midday pick-me-up without a trip to Starbucks, say experts at the National Sleep Foundation. Just don’t sleep more than an hour, as that’s linked to poorer health.

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