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Health Tips Can sitting really age you 8 years? And more scary health headlines, debunked

Here's the truth about the scariest health headlines and what you really should be worried about.

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(Photograph by Getty Images)

It's easy to freak out when you see a tweet touting the lastest scary health headline in 140 characters or less. But one study often doesn't give you the whole story.

We did a deep-dive analysis of some of the latest buzzy research to find out if you should really be worried—and if there's anything you can do.

The headline: One in three Americans don't get enough sleep.

THE WHOLE STORY: The quality of your slumber is equally as important as the number of hours you log. And actually, interrupted sleep can rob you of more of the restorative, deep rest you need for good health than clocking too few Zs would.

YOUR MOVE: If you wake more than once a night, curb your intake of fluids two hours before bed—up to 44 percent of women have to pee at least one time during the night. Coupled up? Tell your partner about the best part of your day, and have him share his, then celebrate each other's news (no matter how small). Research shows this little exchange can help you sleep better, because you go to bed feeling supported.

The headline: Mindfulness meditation lowers stress better than stress-management techniques.

THE WHOLE STORY: Meditation's mind-body benefits are legit, but if the thought of doing nothing for 20 minutes stresses you out, you won't feel less frazzled.

YOUR MOVE: Shift gears to find your own route to mindfulness. Aim for 20 to 30 minutes of any task that takes you out of your head and into the present moment and brings you joy. Be it walking your dog, running, or gardening, the net happifying effects are the same.

The headline: More than 50 percent of the population has halitosis.

THE WHOLE STORY: Common doesn't mean okay. If you haven't just downed garlic and onions, and you've been brushing regularly (two minutes, twice a day) plus flossing (at least once daily), stinky breath can signal a health issue like gingivitis, acid reflux, sinus disease, or food allergies.

YOUR MOVE: See your M.D., who can help ID the root cause and refer you to the appropriate specialist. (Not sure if your breath is offensive? Lick your wrist, let it dry for a few seconds, and take a whiff.)

The headline: Sitting can biologically age you by eight years.

THE WHOLE STORY: Stagnancy, not just being planted on your butt, is the real problem—and that can happen when you're upright too.

YOUR MOVE: Go ahead, use that standing desk, but still make sure to move around a few minutes every hour throughout the day. Take calls while walking the halls, set an alarm to stretch hourly, or circle the block a few times during your lunch break.

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