Doctors Reveal 15 Things You Should Never Do If You Want to Live a Long Life
The older you get, the more you find yourself worrying. Are you going to die soon? Is that cough something serious? Are you more tired than you should be? You’re doing your best to stay healthy, but you might have a handful of habits that are ruining your chances of disease-free aging. Wondering how to live a long life and still be happy?
Here are the things doctors say you should never do — and what to do instead.
1. Drinking fewer than 2 liters of water every day
Drinking when you’re thirsty to stay hydrated is much easier said than done. That’s why health experts recommend drinking 2 liters (about 64 ounces, or 8 cups) of water on average, even though you get some water from other drinks and many of the foods you eat.
Dehydration can have serious consequences, especially in older adults. It’s best to be safe.
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2. Staying out of the sun (or staying in it too long)
This is one of those frustrating and confusing suggestions too many people get wrong. While getting too much sun increases your risk of cancer, not getting enough is also bad for your health. To boost your vitamin D intake, you should spend about 10 to 15 minutes in the sun daily, without sunscreen.
Make sure that if you’re in the sun any longer than that, you wear sunscreen to protect your skin.
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3. Having a bad attitude about getting older
Some research suggests that having a negative outlook on aging can increase your risk of dementia and other serious health issues. If you can focus on the positives when thinking about getting older, you’re much more likely to live a long, healthy, and happy life.
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4. Constantly thinking about dying
Worrying about death might actually make you die sooner. Constant stress elevates your disease risk and increases your chances of getting sick — but it doesn’t have to be that way. Talking with someone about your anxieties can actually help.
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5. Declining invitations from your friends
Maintaining an active social life is extremely important if you want to stay alive. Seniors are more likely to isolate themselves from family and friends, and this can cause issues like depression and early death. If your friends invite you out, go. If they don’t, invite them first.
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6. Sleeping less than 6 hours every night
Health experts recommend that people over 65 should try to get between seven and eight hours of sleep every night. Obviously this number will fluctuate depending on a number of factors, but if you consistently sleep less than six hours, you’re putting yourself at risk for a handful of unwanted health issues.
Next: “Everything in moderation” applies to this next forbidden habit.
7. Drinking more than 2 glasses of wine a day
A little bit of alcohol is actually good for you. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn against having more than a few drinks per day. Specifically, women should typically limit their intake to a single drink, while men can usually get away with a second.
Your doctor can give more specific recommendations for you personally, depending on your health and age.
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8. Eating too many doughnuts
Did you know that eating too much sugar can actually kill you? The added sugars present in foods like doughnuts, potato chips, and frozen dinners are probably fine to eat in moderate amounts. Eating massive amounts of sugar every day isn’t good for your heart, your brain, or your hopes of living past 100.
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9. Sitting for more than 2 hours at a time
Do you spend extended periods of time sitting? You’re at risk for more serious health problems than just gaining weight. It’s bad for your heart and other muscles, and it’s not hard to reverse this habit. Make it a point to get up and walk around for five or 10 minutes, at least once every hour.
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10. Watching TV for more than 2 hours a day
Can watching TV kill you? Maybe. Maybe not. But related to the health problems associated with sitting, sitting for hours in front of a screen can increase your disease risk. It might help if you do other, mentally or physically stimulating activities with the TV on in the background, like cooking or exercising.
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11. Exercising less than 150 minutes every week
You don’t have to spend hours on your feet day in and day out in order to stay fit. The American Heart Association recommends just 150 minutes of exercise weekly — about 30 minutes of activity, five days each week — to maintain optimal health.
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12. Eating more calories than you burn
Overeating — regardless of the type of food — increases your risk of some of the country’s deadliest diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Even if you exercise regularly and eat mostly healthy foods, eating too much still has the potential to lead to an early death.
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13. Walking past the produce section at the supermarket
Don’t miss out on the many health benefits of produce. Fruits and vegetables contain large amounts of antioxidants and other minerals essential for staying healthy, especially as you get older. Try to have a serving at every meal.
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14. Smoking cigarettes
Cigarettes aren’t just damaging to your lungs. Smoking them regularly also increases your risk of dying from heart disease. Your risk decreases the less you smoke, and even if you’ve been doing it for years, quitting now can still help save your life.
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15. Avoiding fish and other ‘fatty’ foods
People who follow the Mediterranean diet, which includes foods such as fish and nuts, have been shown to live longer and experience lower rates of age-related diseases like dementia. You should monitor your saturated fat intake, but you can be more lenient with your “healthy” fat choices.
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