No one knows when their time will come. That being said, there are plenty of things we can do to decrease our odds of facing an early death. Our lifestyle choices have a huge impact on our longevity and overall health.
If you’re making some unhealthy lifestyle choices, it’s never too late to change your habits. Not only will you potentially add years to your life, but you’ll feel (and probably look) much better.
If you try to go from being entirely sedentary and eating junk food into a vegan athlete overnight, you’re only going to set yourself up for failure. Making small, positive changes to your daily routine is the best way to be successful. Big changes often start with small shifts.
So what exactly are these lifestyle choices that are killing you? If you’re guilty of some of these, you should consider changing your ways.
Next: Stand up for change.
Sitting too long
Numerous studies have shown that sitting too long every day can kill you … and it appears that this is true even if you exercise. While you can’t help it if you have a job that requires sitting, there is some positive news: People who sat for less than 30 minutes at a time had the lowest risk of early death. Set a timer and stand up and stretch every 30 minutes to better your odds.
Next: Toss those butts for good.
By now, this one is a no-brainer. Study after study has proven that cigarettes are terrible for you. And if you are a smoker, you probably already have a desire to quit. It’s not easy, but it could literally save your life.
Next: Get this health concern checked regularly.
Allowing your blood pressure to stay high
High blood pressure is a leading cause of death, and unfortunately most people don’t realize they have a problem until they have to go on medication, which can also be deadly. Do your best to prevent high blood pressure by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of rest — but always have it checked by your doctor.
Next: Limit those happy hours.
Although some studies have shown that light drinking (especially red wine) has health benefits, it’s a known fact that heavy drinking kills. Binge drinking increases your cancer risk, damages your liver, and causes your blood pressure to spike.
Next: Meditation and yoga are your friends.
We all feel anxious and stressed now and then, but chronic stress has consequences — and because it can lead to a host of other health problems, it can be fatal. Finding healthy ways to deal with stress can help, and if you can, try to change any situation that causes you extreme stress.
Next: Skip the drive thru (forever).
An unhealthy diet
While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a treat or some pizza now and then, a poor diet is one of the top contributors to an early demise. In fact, a recent study showed that an unhealthy diet is a factor in one in five deaths. Eat your veggies — your life could depend on it.
Next: Watching your weight is about more than vanity.
Studies have shown that carrying around extra weight can contribute to an early death. A lower BMI and an overall healthy lifestyle seems to have the opposite effect, both prolonging life and increasing the quality of life.
Next: See the glass as half full.
Living in a state of negativity
Laughter might actually be the best medicine. Having a positive outlook on life truly might extend your longevity. A study of 243 centenarians showed that a positive attitude was one thing they all had in common.
Next: Don’t skip the SPF protection.
Protect your skin from the sun. Up to 90% of deadly melanoma cancer diagnoses are thought to be from too much UV exposure, so slathering on sunscreen could truly save your life.
Next: Get your ZZZs. Your life could depend on it.
Not sleeping enough
You probably already know that not sleeping enough can cause health problems, but according to recent research, sleeping less than six hours a night on a regular basis can shave years off your life. Make resting a real priority.
Next: This is reason enough to get up when the alarm goes off.
Sleeping too much
Believe it or not, sleeping too much can also be deadly. A study that included more than a million participants over the age of 30 found that people who regularly slept for more than eight hours a night had as much of a risk of dying early as those who slept four hours a night. The “sweet spot” seems to be seven hours.
Next: The pain of heartbreak is real.
We all face grief and sadness in our lives. But unfortunately, having a broken heart can actually kill you. Losing someone you love can cause your heart to swell and lead to a heart attack. All you can do is try to manage your grief as best as you possibly can.
Next: Slow down and focus on the road.
Distracted or otherwise bad driving
Do you speed, text while you drive, or drive too fast (or too slowly)? Statistically, you’re increasing your odds of a fatal car accident. Change your habits and you could save your life.
Next: Make steps to become an overall better you.
A combination of lifestyle changes will save your life
In 2010, a study from China changed the way experts measured health and longevity. It was the first of its kind because it focused on a combination of five healthy lifestyle factors instead of just researching one at a time. Results showed that the factors are:
- Maintaining a normal weight with a BMI of less than 25
- A low waist-to-hip ratio (meaning low belly fat)
- Regular exercise of 30 minutes a day
- Little to no exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke
- A high intake of fruits and vegetables
Study participants who practiced all five of these lifestyle habits had significantly longer life spans than those who didn’t. So eat well, skip the smoke, and exercise regularly if you’d like to live to 100 (and beyond).
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