Could your habits be speeding up your aging process? Grab a hold of your health and take note of the following bad habits that could lead to unhealthy aging.
Soaking up too much sun
Summer is in full swing, and that means more time outside and in the sun. While the warm weather may boost our moods, it’s not the best for our skin or overall health. To reduce premature skin aging (spots, wrinkles, sagging and more), the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends using sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 everyday, regardless if you are spending the day running errands or hanging by the pool. The AAD also recommends wearing sunglasses to avoid lines caused by squinting. Wearing sun protection may also protect you from skin cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one study found that there were more skin cancer cases due to tanning than lung cancer cases due to smoking.
Being a couch potato
Slow and lazy may get you to the finish line first — and that’s not a good thing. Regular exercise is key to looking and feeling young. One study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that regular leisure exercise can extend a person’s life by as much as four and a half years. Even those who did half of the recommended exercise time increased their lifespan by almost two years. Exercise helps battle cancer, diabetes and heart disease, among other diseases; it may also improve your complexion so you look as young as you feel. The Mayo Clinic recommends 75 to 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week, depending on the intensity of your workouts. The Mayo Clinic also recommends two days of strength training exercises a week. Make sure to gently wash afterwards, as sweat may irritate your skin.
Smoking the days away
Quit smoking and you could be looking at both a better complexion and a longer life. There is nothing beneficial about smoking, but plenty about quitting. The AAD reports that smoking quickens how quickly your skin ages and dulls the complexion. The National Health Service (NHS) of the UK found that because non-smokers have better oxygen flow, their skin receives more nutrients and thus looks younger. Tobacco use can also stain teeth, adding years to their appearance. Vanity aside, smoking is known to cause a myriad of deadly illnesses, from cancer to heart disease. One study published in the BMJ found that every cigarette shaves, on average, eleven minutes off of your lifespan. Other research has shown that quitting at any age can add time to your life. Not only can quitting smoking increase lifespan, but it also can improve quality of life.
Drink too much alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol is an unhealthy habit that also may add age to your face. Since alcohol dehydrates, it wears out the skin. Also, according to a 2012 study published in the American Journal of Public Health, regular drinking may contribute to seven different types of cancer. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends women limit their alcohol intake to one drink daily and men stop after two drinks.
Eating unhealthy food
The New England Journal of Medicine reports that the obesity epidemic in the United States is lowering our life expectancy by as much as five years. Another article from AARP notes that the United States ranks 16th in life expectancy, partially because Americans eat more calories than other countries, such as Japan. The USDA Factbook writes that added fat intake increased two-thirds from the 1950s to 2000. The publications also found the average consumption of meat also increased an average of 57 pounds in the same time period. The Mayo Clinic and AAD also recommend a healthy, balanced diet to prevent wrinkles and maintain healthy skin. While more research is needed on specific nutrients, studies suggest a diet that includes a rich variety of fruits and vegetables helps deliver more vitamins to the skin and prevent damage compared to a diet that lacks sufficient produce. Other research has found that high levels of refined carbs and sugar could damage the skin’s appearance. Furthermore, the Office of Women’s Health recommends maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise to reduce the chances of developing varicose veins.
Cuddling up to wrinkles
Sleeping on your stomach is not only bad for your back, but also your face. Added pressure on a particular side of your face can cause wrinkles. The AAD recommends sleeping on your back to avoid sleep lines that may evolve to permanent wrinkles. Also, make sure to get enough sleep: A study published in the journal Sleep found that a lack of sleep in older adults caused brain aging: brain atrophy and diminished cognitive function.
Forgetting to relax
Prolonged stress can take a toll on our body, inside and out. While an initial flow of stress hormones is vital to our survival — say, if the building is on fire — the prolonged presence of these hormones eventually can wear down the bodies. Researchers are currently exploring how adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol interact with our genes, cells and muscles. Even if these stress hormones don’t age us outright, stress often leads us to unhealthy behaviors, such as losing sleep, smoking, drinking, overeating or turning to unhealthy “comfort foods,” all of which can affect physical health and appearance. Constant stress also may affect mental health, making one more forgetful or distracted.
Source: Daily Rx