How many of your daily activities are shortening your lifespan? It’s not something many of us think about. That’s why you might be surprised to learn that some seemingly benign everyday occurrences are associated with a shorter life. Read on to see 10 ways that you may unknowingly be shaving minutes, hours or years off your life.
1. Social Isolation
Are you introverted or shy? There isn’t much you can do to change your basic disposition, but there is an advantage in socializing more. Experts say a lack of social relationships can be as damaging to your lifespan as smoking or drinking. Researchers believe a stronger social life offers benefits such as social support, social influence, social engagement, interpersonal contact and access to financial and health care resources. The effects are not only strong, but they tend to last a long time, say researchers. A 2013 review of 148 studies found that participants with stronger social relationships had a 50 percent increased likelihood of survival.
2. No Sex
The “I have a headache” excuse might be killing your sex life — and hurting your health too. According to research published in the British Medical Journal, older guys who had sex once a month had double the mortality rate compared to the guys the same age who were having sex once a week. The benefits of sex are many. A dance in the sack burns calories, increases heart rate and releases feel-good chemicals that calm the body and mind. Sex might even lower blood pressure. The link between sex and mortality is complex, but isn’t it nice knowing that something in this world that feels good won’t kill us?
3. Inconsiderate People
Most people don’t surround themselves with jerks who annoy them with rudeness, inconsiderate behavior and disrespect. But there isn’t much you can do when that person is your colleague, boss or family member. Researchers studying the workplace say that thoughtless or mean people are so bad for your health that they actually shorten your lifespan. If there is no way to separate yourself from these folks, then you must learn how to get along with them. Pick up a copy of Nicholas Boothman’s book, “How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds Or Less” and learn how to get along with nearly anyone.
According to the research, the Grim Reaper can be found hovering in the bedrooms of those who have trouble getting consistent shut eye. In order to function at an optimal level, you should get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Too little sleep has been linked to a decreased immune function, increased heart disease, high blood pressure, weight gain and diabetes — all of which is linked to mortality rate. Experts advise going to bed at the same time and to avoid eating, drinking and using electronic devices for at least two to three hours before bedtime. Dim the lights, make yourself a cup of chamomile tea and take a warm shower or a hot bath to prepare your body for a solid night of sleep.
If you sit for more than three hours a day you could be decreasing your lifespan by two years, according to a research study published in the British Medical Journal. Sitting increases chances of cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure, which can lead to a shorter life. Lead researcher Dr. Peter Katzmarzyk says, "Sedentary behavior is something we need to take note of beyond telling people to get 30 minutes of activity a day. If you're sedentary or sitting the other 20 hours a day, you're still going to be at risk.” Here are some ways to incorporate more standing and walking throughout your work day. Stand when taking phone calls. Instead of emailing a coworker, walk over to her desk. Take several breaks throughout the day to get up and move around.
Related: Can Sitting Actually Kill You?
6. Not Laughing
Researchers have yet to conclude why this is, but it seems that laughter really is the best — or at least, cheapest — medicine. A study published in the International Journal of Cardiology revealed that the propensity to laugh may protect individuals from heart disease. Laughter also decreases stress, improves blood pressure, energizes organs and boosts the immune system. Fascinating research also shows that people do have the ability to control their own moods. “Forced” laughter actually makes people feel better. So even if you have nothing to laugh about, have a chuckle. It might make you feel better.
7. Skipping Breakfast
How often you unbutton your pants after overeating might be related to how quickly all of your pants problems will be solved — forever. Overeating increases the chance of obesity, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Research has found that those who do not eat breakfast are more likely to have weight problems. Why is this? Not eating breakfast affects metabolism. It also can lead to overcompensating by eating salty and fatty snacks or large meals later in the day. Another study revealed that making breakfast your largest meal of the day can help you lose weight.
8. Drinking Too Much
Despite the fact that you make very careless, reckless decisions when you are intoxicated, it is actually bad for your insides too. Anyone who has seen the film “Leaving Las Vegas” need not be told this. According to the National Health Service, men should not exceed more than 3 to 4 units of alcohol a day and women should not exceed 2 to 3 units a day. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to liver damage, heart attack, loss of fertility, cancers and high blood pressure.
Read more: What Really Happens When You Drink?
9. Fear of Death
The fear of death is a common concern because it is one that all of us face. Terrorist attacks, cancer, natural disasters and mutated viruses are a constant reminder that the end might be right around the corner. If you are harboring death anxiety, you might want to stop. Researchers report that holding onto the fear of death is associated with shortening the life of cancer patients. Healthy, individuals with ongoing fears about terror attacks have an increased incidence of physician-diagnosed hypertension. Therapy, yoga and meditation can be employed to assuage concerns about death.
10. Retiring Too Early
Early retirement sounds dreamy — margaritas, bingo, cruises and early-bird specials! But it turns out it’s not all good for you; in fact, research says early retirement can shorten your life. When you no longer have deadlines to meet or schedules to uphold, your stress levels decrease and your body starts to shut down. The brain stops firing as much and you start to lose power. So, if you do happen to retire early, make sure you stay active. Volunteer for a local charity, stay connected to a strong social circle, and consider getting an enjoyable part-time job.
What do YOU Think?
Do you agree that all of the items on this list could contribute to shortening your life? Were there any that you weren’t aware of? Are there any items we missed that you think should be added? Leave a comment below and let us know.