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12 Things To Stop Doing If You Want To Live To Be 100
Currently, the average life expectancy worldwide is about 71 years, according to the World Health Organization. The human lifespan has slowly but steadily been increasing over the past couple of decades due to increased information that is available online about how to live longer.
Of course improvements in work conditions, increased sanitation, removal of dangerous chemicals from our everyday life, as well as an increased awareness of the importance of a healthy lifestyle have all lead to longer lifespans.
Almost everyone knows the things that you should do to live longer, but how about all those things you should stop doing? Bad habits can shorten your life dramatically.
If you want to live longer, possibly even become a centenarian, then keep reading and see if you are guilty of any of the following bad habits that might stop you from reaching that 100 year mark.
1. Stop Believing Only Big Changes Matter
Although radical changes in a person’s lifestyle can be inspiring, they can also be hard to maintain. The next time you tell yourself that you will go on a strict diet, exercise every day for an hour and a half, stop drinking, stop smoking, stop staying out late on the weekends, and try to get along with your mother in law starting Monday……you are simply setting yourself up for failure. Try making just one change each month. That doesn’t sound like much, but over the course of a year, that is a whole lot of change! And those small things add up to become big things.
Don’t add more stress to your life by making big changes. Start with something small (such as making a healthy lunch instead of eating fast food), then add something else next month. It’s much more motivating to feel the self-satisfaction of take a step in the right direction than to look at another failed attempt to change everything in your life.
2. Stop Eating Junk
You know you do it. You probably have a dozen excuses as to why you do it (I don’t have time, It’s too expensive). But the truth of the matter is that eating fast food and junk food is one of the major contributors towards an early death. Processed foods lead to diabetes, obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol, dementia, stroke, and cancer.
Yes, eating right takes more time. Being sick or developing a disease will take more time than you could imagine! Don’t go all out and make a complete overhaul in one day, take those baby steps. Begin by cutting back on sugar, add one vegetable to your dinner plate, and before you know it, you are there!
3. Stop Avoiding the Doctor
Even if it appears that cancer does not run in your family, you cannot rely on genetics alone to ensure your longevity. If you feel there is something wrong, even if you feel fine, take charge of your health and get regular screenings done. Yes, they take some time, but when caught early, many diseases can be reversed or treated. How many times have you known or heard about someone who died needlessly simply because they didn’t go to the doctor until “it was too late”?
Early detection ensures that you will have more options, better treatment, and faster recovery rates. It is also less expensive in most cases. Stop putting it off!
4. Stop Your Love Affair with the TV
Lack of physical activity is perhaps one of the biggest factors that can affect your longevity. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study earlier in 2015 which found that a lack of activity is associated with an increased risk of early death, regardless of what a person might weigh! Exercise improves your immune system, improves both the cardio and respiratory systems, slows the loss of muscle mass, increases bone density, improves digestion and sleep, as well as prevents depression. No matter how busy you are, you can find 30 minutes each day to get up and move around. Even if it is only 10 minutes at a time, three times each day. This has been shown to be beneficial.
Anything at all beats sitting on your butt watching those Game of Thrones reruns. Take the dog for a walk, go play with your kids, get up and dance in the kitchen, do anything, as long as it gets you off your behind!
5. Stop with the Negative Thoughts
Most of us have a little tape in our heads that plays the same few messages over and over, all day long. These messages were programmed into us at some point during our lives and they can be very damaging or they can be positively affirming. Negative self-talk includes things like:
- I can’t do anything right
- I’m fat and ugly
- I’m so clumsy
- I’m so stupid
These types of thoughts lead to feelings of anger, frustration, anxiety, depression, and irritability. They can also lead to overeating, insomnia, anorexia or bulimia. It can be very difficult to change this “tape” in your head, but it can be done. Next time you find yourself thinking something negative, replace it with something positive, then repeat that positive thought three or four times. For example; if you think “I can’t do anything right”, stop and say to yourself “I might make mistakes but I do plenty of things really well.” Repeat the end of that phrase “I do plenty of things really well” several times. It takes time, but you can change that negative tape for a more positive tape.
When you feel better about yourself you increase productivity, which will reduce stress, which can lead to a longer (and happier) life. Laugh often and surround yourself with positive people.
6. Stop Skimping on Sleep
It is a proven fact that the amount of sleep you get can affect your longevity. One study, published in the Sleep journal in 2007 showed that both sleeping too much and skimping on sleep are associated with an increase in the rate of mortality. Several studies have shown that sleeping less than 6 hours each night makes you much more likely to die early than those who sleep 8 hours each night. Skimping on sleep on a regular basis puts you at a higher risk of developing serious health problems, which can lead to a shorter life.
Almost all adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Make whatever changes are necessary in your life to get the sleep you need.
7. Stop Avoiding the Sun
Like many things in life, moderation is the key. The sun is also one of those things. Too much sun exposure will cause premature aging of the skin and can lead to skin cancer. However, avoiding the sun entirely also has negative health consequences. Moderate exposure to sunlight makes the body produce vitamin D, which is vital if you want to avoid disease such as diabetes, depression, viruses, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and cancer. The journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention published a 2011 study which found that moderate exposure to sunlight reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease and early death.
Avoid the sun during its peak hours of 10AM to 4PM, but try to get at least 30 minutes of sunlight each morning or evening.
8. Stop Stressing Out
OK, so we can’t avoid all stresses, but we can certainly get rid of some of it and learn to deal with the rest. Being under the gun all the time takes a real toll on our health and definitely shortens your lifespan. Stress increases the hormone, cortisol, in our bodies which over time has a negative effect on the heart, immune system, and metabolism. The British Medical Journal showed a study that linked stress and an increased risk of heart attack or stroke, which definitely increases mortality rates.
Cut out the stress you can in your life by taking steps to be more organized, removing or limiting the time you spend with people who cause you stress, learning to say no when your plate is full, and then managing the stress you can’t remove from your life via exercise, meditation, and yoga.
9. Stop Ignoring Oral Hygiene
Your oral hygiene is much more important than most people realize. Oral bacteria greatly increases your risk of kidney disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, even some types of cancer. Bacteria in the mouth travels throughout the body. Picture that one for a minute. It’s about so much more than stopping cavities and bad breath!
Practice good oral hygiene by brushing at least twice a day, flossing every single day, practice oil pulling every morning and rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash every evening. Go see the dentist once a year and take care of any small problems before they become a big problem.
10. Stop Running from Your Problems via Alcohol or Drugs
People use alcohol or drugs for a variety of issues, but as we age, we tend to use these things to excess to escape from reality. We try to numb ourselves from our problems, or we want to relieve the boredom and inertia of our lives.
Misuse of hard drugs or excessive alcohol consumption can harm your health not only in the long term, but in the short term as well. If you use hard drugs, such as crack, cocaine or heroin, you will quickly find yourself addicted. Most drug addicts and alcoholics quickly weaken their immune system and find they develop skin problems, severe gum disease and tooth loss, liver disease, digestive issues, heart disease, or diabetes. Many alcoholics and drug addicts suffer from serious injuries, unsuccessful relationships, and more frequent suicide attempts than those who do not indulge.
Seek help from support groups, family, church organizations, rehab programs, or see your family doctor for help with a drug or alcohol problem. You will be glad you did.
11. Stop Smoking
If you are a smoker, you might be tempted to just skip right over this one, but we hope you won’t. You already know you should quit and you know all the reasons why. You know it is shortening your life and that it is simply a matter of time before your smoking habit takes a toll on your body, so we won’t bother to tell you what you know already.
We want to tell you that you can quit. Even if you have tried 100 times to quit, it might be the 101st time that works. You are not alone! There is help out there just waiting for you. Nicotine is one of the hardest addictions to quit but thousands of people do so every year. If they can do it, you can do it too. Talk to your doctor, find a support group, and enlist the help of family and friends. Make an action plan so that when you are hit with cravings or withdrawal symptoms, you already have a list of things you can try to stop you from going back.
You can do it. We know you can. Why not decide that you want to live a longer life and create your plan for quitting today?
12. Stop Blaming or Relying on Your Genes
OK, so your grandparents and parents lived well into their 90’s; that is no guarantee that you will. Genetics only count for about one third of our longevity potential. That is welcome news for those who don’t have great genes! What makes up the other 2/3rds? Both environmental and lifestyle factors matter a great deal, according to a Scandinavian study done with twins. Things such as whether or not you are exposed to workplace toxins regularly, diet, stress levels, exercise, and social relationships all play a large role in how quickly you age and how long you will live.
It only makes sense to focus on the 2/3rds of your life that you can control, rather than rely on (or blame) your genes. Good genes count, yes, but they certainly are not everything.