Getting older is a natural process and far better than the alternative, but you don’t want to do anything to accelerate the aging process so you look and feel older than you need to.
It’s been estimated that up to 75% of the factors that determine how well and how quickly we age come from diet and lifestyle choices versus our genes, with one study putting that number at 90%.
Smoking and excessive drinking aren’t the only habits that can set you up for too many years of your life spent worrying about your health and appearance. Consider these other risky habits:
- An unhealthy diet — Too much sugar, salt, red meat, refined carbs, processed ingredients and other damaging foods spur inflammation, higher glucose levels, weight gain and other problems that spur heart disease, diabetes and other conditions which lead to more rapid aging.
- Not moving enough — Sitting down for much of the day can be damaging even if you stay active the rest of your time. Break up sedentary activities by getting up to walk or stretch every 30 minutes or so, and also remember to fit more vigorous activity into your day.
- Too much time in the sun — The harm UV rays inflict on your skin is well documented in terms of promoting wrinkles, age spots and other hallmarks of aging. It doesn’t stop there, with one in five Americans being diagnosed with skin cancer before age 70.
- Excessive stress — This may not feel like a “habit” so much as a hazard of living, working and having relationships with people in the 2020s, but there are things you can do to reduce stress’ impact on your mental and physical health: mediate, journal, stretch, listen to music, set boundaries and breathe.
- Insufficient sleep — Not getting seven to nine hours of sleep every night affects our heart, brain, immune system, digestion and by extension, everything else. We’re at higher risk for sleep disorders as we get older, which makes it even more important to prioritize our sleep hygiene and do whatever else we can to improve it.