Having a long life is a goal of most people, but unfortunately we do not always do the right things to help us achieve that goal. There are everyday things that we do that can shorten our lives over the long run and we may not even realize that these activities could be particularly risky. On the flip side, there are activities that we can also participate in that may add time to our lives as well.
Things That Can Shorten Your Life
It is well-known that smoking can cause cancer, bronchitis and other lung diseases and is associated with 25 percent of deaths of men and women between the ages of 35-69 in the United States. Smoking can take away at least 10 years from your lifespan, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, however, if you stop smoking before the age of 40, you can decrease your risk of death by 90 percent.
The amount of time spent sitting can shorten your life. Women who sit for more than six hours a day may have a 40 percent higher risk of death and men have a 20 percent higher risk of death – even if you exercise to try to balance it out. If you sit a lot and don’t exercise, your risk increases to 94 percent for women and 48 percent for men.
(Also read: Easy Ways To Become More Active & Less Sedentary.)
Alcoholic Beverages (After the First One)
Drinking in moderation can be beneficial to your health, but too much can shorten your lifespan. One study has suggested that one drink per day may increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer, liver cancer, rectum cancer, throat cancer, mouth cancer and esophageal cancer. However, there is a benefit to consuming alcohol and lowering your risk of heart disease. Moderate consumption can be okay for many people, but excessive drinking can lead to increased risk of heart attacks, cirrhosis of the liver, dementia, depression and seizures.
Being overweight can reduce your lifespan and is associated with several diseases like diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure. As your BMI increases, so does your risk of mortality. One study found that people who weighed one-third more than their optimal weight could have their lives decreased by three years on average. This study also found that each increase of five in BMI was associated with a 30 percent increase in any cause of death.
Eating Red Meat
Eating a lot of red meat can shorten your life and may be associated with an increased risk of dying from health disease, cancer and diabetes. Substituting other foods like poultry, fish, nuts or low-fat dairy for each serving of red meat can lower the risk. Of course, this is somewhat controversial so just remember to consume in moderation.
Things That Can Increase Your Life Span
Physical activity can affect your longevity. Research suggests that adults who are active (150 minutes of physical activity each week) may live 2 1/2 years longer than people who do not. In non-Hispanic Black women, the benefit may be even higher at 5 1/2 years. Another study noted that physical activity and vegetable consumption was associated with decreased mortality in elderly women. Get moving and live longer!
First Alcoholic Drink
Moderate drinking – defined as no more than one drink per day for women and the elderly and two drinks for young men – can confer cardiovascular benefits. Alcohol can include the levels of HDL (good cholesterol) in the body, lower the risk of blood clots, and may help protect against heart disease. One drink a day may increase your lifespan by improving your health.
Thinking Positive Thoughts
Positive thinking can increase your life span in several ways. You may have lower rates of depression, reduced stress, improved immune system functioning, better coping skills and reduced risk of death by heart disease. The reason that positive thoughts have these effects is not fully understood at this time. Thinking positive thoughts will improve your outlook and may help you live longer.
Flossing Your Teeth
Flossing your teeth regularly can do more than just protect your teeth and gums – it can help you live longer. Flossing your teeth may lower your risk of having a heart attack as gum disease may be associated with the development of plaque in your arteries. Take care of your teeth and take care of your heart as well.
Want to live longer? Get busy – have more sex! Men who have sex three times a week lower their risk of heart attacks and stroke by 50 percent. Women who have a healthy sex life can feel 2 to 8 years younger than other women. Regular sex can also make you happy and improve your relationship. All are reasons to hit the sack!
Have a Pet
Pet owners also live longer. Having a pet can improve your mood by lowering the levels of cortisol in your body. Cortisol is associated with stress and lowering your stress can protect your body. Pets may also improve your cardiovascular health by improving stress and increasing the amount of exercise that the owners do. More research on the benefits of having a pet is ongoing.
Being a Woman
Numerous studies have shown that women live longer than men, but the exact reasons for this are not fully understood. Behavior-associated deaths and illnesses may be responsible for some of this discrepancy and testosterone levels which are associated with aggression and competitiveness may have a role as well. Estrogen has also been associated with having some cardiovascular protective benefits so that may improve the lifespan of women as well. As women adapt more of the male-associated behavior, the differences in lifespan between the sexes aren’t as obvious as before. Being a woman isn’t something you can change, but it does appear to be a factor in longevity.
Managing Your Lifespan
Some factors surrounding your longevity can’t be managed – your genetics or the occurrence of an accident isn’t something that you can moderate. However, there are activities that are well within our control that can lower our risk of dying or add years to our lives. There are also things we can avoid that may shorten our lives. Take control of your health by moderating your activities to increase your chances of living longer.