5 Ways You Could Be Cutting Your Life Short

by Alicia Lawrence

Most people would say they want to live long healthy lives, but the reality is making it to 100 doesn’t just happen.  The decisions we make on a daily basis and the habits we develop play key roles in determining our longevity. 

And sure, we know the obvious things that it takes to stay healthy.  We avoid smoking and get regular physicals.  We slather on sunscreen before going outside and eat lots of fruits and veggies.  But beyond the obvious, there are many little things that can contribute to our health and our longevity in really big ways.  Here are 5 ways you could be shortening your life span without even knowing it:

·     You’re Sitting Around Too Much
It might sound like an exaggeration to say that sitting is killing you, but it’s really not that far from the truth.  Researchers from the University of Queensland discovered that for every hour you watch TV, you could shorten your lifespan by 22 minutes. They’ve also found a connection between sitting for extended periods of time and serious health concerns, such as obesity and metabolic syndrome, conditions characterized by increased blood pressure, excess body fat around the waist, and unhealthy cholesterol levels.

The Fix:  If you have a desk job where you’re forced to sit all day, get up every couple of hours to stretch, take a bathroom break, and go get some water.  Short bursts of movement throughout the day go a long way in counteracting the health risks of excessive sitting.  Another idea is to consider going outside for a walk during your lunch break.  Or, round up co-workers for a walk or exercise class after hours for a new and improved version of happy hour.

·     You’re Always Stressing
In tiny amounts, stress can be beneficial, helping you to perform under pressure and motivating you to do your best.  But if you’re always living in stress mode, it can become taxing on your mind and body.  In fact, chronic stress wreaks havoc on nearly every system in your body.  It can elevate blood pressure, lower your immune system, raise the risk of heart attack and stroke, lead to infertility, and make you age faster.

The Fix:  In the moment, a great way to manage stress is to relax and take slow deep breaths, concentrating on your breathing until you feel calmer.  Practices like yoga and meditation have also proven effective at lowering stress levels, and to relieve the physical tension that comes with stress, you should consider relaxing in a spa or finding a good acupuncturist

·     You’re Not Drinking Enough Water
Water does a lot for your body: it delivers oxygen to your organs, eliminates toxic waste products, increases energy, and serves as a lubricant for your bones and joints.  Without adequate water intake, your body’s composition of vitamins, minerals, and chemicals becomes distorted, which could lead to grogginess, abnormal heart rate and seizures, in addition to serious health concerns such as kidney failure, low blood volume, loss of consciousness, and shock.

The Fix:  Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water because by this point, you could already be dehydrated.  Carry a water bottle with you to work and sip on it throughout the day.  And, if you want to stay hydrated and maintain a healthy weight, try this simple trick:  drink a full glass of water before each meal you eat.  Sometimes, when you think you’re hungry, your body is really just feeling thirsty, and research has proven that women who drink a full glass of water before meals eat significantly less and feel full faster than women who don’t. 

·     You Have Friends…on Facebook
If you want to live to an old age, it’s worth making your friendships a priority.  And regardless of how many Facebook friends you have, if you don’t have genuine contact with people, you can’t build authentic, lasting friendships.  Research has proven that consistent interaction with friends can prolong your life by lowering your feelings of depression, stress and subsequent dangerous behaviors, and having strong friendships encourages you to take care of your health.  What’s more, a Brigham Young University study discovered that having few friends is as detrimental to longevity as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

The Fix: Make a point to spend time with friends on a regular basis.  If they live far away, set aside time for weekly phone chats.  Also, think about what your interests are and find a related meetup group.  On this site, you can find writer’s critique groups, reading groups, cooking clubs, running clubs, etc. Check it out, and you’re sure to find a meetup group for something that interests you.

·     You’re Not Having Sex
According to a recent survey conducted by The British Medical Journal, men who didn’t have sex at least once a month had a mortality rate twice as high as men who were getting some at least once a week.  And it’s not just men who benefit from sex:  a Duke University study found that women who had fulfilling sex lives lived eight years longer than women who didn’t.  This is because, aside from its obvious perks, having regular sex comes with a slew of health benefits, such as lowered blood pressure and a bolstered immune system. 

The Fix:  If you’re not having sex because you think you’re too busy, talk with your partner and plan out the days you will get it on.  It might sound lame and unromantic to plan sex like an appointment, but this strategy has been widely recommended and proven effective in making sure it actually happens.  If you aren’t having sex because you “just aren’t in the mood,” light some candles, put on something that makes you feel sexy, and fake it till you make it.  Sometimes, just acting like you’re in the mood is enough to make you really want it. 

The little things you do and don’t do on a daily basis can go a long way in determining your health, and subsequently, your longevity.  The good news is these choices are in your hands, and if you make the right ones, you too could one day be a member of the 100-year-olds’ club. 

BIO: Alicia Lawrence is a content coordinator for a tech company and writes for Examiner.com and AskMissA.com.   Her husband is a personal trainer and as a family they make it a top priority to live healthy.

Mark Dilworth, BA, PES


About Mark

About Mark

Mark Dilworth is a Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist and since 2006 he has owned Your Fitness University, Her Fitness Hut, My Fitness Hut, Sports Fitness Hut.

Mark has helped thousands of clients and readers make lifestyle changes that lead to better long-term health, which includes acceptable body fat and ideal body weight.He does not recommend fad diets, quick weight loss gimmicks, starvation diets, weight loss pills, fat burner supplements and the like.