Growing older is something that, regardless of how we rail against it, simply cannot be helped. As the Earth continues its trek around the sun unabated, so do our cells continue to do the work of keeping us alive, and while our current age is a fact of life that’s out of our hands, how old we’ll get to be and the quality of life we’ll enjoy as we age are aspects of life over which we do have some control. Whether you’re 35 or 65, the ravages of age needn’t be your lot. Here are six ways you’re unnecessarily aging yourself that can be stopped and made right.
1. You Don’t Protect Your Hearing
Don’t lose your hearing before you have to. According to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), as many as 26 million Americans suffer from noise-induced hearing loss, and in almost every instance, the loss was preventable. Whether your job is heavy on the decibels or you travel the subway on a regular basis, the contemporary world provides all of us with ample opportunities to damage our ears, but taking measures to protect yourself isn’t difficult. First, get a hearing test to discover whether hearing loss is already a problem — click here for an audiologist. Second, turn the ear buds attached to your phone or MP3 player down low enough so that someone sitting next to you can’t hear what you’re listening to, and third, start wearing earplugs in these situations:
- At construction sites
- In traffic
- When you wait for and ride the subway
- At concerts and in clubs
- Whenever you use power tools
2. You Still Smoke
While the rate of smoking has dropped considerably from where it was a couple of decades ago, over 42 million Americans still smoke cigarettes on a regular basis. Besides being the number one cause of preventable disease and death, those who smoke also age at a much faster rate than those who don’t, speeding up the bodily processes that cause wrinkles and cataracts, while also staining teeth, and loosening the skin beneath the eyes. If your early, impending death isn’t reason enough, give up cigarettes on behalf of your skin, teeth, and eyes.
3. You Don’t Eat Fresh Food
Fresh fruits and vegetables are filled with antioxidants that combat free radicals, which lead to the signs and symptoms of aging, and if you aren’t eating plenty of them at every meal, your body, skin, and brain are growing older at a faster than necessary rate. Keep in mind that, once you’ve eaten some fresh fruits and veggies, the antioxidants present in them only remain active for a few short hours; so eating fresh food is something you’ll need to do on a very regular basis to benefit from it properly.
4. You Don’t Exercise
Participating in regular exercise, besides being the most important means by which human beings can ward off death and disease, is also a veritable fountain of youth for anyone looking to keep old age — or the look of it — at bay. Studies have shown that people who engage in regular, energetic exercise benefit from having longer telomeres — biomarkers in the cells that tend to get shorter as we get older. Exercise also keeps us at a healthy weight and staves off diabetes and obesity — two diseases associated with getting and feeling older.
5. You Tolerate Stress
Chronic stress wreaks havoc on our bodies and brains, but most people prefer to tolerate it instead of reducing it. Unfortunately, when the amount of stress hormones in your bloodstream increases, your blood pressure goes up, and your immune system’s defenses go down. You arteries harden, and the parts of your brain that deal with learning and memory shrink. Experiencing stress, it turns out, is an excellent way to age faster. To combat stress, then, engage in some of the following activities on a regular basis:
- Practice yoga
- Get enough sleep
- See a therapist
- Get a pet
6. You Don’t Wear Sun Block
While the sun’s rays are what keep us and our plant and animal friends alive on this planet, too much of that good thing leads to wrinkles, sun spots, and even cancer. If you spend any time outside, and you aren’t regularly slathering on the sun block — or donning sun protective clothing — you’re inviting unnecessary aging that will ultimately lead to a premature death. Do yourself and your loved ones a favor, and pile on the SPF lotion or the UPF clothes.
You will look and feel better by putting the kibosh on these six habits that are unnecessarily aging you.