We all want to live longer, healthier lives but there are hidden dangers all around us. Here are just a few of the tons of things we do every day that can shorten your lifespan without you knowing it.
Bad news for office workers. Even if you regularly exercise, long periods of inactivity are unhealthy. A study published in 2012 in the journal BMJ Open estimated that individuals who reduced excessive sitting to less than three hours a day could add two years to their life expectancy.
2. Sleeping too much
Sleeping too little is of course bad for your health (and makes you gain weight), but sleeping too much can be equally harmful. A review of sleep studies showed that people who slept more than nine hours a night were at a 41% higher risk for heart disease than those who slept seven to eight hours a night.
3. Staring at a screen
Research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests that spending more than four hours a day in front of a screen, like watching TV or surfing the Internet, can increase risk of heart attack and stroke by as much as 113%. Another study published in BMJ Open estimated that reducing screen time to less than two hours a day, individuals could add almost 1.4 years to their life expectancy.
4. Taking medication for non life-threatening illnesses
Taking medication for things like insomnia or anxiety could lower some people's life expectancy. In a 12-year study, published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, scientists found that individuals not taking such medications had about a 5% lower mortality rate than those taking medication.
5. Lacking a sense of humor
Laughter has a long list of health benefits according to the Mayo Clinic — it helps boost the immune system, reduces stress, and provides an emotional release. Laughing also burns calories.
6. A long commute
Not only does commuting take up lots of time on a daily basis, it may also be taking time away from your total life span. Unpublished work presented at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers suggested that people with commutes longer than 30 minutes die earlier than others. Long commutes mean less time for exercise and sleep — both of which contribute to a longer and healthier life.
7. Stressing out
We've all heard that stress can be harmful to our health and immune system, but research published in the Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences suggests it can actually damage our very DNA. Compared to non-stressed people, study participants with chronic stress had shorter telomeres — the regions responsible for protecting and connecting the ends of DNA strands, so our genes don't degrade over time.
8. Not having sex
Having sex not only relieves stress, it burns calories and may even increase your life span. A Duke University study found that women with enjoyable sex lives lived almost eight years longer. Another study, in the journal BMJ, suggests that men who reported a higher frequency of orgasms had a 50% reduction in mortality.
9. Eating Poorly
Things like processed foods, too much red meat, and not enough fresh fruit and vegetables all can contribute to serious health problems. Excessive red meat consumption contributed to higher cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality, according to a study in the journal Internal Medicine.
10. Being anti-social
Isolation and loneliness can take a toll on your body in the same way excessive stress does. The MacArthur Study of Successful Aging demonstrated that people who rated themselves highly valuable in their friends' and family's lives were more likely to live longer than those who rated themselves lower.
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