Even if you’re eating right, exercising regularly, and taking good care of your skin and hair, you could still be doing things on a daily basis that accelerate the aging process. How do you know what these things are?
We decided to do some research to uncover the things that Renegade Health users, in particular, may not realize are actually detrimental to long-term youthful vitality. Check them out, and let us know if you’re avoiding these aging traps!
- All work and no play. If you’re a high achiever as far as your personal health is concerned, you’re likely to be one in other areas of your life, too. This has probably served you well as far as achievement and success is concerned, but could be aging you faster than you might like.Several studies have linked overwork to serious health consequences. In 2011, Forbes reported on six different studies between 2009 and 2011 that indicated stress from overwork can kill. British workers who put in more than 10 hours a day were 60 percent more likely to develop heart disease or suffer a heart attack than those who worked just seven hours a day. Nurses suffering from too much pressure at work had a higher risk of heart attack.Researchers from the University of California found that chronic stress accelerates aging. People working longer hours were actually healthier—less likely to drink and more likely to exercise—yet they were more likely to die or suffer heart problems than their less healthy but more moderately working counterparts. Solution: Schedule time to get away—completely away—and enjoy family, friends, and nature.
- Letting your muscles go. We all lose muscle strength and mass as we age, but if we don’t work to counteract it, we could age faster than normal. Tufts University states that as people get older, fat replaces muscle, and some of that fat could be particularly dangerous.Even in people who aren’t overweight, muscle loss increases health risks and accelerates aging. Studies show that it’s related to metabolic problems like insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and obesity, and increases risk of disability as we age. Solution: Work regular resistance training into your weekly schedule.
- Eating too little fat. For the past several decades, we were lectured about fat. Fat-free food items flooded the shelves. Avoiding fat, we were told, would help us maintain a healthy weight and avoid heart disease. Today, however, we know better.Healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for good health. In 2013, for example, researchers reported that the Mediterranean diet, which includes healthy fats in the form of extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, dairy and meat, helped participants retain their memory better than those who ate a low-fat diet. In the latter part of 2013, Sweden became the first Western nation to reject the low-fat diet dogma in the rewrite of their national dietary guidelines, recommending instead low-carb, high-fat nutrition.The Harvard School of Public Health recently noted, “The low-fat, high-starch diet that was the focus of dietary advice during the 1990s—as reflected by the USDA food guide pyramid—is dying out.” Instead, a growing body of evidence indicates that such a diet is actually inadequate for preventing heart disease or losing weight. Results of a study of 50,000 women found that a low-fat diet showed no benefits. Solution: Be sure to include healthy fats in your diet. Choose extra virgin olive oil, nuts, avocadoes, and fatty fish. Continue to avoid so-called “bad” fats like vegetable oils rich in omega-6 fatty acids.
- Failing to stand up straight. We are a nation of slouchers. All the time spent on smart phones, tablets, computers, and other gadgets tends to keep us hunched over, shoulders rounded, head low. Then, when we go about the rest of our lives, we forget to bring the head back up, round the shoulders back, and lengthen the spine.The long-term results may not only make you look older, but weaken your joints, cause muscle aches and pains, and bring you down emotionally. A 2009 study found that sitting up straight reinforced confidence, while other research has shown that bad posture can increase feelings of stress and helplessness. Solution: Remind yourself often to stand (or sit) up straight. Exercises like yoga and tai chi are extremely helpful in increasing body awareness and improving posture.
- Failing to challenge your brain. As we get older, we can easily fall into a rut. We’ve achieved a certain level of skill in our jobs and daily interactions. Many times, we can go about our days in a zoned-out manner because we’re not really faced with anything challenging. Some call this “peace” or “a place of contentment,” but if you stay in this state too long, you could age your brain faster than you’d like.On the other hand, taking a class, learning a new language or instrument, or engaging in something you’re totally unfamiliar with, can force your brain to adapt and form new neural connections—which slows aging, prevents memory loss and dementia, and keeps your brain young.
Do you know of other daily habits that can accelerate aging? Please share your thoughts.
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“Combination of Long Hours and Overwork Increases Depression Risk,” American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, August 13, 2013, http://www.acoem.org/DepressRisk.aspx.
Melanie Haiken, “Is Stress from Overwork Wrecking Your Heart?” Forbes, August 23, 2011, http://www.forbes.com/sites/melaniehaiken/2011/08/23/is-stress-from-overwork-wrecking-your-heart/.
Julie Flaherty, “Losing Muscle Power as We Age,” Tufts Now, August 9, 2013, http://now.tufts.edu/articles/losing-muscle-power-we-age.
“The Facts About Sacropenia,” Aging Motion, Alliance for Aging Research, http://www.aginginmotion.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/sarcopenia_fact_sheet.pdf.
Alexandra Sifferlin, “Mediterranean Diet Better Than Low-Fat Diet in Keeping Aging Brains Sharp,” Time, May 21, 2013, http://healthland.time.com/2013/05/21/mediterranean-diet-better-than-low-fat-diet-in-keeping-aging-brains-sharp/.
“Sweden Becomes First Western National to Reject Low-fat Diet Dogman in Favor of Low-carb High-fat Nutrition,” DavidDuke.com, October 31, 2013, http://davidduke.com/sweden-becomes-first-western-nation-reject-low-fat-diet-dogma-favor-low-carb-high-fat-nutrition/.
“Low-Fat Diet Not a Cure-All,” The Nutrition Source, Harvard School of Public Health, http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/low-fat/.
Kristen V. Brown, “How posture influences mood, energy, thoughts,” SFGate, September 3, 2013, http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/How-posture-influences-mood-energy-thoughts-4784543.php.
Colleen M. Story, a northwest-based writer, editor, and ghostwriter, has been creating non-fiction materials for individuals, corporations, and commercial magazines for over 15 years. Her specialty is in the health and wellness field, where she writes and ghostwrites books, e-books, blogs, magazine articles, web copy, newsletters, research-based projects and more.
Colleen is a self-described health nut, and understands from experience that “junk” foods and lack of sleep lead to fuzzy thinking, which isn’t helpful when facing project deadlines! She enjoys interviewing top scientific researchers, alternative medicine gurus, and cancer survivors from all over the nation who have overcome great challenges to find new purpose and vitality in life. In telling their stories and sharing their insights, she feels a sense of belonging in a wider community of individuals who seek to experience life in the most vibrant way possible.
Colleen’s fiction writing has won numerous awards, with her pieces appearing in Chicken Soup for the Expectant Mother’s Soul, the Arizona Literary Magazine, Country Extra, and more. She lives in Idaho where she enjoys teaching French horn students, taking walks with her German Shepherd, and watching for moose, wolves, and swans, all of which stop by now and then. www.colleenmstory.com