Your Health

8 Habits That Make You Age Faster

With the possible exception of teenagers, just about everyone wants to look younger. That’s why the age-defying industry — which includes everything from skin creams to fruit smoothies — has become so massive in recent years. These days, it seems that no one actually wants to look their age.

That said, many of the products people spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars on each year to make themselves appear younger won’t make much of a difference. The reality is that the age one appears to be depends far more on one’s everyday habits. So, which habits should you avoid in order to look younger and healthier?

1. Smoking

It’s no surprise, perhaps, that smoking regularly is a good way to make yourself look years older than you actually are. That’s because cigarettes and cigars contain chemicals that, once released into the air in the form of smoke, tend to stain everything they come into contact with — include skin, teeth, eyes, and even hair.

Of course, that’s not even considering the fact that excessive smoking can result in one developing a range of serious health problems affecting parts of our body beyond the surface. For example, smoking can do serious damage to the mouth, throat, and lungs in a way that can make one sound a lot older than they are.

2. Not Sleeping Enough

Failing to get a reasonable amount of sleep each night — for an adult, about seven hours; for a child, roughly eight — can make us look and feel a lot older than we are. For one, not getting enough sleep robs us of the mental and physical energy we need to get through a typical day, to the point where it can make it very difficult for one to thrive in their personal or professional lives. Second, failing to get enough sleep is hard on our bodies, including our most vital organs, like the brain and heart.

The bottom line is that not getting a sufficient amount of sleep makes us look and feel years older than we are while making it difficult to carry out the tasks that give us a chance to grow, personally and professionally. For example, if you only got four hours of sleep, what are the chances you’ll feel like working a bit late to impress the boss, staying out a bit later to enjoy your hot date, or going to the gym to work out?

3. Eating Junk Food

The sad thing about eating a lot of junk food — from candy and cookies to fast food hamburgers and french fries — is that it puts one into a vicious cycle. First, you eat fast food, which may taste good but leaves you feeling bloated, tired, and generally a bit lousy. Next, because you feel terrible, you avoid doing the things that can boost your mood and energy, like playing sports or going to the gym.

The cycle then repeats. In time, one gains weight, stops caring about their appearance, and struggles to eat food that isn’t filled with fat, sugar, and grease. Before you know it, the idea of exercising regularly and eating healthy becomes a completely foreign concept and you look a whole lot older as a result.

4. You Can’t Say ‘No’ at Work

Focusing on your career above all else — like your physical health or home and family — can help you climb the corporate ladder, but it comes with a cost. Put simply, taking on as much as possible at work in order to advance your career might net you a promotion, but is it worth looking and feeling a lot older?

Problems arise when one begins working an excessive amount of overtime. Add ten or twenty hours to a 40-hour work week and suddenly there isn’t a lot of time for exercising, relaxing with friends and family, or even sleeping. Working extra hours can also make it tough to eat well, with many workaholics resorting to fast food in order to get by. It’s a situation that leaves many people one or two steps ahead in their careers but far, far behind in every other part of their lives.

5. You Don’t Exercise Regularly

Keeping in reasonable physical shape is perhaps the most important step in maintaining the look and feel of a younger, healthier person. For most people, that requires following a healthy diet — based on the consumption of lots of fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains — and exercising regularly.

“Regularly” is key here. Some people exercise only when they begin to feel guilty about their appearance or because an important social event — such as a wedding — is approaching. This can make exercising a) particularly difficult, and b) a real chore. In contrast, exercising regularly helps us maintain both our appearance and our energy levels, meaning there’s never a need to cram in physical activity in order to boost our self-esteem or look our best for a big event.

6. Blasting the Volume

Many of the other items on this list focus on our physical appearance, but there’s more to feeling and acting older than that. Maintaining good hearing is also an important part of feeling and acting younger. Let’s face it, no one who constantly asks their friends, family and colleagues to repeat themselves comes across as young and healthful.

That’s why, if you’re set on appearing younger than you are, it’s important to keep the volume down when listening to music or watching television or movies. This is especially important when earbuds or headphones are involved, as they have the potential of doing significant damage in a short amount of time. Noise-canceling headphones can help, as your music won’t have to compete with outside sounds to get your attention.

7. You Don’t Take Veggies Seriously

In a perfect world, we would all love the taste of the healthiest foods, and particularly vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and kale. But in a world where the most accessible (and in many cases, flavorful) food tends to be the least healthy food, it can be tough for many people to fit vegetables into their daily menu.

And that’s a problem because vegetables are packed with the vitamins and minerals we need to look and feel healthy. Vegetables are a particularly good source of fiber, which can help keep us “regular” — an important part of maintaining relatively high energy levels. The key is to find vegetables that you enjoy eating and to work them into your diet however possible — even if that means hiding your kale in smoothies or sauces.

8. You Like to Binge Drink

Drinking alcohol in moderation probably won’t present serious problems for your health or appearance. But many people struggle to check their drinking at one or two alcoholic beverages a night; in fact, today many people both young and old spend their weekends (or even weeknights) binge drinking, or drinking three, four, or even more alcoholic drinks in an evening.

That can make us look a lot older than we are because drinking alcohol, and especially drinking to excess, dehydrates our bodies. This can rob our skin of its moisture, causing it to appear rough, dry, and sore. On top of that, few people struggling through a hangover will come across as personable, energetic, or youthful. Realistically, it’s silly to expect people to completely avoid binge drinking, but it’s important that individuals make these “once in a while” experiences rather than everyday activities.

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