How to live longer: 7 bad daily habits that have been slowly reducing your lifespan

Living longer is possible. By following what is good for you and avoiding the bad practices, you are on the way to having a well-functioning body that could last for a hundred years. Of course, there are no guarantees as are other factors to take into account, but establishing a healthy daily routine can incredibly change your overall health. 

Do you start your day with a cup of coffee with no unhealthy sweeteners? Are you exercising daily? Do you eat vegetables regularly? These are just some of the questions to ask yourself if you want to live longer. 

Your lifespan depends on your regular daily habits; this is a universally known fact. However, there are certain bad habits in your lifestyle that can drastically reduce your lifespan. 

1. Overeating

There is a huge connection between calorie intake and longer lifespan. Calorie restriction may help decrease excess body weight and belly fat, which are generally preventing you from living longer with all the health problems associated with them. Some of these diseases can be diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, dementia, osteoarthritis and other harmful health problems. 

Having a high-calorie diet with minimal exercise can lead to obesity that can affect your daily physical activities. To start your way to living longer, cut out eating too much fast food and replace it with fresh and healthy meals. Cutting out fast food in your life can be a lot of adjustment; maybe consider saving fast food just for several occasions.?

You should also change your dessert choice from cakes or brownies to fruits or yoghurt. If you are the one doing groceries in your house, it is better to consider buying organic and healthy products as alternatives to the unhealthy ones you are consuming. Keeping a journal can help you track all your eating choices and have better decisions the next following days. 

On the other hand, long-term calorie restrictions can impede your daily life. It is considered unsustainable and may give you negative side effects, including increased appetite, low body temperature, and lower to no sex drive [1].

2. Smoking 

Smoking can be a tremendously hard habit to break, but you must if you really want to live longer. This can cause you tremendous chronic diseases and health problems. In fact, one of the deadliest habits is smoking cigarettes. You can develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, heart disease, lung cancer and stroke from smoking. 

In studies, smoking can cause around 90 percent of deaths due to lung cancer; 80 percent of smokers die from COPD, and 17 percent of smokers die from heart complications. Generally, there are 4,000 and more chemicals recorded in cigarettes and 60 chemicals from them can cause cancer. 

Suffering from all the mentioned health problems above for cigarettes is not worth it. In addition, your lifespan may definitely decrease as studies show that people who smoke may die ten years sooner than non-smokers. 

3. Drinking alcohol

Drinking alcohol is not problematic if you consume it moderately and occasionally. Studies have shown that moderate alcohol consumption is not really a big risk to your health. However, when you drink excessively and regularly, this is when the issues occur. Excessive alcohol consumption can lower your lifespan by about 20 years. 

Regular drinking of alcohol can put you at risk of developing cancer, most especially when you combine this with smoking. You can also get heart complications like cardiomyopathy, where you can potentially die as your heart muscle weakens and sooner fails. 

Another heart complication that you can get from excessive drinking alcohol is having heart rhythm abnormalities, including atrial and ventricular fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation can lead to stroke as it causes blood clots in your veins; while ventricular fibrillation can cause rapid loss of consciousness that can eventually make you die suddenly. Other health problems you can get from drinking alcohol are brain impairment, gastrointestinal bleeding and liver disease. 

4. Overworking and stress

Are you the one to stay late at night to work? Do you have a pile of reports to do that just keeps on growing? Well, you have to stop because you could be at risk of a heart attack. Research suggests that overworking and stress can single-handedly give you a heart attack. 

Furthermore, there are about 745,000 deaths recorded in 2016 that have died from stroke and heart disease caused by overworking and it keeps increasing over the years [2]. Research has shown that mental stress changes your heart rate and its rhythm, even if you don’t have any history of heart problems [3].

For those who have cardiovascular problems, they can die suddenly. Hence, resting and staying away from work from time to time is really a matter of life and death situation, if you think about it. Several factors can be used to identify whether you are overworking; these are:

  • You have trouble solving problems and being short-tempered. 
  • You feel tired all the time or fatigued and headaches. 
  • You are anxious and worried about certain things, situations or anything around you. 
  • You have to drag yourself to go to work. 
  • You are avoiding your co-workers and worse, your family. 
  • You are sick and using recreational drugs. 

5. Sleep deprivation

Make time to get enough sleep if you want to live longer. You will eventually get negative complications on your body and mind if you are not sleeping enough and at the right time. 

Sleep deprivation can cause several heart problems, such as irregular heartbeat, heart disease, heart failure, and heart attacks. In a study, they have shown that people who snooze for more than eight hours in one day are twice as likely to suffer from a heart stroke. You can also suffer from ischemic strokes because of clots in your brain and hemorrhagic stroke where your blood vessels burst and bleed in your brain. 

Consequently, it is better to have a healthy sleeping schedule where you can get enough sleep that you need. Consistent sleeping deprivation can actually shorten your life. 

6. Sitting all day

For people who have a desk job, you apparently can not stay away from sitting all day. However, you must because sitting all day can eventually give you heart disease. 

Sitting 7 hours a day can negatively affect your health since your body has no physical activity for consistent hours. It is a universally known fact that you must exercise everyday and sitting all day can do no good to you. 

Tapping your keyboard all day is not enough; hence, you should take short breaks, maybe around 15 minutes, where you can stand or walk. Having a 30-minute workout during your lunch break at the gym near your office can be good, especially if your workload is light. You must prevent having a sedentary lifestyle. 

7. Neglecting exercise

Well, this one is just an extension. You know it! Not only for people with desk jobs but for all of us, regular exercise is a must! Eating healthy, sleeping enough and avoiding smoking or alcohol are not enough. You must stay balanced for your health. 

Keep your heartbeat and rhythm healthy by doing cardio workouts, such as running, jogging, swimming and walking. You can also do weights if cardio workouts are not for you. Even the world’s most successful leaders know and prioritise this, including Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates [4].

Daily exercise can increase your lifespan by over 5 years. You just need to avoid having sedentary habits where you are inactive. By neglecting exercise, you can eventually become obese; have unhealthy bones, muscles and joints; and it can also affect your overall mental health. You are also at risk for several chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease and dementia. 

Bottom line: With the right lifestyle and daily habits, you can surely achieve living longer than half of the population. Some studies also recommend being happy as a factor to a longer lifespan. At the end of the day, your consistent self regulation and discipline are what matters. 

Resources: 

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21840335 
[2] https://www.npr.org/2021/05/17/997462169/thousands-of-people-are-dying-from-working-long-hours-a-new-who-study-finds 
[3] https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/news/20000117/yet-another-reason-avoid-stress-sudden-death [4] https://cnbc.com/2019/04/09/harvard-study-says-these-5-habits-may-help-you-live-10-years-longer.html 

Photograph: Africa Studio/Shutterstock
The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.