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30 Things You Should Stop Doing If You Want To Live Longer

The late musical legend Freddie Mercury penned these words “Who wants to live forever”, whilst many of us would love to live forever we know this is not realistic so we have to live the best life we possibly can, whilst we can.

According to the World Health Organization, the average life expectancy of the global population is 71.4 years. This varies from country to country and differs between male and females. The fields of medicine and technology are expanding i.e. we can 3D print new heart valves or perform surgery without making an incision. We are learning and developing new ways to combat diseases every day.

Today you can get a new heart, lungs or even a liver. But we are not all fortunate enough to be able to replace our organs when they get sick or old. We have to do with what we have and take care of it.

Your lifespan can be predetermined by many things like genetics, but living a healthy lifestyle will help enormously in extending your years. Making better choices for yourself will not only make you feel better, it will also improve the quality of your life. Here are 30 things you should stop doing if you want to live longer.

1. Unhealthy Diet

A healthy diet is the key to leading a healthy lifestyle. What you eat is what you fuel your body with, and by choosing unhealthy options we do our bodies a great disservice. A healthy diet should provide adequate levels of vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats from an assortment of different foods.

Making poor nutrition choices can contribute to stress, tiredness and a general sense of ill-health. A diet full of junk food is full of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, added sugars, preservatives and other processed ingredients. Unhealthy diets can increase the risk of health problems like cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. Junk food tends to be full of trans fats, which can raise levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol and increase the risk of heart problems.

Eating a healthy diet isn’t as restrictive as people think. You can still enjoy treats and guilty pleasures, as long as it’s in moderation. To have a varied, nutritious diet, it’s important to ensure you’re eating foods from all the main food groups. Eating a wide variety of foods will ensure you get as many nutrients and benefits as possible. Adding foods like fish and nuts contain healthy, unsaturated fats which can help reduce the risk of heart disease and other health issues.

No matter how well you’re eating, it’s also important to maintain portion control especially when it comes to foods rich in calories. Foods like legumes, fruits, and vegetables are full of nutrients, fiber, and vitamins while being low in fat and sodium, which makes them the perfect base for your healthy diet. Make sure you limit foods with added sugar like soda beverages and fast food.

2. Being a Couch Potato

The importance of physical activity can, for some people, be the difference between life and death. Physical inactivity has proven to be a primary and actual cause of most chronic diseases like coronary heart disease, anxiety, depression, osteoporosis, kidney disease and diabetes. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, physical inactivity is estimated as the main cause for roughly 21–25% of breast and colon cancers.

Physical activity is a habit that should be instilled from an early age. A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information showed that physical inactivity is a major factor in chronic disease in children and adolescents. Lack of exercise can not only leave them susceptible to a wealth of health problems, they also develop less cognitive skills that more active children.

Exercise is any physical movement that is planned, structured, repetitive and purposeful, and it includes activities that involve bodily movement that is part of playing, working, household chores and recreational activity. There are so many benefits of exercising. It enables you to control your weight, reduce your risk of diseases, strengthen your bones and muscles, improve your mental health and increase your chance of living longer.

Generally, it’s suggested that an average adult gets at least thirty minutes of exercise each day. This can include aerobic activity, cardio and strength training. Repetitive exercise can get dull, which can lead to a decrease in motivation. It’s best to change up your exercise routine to include both hard and easy activities such as running, walking, swimming, weight training, yoga, pilates and many others.

3. Not Getting Enough Proper Sleep

Proper sleep is important for many reasons. Not only does it support your physical, mental and emotional health, it also improves your ability to function from day to day and enables you to have a fuller life. While you sleep, your body works to repair and rejuvenate all bodily systems so you can wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face the day.

Short term, lack of proper sleep can lead to poor judgment, mood swings, memory problems and cognitive dysfunction, and it can also negatively affect your work and home life. Long-term, sleep deprivation can lead to many health issues like obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and much more. Inadequate sleep can also weaken your immune response and leave you more susceptible to colds and flu because our immune system produces protective antibodies and infection-fighting cells to fight off any foreign bacteria and viruses, all while we’re asleep.

The recommended amount of sleep depends on your age. Young children need up to eighteen hours a day, while adults require eight. Sleep problems are becoming much more prevalent, with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimating 40 million people in the United States suffer from chronic long-term sleep disorders each year. There are more than 70 diagnosed sleep disorders, including insomnia, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy, and it’s important to see a physician should you be suffering from sleep problems.

If you’re a poor sleeper, there are many different things you can do to try and drift off easier. Ensure you undertake good sleep hygiene habits like avoiding caffeine and other stimulants close to bedtime, getting up and going to bed at the same time each day to help ‘set’ your body clock, get enough exposure to light during the day, and improve your sleeping environments. This means investing in a quality mattress, making sure the room is at an ideal temperature, and making sure you avoid technology like laptops, televisions and mobile phones in the hour or so before bed.

4. Stressing A Lot

Stress can be defined in different ways. Some people find they can cope well under stress, as a bit of pressure can often be a great motivator. But if you’re finding that you’re constantly stressed out, it’ll begin affecting you in many negative ways.

Essentially, stress is the ‘fight or flight’ response that occurs in the body when there’s a perceived threat or dangerous situation. It’s an inbuilt protective response that can help you stay alert, focused, energetic, and in emergency situations, it can give you additional strength and snap-decision making skills that might just save your life.

However, chronic stress can be very detrimental to your health. Stress raises levels of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which can make you increasingly vulnerable to illness if experienced long term. It can suppress your immune system, upset the digestive tract, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, and increase the speed of aging. Health problems include depression, anxiety, chronic pain, sleep problems, skin conditions, weight problems, and cognitive issues.

Stress can be caused by many things, but it’s important to realize what is worth stressing about and what isn’t. Many external life factors like work, school or relationship difficulties can make it seem like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, but there are things you can do to ensure you stay on top of it all. A supportive network of loved ones, a positive outlook, and the ability to confront and identify any issues and your emotional responses to them can make it much easier to handle any stress.

5. Smoking

Smoking has been an important part of many rituals and cultures for thousands of years, but it’s also become an addiction that has gripped millions of people all over the world. Shamans were using smoke for religious ceremonies as far back as 5000 BC, and when it was discovered by the Europeans in the 16th century it was quickly cultivated, harvested, sold and consumed at a rapid rate.

According to the American Lung Association, cigarettes contain around 600 ingredients. When burned, they produce more than 7,000 chemicals, at least 69 of which are cancer-causing. Chemicals that are found in tobacco smoke include acetone, a key ingredient in nail polish remover; acetic acid, found in hair dye; ammonia, also used in household cleaner; benzene, found in rubber cement; arsenic, also used in rat poison; and carbon monoxide, which is also released in car exhaust fumes, though there are many more harmful chemicals.

Smoking can cause many health issues and problems. It can increase your risk of macular degeneration, type 2 diabetes, erectile dysfunction, ectopic pregnancies, rheumatoid arthritis, fertility issues and gum diseases, among more. Smoking can increase the risk of cancer and is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. It causes roughly 90% of all lung cancer deaths and can damage every part of the body.

Smoking is an addiction. Cigarettes contain a highly-addictive substance called nicotine, which releases adrenaline in the brain when it’s smoked, creating a pleasant buzz. Quitting may seem almost impossible, but it can be done. Many people attempt to quit without success several times, but it’s important to keep at it. There are different ways to quit, and going ‘cold turkey’ isn’t the only way. You can talk to your doctor about your desire to quit, and together you can work out a plan of attack to successfully quit, be it from medication, nicotine-replacement therapy, counseling, hypnosis, or working with a supportive coach. No matter which option you pick, you can have success and be smoke-free.

6. Drinking Excessively Or Using Hard Drugs

Drinking too much and/or using any form of drug is damaging and harmful to your health. While alcohol is a popular beverage choice for many people all over the world, there’s a line between enjoying a drink and abusing alcohol. Excessive drinking refers to both binge drinking, which, for women, is four or more drinks in one occasion, and for men, five or more drinks; and heavy drinking, which is defined as more than eight or more drinks per week for women, and 15 or more drinks per week for men. It is possible to drink excessively and not be dependent on alcohol, but the more you drink, the higher the chance of suffering from alcoholism.

Excessive drinking has many short and long-term health risks. Immediate risks, like car crashes, violent behavior, and alcohol poisoning, can be attributed to the impaired behavior that occurs when we drink. Long-term risks include heart disease, liver disease, cancer, memory problems, mental health problems, and alcoholism. When we drink alcohol, it’s absorbed into the bloodstream and affects every area of the body. It interferes with the communication pathway of the brain, which causes poor judgment, mood changes, and abnormal behavior. It puts a lot of pressure on the heart, which can cause issues like irregular heartbeat and stroke, and puts intense stress on the liver, which can result in cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis, and much more.

Hard drugs, like heroin, meth, cocaine, and ecstasy, have similar potentially deadly effects. Drug abuse is a serious problem that arises from addiction, a chronic disease defined by drug seeking and compulsive use that is hard to control despite the negative effects. Drug abuse affects almost every organ in the body. Repeated drug use can cause irreversible changes in the brain,  and those who are dependent on drugs have a much higher risk of bad life outcomes like unintentional injuries, illnesses, disabilities, accidents, medical problems, and eventual death. There is no safe way to take drugs.

If you are struggling with drug and/or alcohol abuse, there are many ways to get help. Rehabilitation centers exist to safely detox your body from substance abuse, and various forms of counseling and therapy are available to help you find the strength within yourself to relearn how to live life without drugs and alcohol. There is no easy way to do it, and every option requires hard work, dedication, and commitment to sobriety, but you can be successful.

7. Ignoring Oral Hygiene

Not only do pearly whites help you feel great about yourself, good oral health can prevent bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease. Your mouth can be a reliable indicator of your overall health, and healthy teeth and gums can help protect you from serious problems like heart attack, stroke, diabetes and preterm labor. Early symptoms of chronic diseases like HIV/AIDS and diabetes can appear first in the mouth, so paying close attention to dental health can help you detect any potential problems.

The mouth is full of bacteria that feed on sugars from the food we eat, which creates acid that can attack the teeth, causing cracks and cavities that can quickly lead to decay. The bacteria, known as ‘plaque’, can build up and become harder to get rid of. If plaque isn’t cleaned away it eventually hardens and becomes tartar, which can only be removed by professional cleaning.

If left untreated, plaque and tartar will eventually cause gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis, which can lead to tooth decay and loss of teeth. Poor oral health has been significantly linked to many major diseases like respiratory diseases, kidney diseases, dementia, pneumonia, stomach ulcers, obesity and oral cancers. The best way to avoid problems like this is to conduct proper oral care.

Good dental hygiene includes brushing your teeth and tongue twice a day for at least two minutes, followed by flossing between the teeth and rinsing with mouthwash, eating a healthy diet full of vitamins and minerals that can help prevent gum disease, avoiding cigarettes and tobacco, and visiting the dentist regularly for a professional clean and examination.

8. Avoiding Sun Exposure

There are many benefits to getting some sun. Sun exposure gives us much-needed doses of vitamin D, which is important in maintaining healthy bones and teeth. It helps balance the body’s internal clock, also known as the circadian rhythm, while enhancing mood and lowering blood pressure, but too much can become detrimental to your health.

The sun contains the ultraviolet light that, over time, damages elastin fibers in the skin, which causes sagging, stretching and early signs of aging. Sun exposure can change your skin and cause pre-cancerous and cancerous skin lesions, benign tumors, wrinkles, freckles, skin discoloration, sunburn and much more. Sun damage is difficult to reverse, and it’s best to just try avoiding it completely.

Sun is essential to good health, but too much is a major cause of skin cancer. In the UK, it’s believed that more than 8 in 10 cases of melanoma would be prevented by avoiding sunburn and practicing sun safety. In fact, getting a sunburn just once every two years can triple the risk of skin cancer. If you’re concerned about your skin, it’s best to get it seen to as soon as possible. Some symptoms of skin cancer include crusty, non-healing sores, small lumps that are red or pale in color, and new spots or freckles that change color, thickness or shape. The faster a skin cancer is identified, the better the chances of recovery.

No matter your age, it’s important to balance your time spent in the sun, especially between mid-morning and late afternoon when the sun 

is at its peak. When you’re in the sun, ensure you cover your skin as best you can, by using SPF30+ sunscreen, long sleeves, long pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses. Avoid other sources of UV light, like tanning beds, to lessen the risk of skin damage and cancer.

9. Negative Thoughts

Many people wouldn’t believe that negative thoughts are bad for health, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Negative thinking can impact on the quality of your life and have a harmful effect on your mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.

To avoid negative thinking, there are many things you can do. Realizing that you have control over your attitude and your thoughts is first and foremost. Once you realize that, the next step is to pay attention to any negative thoughts that might enter your mind. When you notice a negative thought, it can be effective to say ‘stop!’, whether out loud or in your head. Firmly tell yourself to stop thinking like that. While it might feel a little strange or silly at first, the more you do it, the better you will get. Next, replace the negative thoughts with positive affirmations. It can be helpful to repeat these when you notice negative thinking.

Another effective way of ridding yourself of negative thoughts can be to write them down. Seeing your thoughts in black and white can help you realize they aren’t true, and reinforce your positivity. At first, it will be hard to let things go. If you have years of negative thinking built up in your mind, it takes a while to retrain your brain to think positively. But don’t give up!

Focus on your good qualities, and let go of the things you can’t do too well. Your failures don’t define you. Stay positive by doing the things you love, or picking up a hobby that you’ve wanted to do for a while. This can help you feel better about yourself and reduce stress by providing a healthy outlet for your feelings.

10. Avoiding Regular Medical Check-Ups

Even if you’re feeling healthy and well, it’s important to undergo regular check-ups. This can help identify issues as they arise and prevent them from worsening. Treatment for problems such as cancer can be much more effective when caught in the early stages.

During a check-up, you should have a complete physical examination. This will cover the basic systems of the body, like the heart, lungs, gut and nerve systems. Your heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate and body temperature will be taken and noted down in your medical file, and any potential issues found by the doctor will be discussed and a plan of treatment will be prescribed.

Take note of your family’s medical history too, as this can identify any potential health issues you may have. Some diseases are hereditary, like breast cancer and heart disease, so it’s important to inform your doctor if there are any health problems that are frequently seen in your family.

As we get older, it becomes even more important to get screened for various forms of cancer and other issues alongside your regular check-ups. Cancer screening can include mammograms for breast cancer, skin checks for melanoma and other skin cancers, colonoscopies for colorectal cancer and pap tests for cervical cancer.  Good health should not be taken for granted. By cultivating healthy habits and staying on top of your wellbeing, you have a much better chance of not only extending your life but ensuring it’s of the best quality possible.

11. Say goodbye to sugar and hello to water

It’s tasty and we crave it. Yes, it’s a fantastic preservative, the truth is you do not need sugar; in fact, any form of crystalized sugar should never be part of your daily diet. We have all become so used to grabbing an ice cold drink on hot days, or jugging down that “energy and vitamin boosted” drink and don’t forget those fast foods that we love to gobble down – the truth is it’s loaded with sugar.

Sugar is a really bad energy source. It will give you a quick energy boost and then be gone. This leaves you hungry. Remember our bodies need longer lasting energy sources that are high in nutritional value.  Did you know that sugar has zero – yes zero nutritional value – sugar has no value at all and in today’s world accounts for 20% of the average person daily calorie intake. Almost every food item that comes in a can, bottle, on a shelf or is preserved has sugar in it.

We don’t see it so we don’t count it.  You don’t have to deprive yourself of having a sweet treat every now and then. There are healthy alternatives (in fact they should be the first choice and not seen as an alternative) i.e. honey, fresh fruit or berries.   We have covered healthy diet further up so we’re not going to labor on about this.

It’s going to time and effort on your part to rid sugar from your diet. A good substitute as you go through the weaning off period is WATER.  Not only will you be hydrating yourself it eases off the craving.

12. Stop slouching and straighten up!

Without our spines, we are nothing other than a jellyfish lying on the floor.  This structure keeps us upright and we take it for granted. We have all had those days when we over exerted the day before by picking up a heavy load and struggle to straighten up. Spinal injuries affect more than 40 people per million globally – and these are the serious injuries. This does not account for aches and pains we all experience.

It may sound really stupid telling you to sit up straight or walk up straight with your shoulders back and your belly pulled in. But it will keep your core strengthened and keep your spine straight.  Regular exercise to strengthen your core, back and leg muscles help in keeping your spine health.

We spend a lot of time sitting down, whether it’s at work, socially or those countless hours on a soft sofa watching television.  Now we are not saying don’t do these things, Just do them mindfully. Use a chair with good back support.  When sitting in a chair keep your spine straightened, shoulders back and your head high.

Good posture allows all your joints and bones to be correctly aligned so that our muscles are being used properly. Good posture will also decrease the stress on your muscles and joints that surround your spine and give you a healthy back.  As you read this article take note of the way you are sitting.  Good posture also helps you to fight off fatigue. When we sit or walk slouched over we soon become tired.  Do yourself and your body a service and straighten up!

13. Stop taking your brain for granted

We all take our brains for granted and don’t really take time to nourish and exercise it.  What would your life be like if your brain did not work or slowed down? We all know that when we do physical exercise and eat a balanced and nutritious diet we feel better and are healthier.  How many people (including yourself) ever say…..I’m off to exercise my brain? Well, you should be doing it daily.

Most of us just feel like our brains are just another organ and do not really need our attention until you start feeling that your brain is not working properly. We need to keep our brains fit and healthy in order for it to function as it’s supposed to. If you don’t then the rest of your body is going to feel it. Remember our brains are the master control center of bodies and sends and receives messages allowing us to function.

By exercising your brain you continually enhance the connective tissues that exist between your brain and its neurons. This helps to keep your brain fast and fit. Learn something new every day. By challenging your brain to learn new things daily you are exercising your memory as well.

By doing these daily exercise routines it will help to reduce the decline of your cognitive functions such as; your ability to reason, to remember, pay attention, use of language and the ability to retain information. Go on do and learn something new every day. Play games that allow your brain to solve problems. Life is an adventure so share it with your brain.

14. Work Balance

We are all caught up in a capitalist society that pushes us to want stuff, be a “somebody”, get promoted in order to earn more, sadly for many globally it’s just a means to survive. It’s a relentless cycle with very little benefit other than to someone else’s bank balance and to the detriment of our selves. We have come to accept that working more than forty hours a week is expected and working through your lunch hours, tea breaks of coming in early and leaving late is “normal”.

If we keep going at this pace we are all going to burn out. We need to balance our lives between work, family, health, and harmony. Yes, we have bills to pay, children to feed, clothe and educate. We need to pay for our shelter and then cloth ourselves to protect us from the elements. But how is this affecting our lives; fatigue, burn-out, emotional and physical breakdowns, reliance on prescription medication to keep us going to just get through the day.

Try finding that balance between work and YOUR time.  When you leave work – do just that; leave work!  Technology has changed our lives and we all have cell phones and it’s become accepted that we need to be available 24/7.  This is destroying our lives and our health.

Be firm in your time and your space. Switch off. Take time out to play. Take a walk. Throw the ball for the kids or the dog. Be silly with your loved ones.  Work is not our entire existence. It is merely a means to an end and we have forgotten that there is joy in working.

15. Friends or Foe?

From the moment we can walk and communicate we start making friends. Friends can make or break us. So it’s best to take the time and effort to make sure the “friends” we have in our lives are the right friends and not ones that cause us strife and grief.There are a number of life benefits to having friends.  They support us. They love us. They challenge us. They check us. They are our sounding boards and our safe space in this world. They love us and they make us laugh and cry. Friends keep us going and keep us moving.  They also keep our minds active as they challenge us and help us learn new things or overcome fears. They make us laugh and live.

Friends also influence us and keep us balanced and our lives in check. When things are tough you have a friend who will go through these times with you as your will for them. We all need to be loved and cared for. When we are young we collect lots of friends and as we grow and develop as people we realize that some are real friends and will go through life with us whilst others are just friends for a season or a reason (as the saying goes).  We learn from friends. We give love and receive love from friends.

Our friends give us the support we need to navigate through our lives. Some people have only two “human” friends, but for many, a 4 legged “furbie” are also our friends.  You decide who your friends are. Don’t hang out with people who drain the life out of you.

16. Stop allowing others to determine your worth

Hard words and rejection from others can have a significant impact on your wellbeing. They can destroy your self-confidence and make you depressed. As you go forward after a negative experience, it can affect the way you approach all future endeavors. You are fearful of experiencing rejection again, and this creates a negative cycle in your life.

You will never be able to keep everyone happy.  We all have different preferences and varying expectations. Who you are and what you do may offend others even when the last thing on your mind is to do so. You can’t afford to keep modifying your actions to avoid giving offense.  A strong perception of your worth is necessary if you don’t want to be affected by the opinions of others.Your self-worth does not decrease when someone fires you or decides not to be friends with you anymore. It doesn’t change if you boss comes down hard on you at work. Your relationship status doesn’t dictate it. Your ego might be bruised a little when you face these situations, but it does not affect your core being. People may try to label you or make judgments, but you should know better. It takes courage and determination to stand strong when people don’t believe in you.

Taking on feedback and working to improve yourself is part of the growing process but be discerning about what you accept. Don’t focus on things you cannot change about yourself, such as the circumstances of your birth or your genetic inheritance.  Others things such as your attitude, what actions you take and the opportunities in front of you are more important. Work on what you can change and don’t fret about what you can’t change.

17. Stop buying possessions to make you happy

Spending money on experiences, rather than on accumulating possessions, often leads to a more comfortable life with more memories to treasure. When you’re happier, you tend to suffer from fewer health problems. We quickly get used to objects we have purchased, and they lose their initial appeal.  We then have to buy something new to regain the feeling.

Research done at San Francisco State University confirmed recently that people who spend money on experiences rather than objects feel it is better spent. The thrill of purchasing cars, clothing, houses and the latest technology wears off quickly, but memories from experiences can last a lifetime.  Going to a spa to be pampered and to de-stress will usually make you feel much better than walking out of a department store with packages, feeling guilty about what you have spent.

Small expenditures of money to eat, go to a concert or a movie with friends are worthwhile, and the positive social interaction makes you live longer. Resist the urge to buy expensive holiday homes, boats, and other items which you can easily rent. When you rent, you can have a good time and then go on to the next opportunity without any further responsibilities. Riding a horse is far less expensive than owning a horse, and it’s riding the horse is the experience you want. Buying gifts for others can bring you happiness. Pick out a unique bouquet of flowers for a loved one or surprise a friend with an unexpected gift. You will make them feel appreciated and this will make you feel better about yourself. Few things can give you a better feeling than bringing joy to others.

18. Stop excessive anxiety

Anxiety is very prevalent today and can dramatically affect your health. Heart disease, ulcers and breathing problems and other health issues are associated with anxiety. It’s normal to worry and its extremely difficult to avoid worrying about issues such as finances, relationships, and health. But if you’re experiencing uncontrolled, irrational or excessive anxiety, you could be suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

GAD can result in social, physical and occupational impairment. Some of the signs of this type of anxiety are feeling restless or keyed up, being irritable, having difficulty concentrating, battling to fall asleep, making endless lists and over-planning. A sudden flood of anxiety results in shortness of breath, nausea, sweating, heart palpitations and muscle tension. These symptoms are experienced as part of the ‘fight or flight’ response.

Cognitive behavior therapy may help people to gain control over excessive worrying. They are taught skills to manage anxiety and learn how to take control of their thoughts by actively identifying and challenging them. Those who have GAD often overestimate or underestimate situations. They prepare for the worst and anticipate disaster or underestimate their ability to cope. They can learn how to recognize these thoughts, identify what evidence exists to warrant them, examine whether they are realistic and identify realistic alternatives.

Relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, are also used to help control the physical tension that comes with anxiety.  Medication may be used, along with cognitive behavior therapy, relaxation and deep breathing techniques to help control anxiety. Exercise is also helpful in managing anxiety as it releases brain chemicals that counteract it. People are taught how to gradually confront situations rather than avoiding them due to the anxiety they provoke.

19. Move away from the wrong neighborhood

This can be tricky as many people do not have much choice about where they live. Neighborhoods are often chosen on affordability and people may have no choice other than to live in a small flat on the tenth floor of a building. With that being said, if you do have the resources and means to choose where you live, it can have a surprising impact on your health and longevity.

Living in a neighborhood surrounded by junk food outlets will probably make you more likely to eat unhealthily than when you’re living in a place where you have little access to takeaway foods. If any of the people in the neighborhood are obese, you are less likely to live a healthy lifestyle and watch what you eat. If the majority of people are health conscious and value eating healthily, you are likely to have many more options to do so too.

A neighborhood where you have plenty of opportunities to take walks outside and be active is more conducive to good health than one where this is not possible. Exercise is a key component of living longer. Various forms of exercises such as walking, cycling or running can reduce the risk of premature death by up to 12 percent. There is some research that suggests that even running for as little as five minutes a day can reduce this risk.

Even the quality of your sleep and your exposure to illicit drugs and alcohol is affected by where you live. If you can get out of a negative environment into one that supports a healthy lifestyle and you have the resources to do so, you should not hesitate.

20. Stop making excuses

When you make excuses, you are dishonest with yourself. If you keep making excuses and procrastinating, you will live with constant regret. If you act without hesitating and making excuses all the time, you will be able to accomplish what others fail to do. Success is more about how you respond to life than luck or chance.

Bad things happen to everyone, and you can’t make what happened to you an excuse for your lack of success in life. Oprah Winfrey was raped many times, fell pregnant at the age of 14 and the way she reacted to this enabled her to become one of the wealthiest, most respected woman in the world. She could have just given up and succumbed to the negativity of her circumstances.

You can use negative circumstances as the fuel to change your life and propel you forward. When you procrastinate or make excuses, you handicap yourself. Rather than risk failing, you create the conditions that make success impossible. Whether it’s learning a new language, taking a cooking class, writing a book or taking a trip to Europe, don’t put it off. Determine what’s important to you and go ahead and do it without any hesitation.

If you keep waiting for the right time to take action and make your dreams come true, it will never happen. Fulfillment and a sense of purpose keep people living for longer. Decide not to wait for the perfect time to make changes.  If you take the path of least resistance and keep avoiding challenges, you will lack motivation and a sense of fulfillment at having overcome obstacles and prevailed.  Commit to making those changes, and you will feel a renewed sense of purpose and live longer.

21. Being glued to your mobile phone all the time

How often do you look at your phone? Do you stay glued to it for extended periods? Can’t resist taking a peek? Well, many of us check our personal devices several times an hour. It’s become a habit for us to check our messages and emails, but what toll does this take on our lives? It’s no secret that real, face-to-face interactions are reducing in favor of virtual contact and devotion to our mobile phones.

If you want to live a long life, interacting with other people has been scientifically shown to be beneficial. So, get off your device and start interacting with real, live people. If you feel this will be difficult to do, start off by delaying your reactions to your mobile’s beckoning. Then, take a device-free day and think about how you feel. It can be quite liberating. The idea is for your devices to take second place to proper social interaction.

22. Getting into debt

There are no two ways about it, but stress is a silent killer that affects the health and well-being of millions around the globe. Even with all of life’s conveniences these days, we seem to simply be getting more stressed than ever before. One of the biggest stresses in life can be financial.

Not being certain of whether you can pay your bills is extremely stressful and can lead to illness. So, it makes sense that avoiding getting into debt might one way of reducing the stress you experience. This involves avoiding taking out loans, opening credit card accounts, and EMIs. The problem with all these types of debt is the interest that becomes payable on these accounts. You can end up paying a huge amount more in the long-run compared with the original cost of the item. Avoid saddling yourself with debt.

23. Hating the gym

Actually, it’s not only the gym, but it’s also exercising in general. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve probably heard it a million times: in order to stay healthy, you need to exercise. Many of us are employed in jobs that require us to sit for most of the day. The problem is, science says that hours of sitting can be extremely dangerous for your health.

If you work in an office where you sit at a desk all day, take a break at least every 40 minutes, even if you just walk around the office. Another way of working physical exercise into your routine is to take a walk at lunchtime instead of sitting. All you have to do to stay reasonably fit is to take a brisk walk or jog for about 30 minutes, a minimum of three times a week. You’ll live longer for it.

24. Staying away from supplements

One of the most important things you can do to extend your life is to eat a properly balanced, varied diet. But if your diet is lacking, a multivitamin might be an important addition to your daily routine. The vitamins and minerals contained in some multivitamins are essential nutrients that your body requires in small amounts to operate properly.

If you aren’t eating a balanced diet, you should not take multivitamins for an extended period of time as it has been found to be harmful. Taking too much can also be harmful. Making changes to your diet is first prize for living a longer life, but there are certain people who should definitely take supplements because they are at risk of deficiency. These include pregnant women (Folic acid), Vitamins A, C, and D for children aged 6 months to 5 years, as well as vitamin D for a large segment of the population who are deficient.

25. Being unhappy at work

Research has found that people who work in high-stress jobs that are a dead end, with abusive employers can sometimes turn to alcohol and/or drugs to cope, leading to earlier death. So yes, that job could just be killing you if you use this type of coping mechanism. There is an interesting relationship between people’s careers and the length of their lives.

Studies show that conscientious people live longer because they are also conscientious about their health and personal safety. Persistency and the tendency to meet challenges head-on and with a positive attitude are also related to a long, healthy life. But if you think people who take it easy live the longest you’d be mistaken. The people who live the longest are those with productive, meaningful careers. These people remain engaged, continuing to set new goals once milestones have been reached. Striving seems to be important to long life.

26. Relying on your genes

If you think that because Aunty Joan lived to a hundred, and your grandparents are still in good shape in their nineties, don’t be so sure that you’re going to live a long time. In fact, recent scientific research conducted on twins in Northern Europe found that our genes are only responsible for about one-third of the length of our potential life-span.

So, if you don’t have ancient relatives, this will probably come as something of a relief. It means that two-thirds of our longevity potential is down to other factors such as lifestyle and environment. Some of these factors are exposure to toxins, stress, exercise, diet, medical care, and social relationships. The great news is that all these factors can be altered, as soon as we want to. There’s no point in focusing on your genes, even if you do have very elderly family members. There’s nothing you can do to change your genetic inheritance.

27. Focusing on major challenges only

If you constantly set yourself goals that are hard to achieve, you’re always likely to be disappointed and disheartened. That feeling does no-one any good. So, instead of making a radical change in lifestyle, try taking baby steps. Choose to make one small change at a time. For example, if your goal is to eat more healthily, instead of setting yourself up for failure with an all-or-nothing attitude, try getting up just 15 minutes earlier to eat a healthy breakfast or pack a good lunch for yourself.

If you need to get more exercise, try taking a walk around the block – or further – at lunchtime. Your digestion will thank you, and your cardiovascular health will receive a boost. The thing about small changes is that they’re easy to fit into your routine. No massive change is required, minimizing the likelihood that you will fail to reach your goal.

28. Ignoring chronic conditions

As we age, and even sometimes earlier on, the likelihood of developing chronic illnesses becomes greater. The problem with these conditions is that they seem to creep up on you, adversely affecting your health a little more each day. These conditions are often called ‘silent killers,’ and for a good reason. The changes that come with conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, and diabetes can be undetectable. So much so that it’s easy to develop something like high blood pressure and be completely asymptomatic. And unless you fracture a bone, you’re unlikely to know if you have osteoporosis.

The answer is to have regular medical check-ups and screenings. If you are conscientious about your health, you’re more likely to catch problems early, making them more likely to be solvable. If you do develop a chronic condition, always take your medication according to your doctor’s instructions.

29. Not pursuing your interests

If your life is all about work and chores, listen up. For your mental well-being, and a consequently happier, healthier life, choosing a healthy hobby can’t be beaten. There’s something about making something with your own two hands that has an extremely positive effect on self-esteem, mood, and overall well-being. Hobbies are great for relieving stress, and they get your mind active. They can also get you interacting with others interested in the same activity or hobby as you. That’s also good news for living a longer life.

Strong social relationships are strongly linked to longevity. We’ve all got so much on our plates, that some stress is unavoidable. But hobbies act as a distraction, give us something to look forward to, provide an outlet for creativity, and induce a sense of peace. Whether it be yoga or quilting, reading or knitting, a healthy hobby is positively therapeutic.

30. Exposure to harmful chemicals

If you live in a city or commute to one for work, you’re probably breathing in a whole lot of pollution. A 2013 study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that airborne pollution in China might have reduced the lives of 500 million people by 2.5 billion years. The study found that participants who had had lifelong exposure to 100 micrograms of ‘total suspended particulates’ (tiny particles in the air, eg. pollutants) per meter of air cubed will reduce a person’s lifespan by 3 years.

Although our respiratory system is designed to deal with these tiny particles, some pollutants can get through the body’s defense systems and cause inflammation in the lungs. This could cause breathing problems, make existing conditions worse, and even lead to death. Other substances to avoid include processed foods. Science shows that these foods are drenched in chemicals that are often harmful to our health.

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