Beware of These Everyday Habits That Accelerate Aging

Everyday Habits


The older you get, the more your body changes. This can be both a good and bad thing. Your joints may ache more, and you could have more health problems, such as hypertension, arthritis, and elevated blood sugars, than when you were younger, but you’re also wiser. And while you can’t stop the aging process, certain lifestyle habits can cause you to age faster. These, you want to avoid. Let’s look at some of those.

The Two Big Vices

Alcohol and smoking are toxins, which can damage your body. According to the World Health Organization, there is no safe amount of alcohol that does not affect health. For example, alcohol is a liver toxin, while smoking causes oxidative damage and free radical formation that age cells and tissues. Alcohol is known to cause liver disease, but also increases the risk of various types of cancer, from esophageal cancer to liver cancer.

As you know, smoking damages your lungs and increases the risk of lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. If you smoke, kick the habit and, if you can’t give up alcohol, restrict it to no more than a glass of wine, or a serving of beer – and talk to your doctor about your risk factors.

Being a Hermit

The connection between living alone and a shorter lifespan is strong enough that scientists have a name for it: the “loneliness effect.” Research links social isolation, loneliness, and living alone to higher risks for various physical and mental conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, and cognitive decline.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), loneliness is linked to a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.

Loneliness can also harm your mental health. Research reveals loneliness increases the risk of depression and anxiety. In addition, these feelings further cause people to turn away from friendships — another factor that can accelerate aging and lead to an earlier death. Ensure you’re getting out and interacting with other people. One way to do that is to volunteer. You’ll be helping a bigger cause too!

Not Prioritizing Sleep

Sleep is an important aspect of staying youthful. You need quality sleep for your body to repair and regenerate, and sleep supports mental health. Lack of sleep increases the stress hormone cortisol, which causes premature aging. Higher cortisol, related to lack of sleep, damages collagen, a protein in the deeper layers of your skin that helps it stay firm and wrinkle-free.

To get a good night’s sleep, avoid bright lights before bed, and ensure you’re comfortable by lowering the temperature in your bedroom. You should also turn off electronics at least an hour before sleep, as they can interfere with the ability to fall asleep easily. If these tips don’t work for you, talk to your doctor and be sure there’s no medical reason, such as sleep apnea, that’s making it harder for you to fall asleep or stay asleep.

Too Much Sugar and Junk Food

Excessive sugar is another major factor that can affect how quickly your body ages. Consuming copious amounts of sugar may increase the risk of age-related health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer. Consuming a diet high in sugar also boosts glycation, a process that damages proteins and the DNA, a cell’s genetic material.

Glycation damages collagen, the protein that keeps skin looking youthful. Research has found that people who consume a fast-food diet with a high intake of sugar have a greater risk of premature aging than those who eat a more plant-based diet.

Not Managing Stress

Stress is one of the biggest contributors to aging. When you’re stressed, your body releases cortisol and other chemicals that make you feel like you want to curl up in a ball and sleep for days on end. Cortisol by itself is aging, but stress also contributes to weight gain by making it difficult for you to control hunger. Weight gain can lead to obesity, another lifespan shortener.

Plus, stress can raise your blood pressure by causing your arteries to constrict. This means blood has trouble flowing through them properly and the stress on the blood vessel wall is higher. This increases the risk of heart attack or stroke.

How can you regain control of your body’s stress response? Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help reduce stress and provide a sense of calm. Also, staying physically active, preferably outdoors, has a calming effect and helps with stress management.

Not Wearing Sunscreen

Sunscreen is important to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays and can reduce the visible signs of aging, like wrinkling and skin laxity everyone is trying to avoid. Wear it even on a cloudy day to protect your skin against aging. There are different types of sunscreen for different types of skin and the strength of UV light in a particular area.

If you have sensitive skin, use a sunscreen that’s fragrance-free or hypoallergenic. If you have oily skin, there are moisturizers with sun protection, and if your face tends to get dry or flaky when wearing sunscreen, look for one with hyaluronic acid as an ingredient. Wearing it will also help prevent other health problems like skin cancer.

The Wrong Exercise Balance

It’s a myth that you must do hours of cardio to stay healthy and slow the aging process. Too much cardio can accelerate aging by increasing the stress hormone cortisol. Strike a balance between cardio and strength training. Building muscle will help you burn more fat, even when you’re not exercising. Strength training also reduces age-related muscle loss. One way to get a shorter cardio workout in is by doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts — short bursts of intense activity followed by short rest periods.

Not Monitoring Your Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar

You may not see the damage that high blood pressure is doing to your body, but it’s still happening. High blood pressure can cause stroke, heart disease, and kidney disease. It’s also the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Heart Association. The good news is that the aging effects of high blood pressure on your blood vessels are preventable or manageable with lifestyle changes and proper medications — and it doesn’t have to be difficult or overwhelming.

Monitor your blood pressure and talk to your doctor if it starts trending too high. Make sure you’re doing some form of cardiovascular exercise (after getting clearance from your doctor) and eat a whole-food diet that doesn’t contain excessive sodium.

See your doctor regularly to check your fasting blood sugar level. Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes may have few symptoms and they’re a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease and other health problems. Know your numbers!


Who doesn’t want to age gracefully and enjoy the golden years in good health? Aging is not just genetics. Avoid these lifestyle habits that can speed up the aging process and cause you to look and feel older.


  • com/NIHAging. Social isolation, loneliness in older people pose health risks. National Institute on Aging. Published April 23, 2019. Accessed December 23, 2022. nia.nih.gov/news/social-isolation-loneliness-older-people-pose-health-risks
  • Loneliness and Social Isolation Linked to Serious Health Conditions. Published 2022. Accessed December 23, 2022. cdc.gov/aging/publications/features/lonely-older-adults.html
  • Sleep deprivation linked to aging skin, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Published 2013. Accessed December 23, 2022. sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130723155002.htm
  • Solares H. How Sugar In Your Diet Is Aging You Prematurely. Fittoserve Group. Published August 23, 2021. Accessed December 23, 2022. fittoservegroup.com/sugar-diet-aging-prematurely/
  • ‌ High Sugar Consumption Linked to Increased Risk of Premature Aging in Childhood Cancer Survivors. American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). Published November 17, 2022. Accessed December 23, 2022. aacr.org/about-the-aacr/newsroom/news-releases/high-sugar-consumption-linked-to-increased-risk-of-premature-aging-in-childhood-cancer-survivors/
  • “No level of alcohol consumption is safe for our health”. 2023. Www.Who.Int. https://www.who.int/europe/news/item/04-01-2023-no-level-of-alcohol-consumption-is-safe-for-our-health.

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