7 Things to Stop Doing if You Want to Live a Long Life

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How long do you want to live?

If you’re anything like the nearly 70% of adults polled by Edward Jones and Age Wave, 100 might sound like a good round number. However, you aren’t likely to reach that milestone age without first cultivating some healthy habits.

Here’s a look at some of the things you should stop doing if you want to live a long life.

1. Stressing out

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Chronic stress can make life feel miserable, may age your body and can even cause premature death. Several studies have linked chronic stress to conditions such as heart disease, digestive disorders and cancer, all of which have the potential to cut short your lifespan.

If you’re feeling stressed, check out these cheap and easy ways to find inner peace.

2. Sitting

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Some say sitting is the new smoking, and studies have shown that prolonged time in a chair can have serious negative effects on your health.

In 2022, researchers from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and Beijing’s Chinese Academy of Medical Services reported the findings of their research that tracked data from more than 100,000 people over an average 11-year period.

They found those who sat for six to eight hours a day had a 12%-13% increase in their chance of early death and heart disease. The risk factor rose to 20% for those who sat more than eight hours a day.

3. Eating processed foods

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If you’re living off frozen pizzas and microwave meals, it might be time to dust off a cookbook. Eating ultra-processed foods like these was linked to 10% of all-cause, premature preventable deaths in Brazil in 2019. Similar results have been found in studies out of France and Spain.

And if premature death doesn’t scare you, maybe you’ll be motivated to change your eating habits by the fact that processed foods have also been linked to cognitive decline.

4. Overeating

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Regardless of what you eat, having too much of it can shorten your lifespan if it makes you obese.

A 2016 study of data from more than 10.6 million participants from 1970 to 2015 found that as a person’s body mass index (BMI) increased so too did their risk of mortality. In particular, overweight people are more prone to deaths related to cardiovascular health, respiratory disease and cancer.

Don’t think you can starve yourself and live forever, either. The study also discovered that underweight individuals were at a higher risk for mortality.

5. Drinking heavily

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While there are some health benefits associated with wine, there is also no doubt that drinking too much alcohol is bad for your body. The CDC says there are more than 380 deaths in the U.S. each day due to excessive alcohol use. Those who die prematurely may have cancer, liver disease or heart disease, and they shorten their lives by an average of 26 years.

What is excessive drinking? For women, the government says it’s four or more drinks on a single occasion or eight or more drinks a week. For men, the numbers are five and 15, respectively.

6. Turning down invitations

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Even introverts need to get out and socialize from time to time. In fact, the CDC warns that social isolation after age 50 can increase your chances of premature death by as much as smoking, obesity and physical inactivity.

A lack of social relationships is linked to a 29% increase in heart disease risk and a 32% increase in stroke risk.

If that weren’t bad enough, social isolation can raise your risk for dementia by about 50%, the government says.

7. Staying up all night

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Some people revel in their ability to function on a minimal amount of sleep, but staying up all night could mean you have fewer years left to enjoy. A 2018 review of the matter found that those who get fewer than six hours of sleep each night are 10 times more likely to die prematurely.

Insufficient sleep has been linked to a myriad of health problems including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. What’s more, you may be more likely to have fatal accidents if you are operating on too few ZZZs.