With age comes wisdom, experience, and confidence, but it’s also accompanied by health conditions that can negatively impact your quality of life. Aging is generally marked by signs of physical deterioration in the body. You look, function, and feel different as you age, and many of these signs of visible to others as well. This is the natural process of life and no one is immune to the effects of time.
Following healthy habits throughout your lifetime can slow the aging process and keep you looking and feeling younger for years to come. Conversely, falling into certain bad habits can accelerate aging, making you look and feel older than your years.
Here are 25 bad habits to stop if you want to look and feel great longer.
Aging Habit #1. Eating inflammatory foods.
Foods that are fatty, sugary, or processed can cause inflammation in your body, which makes you feel less than fabulous. Additionally, this inflammation can create wrinkles in your skin.
Instead, eat whole foods like fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and foods rich in healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids. All of these will give you the energy and nutrients that are vital for maintaining your skin’s collagen.
Aging Habit #2. Cutting all fat.
Low- and no-fat diets sound like just the trick for weight loss, but like any extreme in dieting, they can be detrimental to your health. They deprive your body of healthy fats that are necessary for good skin, heart, and brain health. Eat the healthy fats found in oily fish, nuts, eggs, avocados, and other foods – only avoid saturated fats.
Aging Habit #3. Skipping the produce aisle.
Nothing helps regulate weight and nourish your body with vital vitamins and minerals better than fruits and vegetables. You’ll need those nutrients even more as you age and your body begins losing them more easily.
Make it your goal to get the recommended 2 servings of fruit and 3 servings of veggies each day to promote healthy organ function, oral health, and great skin.
Aging Habit #4. Digging into dessert.
A sweet treat here and there is fine, but if you’re serving up sugary, fatty sweets every night, you’re looking at weight gain, tooth decay, and even skin damage. Ingested sugar molecules attach themselves to the proteins in the skin, triggering a process called glycation that causes puffiness, fine lines, big pores, and circles under the eyes, making you look older.
Save dessert for special occasions or replace the cake and ice cream with nutritious fruit.
Aging Habit #5. Drinking alcohol.
Alcohol abuse has many serious effects on your body’s vital organs, but even controlled drinking can age you. As a natural diuretic, alcohol dehydrates your body, leaving your skin dry and exaggerating lines, blemishes, and wrinkles.
Abstain completely or enjoy an occasional drink, followed by adequate water to flush out the toxins in alcohol.
Aging Habit #6. Not drinking enough water.
The average adult is chronically dehydrated. Over time, this can affect your health and appearance. Water is necessary for just about every process in your body and for flushing out toxins, so obviously it’s important for maintaining your overall health.
Replace juices and sodas with water and bring a bottle of water with you when you’re away from home to help you get the recommended eight 8-ounce glasses a day.
Aging Habit #7. Stressing out.
Stress is unavoidable, but letting it build up can disrupt sleep and eating patterns, increase your blood pressure, and even shorten the lifespan of your body’s cells, causing them to be damaged and die quicker. All of these will make you feel and look older.
Remove yourself from unnecessarily stressful situations when possible, and take up stress-reducing activities like exercise, meditation, or a fun hobby.
Aging Habit #8. Staying in.
Scientists aren’t completely sure why, but adults with active social lives tend to live longer. It could be that having fun with friends reduces stress levels. Social activities also delay mental decline, keeping your brain healthy.
Plan a night on the town with old friends, join a party, schedule a weekly lunch date with a pal, or join a new club or social organization to keep yourself feeling young.
Aging Habit #9. Not Enough Sleep.
It’s no wonder most adults do not get enough sleep but failing to get a good night’s rest has negative consequences. These include poor concentration and memory, weight gain, sallow skin, and an impaired immune system, just to name a few.
Make an effort to get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. Turn off your devices and go into relaxation mode an hour before bed, create a relaxing atmosphere in your bedroom, and see a doctor if you experience chronic insomnia.
Aging Habit #10. Sleeping on the wrong pillow.
When you do manage to catch some zzz’s, do so on a silk or satin pillowcase. These smooth materials don’t pull on the skin of your face as much as cotton or polyester, which helps prevent wrinkles.
Aging Habit #11. Tanning.
Tanning and sunbathing are some of the worst things you can do to your skin at any age. It might give you a sexy, bronzed look for a while, but all those UV rays damage skin cells and blood vessels, giving you a leathery, weathered look as you age. Sun damage also exacerbates wrinkles and dark spots.
Stop tanning now if you haven’t already and start covering up when you’re in the sun. Use sunblock religiously as well as appropriate clothing to protect your skin.
Aging Habit #12. Smoking.
It causes a variety of cancers and other life-threatening diseases but aesthetically smoking causes discoloration of your teeth and skin. Both smoking and secondhand smoke cause the breakdown of collagen in your skin, leading to deep wrinkles and lines on not only your face but also your upper body.
Consult the myriad of addiction recovery resources available today to quit this dangerous habit and save your skin – and your life – for many years to come.
Aging Habit #13. Slouching.
Slumping and slouching in your chair all day long can lead to permanent bad posture that can become painful and eventually lead to spine degeneration and deformity. It’s hard to remember, but check in with yourself throughout the day to straighten your back and consider obtaining an ergonomic chair to help you out.
Aging Habit #14. Being a couch potato.
We all know exercise is good for us. It helps maintain muscle mass and flexibility that tend to wane with age and prevents many serious health conditions. Some studies show exercise trains your cells to utilize oxygen more efficiently, promoting overall body health and slowing the effects of aging.
If you hate exercise, start slow. Do it with an accountability buddy or incorporate it into other daily activities you have to do anyway.
Aging Habit #15. Exercising too much.
Conversely, it’s possible to age your body by overworking it. Besides tiring yourself out with excessive workouts that damage your body over time, you can age your face with what’s known as “runner’s face,” the name for sagging caused when your skin is exposed to more free radicals outdoors.
Educate yourself on healthy amounts of exercise for your age and sex, and replace some of your exercise time with a less strenuous activity if necessary.
Aging Habit #16. Binge-watching TV.
Besides being a strain on your eyes, excessive television time leads to excessive sitting which leads to excess weight and all the consequences associated with obesity, like heart disease, hormonal imbalances, and diabetes, to name a few.
Instead, balance TV time with activities like walking, exercise, or even housework–anything that gets you up and moving.
Aging Habit #17. Sitting, sitting, and more sitting.
Again, living a sedentary life contributes to weight gain and a number of serious health conditions. If you sit a lot during the workday, stand up or take a short walk at regular intervals and set aside time to exercise outside of work.
Aging Habit #18. Squinting.
Whether from reading, sunlight, or because you need a new glasses prescription, squinting creates creases in the delicate skin around your eyes over time and eye cream can only do so much to help.
Give your eyes and skin a break and get those new glasses or sunglasses.
Aging Habit #19. Not having an evening skin care regimen.
All day long, you expose your skin to pollutants and free radicals found outside, then you let them sit on your face all night while in bed. These molecules break down the collagen in your face, leading to lines, wrinkles, dryness, and blemishes.
Instead, wash your face nightly and apply a moisturizing night cream to erase the damage done by the day and prevent those signs of aging.
Aging Habit #20. Not using retinol products.
Retinol is a vitamin A derivative that stimulates new skin cell growth and collagen production. These two things slow down as you age and cause wrinkles, dryness, spots, and dull skin.
If you aren’t already using one of many skin care products that contain retinol, look for one and add it to your daily regimen to revitalize your skin and keep it youthful.
Aging Habit #21. Forgoing moisturizers.
This goes for both your face and whole body. Your skin loses the ability to produce and regulate body oils as you age, leaving you dry and flakey. Rehydrate your skin with nutrient-rich lotions, creams, oils, and serums made from natural ingredients to bring back its silky smoothness.
Aging Habit #22. Using too much makeup.
Besides making you look out of touch with cosmetic trends, too much makeup can clog pores and irritate skin, creating blemishes and redness. It also tends to hang out in the lines of your face, making them look deeper.
Search for makeup application tips from the pros and remember less is more.
Aging Habit #23. Over-dyeing or -treating hair.
Harsh chemicals in hair dyes and treatments like relaxants or perms can dry out and damage hair, leaving it thin, brittle, and prone to breakage. Look for more natural hair products when treating it and give your hair breaks from treatment whenever possible.
Additionally, it’s vital that you use damage repairing conditioners and revitalizers to keep your mane full and lustrous. You can also go natural and avoid treating your hair at all!
Aging Habit #24. Washing your hair every day.
Believe it or not, you don’t have to shampoo your hair every day. Doing so strips it of its natural oils, which your body will struggle to replace as you age. For naturally softer hair, try shampooing every other day and using a dry shampoo in between if you really must.
Aging Habit #25. Avoiding the dentist.
Toothless gums is a perennial stereotype of old age, but it could become a reality if you don’t practice good oral health. Brush and floss regularly, see your dentist twice a year, and avoid sugary foods and staining beverages in excess to keep your pearly whites healthy and young.
Start Good Habits Now
There are lots of products out there to cover up the signs of aging, but they’re just a band aid, not a solution. There’s no way to cover up feeling older, not to mention the impact that poor health has on your daily activities.
The more wholesome approach is to replace bad habits with good habits as soon as possible to slow aging and keep you looking and feeling younger than you are for the rest of your life. Taking care of yourself is the best way to enjoy life both now and later, and your older self will thank your younger self for making the decision to be healthy.
This article was written by Mariam Kathet, a blogger and infopreneur who writes on various topics, including skin care. At present, she works on behalf of Annmarie Skin Care.