While ageing is an inevitable part of life, how quickly or well you age depends on many different factors. Although there are some obvious causes of premature ageing, there are many seemingly harmless things that can also add on the years.
Here are our top 10 surprising things that age you.
While we all know that spending hours in front of the television is bad for your waistline, you may not know that it can also shorten your lifespan. Researchers from the University of Queensland found that for every hour you watch TV you may shorten your life by as much 22 minutes. Furthermore, research has suggested that watching TV could increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Drinking from bottles and through straws
You probably know that what you drink can affect your looks, but you may be surprised to hear that how you drink can also influence how well you age. In fact, sucking on straws and drinking out of sports bottles causes the same pursing action – and therefore the same fine lines and wrinkles around the mouth – as smoking. Try drinking directly from the glass whenever you can to help keep the wrinkles at bay.
Too little (or too much) exercise
The benefits of exercise are immeasurable for keeping you looking and feeling young. Not only does a lack of exercise shorten your life and increase risk of obesity and heart disease, but exercise can also keep your brain young by protecting against Alzheimer’s, boosting your mood and leaving you feeling alert and energised. Furthermore, increased blood flow to your skin can help keep your complexion clear, bright and youthful-looking. On the flipside, while we should all make an effort to stay active, too much exercise can cause stiffness in joints and increase risk of arthritis.
Many of us spend a fortune on anti-ageing skin products, yet we may regularly accelerate skin ageing without even being aware of it. The central heating and air conditioning systems that many of us use at home and at work can severely dry out skin, leading to premature ageing and wrinkles. To help keep skin youthful and soft, try turning down the heating and wearing more layers to stay warm. Keeping a glass of water in the room can also increase humidity, while wearing a protective face cream can help relieve dryness.
Eating too much sugar is clearly bad news for your waistline; however sugar consumption is also up there with sun exposure and smoking when it comes to the major causes of wrinkles. When blood sugar levels are high, a process called glycation occurs which damages the collagen in your skin. Once damaged, the normally springy collagen hardens, leading to wrinkles and sagging.
Listening to an iPod
Hearing loss is a common symptom of ageing, yet many of us may suffer from diminished hearing early on due to listening to loud music through headphones. While listening to music sparingly and at a moderate volume is unlikely to do you much harm, a study has shown that listening to music on headphones for an hour can temporarily affect people’s hearing, while some researchers have suggested that listening at full volume could put you at risk of permanent damage.
While having a job is pretty essential for most of us, it can also be one of the biggest causes of premature ageing. Firstly, work is a big source of stress for many people, which research has found can increase risk of heart disease and speed up cell ageing. Secondly, spending too many hours in the workplace can mean you have little time for essentials such as exercise, proper meals and sleep. To help minimise damage, try to avoid working exceptionally long hours and make the most of your evenings and weekends as times to relax.
While you may think that soap is your skin’s best friend, this is actually not the case. The reason for this is that your skin has an acid mantle which is a natural protective barrier of the skin. When you wash with soap – which is generally alkaline – it can remove this protective layer of oils and dry out the skin, eventually leading to wrinkles. While it is not advisable to stop washing entirely, try swapping the soap for a PH-neutral and chemical-free cleanser, and bear in mind that there is such a thing as over-cleansing your skin.
You may think you’re indulging in a bit of beauty sleep when you hit the hay at night; however the opposite could in fact be true. If you regularly sleep with the same side of your face pressed against a cotton pillow case this may cause creases on the skin which can eventually turn to fine lines and wrinkles. To help stay youthful overnight try sleeping on your back instead, or switch to a silk or satin pillowcase to create less compression wrinkles and help maintain skin’s moisture levels.
Low fat diets
Many of us switch to low fat diets to help shed excess pounds. However, cutting out good, healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids could negatively affect the speed and way in which you age. Omega-3 fatty acids – present in oily fish, walnuts and flax seeds – are essential for keeping you looking and feeling young. Not only do they help keep skin supple and wrinkle-free, but they help boost brain health, keep your heart in good condition, and can even increase your lifespan.