Skip to content

Everyday Habits That Age You 10 Years, Say Experts

Don’t make these mistakes, which can shorten your life.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek
Unhappy young woman wearing white t-shirt checking skin, looking in mirror, standing in bathroom.

We all want to stay young forever, but if you've lived a while, you realize that you'd settle for being healthy enough to seem young. That's where this article comes in. There are everyday habits that age you 10 years or more, both cosmetically but also biologically, and we've collected them here—so you can avoid them. Read on for the 5 most important—and to get through life at your healthiest, don't miss Things to Never Do After Age 50, Say Experts.

1

You're Exposing Yourself to Long COVID

Tired woman lying in bed can't sleep late at night with insomnia
Shutterstock

"You are 40 years old but feel 70," is how one doctor described Long COVID to his son-in-law. He was right. Post-COVID Syndrome, or Long COVID, can come after a coronavirus infection, even (and sometimes usually) a mild one, leading to symptoms that may never go away, the primary one being a fatigue and post-exertional malaise that makes all the things you loved impossible to do. An estimated 30% of people who get COVID get this. Get vaccinated, which can reduce your symptoms even if you have a "breakthrough" infection, and mask up if you live in an area where few people are vaccinated. And for the full list of symptoms, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.

2

You Think It's Cool to Not Sleep Much

Sleepy exhausted woman working at office desk with her laptop, her eyes are closing and she is about to fall asleep, sleep deprivation and overtime working concept

Pride yourself on not needing a lot of sleep? You're not impressing anyone but yourself. If you're not getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, your skin will sag, but your body's internal processes won't function properly. With no time to generate new cells, your brain will be impacted; some studies have even shown it can lead to dementia. "Studies have suggested that sleep patterns earlier in life may contribute to later dementia risk," says the report from just this April, from the National Institutes of Health. "Both insufficient sleep and sleeping longer than average have been linked to a greater likelihood of developing dementia. However, it has been hard to determine whether these sleep changes contribute to the disease or simply reflect early symptoms."

3

You're Leading a Sedentary Lifestyle

woman watching TV

Not moving enough on a regular basis doesn't just mean you're lazy; it means you could be in danger. Your body's systems require movement to work properly. When they say "get your heart pumping," they're being literal. "As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day," says the Mayo Clinic. "If you want to lose weight, maintain weight loss or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more."

4

You've Gained Enough Weight to Become Overweight or Obese

gaining weight
Shutterstock

Many Americans are overweight or obese and don't even know it.

  • If your BMI is 25.0 to <30, it falls within the overweight range.
  • If your BMI is 30.0 or higher, it falls within the obesity range.

This can not only age you but make your life shorter. "From cancer to diabetes to heart disease, obesity increases the risk and severity of these medical conditions," says John Magaña Morton, MD, a Yale Medicine obesity expert and division chief of bariatric and minimally invasive surgery. "When you add in that obesity decreases the effectiveness of medical treatment and raises the risk of complications during treatment, obesity is by far the most consequential health condition we have."

RELATED: Sure Signs You May Have Dementia, According to the CDC

5

You're Not Wearing Enough Sunscreen—Even on Non-Sunny Days

happy woman relaxing in the garden smiling as she applies sunscreen or skin cream
Shutterstock

I know, we sound like your mom—or, if you are a mom, we sound like you! But moms are usually right, and in this case, they agree with doctors. Sun ages your skin because the skin is so fragile. What looks like a nice, youthful tan today turns into eye droop next year. And no one will be admiring that natural glow if your face is wrapped up in gauze due to skin cancer. "You can reduce your risk of skin cancer by limiting or avoiding exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation," says the Mayo Clinic. Use a powerful sunscreen. "Checking your skin for suspicious changes can help detect skin cancer at its earliest stages. Early detection of skin cancer gives you the greatest chance for successful skin cancer treatment." And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more
Filed Under