Let’s be honest: From the moment we’re born, we’re all dying just as we’re living. But certain mundane things we do every day may actually be helping us get there faster. None of this means we should even try to eliminate these behaviors from our lives entirely, but it’s proof that overdoing anything, even when seemingly innocuous, can have serious impacts on our health. Below we’ve rounded up 11 everyday things you’re probably doing that could potentially shorten your lifespan.
1. You’re having a hard time finding love.
Having a difficult time finding a mate can shave off months of your life, while being single for prolonged periods of time could cost you a whole decade. A study found that communities with gender ratios skewing significantly more male or female caused the minority s*x to have shorter lifespans. Even when exposed to short time frames of competition, such as attending a high school entirely of one gender, participants were found to have generally shorter lives.
On top of all this, another study found that never getting married could increase risk of death over a lifetime by 32 percent, and led to the previously mentioned loss of a decade.
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2. You’re sitting down for more than a few hours every day.
Two whole years of your life could be cut just from sitting more than three hours a day. Australian researchers found that even regular exercise couldn’t deter the potential negative effects of sitting for long stretches of time. Another study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine found that sitting for more than 11 hours a day increased the risk of death by 40 percent over the next three years, compared to sitting for under four hours a day. Time to get that stand-up desk.
3. No Friends.
People with weak social connections were found to die at much higher rates than their counterparts, according to research. The same researchers found that prolonged loneliness could be as bad for your lifespan as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
On top of all this, elderly people with large circles of friends were found to be 22 percent less likely to die over a tested study period, and those social connections generally promote brain health in aging brains.
4. You’re vegging out in front of your TV.
5. You’re eating too much unhealthy food.
6. You’re still looking for a job.
7. You’re dealing with a long commute.
8. You’re having a dry-spell.
A study among men found that failing to climax for extended periods of time can potentially cause your mortality rate to be 50 percent higher than for those who have frequent orgasms. This result was found even when controlling for factors such as age, smoking, and social class. On the opposite spectrum, orgasms have been linked to quite a few additional health benefits.
9. You’re putting up with annoying co-workers.
Missing out on strong connections with your co-workers can also potentially mean missing out on a longer life. Peer social support, which could represent how well a participant is socially integrated in his or her employment context, is a potent predictor of the risk of all causes of mortality. Although having feelings of encouragement coming from bosses and managers didn’t seem to affect the subjects’ lifespans, those who reported feelings of low social support at work were 2.4 times more likely to die over the study period.
10. You’re not sleeping enough (or maybe too much?)
Harvard Medical School points out that research has shown that life expectancies significantly decrease in subjects who average less than five or more than nine hours a night.
Most of us suffer from too little rather than too much sleep, but research suggests there truly is a sleep “sweet spot” — at least if you’re primarily concerned about living for as long as possible.
Chronic lack of sleep is associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, some cancers, dementia, cognitive and memory problems, weight gain and early death. And some research shows that too much (dramatically, unusually too much) regular sleep could be problematic as well.
Research has also shown that we need an average of eight hours to function optimally, but another, somewhat controversial study found that getting more than seven hours of sleep a night has been linked to shortened lifespans.
11. You’re fearing death or that you won’t live for as long as you’d like.
This is a painful paradox. A fear of a shortened lifespans, or Thanatophobia, can potentially end up causing – a shortened lifespan. A 2012 study on cancer patients ended up finding that, “life expectancy was perceived as shortened in patients with death anxiety.”
Outside of cancer patients, an intense fear of death can also lead to a three to five times increase in the risk of cardiovascular ailments, according to research on Americans who feared death from another terrorist attack following Sept. 11, 2001. Although a slight fear of death has been shown to have positive benefits, like an increase in exercise and healthy eating, the fear has been shown to significantly affect lifespans, especially in adults nearing the age of being considered elderly. These effects can also be correlated to especially paranoid people having weaker connections with society and increased feelings of alienation – the negative effects of which were both discussed above.