Monday, March 24, 2014

10 Ways You May Be Cutting Your Life Short Without Knowing It

While we fully ascribe to the idea that you are only as old as you feel, some of us still engage in behaviors that hurt our chances of feeling good as we age. Topping out the calendar at 100 may not be a personal goal, but how about staying healthy and active as you age gracefully? Who doesn't want that? How many of these 10 statements have you said?

1) There is no such thing as a bad potato chip.
Chips are the enemy. You can bake them instead of frying them and that may help a little, but at the end of the day a bag of potato chips will never be something your body needs. Sure, go for it if you can just eat one chip -- but if you are anything like us, you don't stop until you drain the bag into your open mouth and then say something like "why did I just do that?" Most commercially produced chips -- corn chips, potato chips, tortilla chips -- are high in trans fat, which raises your level of bad cholesterol. High cholesterol leads to heart disease and strokes.

2) I drive down the driveway to the curb to get the mail.
Exercise is your friend, and while you may not feel like joining the 20-somethings at the gym, looking for ways to get your heart rate up while you do everyday tasks counts. Walk the dog instead of just letting her out in the yard. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. At lunch, leave your desk and walk around the block. It all adds up. The average person takes about 2,000 steps to walk one mile, so taking 10,000 steps is close to 5 miles. A sedentary person averages 1,000 to 3,000 steps a day. Wear a pedometer and see how much you are doing.

3) I hate water and never drink it.
Soda isn't a substitute for water. In fact, nothing is a substitute for water. Every system in your body depends on water.

 Lack of water can lead to dehydration. As for how much water to drink every day, well, the old "drink 8 glasses of 8 ounces of water" has been amended to "of fluids" to accommodate stress on our kidneys. But carbonated diet drinks -- loaded with sugars or artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors -- just isn't the same as the pure stuff.

4) Salt is the only seasoning I ever use.
The amount of salt you eat has a direct effect on your blood pressure. Salt causes your body to store extra water, which raises your blood pressure. The higher your blood pressure, the greater the strain on your heart, arteries, kidneys and brain. This can lead to heart attacks, strokes, dementia and kidney disease.

5) I can't get pregnant, so I don't make my partner use a condom.
In 2011, the most recent numbers available from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified more than 12,000 cases of gonorrhea, about 2,600 cases of syphilis and more than 22,000 cases of chlamydia in people ages 45 to 64. Things in the bedroom just got a whole lot more complicated, didn't they?

6) I still smoke, but have cut way, way down.
We are glad you've cut down, but now let's cross the finish line already. Less is better than more, but none is best of all. The CDC says smoking harms every organ of the body and shaves years off your life, but you know that already. It's 2014. If not now, when?

7) I stop drinking by 9 p.m. so I can still take my sleeping pill.
Mixing alcohol and prescription sleep aids leads to trouble, not better sleep. So no, you should not be sipping wine all evening and then coming home to an Ambien or Xanax. Talk to your doctor about this please. Remember Whitney.

8) I don't go to doctors because I feel fine and why go looking for trouble. Preventative medicine is a good thing. Acting like an ostrich and keeping your head in the sand isn't. Colonoscopies, mammograms, pap smears -- they remain important to your well-being. So are regular blood tests and cholesterol checks. Early detection for some kinds of cancers greatly improves your chances of surviving them and may allow for less invasive treatment options.

9) My hearing is fine, it's just that restaurants are so noisy nowadays.
Your hearing may not be fine. You may be one of the 36 million Americans who suffer hearing loss as they age. Just a reminder that hearing aids today are barely visible and are technologically refined to the point where the wearer sees improvement in just about every social situation -- noisy restaurants included. Now how does ignoring deafness impact your health? While no one ever died of deafness, your quality of life suffers mightily when you start to avoid parties and going out because you can't hear the conversation.

10. It's not that I need reading glasses; I need longer arms.
It's been said that by our mid-50s, everyone needs reading glasses. Why fight it? Reading glasses are available at every drugstore and optometrist. When it's time, it's time. Again, a quality of life issue.

Ann Brenoff | HuffPost

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