Nobody wants to age faster than they have to. Surprisingly, things you might even do on a daily basis can add years to your life and even make you look older. Here’s how to use the kibosh on seven of these seemingly harmless behaviors.
Sip from a straw
How it ages you: Whenever you sip through a straw, pull on the muscle, the orbicularis oris, that circles your mouth. “If you do this again, the skin on that muscle changes so that you get cavities, just like the wrinkles you get on your forehead,” says Dr. Ronda S. Farah, Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the University of Minnesota.
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The anti-aging update: If you occasionally drink a straw sipper or use a straw because of dental problems, keep sipping. Otherwise, skip them. You’re also doing the environment a favor because Americans use 500 million straws every day, many of which pollute the waterways.
Getting a daily dose of pollution
How it ages you: According to a study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, age spots on cheeks increased by 25 percent in people in China and Germany. “Pollution is synonymous with free radicals that damage the healthy cells of your skin and attack and kill elastin and collagen, causing wrinkles, discoloration, rough texture, aging skin and even skin cancer,” says Amanda Sanzone, medical esthetician at Dr. Matthew Schulman, a plastic surgeon in New York City. Working with many clients who recently moved to town, Sanzone finds their skin changes for the worst after just a few weeks, she adds.
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The anti-aging update: Add antioxidants to your daily skin care routine, says Sanzone. Using ingredients like vitamins C and E, grape seed extract, green tea, and resveratrol helps fight pollution and free radical damage to the skin. While exfoliating products like exfoliators, alpha hydroxy acids, and retinol are okay, use them in moderation, as over-exfoliating can weaken your skin’s natural barrier and cause more damage from pollution.
Sleep on your side or in your stomach
How it ages you: Whenever you sleep on your side or in your stomach, you create imbalances in your body, says Farah. Side sleepers who prefer one side to the other may lose face volume or even change the shape on that side of their face. Thanks to the weight of your head pressing on the skin of your face, wrinkles can also form when you slap your face in a pillow, even if it’s only on one side.
The anti-aging update: It is best to sleep on your back. Since it can be difficult for side and stomach sleepers to train to be back sleepers, you should at least change positions. For example, if you always sleep on your right side, you sleep on your left side and vice versa. Or, if you are on your stomach, turn your head from side to side so that you can take the pressure off your face.
Take on too much at work
How it ages you: Being stressed at work can lead to work-related fatigue, which can accelerate your biological aging rate. This is the conclusion the researchers came to in a study by PLOS ONE after examining more than 2,900 men and women aged 30 to 64 years. Those with the most severe fatigue who suffered high stress weekly had more biological aging, as evidenced by shorter telomeres, the end of their DNA. “Chronic work stress can cause your body to age faster than usual,” says Dr. Kirsi Ahola, lead study author of the Finnish Institute for Occupational Medicine in Helsinki.
The anti-aging update: While brief periods of stress aren’t harmful, chronic stress is why you should monitor your wellbeing at work, says Ahola. If you have trouble sleeping or controlling your emotions, or in pain for no reason, you may be consuming too much at work. If possible, ease this burden. That will not happen? At least take better care of yourself by getting enough sleep and following healthy lifestyle habits. Most importantly, take time each day to relax from stress. This means that you don’t work at home after hours, don’t work overtime, and have time to relax and social and physical activities.
Don’t log the sleep you need
How it ages you: Sleep deprivation is linked to numerous health problems, including an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Now add facial aging to that list. In women aged 30 to 49, the signs of aging, including the acceleration of fine lines, increased susceptibility to dehydrated skin, and uneven skin tone, were in women who reported slept less than five hours a night for at least a month double what women who did, reported sleeping more than seven hours a night for at least a month, according to a study by Estée Lauder and the University Hospitals Case Medical Center.
The anti-aging update: Work to get at least seven hours of sleep each night. Of course, that’s not always easy. So, follow these strategies from W. Chris Winter, MD, a sleep specialist in Charlottesville, Virginia and author of The Sleep Solution (Berkley, 2017): Make time to sleep by committing to keep a schedule and stick to it. Keep your sleep schedule as consistent as possible (“It helps maximize deep sleep, which in turn maximizes growth hormone secretion that keeps you youthful,” he says.) Eliminate sleeping pills and / or alcohol from your nightly routine, start yours Day out with exercise and meditate before bed.
How it ages you: If there is one downside to weight loss, this is this: When you lose weight, you often lose volume on your face, especially your cheekbones and chin, which can work against you. “Loss of volume on your face is one of the most important things that make you look older,” says Farah.
The anti-aging update: Talk to a certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon about revitalizing your face with fillers. This could stimulate your body to produce collagen, a protein that gives your skin strength and elasticity and can help with future aging prevention, says Farah. You will have better success using fillers in your 30s and 40s than if you are older, she adds. Start with reversible fillers versus permanent fillers. The reversible type uses hyaluronic acid, which is easy to dissolve if you don’t like the results.
Binge watching television
How it ages you: Catching up on your Netflix shows may be your favorite time, but it could cost you – 21.8 minutes. So much, a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that for every hour of television you watch after you turn 25, you shave your life. Even worse? Watching TV an average of six hours a day means living 4.8 years less than people who don’t watch TV. “Watching television is a sedentary activity that increases the risk of many diseases, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes,” says Lennert Veerman, Ph.D., lead study author for Cancer Council in Australia.
The anti-aging update: Limit television time to a maximum of two hours per day. Other studies have shown that up to two hours a day doesn’t significantly increase your risk, says Veerman. A limitation? If you are very active during the day, you can watch a little more.