Habits are a double-edged sword. Healthy habits can change your body, mind, and general life trajectory for the better. They’re profoundly beneficial and transformative. Unfortunately, unhealthy habits can ruin your health and overall longevity. Worse still, you might be engaging in these habits daily without realizing just how dangerous they are. Here’s a list of four everyday habits that can turn deadly if left unchecked.
Poor sleep quality and chronic sleep deprivation can disastrously affect your physical and neurological well-being. Several studies have shown that middle-aged persons who get six or fewer hours of sleep per night are 30% more likely to suffer from dementia (Bryant, 2021). Likewise, scientists have linked inadequate sleep to a laundry list of health issues, including high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, and anxiety. If living a long, healthful life is your priority, don’t skip out on a good night’s rest.
The benefits of cardiovascular and strength training are challenging to ignore. Yet millions worldwide continue living largely sedentary lifestyles that are slowly killing them. A lack of exercise can increase the likelihood of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes (CDC, 2022). Cardiovascular activities like cycling, jogging, and swimming can go a long way in preventing such diseases. Resistance training exercises like weightlifting are essential, too. Recent studies have shown that an hour of strength training per week can lead to a 15% risk reduction in all-cause mortality (Momma et al., 2022). Resistance training can also help you mitigate the risk of serious injury, especially in your senior years. Exercise is a cornerstone of healthy living and remaining injury-free in your later years, so remember to stay active.
Neglecting Sun Protection
There is nothing wrong with enjoying a little sun during the year’s warmer seasons. Sun exposure is critical for regulating several bodily functions, including circadian rhythms, energy levels, and vitamin D absorption. With that said, too much of anything is harmful, and the results can be deadly in the case of sun exposure.
One of the most common causes of squamous cell and melanoma skin cancers is overexposure to UV radiation from the sun. In Canada alone, around 80,000 people are diagnosed each year with skin cancer, and a whopping eighty to ninety percent of those cases are linked to UV exposure (Sander et al., 2020).
The solution is simple: sunscreen. Studies have shown that routine sunscreen use can significantly decrease cancer rates among most age demographics (Sander et al., 2020). A sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection and an SPF of at least thirty will keep your skin healthy, youthful, and cancer-free.
The last item on the list might seem obvious, but vaping rates continue to rise yearly. Since 2011, the global number of e-cigarette users has soared from 7 million to 41 million in 2018 (SingleCare, 2022). Although not as dangerous as cigarettes, research has shown an increased risk of chronic lung disease and asthma among frequent vape users (Blaha, 2022). The vaping industry is also less regulated than traditional tobacco products leading to the use of chemicals with unknown risks in the production process.
Lastly, vaping does not help reduce nicotine addiction. If anything, nicotine use has soared amongst younger demographics since the introduction of e-cigarette products into the mainstream. In a 2021 U.S. National Youth Tobacco Survey, over two million middle and high school students reported frequent e-cigarette use (Blaha, 2022). Traditional cessation methods, including nicotine replacement therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, are far healthier options than vaping.
If you struggle with any of the abovementioned habits, remember to be patient with yourself. Breaking habits takes time, but with enough consistency, you’ll be able to put these nasty habits behind you and live a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle.
- Blaha, Michael Joseph. “5 Vaping Facts You Need to Know.” Health, Johns Hopkins Medicine, 20 Jan. 2022.
- CDC. Chronic Disease Fact Sheet: Physical Inactivity. National for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 8 Sept. 2022.
- Erin, Bryant. “Lack of Sleep in Middle Age May Increase Dementia Risk.” National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 27 Apr. 2021.
- “Muscle-Strengthening Activities Are Associated with Lower Risk and Mortality in Major Non-Communicable Diseases: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Cohort Studies” by Haruki Momma, Ryoko Kawakami, Takanori Honda and Susumu S Sawada, 28 February 2022, British Journal of Sports Medicine.
- “The Efficacy and Safety of Sunscreen Use for the Prevention of Skin Cancer” by Megan Sander, Michael Sander, Toni Burbidge and Jennifer Beecker, 14 December 2020, Canadian Medical Association Journal.
- SingleCare. “E-Cigarette and Vaping Statistics 2020.” The Checkup, 17 July 2020.