Surprising Bad Habits That Will Shorten Your Lifespan

There are some seriously bad habits that can shorten your lifespan, but you'd be surprised to learn what they are.

When it comes to health, some people swear by the keto diet, while others claim going on long walks is the key to optimal health. Whatever it is, it's pretty easy to determine what is and isn't healthy. Or so you might think.


While it's no secret that things like unhealthy eating habits and smoking cigarettes can shorten your lifespan, some habits aren't so obviously bad for you. Though it's pretty obvious that there are certain tendencies people have that just aren't good for them, such as eating a burger every day or drinking a bottle of wine every night, there are some surprising bad habits that will shorten your lifespan, and a few of them will probably shock you. You might not realize it, but some of the day-to-day activities you participate in and the choices you make can make a big difference in your life. It's not all about avoiding too many saturated fats and second-hand smoke because your health is complicated and a lot of things can impact how long you live. 


Not getting the right amount of sleep is a bad habit that can shorten your lifespan

Getting a good night's sleep can obviously make or break your day, but there's actually a lot more to it than that. Believe it or not, but not getting enough sleep can actually shorten your lifespan in a number of ways. A study from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School found that "sleeping five hours or less per night increased mortality risk from all causes by roughly 15 percent." This might not be too surprising, but a lack of proper sleep can also cause a lot of health issues. 


According to the study, there is a link between not getting enough sleep and weight gain leading to obesity. Additionally, the study reports that insufficient sleep has been proven to lead to diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, a weakened immune system, and mood disorders. If you are one to stay up late and not get a good night's sleep, this research might just have you changing your bad habits. A lack of sleep isn't healthy and, in many cases, can actually shorten your lifespan. 

Sitting too much is a seriously bad habit

There's a reason why wearable health devices like the Apple Watch and Fitbit encourage you to stand and walk during the day: Sitting too much can kill you. Well, not overnight, but it has been linked to a shorter lifespan. A study published by JAMA Internal Medicine found that "prolonged sitting is a risk factor for all-cause mortality, independent of physical activity." Basically, if you sit too much, even if you work out every day and burn a ton of calories, you could be at risk for a premature death. Yes, that means you, with the office job who goes to Crossfit every night. 


The Wall Street Journal reported that "sitting down for more than three hours a day can shave a person's life expectancy by two years," no matter how physically active that person is in addition to their sitting time. Having a desk job in an office can make it hard to avoid sitting down for prolonged periods of time, but it's important to try, as this bad habit is a lot more dangerous than you would think.

Not getting enough social interaction can lead to a shorter lifespan

While it's not crucial to have a thriving social life, it doesn't hurt. And in fact, not getting enough social interaction in your life can actually cause you to not live as long as those who do get plenty of social interaction. A study published in the journal PLOS Medicine found that there was "a 50% increased likelihood of survival for participants with stronger social relationships," compared to those who didn't have strong social relationships.


Because of that correlation, the study concluded that "the influence of social relationships on risk for mortality is comparable with well-established risk factors for mortality." In short, having strong social relationships is crucial for a long life, and not hanging out with others is a bad habit that can potentially shorten your lifespan. Again, that isn't to say that you need a ton of friends and have to make plans every night, but it's important to establish solid relationships with a few good people in order to live a long life. Think about it — having great relationships helps prevent you from getting lonely, which in turn makes you happier and apparently live longer. 

You could be shortening your lifespan by watching too much TV

All those times your parents yelled at you for watching too many cartoons on Saturday morning... well, they might have been on to something. The fact is that watching too much TV is a bad habit that could have a negative influence on how long you live. A 2011 study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that watching two or more hours of television of day can lead to certain diseases and a decreased life expectancy. 


As hard as it may be with all the amazing new titles on Netflix and Amazon, it's important for your health to not watch too much television or else you could potentially shorten your lifespan. "The message is simple. Cutting back on TV watching can significantly reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and premature mortality," senior author Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, told Science Daily about the study.

Eating too much red meat is another bad habit that can shorten your lifespan

While you might be aware that eating too much fast food or binging on candy and junk food every day isn't exactly the best choice, there is actually a surprising eating habit that could be having a huge impact on your health. If you eat too much red meat, you could be shortening your lifespan. According to a study from Harvard Medical School, a diet high in red meats can actually lead to an increased risk for disease and premature death, as reported by BBC News


The authors of the study concluded that "a higher intake of red meat was associated with a significantly elevated risk of total, cardiovascular disease, and cancer mortality." Specifically, the study found that if a person were to add an extra portion of processed red meat to their diet, the risk for overall mortality was increased by 20 percent, which is no small number. While the study noted that it's totally fine to eat red meat in moderation, eating too much is definitely a bad habit.

Not working enough can influence how long you live

As strange as it may sound, not working at all or not working enough can actually shorten your lifespan. Of course, there's a balance to strike, as working too much isn't good, either, but, as working gives you purpose, social interaction, and so much more, it makes sense that you would need to work in order to live long. At least, that's what one study found. The study, published in the British Medical Journal, according to MedPage Today, found that those who retired too early had a greater risk of mortality. 


Specifically, those who retired at 55 years old actually doubled their risk of death before they turn 65, than those who worked until they were 60 or older. To be fair, there could be a lot of reasons why there was an increased risk of death for those who retired early, but it's still important to continue working while you can. 

If you're not working out well enough, you could be cutting your life short

As important as it is to work out, not all exercise routines are created equally, and some are a little more effective than others. As great as running and other cardio exercises are, they aren't the be-all, end-all of healthy living. In fact, as Dr. Scott Schreiber told Bustle that only doing cardio when you workout, instead of incorporating other exercises such as weight training, is a bad habit that can actually be detrimental to your health and could potentially shorten your lifespan. 


"If you are just doing cardio, your body will become less efficient at burning fat, and begin to break down muscle tissue instead," Schreiber said. "Sacropenia, a decrease in muscle tissue, has been shown to cause people to move less, increase risk of heart disease and diabetes, and eventually decreasing longevity." So, next time you head to the gym make sure you're grabbing some weights instead of just jumping on the elliptical. Do some squats and deadlifts in addition to going for a jog, and you just may find you like it. And really, your health might just depend on it. 

Worrying too much is a bad habit that can have an awful impact on your lifespan

Though it's important to be aware of your surroundings and to keep up with future plans, that doesn't mean you should worry too much in life. In fact, having too much stress, anxiety, and worry might actually shorten your lifespan. There have been a few studies that have found that worrying too much is a bad habit that can increase the risk of heart problems and overall mortality. 


One study found that those participants who were concerned with a terrorist attack were "three times more likely than the others in the study to be given diagnoses of new heart problems," according to The New York Times. A 2012 study found that "life expectancy was perceived as shortened in patients with death anxiety" in cancer patients. And finally, a different study from 2010 concluded that "reminders of death did however lead to shorter life expectancy estimates among young-old participants." Basically, worrying won't get you anywhere and could in fact lead to a shorter life. 

Having a negative outlook on life is a bad habit that can influence your health

It's totally normal to have bad days, weeks, or months. However, having a negative outlook on life can generally lead to a shorter lifespan for a variety of reasons. According to a 30-year study from the Mayo Clinic, people who were classified as optimists tended to live longer than those described as pessimists. By using the Optimism-Pessimism scale of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, the study ranked people as optimists, pessimists, or mixed and then tracked their health. 


Specifically, the study concluded that having a pessimistic outlook on life "is significantly associated with mortality." It isn't always easy to be cheery and positive, but constantly being grouchy and in a bad mood can actually lead to disease and stress and can weaken your immune system. So, if you feel yourself starting to get too negative or discouraged, try to remember that staying positive is what's best for your health. Being pessimistic is a bad habit.

Consuming too many foods from plastic containers is a bad habit that should be avoided

It's not exactly a secret that single-use plastic containers are bad for the environment, but even plastic containers that you can use more than once might not be great for your own health. A report from Scientific American found that bisphenol A (BPA) found in plastics "can promote human breast cancer cell growth as well as decrease sperm count in rats." The report also found that the amount of BPA in plastics "leaches" when the material was exposed to high heat, such as being microwaved or washed in the dishwasher. 


Additionally, "drinking out of plastic water bottles increases your exposure to xenoestrogens that can lead to breast cancer, fibroids, and cysts," Dr. Gabrielle Francis told Bustle. Basically, plastic is bad for the environment, your health, and your lifespan, so it's probably best to avoid using plastic materials, especially when it comes to handling your food. Fortunately, there are plenty of healthy alternatives to plastic, so that you don't have to drink from plastic water bottles or reheat your food in a plastic container anymore. 

Being on your phone too much is a bad habit that could shorten your lifespan

Basically everyone knows that constantly being on your phone isn't exactly good for you, but increased phone usage can actually lead to certain diseases and health issues that you might not have realized. According to a report from the National Cancer Center, "people who talk on the phone for several hours a day are 50% more likely to develop brain cancer." 


Additionally, texting or being on social media too often can also bring about some serious health risks. "Using your smartphone in excess has been shown to cause pain in the neck, shoulders, head, and back," Dr. Scott Schreiber told Bustle. "Sustained abnormal postures have been shown to decrease lifespan by putting pressure on internal organs, blood vessels, and nerves. In addition, those that experience chronic pain have a decreased lifespan." Smart phones are incredible technological devices, but overusing them can be a bad habit and definitely has a lot of adverse effects. 

Over-using hand sanitizer is a surprisingly bad habit

In a lot of cases, using hand sanitizer might seem like a great idea. For example, if you just used a public restroom with no hand soap, hand sanitizer might be the best way to go. However, using it too much probably is just a bad habit. In fact, the FDA issued a warning against hand sanitizer in 2016: "Long-term exposure to certain active ingredients used in antibacterial products — for example, triclosan (liquid soaps) and triclocarban (bar soaps) — could pose health risks, such as bacterial resistance or hormonal effects."


Additionally, Dr. Scott Schreiber told Bustle that constantly using hand sanitizer can just make you more susceptible to disease. "Over-using hand sanitizer will create an environment for antibiotic-resistant bacteria to grow," Schreiber said. "These bacteria are very difficult to get rid of and can cause a myriad of health conditions." Clearly, hand sanitizer isn't the best substitute for just washing your hands.

Not ever leaving the city isn't good for your health

Living in a city might be convenient for a lot of reasons. You'll have easier access to entertainment, top-notch health care, and plenty of social activities and work opportunities. However, city life can actually harm your health in the long-term and not just from the pollution. In fact, it's the noise that can shorten your lifespan, and, if you don't get out of the city enough, it can be pretty damaging. 


A new study from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine found that the high noise associated with city living actually could increase the potential for mortality. "In this study, we observed that the risk of death from any cause was increased by 4% in areas with noise level over 60 decibels when compared to quieter areas," study co-author Jaana Halonen told the Los Angeles Times. Of course, that doesn't mean you can't live in a big city, but that it's important to leave every now and then and to do what you can to reduce the noise surrounding you. 

If you never have sex, it could lead to a shorter lifespan

As most adults know, having sex is usually pretty great, and it can definitely make you feel good. Additionally, it's pretty common knowledge that having sex has a lot of physical benefits, including a boost to your immune system and lower blood pressure, according to WebMD. But on top of all of that, not having sex can actually shorten your lifespan. 


A study from BMJ found that the "mortality risk was 50% lower in the group with high orgasmic frequency than in the group with low orgasmic frequency." The study, which only focused on men, proved that "sexual activity seems to have a protective effect on men's health." Basically, having sex doesn't just feel good, it is good, especially when it comes to your health and wellness. In fact, it might even help you live longer, which is all the more reason to get it on when you can. So, you can pretty much consider not having sex to be a bad habit.