YOLO, you only live once. The motto was popularized by pop artist, Drake. But it has become the battle cry of millennials everywhere. YOLO is the justification people need to live dangerously and irresponsibly. But does a YOLO lifestyle mean you’re aging yourself prematurely?

Everyone ages at a different pace. What causes these changes are a combination of genetics and lifestyle. While we can’t alter our genetics, we can determine our lifestyle.

There is no fountain of youth or a Holy Grail of immortality. Therefore, if you want to not only live longer, but hang on to your youth as long as you can, you might want to cut out these 6 things that prematurely age you.

Smoking Cigarettes

It’s well documented that smoking cigarettes will shorten your life. But what might not be as well known is that smoking can prematurely age your skin. A 2007 study found that female smokers, whose skin was categorized as being roughly nine years older than their chronological age, reduced the age of their skin by 13 years by quitting smoking. Subjects found improved elasticity, brightness, pigmentation, and texture of the skin.

Not Sleeping Enough

Sleep is how the body recovers and rejuvenates itself. It’s an important part of our health. If you’re not sleeping enough, or getting restful sleep, you’re straining your body. Lack of sleep is linked to weight gain, which can also cause aging. In fact, even sleeping on your stomach can speed up the aging process since it puts pressure on your connective tissue and collagen in your face.

Drinking Excessive Alcohol

There are plenty of studies that advocate the health benefits of moderate amounts of alcohol. The problems is that most people don’t know what a “moderate” amount is. Too much alcohol, which can be more than one drink for older men and half a drink for older women, can cause problems. Alcohol dehydrates your skin, which causes wrinkles, and speeds up the aging process.

Sedentary Lifestyle

Exercising doesn’t just keep you trim and looking good, it can also fend off Father Time. People who exercise have a lower level of inflammation in their bodies. This is a natural way to keep your body young. Just twenties minutes a day of moderate exercise can be quite helpful to prolonging your youth.

High Sugar Consumption

Experts believe that too much sugar can make your skin dull and wrinkled. The reason is a process called glycation. This process attaches sugar in your bloodstream to proteins and creates advanced glycation end products (AGEs). The more sugar you eat, the more AGEs you have in your system, which in turn damage similar proteins. Collagen is the protein that keeps your skin firm. AGEs can damage your collagen, thus making your skin dry and wrinkled.

Living a Stressful Life

We’ve documented the health hazards stress has to one’s health, but it also accelerates the aging process. Stress can shorten DNA sections called telomeres, when telomeres become too short the cells become damaged or die. This has been linked to diseases like cancer and Type 2 diabetes, but also early aging. Your telomeres naturally break down over time, but stress has been found to accelerate this process. It’s important to your health to manage your stress.

Drake is right when he shouts YOLO! You do only have one life to life. But that shouldn’t mean do whatever you want because you’ll be dead someday. It should make you want to treat yourself right and take care of yourself.

If you don’t and you engage in these activities, it could impact your health insurance in the future. Speak to an agent if you have questions about your premiums and health habits. Otherwise, try to avoid these activities to prevent premature aging.

Image Courtesy of Stas Svechnikov

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