4 Ways to Grow 12 Years Younger

4 Ways to Grow 12 Years Younger

Turn back the clock a whopping 12 years with just four simple but super-important habits: Kick butts, booze, junk food, and couch surfing to the curb.

Many of us probably have at least two of these unhealthy habits knocked out. But nix the other two and you could live significantly longer. In fact, a large 20-year study showed that engaging in even one of these Major Agers -- smoking, drinking too much alcohol, eating a poor diet, or skipping exercise -- can boost the risk of early death by 80 percent.

Change Habits, Live Longer
Of these four Major Agers, smoking was the worst culprit in the bunch. And that was followed closely by getting little to no exercise. (Tennis, anyone?) But indulging in all four bad habits was super bad -- and not in a cool teen-movie kind of way. In the study, having all four bad habits tripled people's odds of dying from heart disease and cancer. And it raised the risk of dying early from any cause nearly fourfold compared with the folks who had kicked all of these age-accelerating habits out of their lives.

Baby Steps, Baby . . .
If you have a lot of changes to make, don't fret. Here's some really good news: Simply cutting back on most of these habits will turn back the clock. For example, people in the study grew younger just by getting 30 minutes of exercise each day, munching on at least four servings of fruits and veggies daily, and getting their number of mai tais down to a moderate level. Mortality rates were below average for this group. So don't feel overwhelmed by the need to be perfect. Change may be easier than you think if you tell yourself it is and you just take baby steps.

And here's some help in making these four bad habits history:

Medically reviewed in March 2020.

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