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Four Habits That Could Kill You

Four Habits That Could Kill You

This week I want you to take a look at your habits. Specifically, I want you to look at four things that you may or may not be doing. After each one, you'll either get a zero or one point. When you're finished, those points will give you a rough idea of how much longer (or shorter) you can expect to live. Ready to find out?

Habit Number One: Do you eat fruits and vegetables at least three times a day? Fruit roll-ups, jelly-filled donuts and anything deep-fried doesn't count. I'm talking about some lettuce and tomato on a sandwich, an apple with breakfast, broccoli or cauliflower beside your dinner or a banana in the afternoon. Whole fruits and vegetables, not juices, blends or breaded stuff.

If you eat fruit or vegetables at least three times a day, that's worth ZERO points. If you don't do the minimum, give yourself ONE point.

Habit Number Two: Do you smoke? Yes, one cigarette a day counts. So do clove cigarettes, pipes, cigars and marijuana. You don't get a free ride if your brand says "all-natural" or "no additives" either. If you inhale the smoke from some sort of dried plant, you're a smoker. And planning to quit isn't enough.

If you DO NOT smoke, that's worth ZERO points. If you smoke, give yourself ONE point.

Habit Number Three: Do you drink alcohol and if so, how much?

Measure your alcohol consumption over a typical week. You need to add together what you drink for seven days. If you're a man, do you drink more than about a cup of red wine or 1.5 pints of beer per day? If you're a woman, do you drink more than about 3/4 a cup of red wine or a pint of beer per day?

If over the course of a week, you don't drink or you drink LESS than the amounts mentioned above, you get ZERO points. If you drink MORE than mentioned above, give yourself ONE point.

Habit Number Four: Do you exercise more than two hours a week? You may not classify as exercise any of the following: yard work, cleaning house, washing a car or going to the corner store for something, unless the corner store is at least 2 miles away and you got there by jogging.

Exercise that counts is anything that engages your muscles, causes you to break a sweat or doing something continuously physical for at least 15 minutes at a time. Dancing, swimming, weight training, bike riding, jogging, paddle boarding and tennis can all be considered exercise if you do them vigorously enough to break a sweat.

If you manage MORE than two hours a week, you get ZERO points. If you do two hours or less, give yourself ONE point.

Now it's time to add up all the points. According to the United Kingdom Health and Lifestyle Survey of 4,886 people, those with the LOWEST score will live the longest. Every point you have reduces your life expectancy. Those individuals who have four points (all four bad habits) can expect to live an astounding 12 years less!

What's worse, the ones with the bad habits deal with more illness and a poorer quality of life. Not only will those bad habits cost you more than a decade, but the years you do live are more likely to be plagued with poor health.

Don't worry; you don't need to make dramatic lifestyle changes to lower your risk. Eat four servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Have a veggie egg white omelet for breakfast. Take a plum for a mid-morning snack. Bring along some carrots for lunch and put a vegetable on your plate with dinner.

Block out 30 minutes each day to break a sweat exercising. Walk briskly or jog to and from work. Spend part of your lunch hour in a gym. Pull out that exercise machine you bought years ago and start using it. You get back so many more years than you put into it! If an 80-year-old exercised for 30 minutes a day from the day he was born, he would have spent 21 months exercising...but gained years in healthy living.

Cut your alcohol down to less than a drink a day and put out the cigarettes. Yes, those may be hard to do, but millions have done both successfully. Reach out to friends and family for help. Seek a professional if necessary.

The future is in your hands. Simple habits can enhance your life, or rob you of more than a decade. It's up to you.

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.