I was perusing the internet last week when I stumbled upon a quiz from PARADE entitled “How Fast Are You Aging?” I had a free moment at work, so I decided to check it out. The quiz contains 21 questions, and you receive a certain amount of points based on the way you answer the question. Each question asks you about an aspect of your life and/or behavior, and after you answer the question, you are presented with a “Why it Matters” section explaining why the issue is important to your health and how it can affect your rate of aging. You are placed into 5 categories of aging based on the number of points you accumulated throughout the quiz. See the below example of question #2 I took directly from the quiz to give you a better idea of its format:
2. Do you smoke?
a) Add 10 points if you rarely even smell smoke
b) Add 5 points if you’re exposed to some second-hand smoke every day, but you don’t smoke
c) Add 2 points if you live with a smoker, but don’t smoke yourself
d) Add no points if you smoke
Why It Matters
Smoking is one guaranteed way to age your body faster. You know the effects–wrinkled skin, clogged arteries, emphysema, cancer, and impotence, to name just a few.
But the most important reason to stop smoking is that it overstimulates the immune system, which in turn speeds up aging. A May 2005 study from the American Heart Journal revealed that smokers showed signs of high immune activation including elevated CRP levels, as well as higher levels of macrophage-stimulating factors, which trigger our white blood cells to multiply, proliferate, and kill. (We’ll talk more about that later.)
Even second-hand smoke causes immune activation. A February 2004 study in the American Journal of Medicine showed that people exposed to second hand smoke at least three days a week had higher white blood counts, as well as higher CRP levels, than people not so exposed.
If you have some free time, I suggest taking the quiz (answer all questions honestly – the computer isn’t going to judge you!) to gain insight on how factors you both can and can’t control are affecting your health. Hopefully, it will provide you a much-needed push to change negative behavior that is currently impeding your health. The quiz actually persuaded me to take a daily multi-vitamin and to step up my flossing habits. Once you’ve implemented a healthier lifestyle, take the quiz again and to watch your points sky-rocket while your rate of aging plummets.