Most people don’t make it to age 100. Though life expectancies are rising worldwide, the human lifespan is still far below the century mark. But there is an exclusive group of folks called centenarians who not only make it to 100, but beyond. In fact, this demographic group is one of the fastest growing in the U.S.
As of 2012, the United States has the largest population of centenarians in the world, with Japan running a close second. But do you know what it takes to live to 100 years or more? There is no pat answer to that question, but healthy centenarians have a few tips. Some say “treat others as you want to be treated.” Others say “keep a positive attitude.” Still others claim that not consuming tobacco or alcohol is the key. But what do scientists say? Interestingly, a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine has a few key factors that can help solve the longevity equation.
The study which began in 1981 followed more than 2300 men who were of an average age of 72. The men were habitually tested for physical fitness and mental competence and regularly submitted questionnaires about their eating habits, activity levels, and other lifestyle factors. The study lasted for 27 years and turned some rather fascinating results. Here are five habits that scientists say lead to longer life:
- No smoking. There is not surprise here. According to this and other studies, smokers double their risk of mortality compared to their non-smoking counterparts.
- Healthy weight. Obese individuals are at least 44% more likely to die before they turn 90 than others who keep their weight at normal levels.
- Regular exercise. Participants who were moderately active reduced their risk of dying by roughly 25% compared to participants who led a sedentary lifestyle.
- Avoid getting diabetes. Men who had type I diabetes or who developed type II diabetes were almost 90% more likely to die before age 90 than men who were free of diabetes.
- Keep blood pressure low. Men who had consistently high blood pressure were almost 30% more likely to die before age 90 than men who had low to normal blood pressure.
Not all of the study participants lived to be 100 years old. But in 2008 at the end of the 27-year study, over 40% of the subjects were 90 or older. The lead author of the study, Dr. Laurel B. Yates, had some compelling comments regarding longevity: “The take-home message is that an individual does have some control over his destiny in terms of what he can do to improve the probability that not only might he live a long time but also have good health and good function in those older years.”
Yates LB, Djoussé L, Kurth T, Buring JE, Gaziano J. Exceptional Longevity in Men: Modifiable Factors Associated With Survival and Function to Age 90 Years.Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(3):284-290
The Nurses at Partners in Healthcare are available to talk with you about your in-home care needs including how to reduce caregiver stress while providing better, affordable care. We are a senior care agency providing elder care serves in the Orlando area, 407-788-9393.
Hank Charpentier, BSB, MBA, MA, Certified Senior Adviser