How to Live to Be 100
Most Americans will live into their late seventies. But, an increasing number of people are reaching age 100 and beyond. In the US, there are about 70,000 of these centenarians, but the Census Bureau expects that number to climb to over 580,000 by 2040.
How can you become a centenarian? One great way to start is to study people who have enjoyed exceptionally long lives. That is exactly what researchers at Boston University’s School of Medicine have been doing since 1994.
These researchers have discovered many interesting findings that give clues as to what it takes to reach the grand age of 100 and beyond. Wondering if you share any traits with these centenarians? For each question that you can answer “yes” to, give yourself one point.
Are You a Woman?
The New England Centenarian Study has found that the majority of people age 100 and older are female. The bright spot for men is that those who do reach centenarian status are generally healthy and fit, since they have been able to avoid the kinds of diseases that usually affect older people. Researchers also found that woman who were able to have a baby naturally at age 40 or older were more likely to live to be beyond 100, possibly indicating that their bodies age more slowly than others do.
Do You Have a Healthy Weight?
There is a lot of evidence that obesity is linked to serious and life-threatening health problems, like heart failure and stroke. It makes sense that the average centenarian was able to remain slender.
Are You a Non-smoker?
Smoking can also increase your risk of developing a range of diseases, like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, and cancer. Not surprisingly, researchers discovered that centenarians did not smoke or smoked very little in their lifetimes.
Do You Handle Stress Well?
According to the researchers, the centenarians in their study possessed strategies for dealing with stressful events in a healthy way. Having good coping skills may add years to your life, especially considering that too much stress can worsen problems like depression, anxiety, and high blood pressure.
Are You an Extrovert?
Some characteristics of an extroverted style include getting a lot of enjoyment from being around people, having an optimistic attitude, and being less cautious in new situations. The New England Centenarian Study found that the study participants leaned more toward extroversion than neuroticism (experiencing a lot of negative emotions, like anxiety and fearfulness).
Do You Have Close Relatives Who Have Lived Exceptionally Long?
Your grandparents, parents, and older siblings may give you a glimpse as to what your life expectancy might be. There may be genetic factors—longevity genes—that contribute to being a part of the centenarian club.
Increase Your Score and Your Age
You can improve your odds with these tips for a longer and healthier life:
By staying healthy and active, it is possible to get the most out of your life when you reach age 90 and beyond. On the National Centenarian Awareness Project website, there are numerous stories illustrating just that. George, age 100, has been an avid bowler for 93 years! The secret to a long life may be to take good care of yourself and do what you love!
The New England Centenarian Study
Paul B. Beeson Career Development Awards in Aging Research Program
Public Health Canada
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Last reviewed May 2011 by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD