Scientists don’t have a clear answer as to why some people live well past the age of 100. What we do know is that while genetics clearly plays a part, lifestyle and attitude factor into a long life as well. Take a look at these longevity tips from several centenarians across the globe.
1. Exercise a Little Every Day
"I've got to get my hour [of exercise] in every day." -Ida Keeling, age 101
Maintaining a regular exercise routine is one of the many keys to a long, happy, and healthy life. The American Heart Association recommends that people walk about five miles a day to decrease their risk of heart disease and to improve overall health. One study found that running or walking 15 miles a week could help prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia. Having a regular exercise routine can help you reduce your risk of several diseases, like heart disease, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. Exercise strengthens your muscles and bones, helping you to prevent falls. It can also stabilize your moods and help prevent depression by releasing endorphins and serotonin, the “happy hormone”, into your body.
2. Remember the Importance of Family
"I have no secret... I just live with my family... That’s the only thing I can say is my family usually makes me happy." -Susannah Mushatt Jones, age 116
Our family relationships offer us a type of connection to other human beings that no other relationships do. While love and support are important things that family members can offer us, they can also provide us with a social atmosphere that can help keep away feelings of depression and isolation. Staying social can help lower your chances of cognitive decline, increase your self-confidence, and improve your physical and mental health. One study found that babysitting the grandkids a few times a week could help lower your risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
3. Sleep and Eat Well
"Sleep and eat well and you will live a long time. You have to learn to relax." -Misao Okawa, age 117
The average person over the age of 65 needs 7-8 hours of sleep a night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Not getting enough sleep can put you at a higher risk of developing heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. One study found a connection between insomnia and cognitive decline. So try to get a good night’s sleep, but if you have trouble sleeping at night, naps have been proven to be beneficial to your health as well. According to another study, taking short naps of 45-60 minutes during the day could help improve your learning and memory function.
4. Have Hobbies and Activities
"I participate in lots of activities. I play Bingo, do meditation and crafts, and attend fitness classes, like Zumba Gold for seniors, chair yoga, and sittercise. I also like to go to the senior community’s weekly dance party, where we do fun dances, like the Macarena." -Mae Lewis, age 103
Join a club, take a class, volunteer. Take part in hobbies and activities that interest you. Clubs are a great way to stay social, meet new people, and keep in touch with old friends with whom you share similar interests. Your local senior center should have a list of several area clubs that are available to seniors. Local colleges and adult education centers offer a variety of classes for seniors who want to continue their educations. If you’re physically able to, volunteering is a great way to give back to your community and contribute to a greater cause. Government organizations like Senior Corps and websites like VolunteerMatch can help you find the right place and volunteering opportunity for you.
5. Adopt a Positive Mindset
"Moderation, attitude, gratitude... That's it. Just do the best you can and then you don't have to apologize to anybody, even if you didn't do it right, you did the best you could." -Lauretta Taggert, age 100
One study found that participants who had more positive attitudes about aging were the ones who responded better to stress. The positive participants did not seem to have a significant increase in negative emotions due to stress, despite whatever daily stresses they had experienced. The participants who felt poorly about aging seemed to have very sharp increases in negative emotions due to stress. Our views on a particular topic, like aging, can potentially change our entire outlook on our daily lives. If we feel positively about aging and about ourselves, we can better respond to difficult situations.